New Notre Dame assistant DelVaughn Alexander expected to impact recruiting

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The instructional DVDs that DelVaughn Alexander made and marketed seven years ago can still be had for $39.99 on Amazon.com as well as some more remote corners of the Internet.

The more pressing bit of entrepreneurship for Alexander calls for the 45-year-old former USC two-sport athlete to sell himself.

When Notre Dame gets around to making Alexander’s Wednesday hiring by Irish head football coach Brian Kelly official over the next week, he’ll carry the label of wide receivers coach.

But the unarticulated expectation is that the former Arizona State assistant coach will evolve into the program’s latest impact recruiter.

“He was instrumental in landing five-star wide receiver N’Keal Harry (from Chandler, Ariz.) in the last cycle,” assessed CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “So he has proven he can recruit the Phoenix area and get those kids to stay close to home. But at Notre Dame, you have to be a national recruiter and sometimes get them to go a long way from home.''

For better, for worse, the next roughly three weeks until the Feb. 1 national signing day is too short of a stretch to measure the recruiting process of any of Kelly’s five on-field offseason hires in the most extensive staff makeover since Kelly brought in eight newcomers to go along with Weis Era holdover Tony Alford when Kelly came to ND in December of 2009.

While the 2018 class of six prospects has remained intact, the current cycle has atrophied to 15. ND, in the past few days, has responded by radically expanding its offers list in hopes of filling holes at cornerback, safety, wide receiver and defensive line, in particular, and perhaps a linebacker.

As the NCAA-mandated recruiting dead period ends at midnight on Wednesday night, ND can start hosting prospects on campus again for official visits. And because so many of the latest wave of offers comprises players who are already committed to other schools, the 2017 stretch run has a retro 2010 feel to it.

That class, Kelly’s first at ND, included eight flips — still a Kelly Era high — from other programs. Five of those eight committed in the final 2½ weeks leading up to signing day.

The jewel among them was a Colorado high school quarterback named Danny Spond, who three seasons later was a starting linebacker on the 2012 squad that played for the national title.

“When you’re talking a stretch run like this one, you’re hoping that these guys — more than anything — are good evaluators,” said analyst Steve Wiltfong, national director of recruiting for 247Sports.

“Maybe they don’t have the relationship with the kid. But if the ND brand wins battles late, you can hit big time from Plan B if you’re a good evaluator. As long as they’re getting a guy who’s a good player and not a throw-in to put some meat on the roster, those new assistants can help seal the deal. But you can’t expect them this late to come in and crush out a top five class.”

In the long term, Wiltfong said Alexander’s ties to Western prep powers such as Las Vegas Bishop Gorman and St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, Calif., will start showing itself as the next recruiting cycle accelerates in the spring and summer.

“He’s earned the trust of the high school coaches out West,” Wiltfong said. “And while DelVaughn hasn’t been on this kind of stage, he’s got a lot of power in the new logo that will be on his golf shirt when he goes to meet recruits.

“If you’re just a guy who’s going to bring day-to-day effort and a guy who’s consistent with the message and doesn’t turn into a ghost at times, he’s going to be fine on the recruiting trail and maybe a really good hire.”

On the field Alexander reunites with new ND offensive coordinator Chip Long. The two worked together at Arizona State for four seasons (2012-15) before Long left for a short stint as offensive coordinator at Memphis last season.

Alexander coached wide receivers for the four seasons he and Long were together before moving over to coach tight ends last season.

Alexander becomes the sixth new coach to join Kelly’s staff this offseason, joining defensive coordinator Mike Elko, special teams coordinator Brian Polian, offensive coordinator Chip Long, director of strength and conditioning Matt Balis and linebackers coach Clark Lea.

Like Alexander, the additions of Balis and Lea have not yet been formally announced by Notre Dame but have been confirmed by sources to The Tribune. Kelly still has to hire a quarterbacks coach, though he may have to be creative with that hiring, because the NCAA is not expected to pass legislation for a 10th full-time, on-field assistant until April.

Alexander’s previous coaching stops include UNLV, Oregon State, Wisconsin, the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, two seasons with Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, and a year as a grad assistant at alma mater USC.

During his playing days, the Los Angeles native was a backup receiver for the Trojans and was a high jumper and triple jumper for the track and field team.

Alexander has coached every position on offense except offensive line in a career that spans two decades. By the time ND opens spring practice in mid-March, it’s likely he’ll have touched recruiting at every position on both sides of the ball.

“They’re scrambling to finish this class,” Lemming said. “They’ll drop out of the top 10 and into the top 20 by signing day. And they’re hoping to get back into the top 5 in 2018. They’ve got a great start, and DelVaughn Alexander is a guy they’re counting on to lead the way to a strong finish in ’18.”

New Notre Dame wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander is expected to make a significant impact on the recruiting trail as well. (Photo provided/ARIZONA STATE MEDIA RELATIONS)