With the acceleration of recruiting these days, the May evaluation period is used to evaluate rising juniors and sophomores as much as prospects entering their senior seasons.
On Friday, Notre Dame assistant Chuck Martin was at Detroit’s Loyola High School to check on a pair of 2014 prospects and left an offer for one of the nation’s top sophomores, Malik McDowell.
“Coach Martin just left, they offered Malik and they’re very interested in Ka’John,” Loyola head coach John Callahan said of McDowell and his classmate, Ka’John Armstrong.
“They want (Armstrong) to come to camp and they’re going to keep an eye on him.”
Notre Dame joins Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State among others on McDowell’s early offer sheet. Callahan said the touted defensive end’s pure stature is what first catches recruiters’ eyes.
“He’s pushing 6-7, 272 and you look at him and he almost looks thin, but he’s extremely quick and agile for his age,” Callahan said. “He’s 15. He’s gone to a couple of combines and pretty well dominated.”
McDowell is also a 3.2-student. And while it’s understandable that the Irish and others have made offers to McDowell already, a decision is still a long ways off.
“He’s a kid and that’s where I’m trying to keep him right now,” said Callahan. “I’ve talked to his parents and we’ve all kind of agreed there’s no decision or anything being made now. He’ll be more than happy to speak with anyone, but no decisions will be made. He’s not even aware what state all of these schools are in. He’s just a kid and that’s where he needs to be right now.
“It’s going to pick up after his junior year and I’m sure then he’ll be in a position to sit back and make a decision, but right now, there’s no need for it.”
Armstrong doesn’t have any offers at this point, but is also receiving interest from Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
“He’s 6-5, 275,” Callahan said of the sophomore offensive lineman. “Both of them are the prototype; they both have the size and they both have the feet. Both are hard workers, who live in the weight room trying to get better and trying to get quicker.”
Martin certainly made an impact on Callahan.
“Coach Martin was extremely impressive,” the coach said. “In all of my years as far as selling his school, that’s the most impressive presentation I’ve seen as far as all of the information and what he had backing it up and what he had to go with it. It was very impressive.”
Callahan is excited to have a pair of talented youngsters to build his team around, but even more excited about the chance to watch them grow as players and young men through the recruiting process.
Penn State visited Loyola earlier in the evaluation process and while college coaches can’t talk to prospects right now, one of the Nittany Lions assistants recognized Armstrong and mentioned it to his counselor. Word got back to Armstrong, who was perplexed.
“He said, ‘Well, how does he know me?’” laughed Callahan. “That’s the beauty of it.
“It’s kind of unique when you get kids that young with so much publicity so to speak.”
McDowell and Armstrong have already had more than 90 colleges come by Loyola or call to inquire about them. Callahan, who is entering his fourth year at the all-boys school with about 150 students, said four colleges stopped by during his first year. The added attention is useful for the program.
“It’s put us on the national recruiting map,” he said. “It’s not inconceivable to have an Alabama, an LSU scout or USC scout at any one of our games or practices for the next two years. It gives the rest of the players opportunities to perform and show their talents.
“From a coaching standpoint, they’re always on their guard because they never know who’s watching. It’s really given us a boost.”
But as he said before, Callahan doesn’t want McDowell or Armstrong to grow up too fast.
“So much responsibility comes when you enter into that and make that commitment,” he said. “The time will come when they have to be those adults. My emphasis is on letting them be students and enjoying school.”