Notre Dame hosting top running back target Chris Tyree in big recruiting weekend

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Former Notre Dame running backs coach Autry Denson told Kyren Williams he would be the only one at the position signing in his class.

Denson kept to his word, as Williams later became ND’s lone 2019 running back signee. Lance Taylor, the new running backs coach for the Irish, likely won’t adopt the same plan for this upcoming cycle.

No Irish running back’s eligibility will expire following next season. However, the Irish still need gamebreakers at the position. ND’s coaching staff continues to express that in their recruitment of multiple 2020 running backs. It’s no coincidence that the Irish will host two of the sort this Saturday in Chris Tyree and Tirek Murphy.

Tyree, a Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale product, has been ND’s top running back target for a while, and for good reason. 247Sports ranks the four-star recruit as its No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 48 overall player. Rivals slates Tyree as its No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 60 overall player.

The hope for the Irish would be to pair Tyree with one or two other top 2020 running backs. The question is whether to couple Tyree with a similar back or look for one with a different skill set.

“I’d like to see them bring in a big, good-sized back,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “A 6-foot, 220 guy and then a couple guys that could play running back or slot back, or even receiver … Do what Penn State does. They seem to always do that — bring in a big guy and then a smaller guy so they can play at the same time.”

A product of Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ the King Regional, Murphy will take his first visit to South Bend this weekend. The four-star recruit ranks as Rivals’ No. 20 running back. 247Sports slates Murphy as its No. 22 running back and No. 263 overall player. Michigan, LSU, Miami and Michigan State are among schools that offered Murphy.

Tyree’s first ND visit came last December for an Irish junior day. His list of top schools, posted via Twitter on Dec. 5, included ND, Florida State, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Stanford, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Though the 5-foot-9, 171-pound Tyree is dwarfed by Murphy (6-0, 220), Lemming said they possess similar skillsets.

“Big time. He can run,” Lemming said of Murphy. “He’s the kind of guy that Notre Dame needs. I don’t know if you’d play him at wingback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback, kick returner.

“All I know is the kid can fly. Notre Dame desperately — the one thing that Notre Dame lacks at a lot of the positions is speed. They’re bringing in big time ballplayers, but pure speed doesn’t hurt. Murphy can run. He can fly.”

Since Taylor took over last month, the Irish have offered one running back: Destrehan (La.) High’s Kyle Edwards. ND remains interested in a handful of other running backs, though. Tyree will be the one to watch, but don’t expect another one-signee class.

Below are some of ND’s other intriguing visitors this weekend.

2020 OL Zak Zinter, 6-6, 300; Cambridge (Mass.) Buckingham Browne & Nichols: The Irish will begin the weekend hosting two offensive line targets on Friday. Zinter will be joined by 2021 recruit Landon Tengwall.

Zinter returns to South Bend after making his first trip for ND’s Sept. 9 game against Ball State. As a four-star recruit, Zinter would make for a solid first offensive line commit in ND’s 2020 class. 247Sports ranks him as its No. 27 offensive tackle and No. 314 overall player. Rivals slates Zinter as its No. 16 offensive tackle and No. 147 overall player.

“He’s a big time ballplayer,” Lemming said. “He’s got height, he’s got hands. He’s a guy that if he lived in Chicago, he’d have a lot more offers. Very good all-around lineman. He’s got all the tools. He’s the kind of guy that they’ve been recruiting the last couple years along the offensive line.”

The Irish already swung and missed on a 2020 offensive lineman in Massachusetts. Kevin Pyne, cousin of ND quarterback commit Drew Pyne, was considered a lean toward the Irish for a while. However, he verbally committed to Boston College last month.

B.C. could be in consideration for Zinter as well. Auburn, Florida, Michigan and Florida are among other teams that offered him.

2020 LB Cody Simon, 6-0, 190; Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep: The Irish could have as many as 12 scholarship linebackers for 2019. Nine of those players are underclassmen. Asmar Bilal’s scholarship will be the only one to expire following that season.

With tight numbers at the position, the Irish could add just one linebacker this cycle. Simon, younger brother of Irish rover Shayne Simon, appears to be the favorite.

“Maybe not quite as good as Shayne is right now, but Cody is a player,” Lemming said. “I like the bloodlines and I like the fact that he’s a Notre Dame-type kid. He can hit and he’s at a great program.”

247Sports considers Simon as a three-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 34 outside linebacker and No. 435 overall player. Rivals tags Simon as a four-star inside linebacker, slating him No. 9 at the position. Penn State, North Carolina, Boston College, Duke and Maryland are among teams that offered Simon.

Another top list

Oak Park (Mich.) High’s Maliq Carr, a 2020 receiver, included Notre Dame in his top five schools list via Twitter on Tuesday. The 6-5, 215-pounder also named Purdue, LSU, Texas A&M and Michigan. He has not set an ND official visit yet.

Carr visited South Bend last month for ND’s Feb. 23 junior day. He trekked to South Bend twice in 2018, including for ND’s Nov. 10 home game against Florida State. 247Sports rates Carr as a three-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 112 receiver and No. 604 overall player. Rivals tabs Carr as a four-star recruit, slating him as its No. 49 receiver.

With his large frame and athleticism, Carr translates as ND’s prototypical outside receiver. Lemming has evaluated Carr and projects him as a future 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.”

Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale’s Chris Tyree, a 2020 running back, committed to Notre Dame on May 23, 2019. 

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

March 22 targets

2020 OL Zak Zinter

2021 OL Landon Tengwall

March 23 targets

2020 LB Cody Simon 

2020 RB Tirek Murphy

2020 RB Chris Tyree

2021 OL Blake Fisher

2021 OL Landon Tengwall

2021 S Jacquez Smith

March 23 prospects

2021 QB Branden Miller

2021 WR Deion Colzie

2021 RB Drapher Cribbs

2021 CB Jordan Greer

2021 ATH Gabriel Stephens

2021 CB Jakailin Johnson