Notre Dame football hosting first junior day of 2019

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame will host several football recruits over the weekend on its first junior day of the year.

A majority of the 2020 and 2021 visitors told the Tribune they aren’t close to making a commitment, though.

The Irish staff instead will look to forge quality first impressions and develop relationships. Graduate transfer Eric Kumah, a former receiver for Virginia Tech, will be a high priority as well.

Of the six 2020 targets coming to ND, four of them are first-time visitors. All six garnered offers no earlier than Oct. 23, 2018. Running backs JuTahn McClain and Kyle Edwards, two first-time visitors, will meet ND’s new running backs coach, Lance Taylor.

Five players are committed to ND’s 2020 class. That number may not increase by end of the weekend. But that wouldn’t mean the Irish didn’t make progress. Looking onward to 2021, the Irish are hosting two players that remain highly interested — receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. and quarterback Tyler Buchner.

Styles, a Pickerington (Ohio) Central product, was the first 2021 receiver to receive an ND offer. Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports’ director of recruiting, projected Styles will land with the Irish via his “crystal ball’’ on Friday.

Buchner, a La Jolla (Calif.) The Bishop’s School product, told ND Insider he remains far from a commitment announcement. The Irish have offered only two 2021 quarterbacks in Preston Stone and Buchner. Both Styles and Buchner visited South Bend multiple times last year.

The six 2020 targets visiting for ND’s junior day weekend are detailed below.

S Lathan Ransom, 6-1, 185; Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe Catholic: The Irish staff considers Ransom as one of its highest targets on the board. They expressed that through visiting his school multiple times during contact periods.

“He’s close to being a five-star ballplayer,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “I think with another good year, he will be that. He’s close to being dominant … He’s got good size but great range, ball skills and a terrific quick-twitch athletic body. He’s very athletic. When you watch him, you can tell that he’s an impact type guy.”

Ransom is making his first trip to South Bend. Stanford, UCLA, Ohio State, USC and Arizona are among the other schools that rank high on his list. Ransom told the Tribune his commitment decision is “kind of far” away.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 19 S, No. 303 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 5 S, No. 63 overall

RB JuTahn McClain, 5-9, 180; Fairfield (Ohio) High: McClain is not garnering the hype like blue chip running backs Chris Tyree and Marshawn Lloyd. But he could be a solid addition with his utility-like, all-purpose style.

Excluding Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln-Way East’s A.J. Henning, who some consider as a receiver, Lemming said McClain stands as the best running back in the Midwest.

“He’s kind of a slot-back,” Lemming said, “not a guy that’s going to take a pounding.”

If the Irish took McClain, adding another bigger, every-down back could remain an option for 2020. The position is an immediate need for the Irish, and they signed only Kyren Williams in the last recruiting cycle.

McClain announced his Irish offer on Dec. 26, 2018 and will be making his first trip to South Bend this weekend. Tyree told ND Insider his next visit to South Bend will likely come as an official visit in mid-June.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 5 APB, No. 281 overall | Rivals: Three stars, No. 10 APB

OL Reece Atteberry, 6-5, 275; Centennial (Colo.) Eaglecrest: The Irish might be recruiting in Colorado more than ever under head coach Brian Kelly. Three 2020 Colorado offensive linemen reported offers in the last two months: Roger Rosengarten, Andrew Gentry and Atteberry.

Denver Mullen defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina verbally pledged to the Irish earlier this month. Danny Spond, a member of ND’s 2010 class, is the only Colorado recruit to sign with the Irish under Kelly. An uptick in talent might explain why the Irish are hovering over the Centennial State.

“These couple of years they have had some pretty good players. Last year and this year,” Lemming said. “But normally, it’s average.”

247Sports tabs Atteberry as Colorado’s best player. Accruing offers from Ohio State, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and more, Atteberry appears far from a commitment decision. He plans to visit Ohio State next month.

“He’s got length, he’s got size, very athletic,” Lemming said. “He’s a big time ballplayer who would have even more offers if he lived in Chicago or Los Angeles.”

247Sports: Three stars, No. 15 OT, No. 108 overall | Rivals: Three stars, No. 45 OT

WR Maliq Carr, 6-5, 215; Oak Park (Mich.) High: Oak Park standouts Enzo Jennings and Carr are high on ND’s radar. Carr received an ND offer following his Nov. 10 visit for the Florida State game.

Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State are considered the other contenders for Carr. With his size and skillset, Carr fits the mold for a prototypical Irish outside receiver. Lemming said he projects Carr as an NFL player.

“I like him a lot. He’s big time,” Lemming said. “When you go to Oak Park, you can recruit three or four guys. All of them have five-star potential. Maliq Carr has five-star potential. He doesn’t realize that yet, because they spread things out at Oak Park … He can run and is very athletic. Carr would be a really good addition to Notre Dame. He’s one of the rare guys that big who has that speed.”

247Sports: Three stars, No. 103 WR, No. 550 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 49 WR

CB Landen Bartleson, 6-0, 185; Danville (Ky.) Boyle County: Bartleson’s only visit to ND was for the FSU game, and like Carr, that’s when he garnered an offer. Bartleson, known more as a running back at Boyle County, is envisioned as a cornerback by the Irish staff.

“I was really impressed with him,” Lemming said. “Good character, Notre Dame-type guy. The competition there in south Lexington, I don’t know how great it is in that area. But he’s the dominant player in that entire area for sure … He can play safety or corner. He’s got really good, blazing speed. He’s a guy where even if he makes a mistake, he can catch up to it. Good instincts and confidence.”

Michigan offered Bartleson last week, joining Ohio State, Kentucky and Louisville, among others.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 33 RB, No. 371 | Rivals: Three stars

WR Justin Robinson, 6-4, 205; McDonough (Ga.) Eagle’s Landing Christian: Robinson could play on either side of the ball for the Irish. He’s been evaluated by most as a receiver, and looks the part physically.

One trait, however, concerns Lemming.

“Solid player with length, but I worry about his speed,” Lemming said. “He’s a typical Notre Dame guy, though, so they could probably get him.”

The Irish staff visited Robinson’s school last month before offering him on Jan. 22. Robinson told ND Insider he plans to announce a verbal commitment in May or later this summer. He has offers from Georgia, Florida, Florida State and Penn State.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 75 WR, No. 417 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 41 WR, No. 208 overall

Lathan Ransom, a Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe Catholic 2020 safety, garnered an offer from Notre Dame on Oct. 22, 2018.

The following recruits are expected to attend Notre Dame's recruiting event this weekend. 

2020 targets

WR Maliq Carr

WR Justin Robinson

RB JuTahn McClain

OL Reece Atteberry

S Lathan Ransom

CB Landen Bartleson

2021 targets

QB Tyler Buchner

WR Lorenzo Styles Jr. 

S Derrick Davis Jr.

2020 prospects

WR Jay Brunelle

RB Kyle Edwards

RB Miyan Williams

DE Jaden Hardy

DE Cam Large

2021 prospects

RB Drapher Cribbs

OT Ben Christman

OT Harisen Miller

LB Patrick Turner

2022 prospect

WR Matt Brunelle

Grad transfer prospect

WR Eric Kumah