Notre Dame Class Of 2017: Offensive Capsules
Cedar Hill, Texas (Cedar Hill HS)
Senior Stats: 189-273 (69.2%), 2,876 passing yards, 37 TDs, 4 INTs, 369 rushing yards, 6 TDs
Recruitment Recap: Notre Dame landed Davis back in March, when he made his commitment during an unofficial visit to South Bend. Davis didn’t hide his feelings about Notre Dame prior to the trip and even seemed to be expressing concern on Twitter about Hendon Hooker possibly beating him to the punch while the North Carolina quarterback was in South Bend on a visit just prior to Davis. Davis also had offers from schools like Texas Tech, Houston, SMU, Kansas State, Colorado, Purdue and Virginia among several others. There was some concern late when Davis’ high school coach was hired by new Baylor head coach Matt Rhule in December, but Davis never wavered.
Coach Speak: “Avery is a really good student and takes care of all his stuff to be recruited. He is a true dual-threat quarterback. He runs the lead leg on our 4×100 and 4×200 relay, so Avery can really run. We have clocked him anywhere from a 4.49 to a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash.
“He has a really strong arm and a quick release. He is one
of those guys that I think coaches like, because he can create first downs with
his feet and his arm.”
-Former Cedar Hill High School Joey McGuire
Uyeyama Comments: Davis doesn't have an elite arm unlike other quarterbacks that have signed in recent years, but what he does have is great poise under pressure. An athlete who can certainly make plays with his legs, his first instinct is to make a play down the field and he made plenty of those in high school.
The biggest question with him will be if he can improve his consistency with his mechanics and overall strength to make every throw in the playbook. If he can do that, then I think he is going to be right in the mix to be the man at quarterback after Brandon Wimbush departs. He may even be able to come in and supplant Ian Book as the primary backup as a freshman.
I love his ability to escape the pocket and the accuracy he shows on some touch throws even when chaos surrounds him.
Hampden, Conn. (Cheshire Academy)
Senior Stats: 142 rushes, 1,169 yards (8.2 per carry), 13 TDs
Recruitment Recap: The Connecticut standout scored his offer from Notre Dame in May and then zoomed to the top of Notre Dame’s running back board with an impressive performance a month later at Irish Invasion. Syracuse, Penn State and Tennessee were high on Holmes’ list, but the Irish zoomed to the top of his board as quickly as he rose to the top of theirs. He announced his commitment at The Opening in July and was a firm commit the rest of the way, enrolling early in January.
Coach Speak: “He’s an incredibly versatile athlete. He’s 6-foot, he’s 200 pounds. He has offers as a tailback, as a receiver, as a corner, as a safety and as a nickel. Those are all BCS offers. I just think he’s so versatile as an athlete. He’s got great speed. He can change direction. He’s electric with the ball in his hands.
“Unbelievable. He’s a tremendous young man. He comes from a
great family. He’s the captain of our track team, captain of our football team
as a junior. He’s a really fun, personable young man.”
-Cheshire Academy head coach David Dykeman
Uyeyama Comments: The best word to describe Holmes is versatility. Much like CJ Prosise and Josh Adams, he has big time receiver skills coming out of the backfield. In the long term, I expect him to be able to present Chip Long and Brian Kelly with several different options when he is on the field.
He needs to get bigger and stronger to become a better inside runner, but his feet are terrific and he can cut and explode with great burst. It's going to be a crowded backfield when he arrives on campus and for that reason he might find an early opportunity hard to come by. It might not be from day one, but I could see him having a similar type of impact in the offense that Theo Riddick once had (just in a bigger package).
Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Bishop Miege HS)
Senior Stats: 54 receptions, 1,277 yards (23.6 per catch), 21 TDs
Recruitment Recap: The Kansas standout was a late addition to the Irish’s board, receiving his offer just last month. Armstrong was committed to Missouri at the time, but Notre Dame was always a “dream school” of sorts, so the Irish immediately caught his attention. He took an official visit to South Bend the final weekend before National Signing Day and decided the opportunities at Notre Dame were too good to pass up. He took an official visit to Minnesota the week before his stop at South Bend, but Brian Kelly was able to beat out P.J. Fleck for his signature.
