RB Sedrick Irvin Jr.'s commitment to Notre Dame is latest payoff in June investment
Notre Dame’s reconfigured recruiting strategy during the NCAA’s 15-month, pandemic-precipitated dead period went beyond honing Zoom expertise and concocting an elite strategy for playing catch-up with the 2022 class of prospects.
It was also very much about investing in the more-distant future. Thoroughly.
The verbal commitment Wednesday morning of top 100/four-star running back Sedrick Irvin Jr. is another instance of tangible proof that it’s working.
The 5-10, 185-pound junior from Gulliver Prep in Miami becomes the fifth member of the 2023 Notre Dame football recruiting class and the fifth straight prospect in that class with a four-star rating or better from Rivals.com.
The only other time that’s happened with Irish recruiting in the Rivals Era (2002-present) was the six four-stars the current 2022 class started with in a group that sits at 21 commitments. That class has topped the Rivals 2022 team rankings ever since wide receiver C.J. Williams made his pledge public more than six weeks ago.
And the Irish aren’t finished yet adding onto that class.
Irvin’s commitment, meanwhile, narrowed the gap in the 2023 team rankings between No. 1 Oklahoma and the second-ranked Irish. ND is ranked No. 2 in both classes by 247Sports.
He also gives Notre Dame a top 100 recruit at that position group for the second time in four cycles. Until current running backs coach Lance Taylor closed and signed Chris Tyree in the 2020 class, the Irish had landed only one running back ranked among the Rivals top 100 during the Brian Kelly Era (the late Greg Bryant, 2013).
Irvin, ranked No. 81 overall per Rivals and No. 4 among running backs, chose the Irish over fellow finalists Oregon, Stanford, and the school where father Sedrick Sr. starred, Michigan State.
The elder Irvin, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher at MSU who was drafted by the Detroit Lions, is Gulliver Prep's running backs coach and the school's strength and conditioning coordinator. Gulliver athletic director Ira Childress, meanwhile, has a connection to ND head coach Brian Kelly, having played for him at Grand Valley State.
"My parents have influenced my career and my life the most," Irvin Jr. said. "My dad has always told me hard work is the best work, and that’s one thing I’ve tried to take in, grow up with the work ethic he had.
"And my mom, she does it by example. My whole life she’s been working multiple jobs just to make sure that I have a life she didn’t have."
Irvin Jr.'s offer list also included Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, Florida, Florida State and Miami, among others.
“Love him. Wow. That’s a really good catch,” CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said of Irvin. “He’s a four-star-plus by me. Sedrick shows excellent vision, agility and quickness. He’s a shifty back with really good hands, who plays against really good competition.
“He has the great bloodlines with his father, and his father’s cousin is Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. On top of all that, he’s a great kid, always smiling and happy and a very good athlete.”
And a very good athlete who has a teammate Notre Dame is also very interested in. Wide receiver Jalen Brown is ranked No. 53 in the 2023 class, per Rivals, and No. 18 by 247Sports.
Both players visited Notre Dame in June, a week apart, after the NCAA lifted the protracted recruiting dead period on June 1.
Up until that time, there had been no guided campus visits of any kind — official or unofficial — since March of 2020. The only way prospects could get a look at campus was if they did so on their own, without meeting with any of the coaches or players.
The floodgates opened in June, and a lot of schools understandably prioritized the 2022 official visitors. But the Notre Dame staff, led by recruiting coordinator Mike Elston, put in the overtime to build relationships with the 2023 class and some key 2024s as well.
"I think ever since the offer (November 2020) Notre Dame was a serious player," Irvin told the Tribune. "It’s always been a school I’ve dreamed of going to. The offer and then just getting up there. Those were the biggest things for me in my decision. I got up there in June.
"Why the visit was important is that I was able to see the campus. It’s a beautiful campus, a lot of tradition there. I could just see myself being a part of it."
More than 100 members of the 2023 class took unofficial visits to ND in June, many of whom attended the Irish Invasion camp. And 17 came to ND — including some repeaters — in late July during a brief NCAA open recruiting window.
This past weekend, the Irish were at it again.
Major Everhart — a 2022 running back from Amarillo, Texas, who ND projects as a wide receiver — was the lone official visitor for the gameday weekend that included a 27-13 Irish victory over Purdue.
But there were 22 members of the 2023 class on unofficial visits, as well as a dozen sophomores from the 2024 class.
Notable among the juniors was elite quarterback prospect Nico Iamaleava from Downey, Calif. The 6-6, 202-pounder from Warren High School is the cousin of Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei and vowed to return for another visit the for the ND-USC game on Oct. 23.
“Another four-star-plus prospect, who has a really good arm and who’s athletic,” Lemming said of Iamaleava. “He also starred in volleyball. I wouldn’t call him a runner, but he can extend plays. The Irish have a chance here.
“Notre Dame offering early, getting kids on campus early is a big change for them, and it’s paying off,” Lemming said. “I’ve learned this from all the great coaches: Get them on campus as often as possible. Bring in the numbers.
“Notre Dame has always had a great atmosphere that’s going to get kids’ attention. The difference now is they’re no longer having to play catch-up with other great programs. It’s a game-changer.”
Follow ND Insider Eric Hansen on Twitter: @EHansenNDI