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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame Pulls Off Pot of Gold Push In Impressive Fashion

March 18, 2021
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Oftentimes, the methods college recruiting staffs need to employ to grab the attention of the teenagers who they’re recruiting come across as odd, forced or even pained.

That certainly wasn’t the case with Notre Dame’s Pot of Gold blowout on Wednesday.

Not only did the Irish take over #RecruitingTwitter on St. Patrick’s Day, it was obvious to everybody they were having fun in the process.

In the end, the offers, attention and Zoom calls won’t mean much if the Irish aren’t able to reel in some of the elite prospects they reached out to on Wednesday. But if the effort behind the scenes that put this entire thing together is any indication, Notre Dame will be in a strong position to capitalize.

At this point in the calendar, all contact with 2023 targets needs to be initiated by the prospect himself. The Notre Dame coaches can’t text a 2023 recruit and say, ‘Hey, Coach Kelly is ready to talk. Can you call now?’

No.

All of that needed to be coordinated ahead of time and the in-house recruiting staff led by Dave Peloquin and Aaryn Kearney played a crucial role in that organization.

The assistant coaches have obviously done phenomenal jobs forming relationships with these targets and their high school coaches ahead of time so that everything could come together in a single day.

Oh, and before all of that, all of these prospects needed to be thoroughly vetted.

The Irish are certainly getting more aggressive and going after some of the nation’s very best players, but that doesn’t mean they’re abandoning their values or ignoring character when it comes to evaluations.

As much as anything, Wednesday seemed like a culmination of one of former recruiting coordinator Brian Polian’s priorities – ensuring the roster and locker room is comprised of people who fit Notre Dame’s culture – and new recruiting coordinator Mike Elston’s approach of using social media to shine a spotlight on the program.

According to sources, Wednesday’s effort was Elston’s brainchild and the execution was impressive. The energy around the program’s recruiting efforts right now is almost tangible and Wednesday it was on display.

Notre Dame likes to say it doesn’t have any “rock star” recruiters. The Irish may want to change that metaphor at some point to say they don’t have any “lead singer” recruiters because the argument could ultimately be made that this staff consists of multiple “rock stars.”

In addition to the foundation and direction that have been set by its recent recruiting coordinators, all of the assistant coaches seemed to be establishing true connections with their recruiting targets.

The early returns on new safeties coach Chris O’Leary have been nothing but positive with multiple recruits genuinely telling Irish Sports Daily he’s one of their favorite coaches and that they “love” him.

New safeties coach Chris O’Leary is wasting no time displaying his recruiting chops. 

New defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman has been objectively killing it as a recruiter since his arrival while cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens has been doing the same since arriving a year before his former high school teammate.

And while Tommy Rees and the offensive side of the ball may not receive the same amount of attention, we’ve been told privately that they’re working just as hard with their targets and that’s backed up by what we’ve been told directly by recruits.

Lance Taylor already has one 2022 running back in the fold, has another visiting on Thursday and has the Irish in a strong position for two other top targets this cycle. Wide receivers coach Del Alexander is consistently mentioned by receiver prospects as somebody they enjoy talking with and feel comfortable with.

Since his elevation to offensive line coach, Jeff Quinn has done a tremendous job building relationships with his recruits. Following Harry Hiestand, Quinn had some extremely big shoes to fill in that department and he’s done just that and then some.

Meanwhile, tight ends coach John McNulty doesn’t get enough credit for his performance as a recruiter; probably because of the efficiency with which he operates; identifying targets, building connections with them and then closing the deal. Not only does he have Notre Dame in position to bring in another amazing tight end duo in 2022, he looks to be on his way to grabbing an elite target or two in 2023 and he’s played a role in other top recruitiments, including quarterback commit Steve Angeli.

Polian is again putting some of his focus on the West Coast, where he has an established track record of going in and getting some of the nation’s very best targets.

And the same way, all of the efforts that went into Wednesday will be for naught if the results aren’t there, all of the efforts of the individual assistant coaches would be in vain if Brian Kelly wasn’t backing them up, which he is in more ways than one.

One source told us Kelly “crushed it” on Wednesday, saying the head coach spoke with more than 20 prospects over Zoom and FaceTime.

And while the easy narrative is that Kelly is “stepping up” his efforts in recruiting, we’re told he’s “killed himself” over the last year since the pandemic and the emphasis is noticeable.

Wednesday provided a glimpse of what the current Notre Dame staff is capable of in terms of recruiting. And while it was just a glimpse, it was a very promising one.

 
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