Recruiting Week In Review

December 8, 2018

Written by Joe Bradshaw

That Notre Dame has raised their profile with recruits after their 12-0 season is a massive understatement.  In fact, following last year’s 10-win season with this one should ultimately pay tremendous dividends on the recruiting trail.  If the Irish are able to continue this level of success, their recruiting classes should also continue to be outstanding.

The Class of 2019 is nearly wrapped up and should be locked in soon as most are expected to make their commitment official during the early signing period.  If that happens, the Notre Dame coaches will be able to focus almost exclusively on the Class of 2020 and 2021 while other programs are still working to finish out their classes.  Following Notre Dame’s victory over USC, the Irish coaches hit the road, both shoring up their 2019 commits and visiting 2020 prospects.  Irish Sports Daily reported on two young men that could figure quite prominently in Notre Dame’s continued success on the field.  What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?

Isaiah Rutherford‍, CB, 6-2, 170, Jesuit High School, Carmichael, CA got a double dose of Notre Dame recently when he watched the Irish defeat USC in the Coliseum and then received a visit from Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly and Defensive Coordinator Clark Lea.  The four star 2019 prospect is already verbally committed to Notre Dame.

“He (Kelly) came to school and then we went to lunch,” Rutherford remembered.  “It means a lot.  It shows how much they love me and how much they care about me outside of football, so it was really impressive.  We talked a little bit about football, but a lot about the off-field stuff, about just being a great person like I am and different stuff.”

Kelly impressed the Jesuit High School senior.

“He’s really relatable,” Rutherford shared.  “We talked about everything we could think of, a million different things.  He’s a really good guy and Coach Lea is a great man as well.  I can’t wait for them to mentor me in my next couple years.”

Rutherford referred to Lea as “genuine.” 

“He cares about you not just as a football player, but as a young man,” he explained.  “He’s a really good guy.”

The game was also good according to Rutherford.  He would have preferred a more lopsided victory.

“I hadn’t been to the Coliseum before so it was great to see my guys,” he said.  “I wanted them to blow them out, but it was good.  A W is a W.”

Rutherford’s high school career came to a devastating end when the use of an ineligible player ended their season.  Still, Rutherford is ready to move on to the next phase of his career.

“I’ve got a couple of all-star games and that’s that,” he said.  “I’m ready to head down there.  I’m excited about it.”

Rutherford and Clark Phillips‍, DB, 5-10, 180, La Habra High School, La Habra, CA have much in common.  They’re both-top rated defensive backs from California and they are both highly-sought after by Notre Dame.  The Irish can only hope that they are as successful with Phillips, a 2020 target, as they’ve been with Rutherford.  Like Rutherford, Phillips’ school was one of their first stops after the USC game as Notre Dame’s Cornerbacks Coach Todd Lyght stopped by.  During his visit, the two continued the many conversations they’ve had over the past few months.

“We talked about where I am in his recruitment and my recruitment,” Phillips recalled.  “We talked about my career and what Notre Dame can offer as a player and as a student-athlete and what a Notre Dame degree would be like for me and my steps in life for the next forty years, not just the next four.”

Phillips’ flexibility makes him valuable at any of the defensive back positions, or on offense for that matter.  That has been a topic of conversation between the two.

“He was curious to see what position I wanted to play in the defense,” Phillips shared.  “Obviously he knows I’m super versatile as a player.  I could play nickel, corner, a lot of things.  He really wants me to go there to play defensive back of course.  We’re not sure where, but he knows that I’m versatile and he loves my film and the way I play with my physicality and style of play as a DB.”

According to Phillips Lyght is much more concerned about where he plays than he is.

“I always tell coach, ‘I’m a playmaker and I want to play wherever I can play to help win the game,’” he said.

While Lyght has told Phillips all about Notre Dame, he really wants to show him.

“We really haven’t talked about it in too much detail, but I’ll be down there soon for sure,” he said.  “Whether that’s in the next month or two or later, but we’ll be down there soon and will be working on official visits after the unofficial visits.”

Phillips is looking forward to the trip and knows what he wants to see and learn about during his time on campus.

“I want to learn about the campus, the academic facilities, what they offer for tutoring for student-athletes,” he said.  “Then I want to learn about the whole coaching staff and what life is like for a Notre Dame student-athlete.  I want to learn about some guys who are there and what they love about the program.”

Because of his relationship with Lyght, Phillips already high opinion of the Notre Dame program has continued to rise.

“The coaches really love the program,” he opined.  “Now I know a little bit more about the program and I look to learn more.  I really like him as a coach and think he could help get me to the next level.”

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

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