Coach Speak: “He’s been a three-year starter for us on the field. He had 1,000-plus yards every year. He broke the state record for touchdowns in a career.
“All of that is great, you see that, but then you see the
way he is off the field. He’s a great student. He’s really, really well looked
at amongst teachers, administrators and everybody in school. At times, when you
get a high-caliber athlete like that, you never know how they’re going to
respond, but he does an excellent job both on and off the field.”
-Bishop Miege head coach Jon Holmes
Uyeyama Comments: For a last-minute addition to the class, this a heck of a steal for the Irish. Armstrong flashes some awesome long speed when he gets in space and he shows the ability to win when he doesn't have space. He does a great job making contested catches and plays even bigger than his listed 6-1, 200 pounds.
He has some work to do as a route runner and must improve his footwork, but that is hopefully something that can make a leap after working with Del Alexander. I see him a boundary receiver (the W), but the depth chart is less crowded to the field (the X). It will be tough for him to leap over the veterans returning at receiver next season, although I could see him having a good shot at having a large role in his second season.
Destrehan, La. (Destrehan HS)
Senior Stats: 600 yards, 7 TDs (Missed 4 games because of hand injury)
Recruitment Recap: This was a relatively quick recruitment by today’s standards. The Irish extended an offer to Young back in April, they got him on campus for Irish Invasion in June and got him to commit a month later. There was a sense Young would actually make a decision while in South Bend in June, but even when he came out of the trip uncommitted, Notre Dame never seemed to have lost the grip on its pursuit. The Irish beat out Oregon and Texas A&M for his pledge while Young also had offers from schools like Arizona, Arizona State, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Arkansas among others.
Coach Speak: “He
could do it all for us. He’s a guy who can stretch the field. He does a
tremendous job catching the ball. We use him in different facets. We’ve been
very fortunate to have some great receivers come through...Probably the most
impressive thing though is the way he catches the ball. He’s got tremendous
hands and does a tremendous job seeing the ball. He makes great plays, has
great concentration and works real hard. When you speak to him, he’s got that
big smile on his face, but when the whistle blows, he’s a different animal…He’s
a guy who likes to get physical and takes a lot of pride in being physical.
He’s just an all-around athlete and a great person. I think Notre Dame is
getting a great guy and a great individual. I can’t say anything negative about
Mike. He’s just a tremendous person and athlete.”
-Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux
Uyeyama Comments: After landing CJ Sanders in 2015, Notre Dame was in need of finding someone in the slot for 2017 after not taking one in the previous class. There weren't many obvious prospects standing out until Young emerged. I think he is a terrific fit for Notre Dame's offense.
I'm not sure if he has game breaking speed that Sanders has shown as a returner, but Young is explosive with his short area quickness and has big time potential after the catch. He's a tenacious blocker as well, something that isn't normal for someone his size. If he can pick up the offense quickly enough, his blocking might help him get on to the field sooner than expected. I'm really high on him as a prospect and think he is going to push Sanders and Chris Finke because of his compete level.
Arlington Heights, Ill. (Saint Viator HS)
Senior Stats: 48 receptions, 802 yards, 6 TDs (Missed 3 games with mono)
Recruitment Recap: Even with the accelerated recruitments of the era, Kmet’s moved quickly. He blew up in the offseason between his sophomore and junior season, landing offers from the nation’s biggest programs, but it was clear from the start this would be a battle between two, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Kmet made a trio of visits to South Bend between the spring and fall of 2015 and by October, he was ready to choose the Irish. The Illinois native never wavered on his decision and the lack of drama may have led to an underappreciation of his value as a prospect, well at least until Kmet was one of the standouts at last month’s Army Bowl.
Coach Speak: “Cole brings a phenomenal attitude, a smile on his face and a humongous work ethic to practice every single day. He loves to run routes and catch the ball and he loves to block.
“It’s fantastic having a player who is so complete. He has a
higher ceiling certainly, but what he brings to the table already is something
very rare. He was a guy for us who could deal with double and even
triple-coverage and still make plays. I know he’s going to be a tremendous
asset to Notre Dame.”
-Saint Viator head coach Dave Archibald
Uyeyama Comments: Originally more of a big receiver when he committed to Notre Dame, Kmet has developed his all-around game since then and is now going to come in at weight where he can compete immediately. Of course, none of that would matter if he didn't have the talent to fit in right away and he has just that. He has terrific hands and does a great job of coming down with the football in traffic.
