Notre Dame's push for more 2022 commitments starts with official visits this weekend
The list of recruits wanting to make official visits to Notre Dame this month was so long that the official visit schedule couldn’t be limited to the typical weekend events.
The official visit spree started Friday with nine targets in the 2022 class arriving on campus for in-depth looks at Notre Dame. After those visits end Sunday, three more official visits will start Monday.
Due to the NCAA instituting a dead period during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Irish haven’t hosted an official visit since the 2020 recruiting class. The dead period was lifted on June 1, which opened the door for official visits, which can be paid for by the university, and unofficial visits, trips funded solely by recruits and their visiting parties.
The unofficial visits started earlier this month with Notre Dame hosting prospects for camps including the Irish Invasion last Sunday. But the spotlight will be even brighter on the official visitors throughout the month.
The first 10 targets making official visits would be welcomed additions to Notre Dame’s 2022 class of 14 commitments. The Irish class is highly regarded by both 247Sports (No. 2 in the country) and Rivals (No. 3).
There’s still room for improvement as programs across the country will catch up with the number of verbal pledges Notre Dame’s staff has gathered. Mississippi State is the only other team in the country with 14 commitments.
Here’s a closer look at the 10 targets who will be making official visits to Notre Dame in the coming days.
• DL Anthony Lucas: The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Lucas is the closest thing to a five-star prospect visiting Notre Dame this weekend. If he were to remain ranked No. 27 overall by 247Sports at the end of the recruiting cycle, a fifth star would eventually come his way.
Defensive line coach Mike Elston already has an impressive collection of defensive linemen committed with four-star recruits Tyson Ford and Aiden Gobaira and three-star recruits Darren Agu and Donovan Hinish. But the Irish are continuing to push for an elite lineman like Lucas.
The Scottdale (Ariz.) Chaparral product will likely play on the interior in college, but he brings some position versatility up front. Lucas made his first official visit to Texas A&M last weekend and has also been giving consideration to Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, USC, Texas, Florida State, UCLA and Oregon.
247Sports: Four stars, No. 6 DL, No. 27 overall. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 12 SDE, No. 149 overall.
• WR Tobias Merriweather: Wide receiver might be the biggest need remaining in Notre Dame’s 2022 class. With only one scholarship wide receiver remaining on the Irish roster in the sophomore and junior classes, early playing time should be readily available as soon as 2022.
That could be an attractive pull for Merriweather, who’s already familiar with the Irish from his unofficial visit for Notre Dame’s 40-7 home victory over Boston College in November 2019. The 6-4, 185-pound recruit from Camas (Wash.) Union received a Notre Dame offer a year later.
Merriweather has since emerged as one of Notre Dame’s top wide receiver targets in the 2022 class. The Irish are trying to pull him away from the Pac-12 with Stanford, USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington all in pursuit of Merriweather.
247Sports: Four stars, No. 10 WR, No. 78 overall. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 21 WR, No. 156 overall.
• LB Niuafe Tuihalamaka: Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman set the bar high for linebacker recruiting when he arrived at Notre Dame. He has a chance to reach his expectations with successful weekend visits for Tuihalamaka and Jaylen Sneed. That duo could round out an impressive group with four-star linebackers Joshua Burnham and Nolan Ziegler already committed.
With Tuihalamaka (6-2, 230) considering a summer decision, the Irish could learn their fate with the Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany product soon. He previously narrowed his focus to five schools: Notre Dame, Texas, Arizona State, Stanford and Oregon. The Longhorns hosted Tuihalamaka for a visit last week.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 5 ILB, No. 144 overall. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 13 LB, No. 120 overall.
• LB Jaylen Sneed: The official visit for Sneed won’t start until Monday after the other targets wrap up their visits, but he’ll be joined on campus by Notre Dame defensive end commits Tyson Ford and Darren Agu. That will help Sneed get a better sense of what he could be joining in South Bend.
