What's next for Notre Dame recruiting after Ivan Taylor flip? Irish can still finish strong

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — If there was ever a sign the college football calendar needed to shift from recruiting to actual football, hyper-reading into Notre Dame linebackers coach Max Bullough’s tweet last weekend was it.

On Saturday evening, Bullough tweeted three shamrock emojis, charitably interpreted as a signal the Irish had landed a third linebacker to go with commitments Anthony Sacca and Ko’o Kia. Considering the remaining talent on the board — Madden Faraimo and Nathaniel Owusu-Boateng — that development would be a major one for Notre Dame’s class under construction.

Except nothing happened. At least not publicly.

Mixed with the decommitment of four-star safety Ivan Taylor and commitment of four-star safety JaDon Blair, the summer months have been mostly fits and starts for Notre Dame on the recruiting front. The Irish remain in the top five of the team rankings on 247Sports and Rivals with 21 commitments, even after losing Taylor to Michigan. There’s a chance the Irish could get hot with the five major targets left on the board, including Faraimo and Owusu-Boateng. Or Notre Dame could finish cold, working the recruiting margins between now and the early signing period in December.

Here’s a reset of where Notre Dame’s recruiting campaign stands.

The receiver board will clear by next week

Derek Meadows will go first, with the fringe five-star prospect set to announce his commitment on Saturday. Tanook Hines will go next, coming off the board on July 15 after pushing his decision date back twice. And then finally, Dylan Robinson will announce his decision on July 18.

And just like that, Notre Dame’s receiver board will be clear.

But will the Irish pick up a commitment?

Robinson is the best bet as Notre Dame is battling lower-level competition in UCLA and Washington than it is with Meadows or Hines. The product of La Verne, Calif., Robinson took officials to Notre Dame, UCLA, Utah and Washington last month and projects on either side of the ball. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Robinson has a hybrid frame, one the Irish want on offense.

As for Meadows, Notre Dame has fallen from early leader to hanging on with the standout from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. A unique athlete at 6-5, 200 pounds, Meadows went from an under-the-radar prospect when he camped at Notre Dame a year ago to a star who will choose among Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and LSU. The smart money is on the Crimson Tide, with Brian Kelly’s program making a strong run. Losing an on-profile prospect to either will sting.

Hines may be the longest shot of the three, although he was supposed to choose among Notre Dame, USC and Texas last week. Then that got pushed to Monday, until storms moved through Houston, delaying his announcement again. Hines has logged all five official visits – Notre Dame, Texas, Baylor, Michigan and USC – with the Bears and Sun Devils believed to be out.

The Longhorns don’t have a receiver committed this cycle and the Trojans have just two, both three-star prospects. The Irish have two receivers committed, although Jerome Bettis Jr. could develop at safety, leaving three-star Elijah Burress as the only receiver in the class. The point being, all three finalists have receiver needs, which makes Hines more important than the nation’s No. 52 receiver in the 247 Sports Composite might be on paper.

Linebacker could be good or great

A year ago, Notre Dame took two developmental linebackers (Bodie Kahoun and Teddy Rezac), then went all-in with Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa in a recruiting battle with Ohio State and USC. The Irish won out, adding a player expected to contribute immediately.

The Irish have two linebackers committed again at the end of summer, although Sacca isn’t as much of a developmental story as the three-star Kia. But now Notre Dame has two Viliamu-Asa types in play in Faraimo and Owusu-Boateng. Neither has a commitment timeline. Both are looking at a similar mix of schools that includes Texas, Ohio State, Michigan and USC, although the Buckeyes may be full after landing five-star Riley Pettijohn last week.

Notre Dame needs to land at least one of Faraimo and Owusu-Boateng to meet its linebacker needs, even after recruiting the position well the past two cycles. If the Irish get both, Bullough may tweet more than emojis.

Clearing up the board

Notre Dame hosted eight official visitors in June who arrived on campus uncommitted.

From that group, Blair is the only prospect to go Notre Dame’s way. The Irish didn’t land receiver JonAnthony Hall, who committed to Stanford. The Irish also missed on defensive back Jahmir Joseph, who chose Penn State. That leaves Faraimo, Owusu-Boateng, Meadows, Hines and Robinson in play.

If there’s an addition to the board, it’s three-star safety Brandon Logan from Fort Wayne, Ind., who remains committed to Vanderbilt baseball. But after losing Taylor to Michigan, look for Notre Dame to push for the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back from Snider High School. Logan is ranked as the No. 13 prospect in Indiana this cycle by 247Sports, which puts him behind prospects committed to Purdue and Indiana.

However, the Irish have a history of developing in-state talent above its recruiting ranking, including prospects from Fort Wayne in Tyler Eifert and Drue Tranquill. Logan could be the next.

Notre Dame should still finish in the top 10

Late summer has been the traditional time for Notre Dame to slide down the recruiting rankings as college football’s other heavyweights begin to hit their stride. The Irish have been ranked No. 1 at in early summer in all three of Freeman’s classes, slipping all the way out of the top 10 in his first haul (No. 12) and hanging in there during his second (No. 9). Even with Taylor’s departure, there’s a good chance Notre Dame sticks in the top 10 for a second consecutive campaign. There’s even a good chance this could be Freeman’s best haul, which would be a surprise considering the state of the board earlier this year.

If Notre Dame finishes with Owusu-Boateng, Faraimo,  Robinson and Logan, the Irish would hit 280.05 points in the 247Sports Composite team rankings, which would top each of the program’s past five classes and rank between sixth and eighth each cycle.

Since 2010, Notre Dame has signed back-to-back top 10 classes on 247Sports just twice, in 2017-18 (both 10th) and 2021-22 (9th and 7th).

(Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

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