Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Recruiting Week In Review

February 22, 2020

Written by Joe Bradshaw

I’ve never coached college football. In fact, I’ve never coached football at any level, but in the sports I have coached, there’s always been a sense of completion at the end of the season. Wins and losses are tallied, improvement is measured and offseason plans are made. There’s a sense of beginning and ending. In college football the lifeblood of a program is recruiting. As legendary Texas Longhorns football coach Darrell Royal allegedly said, “it’s not about the x’s and the o’s, it’s all about the Jimmy and the Joe’s,” and that never ends. National Letter of Intent Day, both of them, just represent waypoints, nothing more. Recruiting. Never. Ends.

If there’s one thing that’s changed at Notre Dame under Brian Kelly, it’s been recruiting. Under Kelly, recruiting has gotten earlier and more aggressive. The Irish just recently offered a freshman in high school! It’s been a new world in recruiting for quite some time now and Notre Dame is finally catching up. Last week Irish Sports Daily reported on two wide receivers, one in the Class of 2021 and the other in the Class of 2022. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?

Mount St. Joseph High School Head Coach, Rick Holzer describes his star wide receiver Donte Thornton Jr.‍ as a “unicorn.”

“I tell that to all of the college coaches because I’ve had high profile recruits before; they were good kids and had decent grades, but he’s got the whole package,” Holzer explained.  “He was class president. He has like a 3.9, 4.0 G.P.A. He’s going to be a team captain. He’s not just a three sport athlete, he’s a four sport athlete. He does football in the fall, he does indoor track and basketball in the winter, and does outdoor track in the spring. He’s just a tremendous, tremendous individual.”

Holzer says that Thornton, Jr., WR, 6-4, 185, Mount St. Joseph High School, Baltimore, MD plans to take a serious look at Notre Dame.

“He’s unlike a lot of the other kids I’ve had who’ve gone through the recruiting process,” he said. “He’s looking at the long game. He wants to be an engineer, so academics are very important to him and obviously Notre Dame is a great institution.”

In addition to the Irish, he currently holds scholarship offers from Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, LSU, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia and many others. His coach knows what college coaches see in him.

“I think it’s a combination of his height, his length and his speed,” Holzer said. “Usually you don’t see players who are tall and long who can move like the shorter guys and he can run with the best of them.”

Holzer also believes that the St. Joseph’s offense benefits not just Thornton, but his skill players in general.

“We’re not an Air Raid or whatever, we’re like a lot of college coaches, where we move our guys around trying to get matchup advantages,” he shared. “We’re trying to get Donte matched up on linebackers and stuff like that, so he’ll be in the slot. He’ll be outside. He’ll be an attached tight end, all kinds of stuff. He’ll be coming around the quarterback in Oregon motion and things like that.”

Thornton was part of a group that included current Notre Dame player Litchfield Ajavon that took a trip to South Bend when Thornton was a freshman. Holzer believes that he will return now that he’s older.

Thornton previously committed to Penn State but re-opened his recruitment. Holzer is confident his star player will be more patient this time.

“Just based off of what I’ve discussed with him and his family, as of now, he’s going to go through the whole process,” his head coach said. “He’s not going to make an early commitment given that he has previously. I think he learned that he needs to get out there and see these places.”

Holzer continued.

“From what I understand with his family, he wants to make his official visits during the football season. He wants to see the whole process. He wants to see what it’s like to be a student, what it’s like to be an athlete, the gameday atmosphere. He wants to take in the whole experience.”

Like Thornton, Talyn Shettron‍, WR, 6-3, 180, Santa Fe High School, Edmond, OK has previously visited Notre Dame. He took an unofficial visit last fall and the Irish recently officially reciprocated that interest when they offered him a scholarship.

“My coach, Coach (Kyle) White, told me to call Coach (Del) Alexander,” Shettron remembered. “Then, I called him and he offered me. He said they didn’t want to wait any longer and it was the right time to offer me.”

When Notre Dame offered Shettron, they joined a list of schools that include Arkansas, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and others. Still, Shettron’s reaction made it clear that the Irish offer wouldn’t get lost in the mix.

“I was very excited,” he shared. “Notre Dame is a great university. The history and what Coach Alexander has been able to do with receivers like Chase Claypool.”

On his unofficial visit last fall, Shettron was impressed by the campus, the facilities and the Irish blow out win over Boston College. He was impressed enough to want to return.

“I saw all of the history of the stadium, I saw Touchdown Jesus and the facilities were very nice,” he recalled. “I’m going to try to get up there sometime in the spring to have an unofficial visit to see the coaches again and be around them.”

He’s also recently visited in-state schools Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He has tentative plans to see both of those again as well.

“I’m going to try to go to see OU and OSU again and I’ll probably go out of state again, but I don’t know where yet,” he explained.

Even though Shettron’s signing day is nearly two years away, he’s already identified a key factor in his recruitment.

“How that school can get me to the next level, which is the NFL.”

These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each on Irish Sports Daily.

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