He's a strong enough athlete to challenge linebackers down the seam and is much too big for safeties to handle in one on one situations. Next to Alize Jones, he is probably the best athlete the Irish have signed at tight end since Tyler Eifert played the position. And while Jones offers more of a big play element, I expect Kmet to eat over the middle as an intermediate threat. There are several players in front of him on the depth chart currently, but there has been little production. I would not be surprised to see him leapfrog a few of them and earn some snaps this season.
Cypress, Texas (Cy-Fair HS)
Senior Stats: 30 receptions, 491 yards, 4 TDs
Recruitment Recap: If his fellow tight end commit Cole Kmet’s recruitment was quick, Wright’s was blazing. One of the top prospects in the entire country regardless of position, the Texan fielded offers from the nation’s biggest programs, including Texas, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Michigan and UCLA among several others, but Notre Dame was always the school he wanted to attend. He did go through the recruiting process a bit, but by his second trip to South Bend the summer before his junior season, he was ready to commit, telling ISD, “I know I wouldn’t be happy anywhere else.” Several schools, including Texas tried to convince him otherwise in the final weeks before he enrolled at Notre Dame, but Wright and his family shut them down cold.
Coach Speak: “He’s pretty special. It’s pretty rare nowadays. There are a lot of kids listed as tight ends who are mainly hybrid guys, they’re not attached. With him having the ability to do both, especially in our game today where there aren’t a lot of tight ends who can do that, he’s pretty special that’s for sure.
“He’s a different guy when he gets on the football field
than he is outside. He’s a very respectful young man. He was a captain for us
for two years. He was elected a captain at the Under Armour Game. Like I said,
he’s a very respectful young man and it shows.”
-Cy-Fair head coach Ed Pustejovsky
Uyeyama Comments: Wright is the crown jewel of the class in my opinion. It's easy to forget how good he is because he has been committed for such a long time. It doesn't take long to remember when you watch the film. There haven't been many high school tight ends that I've watched who are as dominant at the point of attack in the run game. To say he is advanced as a blocker compared to most tight end prospects is a massive understatement.
I think he has a chance to be the second or third tight end this fall because of that blocking ability and can be an even better receiver than he was in high school. He is a beast after the catch that is going to be tough for defenders to bring down. Notre Dame is on the road back to being Tight End U again with Wright and Kmet.
El Cerrito, Calif. (El Cerrito HS)
Recruitment Recap: The California big man did a good job keeping everybody guessing on his intentions all of the way until the day he announced his decision. It helps when you keep even your mother in the dark for a long time. Notre Dame was the big winner did go public with his decision in December, choosing the Irish over schools like Michigan, Cal and Oregon. The Wolverines appeared to have an early edge during the summer, but trips to South Bend and Ann Arbor during a Midwestern swing in August allowed Notre Dame to move into first. Things tightened a bit after he took official visits, but the Irish were still able to prevail in the end. Banks enrolled last month.
Coach Speak: “He’s a terrific player and he’s got great character as a young man. I’ve known him all four years. He never disappointed us. He was one of the top players in the area. In fact, at our all-star meeting with other coaches, they were chiding me that anybody could run behind my line with Aaron blocking.
“He’s a two-sport athlete. The basketball coach is moaning
right now that he left midyear to go to Notre Dame and not play out his senior
year with basketball. He’s got great feet, good agility. He’s quite an athlete.”
-El Cerrito head coach George Austin
Uyeyama Comments: There wasn't much senior film released by Banks, so I didn't get to see much of the now sleek version of him. He dropped 34 pounds and is around the 310 range. I would have been interested to see how he moved at the lighter weight and whether or not it made it easier for him to reach defenders on the edge.
He is a raw fundamentally and will need some time working with Harry Hiestand to get right in pass protection. He has all of the tools to develop into a force as a run blocker down the line. He has light feet for a big man and flashed a nasty mentality. Some see him as a guard at the next level, but I believe he could play right tackle.
