Football: ND recruits meet, greet prospects
Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith, a linebacker from Fort Wayne, will be in town Friday to meet up with some of his fellow commits and possibly do a little recruiting himself.
(ISR photo/BOB WIENEKE)
By Tyler James
6:59 am, June 14, 2012
Irish Sports Report
There might not be campfire sing-alongs and relay races, but a number of 2013 Notre Dame football commits will be gathering this weekend for a summer camp of sorts.
Six commits confirmed with the Tribune that they'd be on campus, in addition to a few uncommitted prospects and incoming freshmen arriving for the summer session.
Whether they're traveling by plane or rental car, the commits were eager to arrive at Notre Dame to gather with their future teammates to help recruit guys like linebacker Alex Anzalone and cornerback MacKensie Alexander. Sitting in front of them was an opportunity to lay the groundwork for adding new members to the self-named #IrishMob13 recruiting class.
Tight end Mike Heuerman, who's friends with Anzalone, intentionally planned his visit to be the same weekend. He then let other commits like linebacker Jaylon Smith, quarterback Malik Zaire, and wide receiver James Onwualu know when they'd be on campus. The big weekend grew from there.
Heuerman, Zaire, defensive end Jacob Matuska and offensive lineman Hunter Bivin were scheduled to arrive on campus Thursday.
Zaire said he would be making the trip with Matuska and Matuska's father in a rental car. Zaire had his eyes on throwing the ball around with his fellow commits.
“I'm always eager to work out with those guys and get the chance to come up these next couple of days,” Zaire said. “We'll put a lot of work in just planting the groundwork for what's to come in the later years.”
Zaire will get a chance to meet Smith for the first time and talk to the uncommitted recruits on campus.
“It's a good opportunity for them to come and see what kind of class Notre Dame has this year and the type of guys they might want to be around for their college career,” Zaire said. “We'll get some good opportunities to convince them individually because we'll be hanging out most of the time.”
Bivin will be making his first trip to Notre Dame since the Blue-Gold game, a weekend that produced a commitment from offensive lineman John Montelus. He said he's looking forward to doing more recruiting this weekend.
“We've all picked up some pretty good recruiting methods along the way,” Bivin said. “So maybe I'll get to lay some down on them and get them to sway their mind to Irish.”
Bivin said he expected the visit to be less hectic than a gameday visit, giving them a chance to become more familiar with the campus.
“I think we're really going to get a good chance to look at Notre Dame as a university, not just a football program,” Bivin said.
Heuerman could end up being a crucial visitor this weekend because he also knows Alexander from 7-on-7 competition in Florida. He admitted that he was a little surprised that Alexander was making the trip to Notre Dame because he had always figured Alexander was a player who would stay in-state. But now that he's showing interest in the Irish, Heuerman will be in his ear more.
“He's a good overall kid,” Heuerman said. “He'd be a great kid to add to the commit list. I'm definitely going to be on him this weekend.”
Heuerman talking to Anzalone will be nothing new. He said the two talk on nearly a daily basis.
“I'm not going to be down his throat saying you've got to come here. Of course, I'll be like 'Everyone knows this is the spot for you,'” Heuerman said. “I'm not going to be like 'You have to come here.' We've got a good friendship to where I don't have to do that. He'll make his decision on his own.”
On Friday, Jaylon Smith arrives after spending Thursday celebrating his 17th birthday with his family.
The visit will be an opportunity for Smith to meet some of the commits for the first time. He said he'd only be able to spend one day there because of a 7-on-7 event in Toledo, Ohio, on Saturday.
But while Smith's on campus, he'll get a chance to see the No. 1 jersey he plans on wearing while playing at Notre Dame.
“I'll probably take a picture of it or of me wearing it,” Smith said. “Just something I can take back and put in my scrapbook.”
He'll have a chance to do in-person recruiting on campus for the first time since committing.
“We're really just trying to feed them positive things,” Smith said. “Not even trying to pressure those guys, but just showing them why Notre Dame outweighs those schools.”
Onwualu also planned on arriving on Friday and staying until Sunday. The time spent on campus will be worthwhile. He'll get chance to run some routes and catch passes from Zaire.
“We all made it an important thing to our class, making sure that we bond together and start to build a family mentality,” Onwualu said. “I think it's huge for us.”
Another linebacker visiting
Clifton Garrett, a rising junior linebacker from Plainfield (Ill.) South High, told the Tribune he would be visiting Notre Dame on Friday with his parents.
The 6-foot-2½, 220-pounder holds an offer from the Irish. 247Sports.com ranks Garrett as the No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2014 class and the No. 41 prospect overall.
Clemson gets nation's No. 1
Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end from Loganville, Ga., has reportedly committed to Clemson.
The Clemson Rivals site, TigerIllustrated.com, first reported the commitment Thursday evening while Nkemdiche was visiting campus.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound rising senior is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2013 by Rivals.com, 247Sports.com, ESPN.com and Scout.com.
Two teammates of Nkemdiche's at Grayson High are also committed to Clemson: running back Wayne Gallman and defensive back David Kamara. Kamara announced his commitment Wednesday night.