Notre Dame trying to capitalize on 2018 success through earlier junior day

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame’s football program usually waits until January to host its first junior day.

Not this season. With its 12-0 season and a Dec. 15 bowl practice to attend, the Irish are looking to capitalize. A handful of 2020 and 2021 targets and prospects will visit ND this weekend.

Seventeen of ND’s 21 players committed for 2019 verbally pledged prior to this season. With all of them expected to sign on Dec. 19, the Irish have been able to look ahead. A majority of the recruits attending ND’s Oct. 13 game against Pittsburgh were beyond 2019. The Irish hosted more than 100 2020 and 2021 recruits for the Nov. 10 Florida State contest.

The Irish kept this weekend’s amount of visitors low so they can provide more attention to each. With the new contact period starting on Nov. 25, ND’s coaches recently visited some of their schools.

Several recruits could not make the trek because of traveling expenses, the holiday season approaching and other conflicts. But a chunk of ND’s most coveted recruits will be in attendance.

2020 targets

OL Paris Johnson, 6-7, 285; Cincinnati St. Xavier: ND Insider confirmed that the 2020 Ohio State commit will be in South Bend this weekend. To read more about Johnson's visit, click here.

APB Chris Tyree, 5-9, 171; Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale: Tyree released his top 10 schools on Dec. 5. Notre Dame and Oklahoma were the only two listed that he had not visited. That will change this weekend.

The Irish are expressing strong interest in Tyree. Head coach Brian Kelly visited Thomas Dale during ND’s bye week on Oct. 17. Offensive coordinator Chip Long capitalized on Tyree’s top 10 list and saw him a day later on Dec. 6.

The trips were convenient with Midlothian (Va.) Manchester, home of ND 2019 commit Brendon Clark, being right down the road.

“He would be tremendous for the Notre Dame offense as an all-purpose back,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “He has good hands, really good speed and great moves, body control and balance.”

Tyree is also considering Florida State, Michigan, Mississippi State, Stanford, Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma. 247Sports rates him four stars and ranks him as the No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 32 overall player.

ND offered Tyree in May. He turned 177 carries into 1,446 yards and 11 touchdowns across 12 games this season. He also caught 23 passes for 302 yards and a touchdown.

WR John Humphreys, 6-5, 205; Newport Beach (Calif.) Corona Del Mar: ND receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn visited Corona Del Mar on Nov. 27. Humphreys left school that day with an offer.

ND made an impression on Humphreys, who will make by far the longest trip of this weekend’s visitors. It will be his first time on campus. Humphreys fits the mold of an outside receiver and was highly productive against solid competition.

Humphreys caught 103 passes for 1,783 yards and 28 touchdowns through 13 games. He was also named co-MVP of the Pacific Coast League as a sophomore. Humphreys has offers from Stanford, California, Oregon and Arizona State.

“He’s big, very athletic and kind of reminds me of (former ND receiver) Jeff Samardzija,” Lemming said. “Big, physical guy who can run pretty good. He’s got better speed than most people believe.”

247Sports slates Humphreys as a four star, the No. 15 receiver and the No. 73 overall player. Rivals labels him as a four star and ranks him No. 25 at the position and No. 116 overall.

WR Daniel Jackson, 5-11, 198; Mission (Kan.) Bishop Miege: Jackson’s ties to the Irish are seemingly endless.

He’s not only former teammates with ND running back Jafar Armstrong, they are also cousins. Jackson’s former quarterback, Carter Putz, is a freshman baseball player for the Irish. Walk-on offensive lineman Colin Grunhard, a sophomore who has appeared in three games for the Irish this season, also played for Bishop Miege.

Jackson journeyed to ND for its first official visit weekend in April and left with an offer. He also visited for the Sept. 1 Michigan game. Quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees went to his school on Dec. 5.

Although Jackson tore his right ACL in game one this season, ND remains firm on its offer. He registered 1,270 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns on 54 receptions as a sophomore.

