Notre Dame football closes out star-studded month with one more recruiting weekend
A star-studded month of official visits will come to a close this weekend.
By Monday, the NCAA recruiting calendar will shift back into a dead period that will prevent recruits from visiting college campuses until after July 24. But before the Notre Dame football program catches its breath, the Irish began hosting one last group of visitors Friday.
Three more targets in the 2022 class are making their official visits this weekend: wide receiver C.J. Williams and offensive linemen Zach Rice and Ashton Craig. They’re joined by six Irish commits on campus and a quartet of 2023 targets.
The group of 2022 targets visiting is smaller than the previous two weekends. The Notre Dame coaching staff should have a good grasp of where it stands with those previous visitors and may not need to pursue duplicates at their positions.
For instance, three-star wide receiver Xayvion Bradshaw announced Monday that he would make an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend. That visit was scrapped days later.
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The Irish have already hosted three wide receivers targets this month — Tobias Merriweather, Nicholas Anderson and Elic Ayomanor — and Williams will become the fourth. Notre Dame must feel good about its position with those wide receivers to put Bradshaw’s visit on hold.
Notre Dame might be finding clarity at the running back position too. Four-star running back Gavin Sawchuk didn’t make his planned trip to South Bend this weekend, because he committed to Oklahoma on Tuesday. Four-star running back Dallan Hayden, who visited Notre Dame earlier this month, committed to Ohio State the same day.
The following recruits with Irish scholarship offers are making visits to Notre Dame this weekend.
Official visits (2022 recruits)
OL Ashton Craig
OL Zach Rice
WR C.J. Williams
OL commit Ty Chan
DE commit Aiden Gobaira
CB commit Jaden Mickey
RB commit Jadarian Price
OL commit Joey Tanona
WR commit Amorion Walker
Unofficial visits (2023 recruits)
DT Luke Montgomery
OL Harris Sewell
WR Carnell Tate
DE Brenan Vernon
The Irish focus has shifted to Nicholas Singleton, a four-star running back who visited last weekend. The Shillington (Pa.) Governor Mifflin product made trips to Wisconsin and Penn State prior to Notre Dame and planned trips to Texas A&M and Alabama for the final week of visits. Singleton could become the second running back in Notre Dame’s class alongside four-star recruit Jadarian Price, who is also on campus this weekend.
The slew of official visits has only produced one new Notre Dame commitment — four-star linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka — but the Irish will likely add to their 15-man class, which both Rivals and 247Sports rank second nationally, as the calendar shifts to July.
When this weekend comes to a close, Notre Dame will have hosted 22 uncommitted recruits for official visits in June. Maybe one of the visitors this weekend will be the next to offer his pledge to the Irish.
WR C.J. Williams
6-2, 195; Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
There might not be a more important recruit on Notre Dame’s wish list than Williams. The Irish need playmakers at the wide receiver position, and Williams is considered one of the best in the country.
But pulling talent out of Mater Dei has been a struggle for the Irish. The California powerhouse has long been considered a USC feeder school of sorts, but Mater Dei sends players across the country. Linebacker Joe Schmidt, who joined the Irish as a walk-on in 2011, is the only notable Mater Dei product to arrive at Notre Dame in the last decade.
The Irish haven’t signed a scholarship player from Mater Dei since defensive end Brandon Nicholas in 2004. Could Williams end the Irish drought at Mater Dei? 247Sports national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins thinks so. Earlier this month, Biggins said he’d be surprised if Williams didn’t end up at Notre Dame.
“He just seems like a Notre Dame/Stanford kind of a kid,” Biggins said on ND Insider’s “Pod of Gold” podcast. “High academic kid, high character kid.”
Williams, a four-star recruit, started his week at Stanford before heading to Notre Dame. He made an official visit to Texas last weekend and previously visited USC too.
Williams be quite the catch for whichever programs lands him. Rivals ranks him as the No. 3 wide receiver and No. 29 overall in the 2022 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 6 wide receiver and No. 47 overall.
OL Zach Rice
6-6, 295; Lynchburg (Va.) Liberty Christian
Can the Irish sign five-star offensive linemen in back-to-back years? Blake Fisher, who is already in a battle to win a starting role for the Irish as a freshman, was rated by Rivals as a five-star recruit in the 2021 class. Rice will almost certainly finish the 2022 cycle with a five-star rating as well.
He’s already received it from Rivals as the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 19 prospect overall. 247Sports hasn’t given Rice a fifth star yet, but he’s slated as the top offensive tackle and No. 10 overall.
Fisher, who was an active recruiter for the Irish as a committed prospect, gave Rice a shout-out on Twitter earlier this week. Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn has a chance to sway Rice to make the same decision as Fisher.
Rice spent the month visiting his top five programs: North Carolina, Ohio State, Virginia, Alabama and now Notre Dame. They have already separated themselves from an offer list of 40 schools, but the battle among those five will be even tougher to win.
Expectations are high for Rice. He’s drawn comparisons to former Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills, the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for the Cleveland Browns.
OL Ashton Craig
6-5, 280; Lawrenceburg (Ind.) High
Craig aced his audition for Quinn earlier this month when he camped at Notre Dame. The Irish were so impressed that they extended Craig a scholarship offer Tuesday ahead of his official visit. The tables are turned for Craig’s return trip. Now Notre Dame is trying to impress him.
Both Nebraska and Northwestern hosted the three-star recruit for official visits earlier this month. Craig also made a trip to Michigan, where he has been offered, camped at Ohio State, where he hasn’t been offered, and canceled a trip to Iowa to make room for Notre Dame.
Craig hasn’t drawn national attention like Rice. His offers are mostly from programs in the Midwest. But Quinn felt confident enough in his evaluation of Craig to pull the trigger on an offer.
247Sports slates Craig as the No. 36 offensive tackle in the 2022 class. Rivals ranks him No. 64 at the position. His future may be as an interior lineman though.
The two four-star offensive linemen already committed to the Irish — Ty Chan and Joey Tanona — are on campus this weekend and can help convince Craig and Rice to join them.
Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.