Notebook: Recruiting visits to expect in the next month, including officials

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Ryan Watts has yet to visit Notre Dame. The highly touted 2020 cornerback, though, knows what he will look for when trekking to South Bend for an official visit next month.

“I want to see if the coaches won’t just leave right around 2020, the year when I get on campus,” said Watts, a Little Elm (Texas) High product. “I want to see if they have a long contract, if they love where they are at right now and if they will stay there.”

There may not be anything for Watts to worry about, at least with the head coach. Brian Kelly told Yahoo's Pete Thamel earlier this week that he intends to finish his contract, and may coach beyond the 2021 mark.

“I may look to see if we can add two more years,” Kelly told Yahoo Sports.

For now, Watts will join three other recruits for ND’s first batch of official visits on April 5. Sterling (Va.) offensive tackle Jimmy Christ, St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit receiver Jordan Johnson and Littleton (Colo.) Columbine offensive tackle Andrew Gentry are the other official visitors so far.

Kelly’s interview seemingly quelled speculation about his future. Lance Taylor, filling Autry Denson’s old role as running backs coach, was the only notable change on ND’s staff this season. 

By securing Watts, ND could be on its way to hauling in another highly rated defensive backs class. 247Sports slates the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder as a four-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 24 cornerback and No. 284 overall player. Rivals tags Watts as a three-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 35 cornerback.

“They’ve said a lot of good things about me,” Watts said. “I like coach (Brian) Polian. He had a great personality when he came down here to see me. Really energetic. He just preached to me that I’m a priority for Notre Dame’s 2020 class. It has meant a lot of me, which is another reason why they are so high on my radar.”

The Irish capitalized on last year’s first crop of April official visitors. Defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah, linebacker Osita Ekwonu and offensive tackle Quinn Carroll verbally pledged to Notre Dame following their April 13-15 official visits. Defensive linemen Hunter Spears and Jacob Lacey also took official visits that weekend but already had committed to the Irish.

The 2019 class marked the first recruiting cycle where football recruits could take official visits from April through June. Until then, recruits couldn’t take official visits before their senior year. The earlier official visits helped ND earn commitments from 17 of their 22 signees by July 4.

Watts will tweet his top 10 list by late spring or early summer. He’ll then announce a commitment later in the summer, he said. Watts intends to take official visits to Oklahoma for its April 13 spring game and Arkansas in May.

Although the Irish didn’t offer Watts until last month, his first official visit will be to South Bend. ND’s run to the College Football Playoff wasn't what convinced him.

“I’ve seen the tradition already, because I used to watch that show they had on Showtime,” said Watts of "A Season with Notre Dame Football," a series that followed the 2015 Irish season. “I watched every episode. I liked it a lot.”

Colorado interest

The Irish are hoping defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina won’t be the only Coloradoan to commit to their 2020 class. Reece Atteberry, Roger Rosengarten and Gentry have been offered by ND’s offensive line coach Jeff Quinn.

Atteberry swung by for ND’s Feb. 23 junior day. Rosengarten will make his first visit to South Bend — a March 25-26 unofficial. Gentry earned an offer on his first visit for ND’s Dec. 15 junior day. He will be the first of the three to take an ND official visit.

The significance? Only one Colorado recruit has signed with the Irish under head coach Brian Kelly. Linebacker Danny Spond, who signed to ND’s 2010 class, came out of Gentry’s high school. Columbine’s head coach, Andy Lowry, is also an Irish fan, Gentry said.

“I was able to talk to him about what it was like to play for coach Kelly and his staff,” Gentry said of Spond. “He loved coach Kelly. The staff and Notre Dame as a whole was something he really liked. When I texted and told him I’d be up there, he told me, ‘They are going to tell you that it’s a four-year decision. But I think it’s a lifetime decision, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.’”

Gentry, a four-star recruit, compares himself to Tyron Smith, the left tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. 247Sports slates Gentry as its No. 9 offensive tackle and No. 77 overall player. Rivals figures Gentry as its No. 7 offensive tackle and No. 40 overall player.

“I’m going to try to commit before July and get that taken care of,” Gentry said. “I think I’m going to take all five (official visits). I’m trying to finish that process and narrow those down. I’ve got two more that are pretty set in stone. I’ll be at Alabama that next week and then Virginia later that month.”

Justin Robinson commitment

One week after Justin Robinson visited for ND’s Feb. 23 junior day, the 2020 receiver committed to Georgia.

Robinson’s March 2 decision came shortly after the Irish offered him as a safety. 247Sports rates the 6-4, 205-pounder as a three-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 82 receiver and No. 461 overall player. Rivals labels Robinson as a four-star recruit, slating him as its No. 41 receiver and No. 208 overall player.

