Where last weekend's official visitors stand with Notre Dame

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Jordan Johnson committing to Notre Dame did not come as a surprise. His timing did.

The 2020 receiver considered the Irish as a frontrunner for a while. However, Johnson planned to announce his decision later in the summer. Then, his ND official visit happened.

A product of DeSmet Jesuit in St. Louis, Johnson tipped off the Irish staff while at head coach Brian Kelly’s lake house on Saturday. Johnson made the news public via social media that night. Running back Kyren Williams, who has competed with Johnson over the years, hosted the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder.

Johnson marked one of eight official visitors last weekend. He became commit No. 6 of ND’s 2020 class. Could another Irish commit come from last weekend’s official visits? ND Insider details where they stand.

DT Aidan Keanaaina, 6-3, 292; Denver Mullen: Though Keanaaina verbally pledged to the Irish in February, something notable came out of his visit.

Defensive line coach Mike Elston made it clear he wants Keanaaina as a three-technique defensive tackle, not ND’s one-technique nose guard position. Keanaaina was unclear of his future position until then.

Keanaaina also spent time recruiting the linemen visitors, particularly Braiden McGregor, Rylie Mills and fellow Coloradoan Andrew Gentry. He’s also recruiting Colorado offensive lineman Reece Atteberry, who visited for ND’s Feb. 23 junior day.

“I reached out to them after I committed,” Keanaaina said. “Coach Elston wanted me to reach out to them and say hi, get to know them a little bit and see what their thoughts are about the recruiting process.”

CB Ryan Watts, 6-2, 185; Little Elm (Texas) High: Watts’ first trip to South Bend resulted in the Irish elevating to his top three schools. Texas and Oklahoma are his other two favorites.

Texas A&M looks to be another contender in Watts’ recruitment. His weekend host at Notre Dame, defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah, considered Texas and Texas A&M near the top before deciding on Notre Dame.

“He told me about his process and why he chose Notre Dame over Texas and Texas A&M,” Watts said of Osafo-Mensah. “It really just came down to the Notre Dame degree. It’s a big investment. The Notre Dame degree will take care of you for the rest of your life. That’s what he was preaching to me about.”

Oklahoma will host Watts on an official visit at its spring game this weekend. He planned a May 3 official to Arkansas but will cancel it because of a family commitment.

Watts developed a relationship with Johnson over the weekend. Should he choose the Irish, Watts said he wants to room with Johnson. He hopes to announce his decision this summer.

“With my personality, I laugh a lot,” Watts said. “I’m a little goofy. With (Johnson), we were just looking at each other and would just start laughing. We had a little thing. He was like one of my friends back home.”

DE Braiden McGregor, 6-6, 255; Port Huron (Mich.) Northern: McGregor came close to committing but hopes to take more visits before deciding. Alabama, Michigan and Clemson are also contenders.

“I was talking to him about his visits and the process,” Keanaaina said. “He just said that he had a weird feeling about Notre Dame. The same went for Michigan and some of the other schools. I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a great feeling. I know that feeling.’”

OL Jimmy Christ, 6-7, 280; Sterling (Va.) Dominion: Christ could be the next recruit among this group to announce a commitment. He considers the Irish in his top three and hopes to announce his decision before this summer.

Christ will first take an official visit to Oklahoma’s spring game this weekend. He then plans to take an official to Virginia on April 26. Tommy Christ, Jimmy’s older brother, is a sophomore defensive tackle for the Cavaliers.

Early enrolled freshman Quinn Carroll hosted Christ over the weekend, and the two joined ND’s other linemen at Ruth’s Chris Steak House Friday night.

“Just the family mentality of their O-line,” said Christ on what stood out. “Their O-line goes everywhere together. Every Thursday night, they always eat together at a restaurant. They are always hanging out, and they are always just treating each other like brothers.”

DE/DT Rylie Mills, 6-5, 270; Lake Forest (Ill.) High: Mills has visited Notre Dame a handful of times and made them a priority by making it his first official. He still wants to take official visits to Ohio State and Wisconsin later this month, though.

The Irish seem to be in good position with Mills, Keanaaina said.

“He told me he loves Notre Dame. Never had a bad visit there. He just has a good feeling from there. I think he’s close. He’s going to take more visits of course. But I don’t know. I’ve got a good feeling from both of them (McGregor and Mills) in talking with them.”

S Mordecai McDaniel, 6-3, 185; Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College: The Irish entered last weekend unsure of McDaniel’s position preference. He accrued offers as a defensive back and wide receiver.

McDaniel informed the Irish of his preference to play safety. That appears to be OK with Notre Dame, who appeared in his latest top five schools. He released the April 7 list via Twitter and also included Penn State, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.

OL Andrew Gentry, 6-8, 290; Littleton (Colo.) Columbine: BYU looks like the team to beat with Gentry. His older brother, JT Gentry, is a freshman offensive lineman for the Cougars. Gentry may also take a Latter-day Saints missionary trip.

“He’s harder to tell. I couldn’t really get a feel for it,” Keanaaina said. “He loves Notre Dame. I know he’s religious, so I don’t know if that’s going to play a part in it for him. But he loved Notre Dame, and I know his family did. They were very impressed with how things are run and how professional it is.

“I can’t make an overall opinion of it or make a good inference. Andrew is mysterious.”

Denver Mullen’s Aidan Keanaaina, a 2020 commit for the Irish, took an official visit to Notre Dame April 5-7.