BEAVERTON, Ore. – The day before The Opening started here at Nike Headquarters, Notre Dame quarterback commit DeShone Kizer said he wanted to be the face of the Irish program in terms of recruiting.
He certainly took advantage of the opportunity of being surrounded by over 150 of the nation’s top prospects and like any signal-caller, Kizer had his eyes on receivers.
“I’m pretty much laid out the recruiting class from last year and the recruiting class this year,” Kizer said of how he approaches recruiting with other prospects. “Last year we were lineman-heavy and we also had a great quarterback in Malik (Zaire).
“This year, on the offensive side of the ball we’ve really been balling with getting a bunch of good talent, but we’re missing two or three receivers. I’m trying to attack those guys and making sure we can get solid guys in the slot position. Justin (Brent) is a great guy, but of course there is more than one receiver field, so we have to get a true core group going.”
Kizer had the chance to play with and throw to one of his top targets as member of the Land Sharks. Iowa receiver Allen Lazard, who’s currently committed to Iowa State, but still keeping the window slightly open for other schools like Notre Dame, was on the receiving end of several Kizer passes throughout the event.
“He’s a heckuva an athlete,” Kizer said of Lazard. “He’s 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 maybe and he jumps off the field like no other person. He also was one of the faster guys on the team. Playing with an athlete like that makes things a lot easier on me because I know if things are breaking down I have someone who can go get a ball and make a play for us when we need it.
“We’re known at Notre Dame for having big receivers, find mismatches, throw the ball up and play basketball with them. I know that if he does decide to leave Iowa State and make a decision to come join Notre Dame, it would be a great fit for him because he’s the type of guy we’re looking for in this recruiting class.”
Kizer made sure to touch base with other receiver targets as well.
“Corey Holmes is a guy I’ve been really on lately,” he said of the Florida wideout who has the Irish as his current leader. “He’s made four trips to Notre Dame with his family. He’s really liking us a lot, but I’m going to make sure I stay in his ear before he heads to UCLA for a visit later this week. Hopefully we can get a commitment from him in the next month or so.
“Another guy who doesn’t have an offer yet who I’ve been on is Braxton Berrios. He’s a very, very fast, very, very agile slot receiver. I’m going to take it back to the coaching staff and have them reevaluate him. He’s the go-to receiver for his team here being 5-9 max. He’s a little guy, but the kid makes moves. He’s a go-getter, he’s a winner. That’s the kind of guy I would like to throw to, someone who I can get the ball to in the open field and he’s going to get as many as he possibly can.”
Berrios is a prospect out of Raleigh, N.C., who has a top five of Clemson, Kentucky, South Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.
“He carries a 4.3 GPA, so I know he has the grades and character to be with the Fighting Irish,” said Kizer. “Now it’s just about getting him introduced to the coaching staff, have them reevaluate him and hopefully put out an offer.
“He has a top five, but those top five are from schools who have already offered. I talked to him last night for about an hour about Notre Dame, just explaining my thoughts about Notre Dame and how I feel about the school and he seemed really interested. He said the next step is just getting the coaches interested in him before he can be interested back. He doesn’t want to put any time into a school who doesn’t have interest in him.”
Kizer feels comfortable enough with Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin to make those kinds of suggestions.
“Coach Martin and I have a relationship to the point where I feel like I’m an incoming freshman who is already a part of the team,” he said. “I talk to him a lot about recruits coming in, how I approach certain guys and what type of guys we are recruiting. I try to think like I would if I were a coach. I don’t want to go get a guy who is a freak athlete, but I know doesn’t have the Irish character or the grades. I try my hardest to recruit the way the coaching staff above me recruits and consider myself one of them and continue to try to make this class as powerful as I can.”
Kizer’s biggest pitch to prospects is just convincing them to visit South Bend.
“What I said to them is that Notre Dame is a place you really can’t judge until you see it,” he said. “So I say, ‘Before you make any final decisions on where you want to be, at least come check out the campus.’ When I went with my family for the short time we spent on the Sunday visit, the coaching staff and campus and academics completely blew me away.
“That’s kind of my first tip when I’m recruiting guys. If they don’t want to be there after seeing it, then all due respect and they can go be successful wherever they want to be. But I have a gut feeling if they come out and feel what I got to feel, they’d be pretty happy making a decision to come there.”