Versatile TE recruit Mitchell Evans verbally commits to Notre Dame's 2021 class

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

The commitments keep coming for Notre Dame.

Three-star tight end Mitchell Evans on Friday became the most recent football recruit to verbally pledge to the Irish. They have landed commitments from five recruits within the last nine days.

Both 247Sports and Rivals now rank Notre Dame's 15-member 2021 recruiting class at No. 13 nationally.

“If I go there and do what I’m supposed to do, I have a good shot at the NFL," Evans told the Tribune earlier this month. "I always wanted to do that. If I go there, I’ll have a good chance of doing that, because they will develop me in a way that I need to be.

"And let’s say football doesn’t work out. My degree from Notre Dame is elite. I’ll have a very good job when coming out of college with a Notre Dame degree.”

Evans brings a curious and impressive skill set with his versatility. Wadsworth (Ohio) High's coaching staff expects him to start at quarterback this season. He once launched a 73-yard punt in a game. In college, Evans wants to play tight end, but he's open to moving to left tackle.

Evans is 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, but says he expects to grow two more inches.

"The best has yet to come with Mitch," Wadsworth head football coach Justin  Todd told the Tribune on Friday. "I'm so excited to watch where his career goes. Everything that we envisioned he would be able to do, we are going to watch that for what I believe to be a very long time."

Michigan State, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Florida State, Cincinnati, Indiana along with Notre Dame were included in Evans' top 10 school list on July 4.

Those schools only started heavily pursuing Evans in the spring. Growing pains and a back injury kept him from participating in many camp settings before his junior season. Notre Dame offered him a scholarship on June 30.

Limited evaluation and time at the tight end position helped prevent Evans from earning four-star recognition. 247Sports ranks Evans as its No. 19 tight end and No. 482 overall player in the class. Rivals pegs him No. 28 at the position. 

The Irish will hope Evans will be better than advertised and tap into his upside. They liked what he displayed when playing tight end as a junior.

“Obviously, No. 1, his size. He’s got really soft hands and incredible size,” said Todd on Evans’ top attributes. “When you look at what he’s able to do with the football after the catch, I think that’s impressive to colleges. They were able to see him from his highlight tape. When we put it together, we had some in-line, H-back, flexed and split clips.”

New Notre Dame tight ends coach John McNulty kept busy this week.

Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton's Jack Nickel, a three-star tight end in the 2022 class, committed to Notre Dame on Monday. Adding Evans completes Notre Dame's two-tight end 2021 class. Hart County (Ga.) tight end Cane Berrong pledged to the Irish in June of 2019.

Visiting Notre Dame for the first time on July 17-18, albeit informally during an NCAA recruiting dead period, helped Evans reach his decision. The recruiting dead period, now extended to Aug. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic, prohibits recruits from taking official and unofficial visits to college campuses. 

Nothing keeps recruits from exploring universities themselves, however. Irish 2021 offensive line commit Blake Fisher, from Avon (Ind.) High, joined Evans to show him around campus. 

Now Fisher will work on Clarkston (Mich.) High offensive lineman Rocco Spindler, Notre Dame's top remaining target in the 2021 class. He plans to announce on Aug. 8. Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and LSU are his top five schools.

The commitment spree is expected to pause until Spindler's decision.

"I think that just solidified everything," said Todd about Evans' visit. "Would Mitchell have committed to Notre Dame if he hadn't gone there? I still believe that he would have. But I really believe that really hammered everything home."

Wadsworth (Ohio) High tight end Mitchell Evans (left) toured Notre Dame's campus with offensive line commit Blake Fisher (right) on July 17-18.