Notebook: Notre Dame plans to still recruit Washington WR commit Jalen McMillan

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

When Anthony Goston’s phone started buzzing at an alarming rate, he decided to pull his car over to the side of the road.

Did Jalen McMillan really just commit to Washington?

McMillan’s head coach at Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial had to check to make sure. Prior to taking his unofficial visit to Washington last weekend, McMillan offered Goston no inclination that he was on the verge of verbally pledging to the Huskies.

Tuesday’s news came as a surprise to many, including Notre Dame’s coaching staff. The four-star wide receiver planned to take an official visit to South Bend for ND’s Oct. 12 home game against USC. He intended to announce his commitment on Dec. 7.

The Irish coaching staff doesn’t intend to treat McMillan like his recruitment is over, though.

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long contacted Goston following McMillan’s announcement. Long expressed to Goston that he believes an official visit could still win over the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, and that the Irish are open to McMillan moving up his potential official visit to Notre Dame’s Sept. 28 home game against Virginia.

“Coach Long still wants to stay in contact and keep recruiting him,” Goston said. “They viewed him as one of the top players on their board. They think he can come in and make an immediate impact. On the other side, I don’t know how Jalen will respond.”

When 2019 athlete Asa Turner committed to Washington last summer, Notre Dame continued to pursue the Carlsbad (Calif.) High product. ND’s persistence nearly paid off, but Turner still signed with the Huskies.

The Irish hope McMillan will be different. Notre Dame wanted to sign three receivers to its 2020 recruiting class. Jordan Johnson and Jay Brunelle are already committed, and Omaha (Neb.) Burke’s Xavier Watts might follow suit soon. However, Notre Dame likely would find room for McMillan in the class.

McMillan has a case as one of the best receivers in the country. 247Sports ranks McMillan as its No. 4 receiver and No. 31 overall player in the 2020 class, while Rivals slates him No. 14 at the position and No. 63 overall.

“You just never know what’s going to happen,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “If Washington has a great year, maybe coach (Chris Petersen) will go to the NFL. You never know. That’s why you never get mad after losing to another school. You could come back after him.

“It’s never over until they actually sign the letter of intent. Notre Dame has had great success taking players away from other schools.”

Goston might influence McMillan to take the trip. He considers himself an Irish fan, and his daughter attends Notre Dame’s law school. Goston accompanied McMillan on his unofficial visit for ND’s Blue-Gold Game on April 12. Following the trip, Goston told the Tribune that Notre Dame and Washington felt like McMillan’s favorite schools.

McMillan’s mother, Belinda, has never been to Notre Dame. She visited Washington with her son multiple times. She also joined him for unofficial visits to Oklahoma and USC. Bringing her to South Bend could help open the door to Notre Dame.

“I have no idea if it will happen, but I don’t think it would hurt,” Goston said. “(Belinda) hasn’t been to Notre Dame. Giving her a chance to see it would give her some perspective in terms of being able to compare it with those schools. But at this point, I don’t know.”


— J4 (@jalenmcmillan20) June 28, 2019More decisions

Because of the dead period, rising seniors likely won’t take an official visit to South Bend until Notre Dame’s Sept. 14 home game against New Mexico.

The upcoming months should include a couple more commitments, recruits releasing their narrowed top school lists, recruiting camps, and updated recruiting rankings.

Now at 15 commitments for its 2020 recruiting class, Notre Dame has just a handful of spots remaining. The Irish landed 17 commitments in their 2019 recruiting class by July 4 of last year. The same number could be reached by July 4 this year as well.

The following Notre Dame targets will likely announce their commitments soon.

• CB Caleb Offord, 6-1, 175; Southaven (Miss.) High: Barring a major change, Offord will commit to Notre Dame on July 4. He took two trips to South Bend this month, including for a June 21-23 official visit.

• WR Xavier Watts, 6-1, 175; Omaha (Neb.) Burke: Watts told the Tribune that he nearly committed to Notre Dame during his June 21-23 official visit. He delayed the decision so he could think about it more. With the Irish still in the lead, Watts could commit soon. His potential trips to Nebraska and Michigan likely won’t happen.

• DE Mitchell Melton, 6-4, 220; Olney (Md.) Good Counsel: After missing on defensive end target Braiden McGregor, Notre Dame set its sights on Melton. A majority of recruiting analyst peg Melton to land with Michigan. He plans to announce his decision on July 3.

Top recruits to showcase talents

Notre Dame quarterback commit Drew Pyne is among 20 quarterbacks competing in the Elite 11 Finals from the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. The event, which began Friday, is perhaps the nation’s most prestigious quarterback competition.

Student Sports will also host The Opening Finals from Sunday through Wednesday. Two Irish commits — running back Chris Tyree and tight end Michael Mayer — will be among top high school players showcasing their talents. Pyne will also join them.

The following uncommitted Irish targets will also compete in The Opening Finals: safety Lathan Ransom, cornerback Jahari Rogers, linebackers Cody Simon and Phillip Webb, receiver Michael Redding III and 2021 offensive lineman Donovan Jackson.

An impressive outing at these events could result in a major ratings boost. 247Sports aims to release its new 2020 rankings shortly after The Opening Finals. Rivals will update its rankings in August. Irish freshman safety Kyle Hamilton shined in last year’s event, which led to 247Sports bumping him 203 spots overall and to four-star status.

Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial’s Jalen McMillan, a top Notre Dame wide receiver target, committed to Washington on Tuesday.