Notre Dame football covered a lot of recruiting ground in last two weeks

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame’s recruiting blitz started with billboards promoting its players and program across the country, but the Irish coaching staff didn’t stop there.

Notre Dame made a concerted effort to establish and build upon relationships in important recruiting regions the last two weeks.

Because of the COVID-caused dead period in NCAA recruiting, the Irish coaches weren't allowed to hit the road for their typical evaluation period. They tried to accomplish as much as they normally would by spending time connecting with high school coaches through Zoom or on the phone.

Starting on Thursday, May 6, Notre Dame’s assistant coaches shared on Twitter the areas they were focusing their attention on specific days. Some coaches spent multiple days in the same area due to the high number of prospects the Irish typically recruit from those areas.

Sometimes the coaches named specific cities they were recruiting. Other times the coaches were broader with a focus on an entire state or region. Below is a list of locations the Irish coaching staff spent the majority of their time.

• Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees: Kansas City, Kan.; Nebraska and Chicago.

• Running backs coach Lance Taylor: Charlotte, N.C.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; Alabama; Jacksonville, Fla.; Mississippi and Arkansas

• Wide receivers coach Del Alexander: Arizona; California; Oregon and Nevada.

• Tight ends coach John McNulty: New Jersey; New York; Philadelphia; Pennsylvania; Minnesota; Wisconsin and New England.

• Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn: Michigan; Northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania.

• Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman: Cincinnati; Dayton, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Toledo, Ohio; and Detroit.

• Defensive line coach Mike Elston: Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia; Austin, Texas; and Dallas/Fort Worth.

• Cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens: Louisiana; South Carolina and Houston.

• Safeties coach Chris O’Leary: Tennessee; Kentucky; West Virginia; Orlando, Fla.; Tampa Bay, Fla.; and Miami.

• Special teams coordinator Brian Polian: Indiana; California; Colorado; Utah and Hawaii.

New offers

Eleven recruits reported new offers from Notre Dame during the Irish recruiting blitz the last two weeks.

• QB Malachi Nelson, 6-3, 185; Los Alamitos (Calif.) High: Nelson was the third quarterback in the 2023 class to add an Irish offer following Arch Manning and Dante Moore. Rivals ranks Nelson as the top quarterback and No. 2 overall recruit in his class.

• ROV Nyckoles Harbor, 6-4, 209; Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll: Ranked No. 92 overall by Rivals in the 2023 class, Harbor already has offers from the likes of Georgia, LSU, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M.

• DE Dylan Gooden, 6-6, 200; Olney (Md.) Good Counsel: The 2023 recruit became Notre Dame’s latest target from the school that sent cornerback Cam Hart and center Sam Mustipher to the Irish in the Brian Kelly era.

• WR Brandon Inniss, 6-0, 189; Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage: Both Rivals and 247Sports rank Inniss as the top wide receiver in the 2023 class.

• LB Tackett Curtis, 6-2, 205; Many (La.) High: The four-star recruit in the 2023 class already has 39 scholarship offers including LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, Stanford and USC.

• DT Markis Deal, 6-4, 275; Garland (Texas) Naaman Forest: The 2023 recruit could be an offensive or defensive lineman in college football. Texas and Texas A&M offered him earlier this spring.

• DE Kennedy McDowell, 6-4, 196; Frisco (Texas) Memorial: Notre Dame is just one of seven offers McDowell, a 2023 recruit nicknamed “Mayhem,” has reported. His previous offers came from FIU, Arizona State, Kansas, Colorado, SMU and Vanderbilt.

• S Adon Shuler, 6-1, 190; Irvington (N.J.) High: The Irish have signed at least one recruit from New Jersey in each of the last four recruiting classes and have a verbal commitment from Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic’s Steve Angeli in the 2022 class. Shuler, 2023 recruit, became the second New Jersey product to add a Notre Dame offer in the 2023 class.

• CB Sharif Denson, 5-10, 160; Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail: The 2023 recruit tweeted a photo of former Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III, a fellow Jacksonville product, when announcing his offer. Denson’s offer list includes the in-state trio of Florida, Florida State and Miami.

• DE Nigel Smith, 6-4, 245; Melissa (Texas) High: Notre Dame became the first Power Five program to offer Smith. The only other schools to previously offer Smith, a 2024 recruit, were North Texas and UTSA.

• ATH Ryan Wingo, 6-2, 198; St. Louis University High: College football runs in the family for the 2024 recruit. His older brothers Ronnie and Ray played at Arkansas and Missouri, respectively.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, left, and defensive line coach Mike Elston, right, spent a lot of time reaching out to high school coaches in the last two months as the Irish coaching staff established their geographic responsibilities in recruiting. Freeman focused on Ohio and Michigan. Elston focused on the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Texas.