The Irish have already received 17 commitments for 2015, including pledges from standout 4-star prospects such as CB Shaun Crawford (St. Edward HS, Ohio), OL Tristen Hoge (Highland HS, Idaho), WR Miles Boykin (Providence Catholic, Illinois), LB Josh Barajas (Andrean HS, Indiana) and OL Jerry Tillery (Evangel Christian Academy, Louisiana).
Brian Kelly and his staff have done an outstanding job strengthening the foundation of the 2015 class. Still, even though Notre Dame has put together such a solid group of commitments thus far, there seems to be a feeling that there’s something lacking from the class. What’s missing is a true blue-chip 5-star recruit who stands out as the clear headliner of the group. There is no truly elite recruit the caliber of Jaylon Smith, or Manti Te’o, or Michael Floyd.
With over six months remaining until national signing day, however, there’s certainly plenty of time left for the Irish to reel in a commitment from a top-tier recruit. The question is, which top prospect does the team have a realistic shot of landing?
Two players that immediately jump out as potential targets are CB Iman Marshall (Long Beach Poly HS, California) and DE Byron Cowart (Armwood HS, Florida). Both Marshall and Cowart have recently announced that they plan on taking official visits to South Bend, which will give the coaching staff an up-close-and-personal opportunity to convince each of them that Notre Dame is the right school for them.
The 6’1’’, 190-pound Marshall—sensibly nicknamed “Biggie”—is a tall, athletic physical and fearless corner who’s proven that he has the lockdown cover skills to survive playing out on an island.
The prevailing thought seems to be that that the California native will likely stay near his hometown and ultimately sign with USC. However, in a recent interview with SB Nation, Marshall expressed sincere interest in Notre Dame based on the program’s prestige and tradition.
“I love rich tradition coming from Long Beach Poly, which has tradition as well. You already know when you go there, you’re held to a higher standard, that’s why I really like Notre Dame.”
Cowart also recently talked about his interest in the Irish at Nike’s “The Opening” event. In a video interview with Blue Gold Illustrated, he said that Notre Dame is in the picture now following his unofficial visit to South Bend.
“Seeing the Basilica, that blew my mind. I could sit in there all day. Going there opened up my eyes a lot.”
“I like their defense. I’m definitely going to be watching that team this year.”
“Football is secondary. It’s about academics. What can Notre Dame do for me from an academic standpoint? They can do a lot for me, so they’re going to be in my top.”
Those are certainly encouraging words to hear from the highly athletic 6’4’’, 250-pound Florida native, who opened eyes last year when he totaled 13 sacks and 72 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss. Though many initially believed that it would be Oregon and Florida duking it out for Cowart’s services; it now seems that Notre Dame is definitely in the mix.
Another defensive end that the Irish have their sights set on is Keisean Lucier-South from Orange, California, who is ranked as a 5-star prospect by 247sports and Scout. While he still has to add some bulk to his imposing yet underdeveloped 6’5”, 225-pound frame, the explosive edge-rusher has proven that he’s one of the quickest and most aggressive pass-rushers in the 2015 class.
Lucier-South has offers from nearly every power program in the nation. But the good news for the Irish is that he plans to make an official visit to South Bend in early October on the weekend of the Stanford game.
Notre Dame doesn’t just have its eye on top defensive prospects. The Irish may already have commitments from three wide receivers: Miles Boykin, C.J. Sanders and Jalen Guyton, however, they also have an interest in one of the top WR prospects in the 2015 class: Tyron Johnson out of Warren Easton High School in New Orleans.
The 6’1’’, 191-pound Johnson is a tremendous talent, who has the potential to make an instant impact for whichever program he ultimately chooses. The only problem is, Notre Dame has some tough competition for his services. LSU is widely believed to be the favorite to sign him, but Johnson has also recently shown a strong interest in schools such as Texas Tech and Arizona.
It may be a challenge just to get Johnson to take an official visit to South Bend, but if Kelly can convince him to at least check out the campus, there’s always a possibility he could fall in love with Notre Dame.
At this point in the process, “possibility” is really the main buzzword to describe Notre Dame’s chances of landing an elite recruit for 2015.
Obviously, the 2015 class can still be a great haul, even without a notable 5-star prospect as the headliner. Still, Kelly and his coaching staff are going to do everything they can between now and Feb. 5 to try land a blue-chip recruit.