Notre Dame’s thrilling win last weekend over Navy moved the Irish one step closer to their goal of a postseason BCS bowl berth. Irish recruiting last week also moved them closer to their 2014 recruiting goals with the commitment of a highly coveted prospect. And even while the Notre Dame coaching staff continues to work very hard to finalize the 2014 class it is also is making inroads into the Class of 2015. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?
Nick Watkins, CB, 6-0, 185, Bishop Dunne High School, Dallas, TX verbally committed to Notre Dame on Friday, November 1st. Not only did most recruitniks expect this so did Watkins.
“This is definitely a weight off my shoulders and I’m happy to be committed to Notre Dame,” said Watkins. “When I got home from my visit (for the USC game) I talked it over with my parents and we talked about how this is a great opportunity for me to be able to go to Notre Dame.”
Watkins used his official visit to answer the few remaining questions he had about the Irish. He received his answers not from the coaches but from an entirely different source.
“I spoke to Bennett (Jackson) and KeiVarae (Russell) about committing when I was on the visit, so they knew I was thinking about it,” he explained. “I have a close relationship with those guys and they never pressured me at all. They just shared their experiences and why they chose Notre Dame, so once I got home and talked it over with my parents, it was a done deal.”
It wasn’t until Friday that Watkins was able to contact the Irish but he was excited to share his news with the staff, especially coaches Kerry Cooks, his recruiter, and Brian Kelly.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Cooks and he was extremely happy when I told him of my decision,” he shared. “Coach Kelly just welcomed me to the team and to the family. Now I’m hoping to come in and help them win some championships.”
As is often the case, recruits become recruiters once they commit. Watkins has set his sights on a player very close to him, his friend and teammate Payton Hendrix (pictured together above).
“I’m definitely going to talk to Payton about Notre Dame, but I believe he’s going to take a few more visits and then he’ll have to weigh his options and come to a decision that best fits him,” said Watkins. “I know why I chose Notre Dame and I’ll explain those reasons to him, but in the end it’s his choice.”
Watkins plans to take a bit of time to relish his decision but at the same time he wants Notre Dame fans to know what he plans to bring to the Irish.
“I’m just looking to be another element on that defense and bring my skills to the secondary,” he stated. “When I get there we’ll already have a lot of great players, especially with Jaylon (Smith) at linebacker, so the other commits and I will be looking to strengthen that core and help the team any way we can.”
Most analysts will tout the merits of taking a quarterback in every recruiting class. Under Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has generally followed that formula. The Irish coaching staff has already set its sights on at least one target in the class of 2015.
Josh Rosen, QB, 6-4, 205, St. John Bosco High School, Bellflower, CA received his Notre Dame scholarship offer prior to the kickoff of his junior season.
“It was awesome,” he said of receiving the offer. “It’s a great school with a great tradition.”
Rosen has been labeled a five star recruit by numerous recruiting services and his offer list reflects that. Among other schools, he has been offered by Cal, UCLA, USC, Washington, Michigan, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Notre Dame.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Rosen of the early offers. “It’s sort of nice, not just for football, but for college in general, not to have to go through admissions and what not. It’s definitely really cool.”
Rosen’s teammate, 2014 offensive line recruit, Damien Mama, recently took an official visit to Notre Dame for the USC game and the talented California quarterback hopes to follow suit at some point.
“I don’t know when but I’ll definitely try to make it out there at some point,” he shared.
Rosen has previously taken unofficial visits to USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal. He evaluates each school with the same criteria on each visit.
“If you’re going to have a nice four years of your life there, if you’re going to get a good degree and if you’re on a good football team,” he said of what he looks for on each visit.
Rosen is confident that he can make any throws that a quarterback needs to make but he believes that it’s his mental game that truly sets him apart.
“I feel I use my mind a lot more than other quarterbacks,” he explained.
While Rosen acknowledges that he wants to go to a school that throws the ball, he believes that other factors will play an even greater role in his recruitment.
“The people that populate the campus, the energy the kids send off, whether they’re happy there or not,” he said. “I’ll be spending four years of my life there and I want to be happy. I want to get a credible degree in whatever I choose to study. I want to know that I’ll have a shot at winning a national championship, a shot to put up some good numbers and have a shot to play in the NFL one day.”
Though Rosen had listed Stanford as his favorite at one point, the failure of the Cardinals to come forward with a scholarship offer has changed that situation.
“That actually was true, but not anymore,” he said. “I’m a little more open. I’m going to pick up my recruiting process more intensely after the season ends, but I’m just looking to win and do well this season.”
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Sports Daily.