Irish focused on four positions in final 2019 haul
Saturday’s bout between No. 7 Stanford and No. 8 Notre Dame — the first top 10 matchup in South Bend since 2005 — could have helped the Irish add to their 2019 class.
The Irish, though, already have 18 players committed, so just two 2019 targets will take official visits this weekend. Notre Dame will instead focus on the 2020 and 2021 groups.
The opener against Michigan lured six 2019 targets for official visits. One of the six, Edwardsville (Ill.) High athlete Kendall Abdur-Rahman, committed shortly after the trip. The Irish are still eyeing offensive tackles, cornerbacks, receivers and defensive linemen for the final haul of 2019.
Walter Rouse recently committed to Stanford, leaving Enokk Vimahi as the only uncommitted offensive tackle that has made an official visit. Kahuku (Hawaii) High’s Vimahi sniffs five-star territory and boasts the highest rating among Notre Dame targets.
Brunswick (Conn.) High receiver Cornelius Johnson and Jesuit (Calif.) High cornerback Isaiah Rutherford are the only targets for their positions to take a Notre Dame official visit. The Irish gifted official visits to three defensive linemen — Bergen Catholic (N.J.) High’s Aeneas DiCosmo, St. Francis (Calif.) High’s Joshua Pakola and Sandra Day O’Connor (Ariz.) High’s Bralen Trice.
Notre Dame’s 2019 class — rated No. 13 on 247Sports and No. 15 on Rivals — likely won’t see an immediate boost after Stanford. A win like the opener might inspire another viable addition, however.
• Genson Hooper-Price, 6-5, 205; St. John’s (Texas) High: Like fellow target Cornelius Johnson, Hooper-Price fits the mold of a stereotypical Irish outsider receiver. His length and ability to haul in contested balls is of the Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool variety.
That does not mean the Irish need another one in that mold. Notre Dame recruited a couple towering receivers in the 2018 class and earned a verbal commit from 6-3 Cam Hart of Good Counsel (Md.) High. Johnson could commit, too.
“He’s a good player and a solid wide receiver, but what they desperately need is speed,” said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming on Hooper-Price. “A guy that can spread the defense and can allow the running game to have more room.”
With a 4.51 40-yard dash, Hooper-Price would be the fastest receiver in the 2019 class. That might not be enough, though, for him to develop into the much-needed Kevin Stepherson/Will Fuller V role. He might also endure a logjam on the outside.
Freshmen Lawrence Keys III and Braden Lenzy and sophomore Michael Young are Chris Finke replacement candidates. Lenzy, a high school track star, is one of the team’s fastest players. But the 5-11, 170-pounder has not seen the field and did not travel to Wake Forest.
Abdur-Rahman, who projects as a slot receiver, has played only quarterback in high school. Notre Dame’s next explosive playmaker remains to be seen.
Hooper-Price took an official visit to Northwestern over the summer and also has received offers from Florida, Baylor and Duke. He hauled in 25 passes for 475 yards and six touchdowns as a junior.
Rivals: Three stars, No. 94 WR | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 96 WR
• Isaiah Foskey, 6-5, 230; De La Salle (Calif.) High: As one of 2019’s most talented two-way players, Foskey would bring athleticism and versatility to the Irish. Having an abundance of tight ends, Notre Dame would likely insert Foskey at defensive end.
“He’s got really good size and a good first step. I think he could be an outstanding defensive end for Notre Dame,” said Lemming. “He’s one of the better players in Northern California.”
Lately, defensive line coach Mike Elston has not acquired blue chip defensive ends like Foskey, a four-star. Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara — all 2016 signees — mark Notre Dame’s only three defensive ends rated higher than three stars since the 2015 class.
In turn, the Irish reemphasized enriching the position. They already garnered verbal commits from four stars NaNa Osafo-Mensah of Nolan Catholic (Texas) High and Howard Cross III of St. Joseph Regional (N.J.) High.
Notre Dame’s interest suggests it wants a few more defensive linemen, with Foskey and Pakola considered top priority. Michigan, Penn State, California, Ohio State and Washington are also courting Foskey.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 6 TE | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 14 TE
• Reggie Love, 5-10, 185; Trinity Catholic (Mo.) High: Love will join fellow teammate and running back Mookie Cooper, a 2020 prospect. Both are undersized but flash all-purpose talent.
“They fit better into a more diversified offense like Notre Dame has,” Lemming said. “They can move them around and put them into the slot. They can split them out.”
St. John Vianney (Mo.) High’s Kyren Williams will be the only running back signed in the 2019 class, he told ND Insider last week. The Irish lack explosive playmakers that can create separation and keep defenses honest, so they need more versatile athletes like Williams and Love.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 18 RB | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 53 RB
• Aidan Keanaaina, 6-3, 290; J.K. Mullen (Colo.) High: Keanaaina’s father, Stacy, played tight end at Colorado State from 1989-92. Beyond the bloodline, Keanaaina projects as a promising college defensive tackle.
“I think he’d be perfect for nose guard,” Lemming said. “He plays pretty big and is definitely a defensive guy. He’s got great hands, aggressive, he plays low and wins those leverage battles. You would think that maybe he would be more of a (Jonathan) Bonner type, but he could play either one.”
Rivals: Four stars, No. 16 DT | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 25 DT
• Walker Parks, 6-5, 250; Frederick Douglass (Ky.) High: Missing on Rouse was not a concern, as the Irish already have four committed offensive linemen — three of which are tackles. Like Rouse, Parks fits the mold of a versatile tackle with upside.
He might even develop into a defensive lineman.
“Walker can play either side of the ball,” Lemming said. “He’s got great instincts, really good size and he’s just a football player. He seems to do everything right. I’ve been really impressed with him.”
Rivals: Three stars, No. 10 OG | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 18 SDE
• Tyler Buchner, 6-2, 200; The Bishop’s (Calif.) School: Buchner was one of the nation’s most productive freshmen in 2017. His skill set could eventually earn him five-star status and one of the top quarterback spots for 2021.
“Arm strength, poise, production already at a young age and against great competition there in San Diego,” said Lemming on Buchner’s strengths.
247Sports: Four stars, No. 2 PRO
The following recruits are expected to attend Saturday's game against Stanford.
DE Isaiah Foskey*
WR Genson Hooper-Price*
RB Reggie Love
DT Aidan Keanaaina
OL Walker Parks
QB Tyler Buchner
S Litchfield Ajavon*
P Jay Bramblett*
DE Howard Cross III*
OL Zeke Correll
OL Andrew Kristofic
RB Kyren Williams
LB Jack Kiser
S Kyle Hamilton
WR Cam Hart
CB Micah Harper
LB Malcolm Britt
LB Myles Dawson
LB John Driscoll
LB Ty Wise
DE Aaron Witt
OL Dylan Barrett
OL Deondre Buford
OL Steven Kolcheff
OL Tyler Elsbury
OL Trey Leroux
OL Mitchell Mayes
OL Samuel Rengert
RB Mookie Cooper
RB Jeyvon Ducker
RB Caleb Willis
WR Malik Bowen
WR Luke Grimm
WR Chase Lloyd
WR Jalen Paxton
WR Xavier Watts
TE Nate Sullivan
DE TJ Bollers
DE Brayden Wood
WR Malcolm Folk
WR Theo Grabill
WR Landon Morris
WR Tre Roberson
QB Ron Powlus
QB Jake Rubley
QB Maddox Tavernier
DT Griffin Liddle
OL Griffin Duggan
OL Rocco Spindler
OL Brody Wisecarver
LB Yanni Karlaftis
*Denotes official visit