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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

July's Most Wanted

July 9, 2020

Notre Dame got some much-needed momentum on Monday as 2021 offensive lineman Joe Alt‍ gave a verbal commitment to the Fighting Irish. 

But what’s next? 

Notre Dame has a nice core to the class, but there is still more work to achieve a top 10 class. 

It starts with 2021 Clarkston (Mich.) offensive lineman Rocco Spindler‍ as Notre Dame has put almost two years of work into the four-star prospect. The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder is down to LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State, but there are strong indications this will be battle between the Irish and Wolverines. 

It’s not just the time spent on Spindler, but a need as Notre Dame needs a fourth member of the offensive line class. The Irish do have Illinois native Pat Coogan‍ in the class and he projects as a guard or center. However, Spindler would give Notre Dame a physical force inside and one of the top-ranked guards in the country. 

Spindler is also is critical to the 2021 class as there isn’t a backup plan if the Irish were to miss on a commitment to him. Jeff Quinn would need to go back to the drawing board after putting in two years of work on the Michigan native.

This one will come down to trust. He’s seen the campuses, facilities and the game day experience in Ann Arbor and South Bend. The relationships are strong at both programs. But which program does he believe in the most to develop him as a player? 

Notre Dame boasts one of the top receivers in the 2021 class in Pickerington Central (Ohio) receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr.‍ and the next five months will be crucial in landing a running mate. The number of receivers the Irish take is likely flexible, but Thornton will have a spot as the four-star prospect is one of the top players at his position. 

As you know, the 6-foot-4, 185-pounder has admitted Oregon is his dream school, but that hasn’t stopped Notre Dame from going all in on the Mount Saint Joseph (Md.) star. 

The visit to Oregon last summer was the last visit Thornton went on to our knowledge, so it gives the Ducks an advantage. Thornton camped at Notre Dame in 2018 and had a visit set for mid-April. That visit was obviously canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and Del Alexander have stayed on top of him. 

Thornton is important to Notre Dame because they need another alpha in the receiver room and more importantly, it would give Alexander another extremely talented receiver class.

If there are no visits in the fall, it will be tougher to land him, but it also will mean another school won’t get him on campus. Now, it might be premature to call this a battle between Notre Dame and Oregon as Thornton plans to announce in January. Yet, this would be a huge win for Rees and show he can go head-to-head with a great recruiter and win. 

It’s been said before on ISD, but guys with Thorton’s athleticism and size don’t grow on trees.

The third spot could have went to a few guys. Running back is obviously a priority, so Tavierre Dunlap‍, Alton McCaskill‍ or Logan Diggs‍ could have easily gone in this spot. 

It’s just hard to leave out one of the purest football players in the 2021 class and that’s exactly what David Crockett (Tenn.) linebacker Prince Kollie‍ is on film. He’s not the biggest linebacker, but it’s hard to find something not to like about his game. 

The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder plays running back, receiver, defensive back and linebacker, but projects as a linebacker at the next level. 

If you had doubts about his size, Kollie's top five is made up for Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, so those concerns aren't there for coaches who know football.

Why is he important to Notre Dame over a running back or another defensive back? The Irish decided not to take a linebacker in the 2020 class and that's fine as the entire 2019 class redshirted. However, striking out in 2021 isn't ideal despite it being OK on paper. 

Defensive coordinator Clark Lea doesn't need two or three backers in this class and that's where Kollie's versatility also comes into play. The Tennessee native could play all three spots in Lea's defense, so he provides immediate depth to the linebacker unit. Kollie could very well start at Rover and end up inside later on in his career if the Irish need him to move.

In terms of his recruitment, Notre Dame seems to be trending with Kollie following a few virtual visits. Kollie doesn't do many interviews, so it's hard to truly get a read on him. He's a kid where academics are going to matter and Notre Dame can offer him that. However, it's still hard to turn down playing linebacker for Kirby Smart or at LSU, a place where they have done well with undersized linebackers. 

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