St. Petersburg, Fla. (Clearwater Central Catholic HS)
Recruitment Recap: In reality, this recruitment was over the second Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand deemed Gibbons worthy of a Notre Dame offer. Once that happened, it was no surprise that the Florida native became the Irish’s first commit in Class of 2017 way back in April of 2015. Gibbons was offered by schools like Ohio State, South Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan State, Mississippi State and several others, including many that went unreported after he made his decision. When you talk about a prospect being solid with his decision, they don’t come much more solid than Gibbons.
Coach Speak: “First
of all, he’s a first-class kid. We just had him this year, so he sort of threw
himself into our program. He’s just a natural leader. He leads by example,
works hard. He’s an extreme talent. For a kid his size, he bends well, he runs
well. He did everything we asked him to do and more.”
-Clearwater Central Catholic head coach Chris Harvey
Uyeyama Comments: There are a range of opinions on Gibbons as a prospect, but I've seen huge improvement from him since his sophomore year. He might not be the best athlete, but his feet are so much better than they were and he has taken massive steps with his technique in pass protection.
Gibbons will have to play with great efficiency to overcome some of his limitations, but it's certainly possible that he does so if he stays on the same track he is on. His future will be at guard for the Irish and he plays like the meanest one they've signed since Quenton Nelson. He is big, strong, and nasty.
Monroeville, Pa. (IMG Academy)
Recruitment Recap: ISD first found out Hainsey was on Notre Dame’s board back in January of 2016, when the IMG standout was participating in the Under Armour Future 50 event and told us he’d had contact with Harry Hiestand. But even then, we didn’t know how serious the two sides were. That changed when he took a couple unofficial visits to South Bend in the spring and the summer. Hainsey trimmed his list to Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State in the summer and announced for the Irish at The Opening in July. Hainsey completely shut down the process after that and became a recruiter for Notre Dame with several of his underclassman teammates at loaded IMG Academy before enrolling at Notre Dame in January.
Coach Speak: “He’s
seen as a leader within our team. Obviously we have a lot of very good players.
From a standpoint of how he carries himself and how he works on a daily basis
with his attention to detail is something we notice as a staff and his
teammates notice. That says a lot about him and who he is, not just on the
field, but off the field…At the next level, I think he really has the potential
to be a swing guy…he’s used to being out there on an island. It takes a little
getting used to in itself. That’s where I think he projects, but I also think
he’s a guy who could move inside as needed as he continues to grow and
-IMG Academy head coach Kevin Wright
Uyeyama Comments: Hainsey competed against some of the best in the country every day at IMG Academy and also at The Opening and Under Armour All American game and has maintained his spot as one of the best interior line prospects in the nation during that time. He played left tackle for them and I expect him to find a fit at guard or center for the Irish.
He moves really well and I expect him to act as a lead blocker when pulling quite a bit. He is the most advanced from a technique perspective that the Irish signed in this class, especially in pass protection. He just need to catch up physically and will need some time in the strength and conditioning program to get there. Once that happens, he has all the tools to be a high-level starter.
Wexford, Pa. (North Allegheny HS)
Recruitment Recap: Harry Hiestand landed half of his 2017 offensive line haul 18 months ago, when Lugg joined Dillan Gibbons in the Irish commit column. The Pennsylvania native scored his offer from Notre Dame after participating in a linemen camp in June of 2015. It was immediately clear from that point on that the Irish were in the driver’s seat. And by August, Lugg was ready to announce his decision. He had offers from schools like Pitt, Penn State, Duke, Boston College, Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and UCLA among several others.
Coach Speak: “He was extremely physical, extremely reliable. He’s a very physical run blocker and he’s a very good pass blocker. He probably doesn’t get enough credit for that, but he’s remarkable. I think it was a good thing that he played in the Army All-American Game in San Antonio because of the amount of passing. He did an exceptional job against some great, great players. They’re getting the total package. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s strong, he’s smart and he’s still young. He’s not turning 18 until June.”
Uyeyama Comments: Lugg reminds me quite a bit of current Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey back when he signed with the Irish. He's probably a better athlete than given credit for and also someone that is only scratching the surface as to the player he will be.
He's got good bend for a big man and really utilizes his length well. Though he might be a bit stiff, he could one day end up at left tackle for the Irish. His best fit is likely on the right side. He's made strides in pass protection despite the offense he plays in for his high school program, but he is probably going to need some time to get to where he needs to be. In the long term he should develop into a quality starter for the Irish.