“I was open to playing anything,” the McDonough (Ga.) Eagle’s Landing Christian product texted to the Tribune. “I was more comfortable with wide receiver, so I thought Georgia would be the best choice.”

Myles Murphy top 10

High Point (N.C.) Southwest Guilford defensive end Myles Murphy included Notre Dame in his top 10 schools, which he tweeted Wednesday. Murphy also listed Oklahoma, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio State, South Carolina, Florida, LSU, Alabama and NC State.

The four-star recruit ranks among the best in this year’s class. 247Sports ranks Murphy as its No. 6 strongside defensive end and No. 90 overall player. Rivals slates him No. 22 at the position.

Upcoming visits

The following visits through the April 5 officials have been confirmed by the Tribune. These are subject to change. Expect several visitors for the April 13 Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Tight end commit Kevin Bauman said he hopes to visit near the end of spring. 

March 20

2020 CB Donovan Clark, 6-3, 190; Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln (prospect).

247Sports: Three stars, No. 69 CB, No. 842 overall | Rivals: Three stars

2020 CB Kasen Kinchen, 5-11, 165; Lake Stevens (Wash.) Senior High (prospect).

247Sports: Three stars, No. 70 CB, No. 843 overall | Rivals: Three stars

March 21

2021 ATH Emeka Egbuka, 6-1, 185; Steilacoom (Wash.) High (target).

247Sports: Four stars, No. 2 ATH, No. 38 overall | Rivals: N/A

March 22-23

2021 OL Landon Tengwall. 6-6, 319; Olney (Md.) Good Counsel (target).

247Sports: Four stars, No. 7 OT, No. 39 overall | Rivals: N/A

• 2020 OL Zak Zinter, 6-6, 300; North Andover (Mass.) Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (target).

247Sports: Four stars, No. 27 OT, No. 316 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 16 OT, No. 147 overall

March 23

2020 RB Chris Tyree, 5-9, 171; Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale (target): Tyree also intends to take an ND official visit on June 21-23.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 1 APB, No. 48 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 1 APB, No. 60 overall

2020 RB Tirek Murphy, 6-0, 220; Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ the King Regional High (target).

247Sports: Four stars, No. 22 RB, No. 261 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 20 RB

March 25-26

2020 OL Roger Rosengarten, 6-7, 275; Littleton (Colo.) Valor Christian (target).

247Sports: Four stars, No. 10 OT, No. 84 overall | Rivals: Three stars, No. 46 OT

March 28-29

2020 WR Michael Redding III, 6-2, 190; Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy (target): Redding hopes to take an ND official visit during or after his senior season.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 66 WR, No. 363 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 7 WR, No. 41 overall

March 28-30

2020 DE Benjamin Yurosek, 6-5, 225; Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian (target).

247Sports: Three stars, No. 36 ATH, No. 472 overall | Rivals: Three stars

March 30

2020 QB Drew Pyne, 6-1, 175; New Canaan (Conn.) High (commit): Pyne hopes to take an ND official visit in the fall.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 13 PRO, No. 407 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 5 QB, No. 72 overall

2020 ATH DeaMonte Trayanum, 5-11, 210; Akron (Ohio) Archbishop Hoban (target).

247Sports: Four stars, No. 17 RB, No. 208 overall | Rivals: Three stars, No. 36 ATH

• 2020 ATH Cullen Coleman, 6-3, 220; Rye (N.Y.) Country Day School (target).

Rivals: Three stars | 247Sports: N/A

April 5 (official visitors)

2020 OL Andrew Gentry, 6-8, 290; Littleton (Colo.) Columbine (target): Gentry plans to take official visits to Alabama and Virginia in April. He hopes to announce a verbal commitment before July. 

247Sports: Four stars, No. 9 OT, No. 77 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No 7 OT, No. 40 overall

2020 CB Ryan Watts, 6-2, 185; Little Elm (Texas) High (target): Watts plans to take official visits to Oklahoma in April and Arkansas in May. He hopes to announce a verbal commitment late in the summer. 

247Sports: Four stars, No. 24 CB, No. 284 overall | Rivals: Three stars, No. 35 CB

2020 OL Jimmy Christ, 6-7, 280; Sterling (Va.) Dominion (target): Christ plans to take official visits to Oklahoma and Virginia in April. He hopes to announce a verbal commitment in May. 

247Sports: Three stars, No. 40 OT, No. 445 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 22 OT, No. 212 overall

2020 WR Jordan Johnson, 6-2, 182; St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit (target): Johnson is expected to announce a verbal commitment late in the summer. He's considered a strong lean toward the Irish. 

247Sports: Four stars, No. 10 WR, No. 55 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 13 WR, No. 59 overall

Little Elm (Texas) High's Ryan Watts, a 2020 cornerback, plans to take an April 5 official visit to Notre Dame.