Notre Dame hosting a handful of recruits before official visit season begins

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame reached the halfway point for spring football this week.

That means the Irish have just a few more weeks to host recruits that want to see them practice. ND’s Thursday practice marked No. 8 of its 15 allotted sessions, with the final one coming on April 13 via the annual Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium.

Starting next week, rising seniors may take official visits — recruiting trips that are paid by the universities — and the Irish are expected to host their first major official visit weekend. They will be able to host more official visit weekends through the summer until the dead period, which begins June 24 and concludes July 24.

Irish targets Jimmy Christ and Andrew Gentry (offensive linemen), Rylie Mills and Braiden McGregor (defensive linemen), Jordan Johnson (receiver) and Ryan Watts (cornerback) will take official visits on April 6, the Tribune confirmed. Tight end commits Kevin Bauman and Michael Mayer, both 2020 recruits, will also visit but unofficially.

Though this weekend entails no official visits, a few interesting recruits will be on ND’s campus. The Irish are hosting 2020 quarterback commit Drew Pyne. Like Bauman and Mayer next weekend, Pyne will serve as an extra recruiter of sorts. The New Canaan (Conn.) High product eyes the 2019 season for another return via an official visit.

Below are the 2020 targets visiting this weekend.

• OL Tosh Baker, 6-7, 270; Phoenix Pinnacle: Baker’s path to becoming one of ND’s most coveted targets looks similar to that of Kyle Hamilton. When the Irish offered Hamilton, their 2019 signee, he ranked as 247Sports’ No. 66 overall safety. He eventually ascended to No. 1 and five-star status.

Baker garnered an Irish offer following his Dec. 15 junior day visit. Once considered more of a basketball prospect, like Hamilton, Baker ranked as 247Sports’ No. 67 offensive tackle and No. 621 overall player. He had no Rivals ranking.

The now four-star recruit has since ascended to 247Sports’ No. 6 offensive tackle and No. 55 overall player. Rivals slates Baker as its No. 9 offensive tackle and No. 51 overall player.

“Tosh is a good, solid ballplayer, and he likes Notre Dame a lot,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “Good athlete, he’s got height, long arms, quick feet. He’s still filling out and should be a really good player.”

ND’s most heralded recruit visiting this weekend holds offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, Alabama and more.

• RB DeaMonte Trayanum, 5-11, 210; Akron (Ohio) Archbishop Hoban: The Irish are looking to add two 2020 running backs — one with speed and the other power. Trayanum looks to be the latter, although he does not appear to be ND’s No. 1 option.

“Solid player, but nothing special,” Lemming said. “The two they are going after are better than him, Tirek Murphy and the kid from Virginia (Chris Tyree). He’s a linebacker and running back who helped his team to a state title. Decent size, decent speed, good production, good player.

“But if they are going to bring in two, they need to go after Murphy and Tyree.”

Murphy and Tyree visited South Bend last weekend. They are both rated higher than Trayanum on Rivals, although he holds the edge over Murphy on 247Sports.

Rivals tags Trayanum as a three-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 36 athlete. 247Sports evaluates Trayanum as a four-star recruit, slating him as its No. 17 running back and No. 213 overall player.

Trayanum could still play linebacker at the next level, which opens up options. Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Stanford are among schools that have offered him.

• DE Deontae Craig, 6-3, 230; Culver (Ind.) Academies: One of Indiana’s top 2020 players will make his first trip to South Bend since coming for ND’s 24-17 victory over Michigan on Sept. 1.

Lemming recalls meeting Craig, who is from Fort Wayne, Ind., the following week before Louisville’s Sept. 8 home bout against Indiana State.

“I like him, very good athlete,” Lemming said. “One of the best players in Indiana. Very good athlete. Notre Dame needs to dominate its own state, because it’s not a great state for talent. There’s only one or two guys they go after, so they have to make sure they get him.”

The three-star recruit earned an offer from the Irish on Feb. 18. He’s recently accrued offers from Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State as well. 247Sports considers Craig as its No. 34 strongside defensive end and No. 674 overall player. Rivals slates Craig as its No. 24 strongside defensive end.

Defensive linemen Alexander Ehrensberger and Aidan Keanaaina verbally pledged to ND’s 2020 class. That leaves two or three more spots for Craig or others to fill.

• ATH Cullen Coleman, 6-3, 220; Rye (N.Y.) Country Day School: Information on Coleman varies. The three-star recruit’s blurry picture on Rivals looks like it was taken years ago. Lemming said he has not seen nor heard of Coleman, which is rare.

The New York City area produces a scarce amount of high Division I football players. That’s why recruiting websites don’t bother scouring the area as much as other places.

Coleman’s offer list conflicts with that notion, though. He picked up an Irish offer on Jan. 26, joining Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. He’s now 247Sports’ No. 29 outside linebacker and No. 374 overall player.

Midweek visits

The Irish hosted a handful of targets this week, including Mitchell Melton. The 2020 defensive end received his first dose of Notre Dame in his inaugural visit across Wednesday and Thursday.

A product of Olney (Md.) Good Counsel, Melton offered a couple interesting insights on his former teammate, Cam Hart. ND’s 2019 receiver signee was not overly productive in high school and will join the Irish in June as a three-star recruit.

The 6-3, 197-pounder, however, reminds Melton of A.J. Green on the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Cam Hart is a really down-to-earth guy,” Melton said. “He’s one of the better leaders that I’ve been around in a while. He’s just really chill. He has his back for his teammates. On the field, he’s really explosive. He’s fast. Faster than I thought he was.

“He’s a perfectionist in the way that he runs his routes. He’s one of the best route runners that I’ve ever seen.”

Notre Dame DE prospect Deontae Craig, a 2020 recruit, arrives to the player walk before the Michigan at Notre Dame NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

The following recruits visited Notre Dame during the week of March 25-30.

March 25-26

2020 OL Roger Rosengarten

March 26 

2022 QB Brady Allen (prospect)

March 27-28

2020 DE Mitchell Melton

March 28

2020 WR Michael Redding III

March 29

2020 DE Ben Yurosek

March 29-30

2020 CB Clark Phillips III

March 30

2020 QB Drew Pyne (commit)

2020 OT Tosh Baker

2020 RB DeaMonte Trayanum

2020 DE Deontae Craig

2020 ATH Cullen Coleman

2021 ATH Liam Clifford