There is no summer vacation permissible in the world of college football, and that applies to both the athletes and the coaches across the country.
Notre Dame most recently garnered commitments from six prospects (three from the 2017 class and three from 2018), and the Fighting Irish did so in a traditional way. While “Power 5” programs are scouring the nation by making appearances at “satellite camps” near a recruits’ home, Notre Dame told the nation’s best players “Come to us and take a look.”
“That was a top-notch month of June with camps on OUR campus and OTA’s with OUR own team,” Irish offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford tweeted out recently. “So excited about the present and future!”
Notre Dame hosted hundreds of promising high school athletes in South Bend over the past month, and Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said this past winter that doing so was an imperative part of securing a commitment from an athlete.
“You can’t truly get to that ‘yes,’ in our opinion, if you’re reading about Notre Dame on the internet,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to get on this campus.”
Another key to successful recruiting is targeting players at an earlier age, but not just any players, according to Kelly.
“When we talk about Notre Dame,” Kelly said, “it either hits their brain or it doesn’t. When we talk about what our distinctions are, and we talk about living on campus, and we talk about you don’t live in a football dorm, and we talk about the spirituality of our campus, if he starts twiddling his fingers and looking the other way, we’re moving on. But if it resonates, we know.
“It’s pretty easy to know who that resonates with, and if it resonates with them and the family and they understand it, we’re all in. We’re going to recruit you. If it doesn’t, we’re moving on to the next guy.”
Come to Notre Dame.
Learn from the best.
600+ high schoolers ready for camp. #GoldStandard ??? pic.twitter.com/J8GLB53mlC
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) June 22, 2016
The Fighting Irish “resonated” with three players from the 2018 class recently that pledged their commitments to the program.
Cathedral High School runner Markese Stepp, as well as the brotherly defending duo of Justin and Jayson Ademilola out of Jersey City, New Jersey all said they’d play for Kelly. Stepp held offers from Midwest powers Michigan, Wisconsin, and Michigan State, as well as Tennessee. The Ademilola brothers attend St. Peter’s Prep and committed over the weekend.
Those three joined 2017 commits Paulson Adebo (wide receiver, Mansfield, Texas), Jordan Pouncey (wide receiver, Winter Haven, Florida), and Jonathan MacCollister (defensive end, Orlando) as players that also committed this month.
Notre Dame now has 17 players from the next two recruiting classes committed to the program.
“We vetted out better than we ever have,” Kelly said of recent recruiting success, “because we were further out on our recruits in terms of time. We had more time with them to make sure that they were kids that would fit here at Notre Dame.”
The Fighting Irish summer camp and recruiting efforts have improved over the past years, according to Kelly, most notably since he moved Irish linebacker coach Mike Elston to the dual role of also serving as the program’s recruiting coordinator prior to the 2016 class.
“In the recruiting end of things,” Kelly said, “it’s the combination of attention to detail, not being afraid to hear the word “no,” and keep plowing through “no’s” early on in the recruiting process. There’s no area that we’re afraid to get into and afraid to take a shot at in this recruiting process, making sure that we’re highlighting who we are and our distinctions, and using all platforms to reach the student-athletes that we’re talking about recruiting.
“(Elson) has done a very admirable job, but more importantly, a very creative job, one that has addressed the needs that we have within recruiting, but also embraced what recruiting looks like right now and moving forward.”
For more on Notre Dame football, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.
©2016 The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
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