4-star cornerback commit Jaden Mickey found honesty in Notre Dame's recruiting pitch

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Jaden Mickey wanted the truth.

When wading through a recruiting process during a year-long dead period, that might be hard to parse for a four-star cornerback recruit. But Mickey found what he was looking for nearly 1,800 miles away at Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame is Notre Dame,” said Mickey, who announced Sunday his verbal commitment to the Irish football program. “It’s one of the greatest schools in the country. Their football is at the top and so is their academics.”

Mickey, a junior at Corona (Calif.) Centennial, felt the information being presented to him was honest and authentic. He developed relationships with Notre Dame associate head coach Brian Polian, who recruits in California for the Irish, cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens and defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman.

“I like coach Polian, because he stated straight facts every time we got on Zooms and talked,” Mickey said. “There was no fluff behind what he was saying. He just let me know about the school and the football program.”

Mickey even reached out to former Irish wide receiver Javon McKinley, who led the Irish in receptions as a fifth-year senior last season and graduated from Centennial in 2016.

“I hit him up on Twitter and asked him a few questions about Notre Dame, how he liked it and what he could have done better,” Mickey said. “He let me know straight up.”

The 6-foot, 175-pound Mickey committed to Notre Dame on Sunday from an offer list that included USC, Georgia, Michigan State and Utah. He considered Oregon, California and Northwestern among his top four options alongside Notre Dame.

The commitment came Sunday after Mickey decided he had learned enough about Notre Dame and wanted to reserve a spot in a class that he was told would include only two or three cornerbacks. He became the first cornerback to join the 2022 Irish recruiting class which now consists of 10 commitments and ranks No. 3 in the country per 247Sports and No. 5 on Rivals.

Mickey sorted through his options while preparing for the COVID-delayed high school football in California to begin. Despite not yet playing his junior season, Mickey maintained his four-star rating. 247Sports slates him as the No. 27 cornerback in the 2022 class. Rivals ranks him No. 35 at the position.

Mickey credited his approach to playing cornerback for the reason why schools like Notre Dame pursued him.

“The way I play, the technique I play with, the aggression I play with and the dog mentality I show on the field,” Mickey said.

As a sophomore still in need of gaining some weight, Mickey held his own in the Centennial secondary. He totaled 31 tackles, six interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. In a 2019 matchup with USC tight end commit Keyan Burnett, who lined up out wide for JSerra Catholic, Mickey limited 6-5, 200-pound sophomore to two catches for 28 yards.

Mickey found that type of effort was what Mickens was looking for with the Irish. He acquainted himself with the résumé of new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman too. The tape didn’t lie.

“Him coming from Cincinnati, I watched a lot of their defense last year,” Mickey said. “He had a clips from Cincinnati and showed me what he thinks can take the defense to the next level and what he intends to show everybody and put on the field at Notre Dame.”

Four-star cornerback Jaden Mickey, a 2022 recruit, committed to Notre Dame on Sunday.