Sneed, a 6-2, 215-pound product of Hilton Head (S.C.) Island, began his month with an official visit to Oregon last weekend. The Irish might still remain the favorites in a top five that also includes Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 5 OLB, No. 46 overall. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 10 LB, No. 97 overall.
• CB Benjamin Morrison: Shortly after the dead period ended, Morrison made visits to Alabama and Auburn last week. Now the Irish, led by cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens and special teams coordinator Brian Polian, get a chance to impress Morrison this weekend.
The 6-0, 172-pound product of Phoenix Brophy Prep has football bloodlines. His father, Darryl, play at Arizona in college and for Washington in the NFL. It’s up to Mickens and Polian to convince Morrison that Notre Dame provides a better path than some of his other contenders like Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, Florida State and Michigan.
Rivals: Fours stars, No. 30 CB. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 31 CB.
• DB Devin Moore: Analysts are split on whether Moore will be a better cornerback or safety at the college level. Mickens and safeties coach Chris O’Leary would be happy to figure that out for themselves at Notre Dame.
The 6-2, 175-pound Moore recorded five interceptions playing cornerback at Naples (Fla.) High last season. Moore has been a popular recruit in the Sunshine State. His top seven schools include Florida, Florida State, Miami, Alabama, Stanford, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Moore made visits to Florida and Alabama last week.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 29 CB. | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 26 S.
• S Jake Pope: Notre Dame’s 2022 class has yet to secure a commitment from a safety, so Pope’s importance remains high. But the competition for the 6-2, 190-pound recruit is expected to be stiff.
Pope, a product of Buford (Ga.) High, spent the first day of June at Georgia then made an official visit to North Carolina last weekend. He’s also considering Alabama, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
247Sports: Four stars, No. 18 S. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 36 ATH.
• OL Billy Schrauth: Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn’s recruiting prowess will be tested in his pursuit of Schrauth. It’s a tall task to convince an offensive lineman from Wisconsin to leave the state, but the 6-5, 280-pound product of Fond Du Lac (Wisc.) St. Mary’s Springs is seriously considering an exit to Notre Dame.
Ohio State and Michigan have tried to break up the two-team race, but the Irish and Badgers will be tough to beat. Can Quinn add Schrauth to a class that already includes four-star offensive linemen Joey Tanona and Ty Chan? This weekend could be the deciding factor.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 3 OG, No. 117 overall. | Four stars, No. 7 IOL, No. 173 overall.
• OL Jake Taylor: The Irish are plenty familiar with prospects from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and tight end Alizé Mack both made the jump from Gorman to Notre Dame to the NFL. Former Irish safety Nicco Fertitta has even returned to his high school alma mater as an assistant coach for Gorman.
Those connections won’t be enough to sway Taylor. The Irish have to show the 6-6, 290-pound prospect how he can thrive at Notre Dame rather than Alabama, where he visited last weekend, or Oklahoma, where he’s scheduled to visit next week.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 38 OT. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 17 OT, No. 218 overall.
• RB Dallan Hayden: Running backs coach Lance Taylor wants more than one running back in the 2022 class. That’s why the Irish have continued to recruit Hayden after receiving a commitment from four-star recruit Jadarian Price in February.
The 5-11, 195-pound product of Memphis Christian Brothers narrowed his focus to four schools to start the year — Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon and Tennessee — but Illinois has entered the picture and hosted him for an official visit last weekend. Hayden's father, Aaron, played running back at Tennessee before four years in the NFL.
Rivals: Four stars, No. 13 RB, No. 170 overall. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 21 RB, No. 208 overall.
The following recruits are expected make visits to Notre Dame this weekend or arrive on campus Monday. All visitors in the 2022 class are making official visits.
RB Dallan Hayden
DT Anthony Lucas
WR Tobias Merriweather
DB Devin Moore
CB Benjamin Morrison
S Jake Pope
OL Billy Schrauth
LB Jaylen Sneed
OL Jake Taylor
LB Niuafe Tuihalamaka
DE Darren Agu
DE Tyson Ford
OL Alex Birchmeier
DE Keon Keeley
ROV Sonny Styles
Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.