Notre Dame’s success on the football field this season is already paying huge recruiting dividends. As a long time (long-suffering?) Irish fan, it’s gratifying to finally hear recruits not only discuss tradition as a factor in their interest in Notre Dame but also winning. With the class of 2013 rapidly filling up, the Irish are also adding commitments to the class of 2014. Last week Irish Sports Daily talked to Notre Dame’s newest commit in the class of 2014 and talked to the head coach of one of their remaining top targets in the class of 2013. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?
Jimmy Byrne, OL, 6-4, 285, St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland, OH wanted to make his college choice before his senior season. By the first part of last week, he knew where he wanted to attend and play football but ended up waiting just a few more days at the request of the head coach.
“I actually committed on Monday (December 3) but Notre Dame asked me not to make it public until I talked to Coach (Brian) Kelly which wasn’t until today (December 8),” related Byrne. “So that was what the confusion was throughout the week.”
Ironically, it was a visit to one of Notre Dame’s recruiting rivals, Ohio State, that finally convinced Byrne to pull the trigger for the Irish.
“I mentioned that I might want to make a decision in a couple of months, but I think I knew that Notre Dame was the right fit for me, but I wanted to at least check out Ohio State and make sure I evaluated all my options,” explained Byrne. “In the end Notre Dame is the best fit for me.”
Byrne is excited about being able to make an early decision. Now, he can focus entirely on his offseason and go into next season without any distractions.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted to get it over with. I didn’t make a commitment to simply get it over with, but it is a benefit. I can just focus on my offseason and my senior season.”
Byrne based his decision on his two main priorities, academics and his comfort with the coaching staff.
“There’s a world-renowned education at Notre Dame and to get a degree from there will really set me for the future,” he stated. “I was really impressed with Coach Kelly and Coach Hiestand on the offensive line, who I’ll probably be spending the most time with me. I think he’s a coach who is really going to make me become a better offensive lineman.”
Though Byrne currently plays tackle for his high school team, Notre Dame projects him as a guard at the college level. The talented Ohioan doesn’t seem to think that the transition will be that difficult.
“There’s really nothing technique-wise that is too different and I think going from tackle to guard might be easier than guard to tackle,” Byrne informed.
Byrne plans to be active in helping Notre Dame recruit in the class of 2014 but plans to be somewhat low-key about it.
“I’ll probably start talking to kids soon,” he explained. “I’m not going to try to pressure a decision on anyone, but I’m definitely going to talk to a few kids.”
Tarean Folston, RB, 5-10, 195, Cocoa High School, Cocoa, FL most certainly isn’t going to make an early decision. The class of 2013 Florida standout keeps a tight lip about his college plans and even his head coach doesn’t know in which direction he’s leaning. Notre Dame feels that it has a solid chance of earning his signature and sent Head Coach Brian Kelly and recruiting coordinator Tony Alford to visit the four-star prospect.
“I think when the head ball coach of the number one team in the country is sitting in Cocoa, Florida, that means a lot,” stated John Wilkinson, Cocoa High School head football coach. “It went great. I thought it was a really good visit.”
Wilkinson and Folston (pictured) were joined by Tarean’s father James for the visit.
“I think James was very impressed by what Notre Dame has to offer,” opined Wilkinson. “Everybody knows the education and the value of the education from Notre Dame plus they play great football. That’s kind of the best of both worlds.”
Kelly and Alford discussed how Folston would fit into the Irish scheme. Both coaches feel that he is a perfect fit for Notre Dame’s offensive system.
“They think of him a lot as the Theo Riddick-type of person where he can do multiple things,” explained Wilkinson. “I think because he’s such a good student and education is really important to him, I think they feel like it’s a good fit.”
Notre Dame’s recruiting position with Folston has undoubtedly been benefited by head coaching changes at three of his top schools, South Florida, Tennessee and South Florida. While Wilkinson doesn’t know what decision his star running back has made, he does believe that Folston has decided.
“I firmly believe that he knows what he’s going to do, but he’s not letting anybody know,” Wilkinson said.
Folston doesn’t have a decision date set at this time, but could possibly made his choice at the Under Armour All American game on January 4th.
These two summaries are just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Sports Daily.