“He’s very athletic and his coach sang his praises like crazy when I was there,” Lemming said. “He seems like a Notre Dame-type kid. He’s a good student, he’s got separation speed after the catch and he’s a small but physical type of receiver with good footwork.”

247Sports rates Jackson four stars and ranks him as the No. 53 receiver and No. 271 overall player. Jackson rates as a three star on Rivals, which ranks him as the No. 68 receiver.

DE Darrion Henry, 6-5, 260; Cincinnati Princeton: Considered a strong lean to Ohio State, Henry is an interesting target. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement last week, creating concern for the Buckeyes’ future classes.

Henry has been to ND more than any of this weekend’s visitors. He visited in March and left with an offer. Henry then visited for the Blue-Gold Game in April and the Sept. 1 Michigan game. The Irish coaching staff saw him at school on Thursday.

“They would love to get Darrion, because he’s a defensive lineman who can really move,” Lemming said. “He’s got the long frame, the quick feet and an aggressive nature.”

247Sports slates Henry as a four-star that ranks as the No. 6 strong-side defensive end and No. 61 overall player. Rivals also tabs Henry as a four-star, ranking him as the No. 4 strong-side defensive end and No. 43 overall player. He has offers from OSU, Clemson, Michigan, Penn State and Cincinnati.

LB Jaheim Thomas, 6-5, 218; Cincinnati Princeton: It took until Dec. 6 for Thomas to garner an offer, however he was on ND’s radar for awhile. Teammates with Henry, Thomas tagged along for the Blue-Gold Game and Michigan game.

Lemming said Henry and Thomas might be in his top five for 2020 Ohio players.

“He’s a linebacker, and he will stay there now because he’s not super strong,” said Lemming of Thomas, who ND might look at as a rover. “He’s a good basketball player. He’s got the athletic ability to be an outside linebacker or maybe grow into a defensive end.”

Thomas has offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Cincinnati. 247Sports rates Thomas three stars and ranks him as the No. 22 outside linebacker and No. 319 overall player. A four-star on Rivals, Thomas ranks as the site’s No. 10 outside linebacker and No. 152 overall player.

DE Jalen Logan-Redding, 6-4, 228; Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge: Braiden McGregor and Logan-Redding were the only 2020 targets to visit for the Nov. 10 Florida State game. Considering the amount of prospects that visited for the FSU game, Logan-Redding should garner more attention this time.

“He’s no doubt one of the premiere players in Missouri,” said Lemming, who saw Logan-Redding a couple months ago. “He has a lot of people coming after him, but he did mention Notre Dame to me early. I thought that was a good sign for Notre Dame.”

Logan-Redding recorded 62 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, eight sacks and four fumble recoveries this season. Missouri, Oklahoma State and Iowa State have offered him. Logan-Redding rates as a three-star on 247Sports and ranks as the site’s No. 17 weak-side defensive end and No. 379 overall player. Rivals also labels him as a three-star.

2021 targets

OL Blake Fisher, 6-6, 295; Avon (Ind.) High: Fisher visited for the FSU game and left as the fourth 2021 offensive lineman to garner an ND offer. The Irish jumped on the in-state product early, and Quinn visited his school on Wednesday.

247Sports rates Fisher as a four-star and ranks him as the No. 10 offensive tackle and No. 88 overall player. Fisher has offers from Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, Indiana and Iowa.

WR Lorenzo Styles Jr., 6-0, 165 Pickerington (Ohio) Central: Styles was the first 2021 receiver the Irish offered. He announced it after competing in ND's June Elite Skills Camp.

Styles also visited for the Michigan game. 247Sports' crystal ball tabs him as an Ohio State lean.

Newport Beach (Calif.) Corona Del Mar’s John Humphreys, a 2020 receiver, reported an offer from Notre Dame on Nov. 27.

The following recruits are expected to visit Notre Dame this weekend.

2020 prospects

OL Andrew Gentry

OL Tosh Baker

2021 prospect

QB J.J. McCarthy