NCAA Football News

Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Previewing the Irish Invasion

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football will host its premier offseason recruiting event this weekend, when more than 60 high school prospects are expected to visit campus for the Irish Invasion.

On Friday night, a slew of top prospects will work out at the camp inside Notre Dame Stadium. According to Irish247's Tom Loy, there are more than 60 expected visitors, including 2016, 2017 and even a few 2018 prospects.

"It's stronger. That's for sure," Loy said of this year's visitor list. "The names are bigger. The talent is more impressive."

Perhaps relatedly, Notre Dame's 2016 class sits at just six commitments. By this date last year, the Irish had already landed 12 commitments in the 2015 class.

"It's not gonna be a top-five class, and it may not even be a top-10 class when all is said and done," Loy said. "But this staff does not sit around and look at star rankings all day."

Whether a focus or not, a 5-star prospects headlines the list of weekend visitors. 2017 class quarterback Hunter Johnson is expected in town. The No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 9 overall player in his class, Johnson visited South Bend in early April.

"It's very clear that Johnson is the guy that they want," Loy said. "He's the top [quarterback] target regardless of class."

The Brownsburg, Indiana, product holds offers from Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan and Miami, among others. Johnson has visited more than 10 schools in the past few months.

"They've been to Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, NC State," Loy said. "They've been to a lot of schools. They're definitely trying to get the process over with early. I expect him to make a decision later this summer. I expect him to shut down his recruitment at that point."

Meanwhile, Loy said he does still expect Notre Dame to ink a quarterback in the 2016 class.

2016 class outside linebacker Caleb Kelly, the No. 2 outside 'backer and No. 17 overall player in the country, was planning to be on campus but changed his plans Thursday. Loy said he believes Oklahoma leads for the services of the Fresno, California, native but added the Irish are in the mix.

In addition to Johnson, high-end 2017 class targets such as athlete Tyrell Ajian, tight end Brock Wright and defensive ends Robert Beal and Corey Malone-Hatcher are scheduled to visit.

Ajian recently camped at Ohio State, three days after receiving an offer from the Irish. Wright checks in as the No. 1 tight end and No. 57 overall player in the 2017 class. The Cypress, Texas, native visited South Bend in March.

The No. 11 weak-side defensive end, Beal hails from Norcross, Georgia, and took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in early April. Malone-Hatcher is the No. 10 weak-side end and has an impressive offer sheet that includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State. Malone-Hatcher is from St. Joseph, Michigan, which is less than an hour from South Bend.

"I know we're in 2016, and next year, a lot of these guys could be at the Irish Invasion," Loy said. "But there's a lot of [2017 class] guys coming on campus this weekend that could very easily end up in Notre Dame's class."

Loy said he will be particularly interested in watching the 2016 class defensive backs work out. Between safeties Ikenna Okeke, Florida commit Spencer Perry, Chacho Ulloa and Devin Studstill, Notre Dame will have the opportunity to make progress at a position of need.

Other 2016 class visitors, per Loy, include wide receivers Javon McKinley, Ahmir Mitchell, Kevin Stepherson and Donnie Corley, cornerback Eric Cuffee and linebacker Chase Pine.

"There are so many guys out there that they are right in the mix for," Loy said. "They just need to start landing a few of them. A couple got away early in the process, and they finished second."


Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports, and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports' composite rankings. 

Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Who Will Be Florida State's Breakout Defensive Star in 2015?

The Florida State Seminoles have always produced some of the best defensive talent in college football.

Who will be their breakout star next season? 

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson was joined by 247Sports' Josh Newberg to preview FSU's defense in 2015. 

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Who Will Be the Breakout Star for LSU in 2015?

LSU is one of the most exciting teams in the country. Les Miles and company are looking to use their talented roster to get back to the top of the SEC.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee gives his prediction for the breakout star for the Tigers.

Who will break out for the Tigers in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

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Who Will Be the Breakout Star for Auburn in 2015?

Auburn is one of the most exciting teams in the country. Gus Malzahn and Co. are looking to use their talented roster to get back to the top of the SEC.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee gives his prediction for the breakout star for the Tigers.

Who will break out for the Tigers in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

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Who Will Be the Breakout Star for Ole Miss in 2015?

Ole Miss is one of the most exciting football teams in the country, and Hugh Freeze and company are looking to use their talented roster to get back to the top of the SEC.

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee predicts who will step up as a breakout star for Ole Miss in 2015.

Who will break out for the Rebels in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

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Who Will Emerge as Tyrone Swoopes' Favorite Weapon?

The Texas Longhorns are beginning to turn the tide under head coach Charlie Strong. With quarterback Tyrone Swoopes under center, the main question becomes: Who will be his main target? 

Watch as Stephen Nelson is joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer as they discuss who could step up for the Longhorns. 

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Top College Football Gift Ideas for Father's Day

For those of you who may be panicking after reading this headline—yes, Father's Day is soon.

This Sunday, to be exact.

If you are reading this and are still scrambling to find a gift idea for your dad, there's a good chance he is a college football fan like you. After all, fandom for a school or the sport in general is usually passed down from generation to generation.

Here are five categories of gift ideas for the college football dad in your life. Each category contains a handful of suggestions to guide your search for the perfect Father's Day gift.

Getting something college football-related for your dad this Father's Day? Let us hear it in the comments section below—unless he also comments on here. We understand if you don't want to spoil the surprise.

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Isaiah Chambers Discusses Top 10: Where Will the 4-Star Sack Specialist Land?

Houston's Isaiah Chambers hears the stories from other defensive ends. He'll attend combines, camps and various events and listen to players reminisce about their memorable football seasons.

He hears them—and then he'll think about his season.

What Chambers did during his junior year at Aldine MacArthur was borderline mesmerizing. The 4-star talent, who recently announced his top 10, finished his junior year with 21 sacks, according to Angel Verdejo of the Houston Chronicle. What makes Chambers' sack stat even more impressive is that he did it playing Class 6A ball, Texas high school football's largest classification.

Chambers' list, in alphabetical order, includes Baylor, Houston, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Washington.

Where does that stack against some of the well-known stars of the defensive line during their junior years of high school? Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche had 18 sacks his junior year. Houston Texans defensive end and former South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney had 23 sacks and followed that with 29 ½ his senior season.

One of 10 schools will land a player in Chambers who has all the tools to be college football's next great sack master. Ranked as the nation's No. 6 strong-side defensive end, per 247Sports' composite rankings, Chambers is an athlete with great size, legitimate speed off the snap, a high football IQ and an ability to make plays.

"I think I play the pass pretty well," said Chambers, who measured in a 6'3 ½" and 258 pounds at The Opening Dallas regional in March. "I had 21 sacks playing Texas 6A ball; that's where the competition is going to b higher. I know they've got good ball in Florida and California, but playing Texas 6A ... to me, it meant a lot."

In addition to his 21 sacks, Chambers also had 78 tackles (32 for loss), four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for Aldine MacArthur last season. He said narrowing his list to 10 from 27 offers was tough, but he's very comfortable with his list.

"There was a reason why I took so long to hold off," Chambers said. "I kept putting schools in and taking schools out. It was kind of hard, because so many schools could have gone in. It was hard to weed good schools out, but I'm happy with my 10."

Chambers said his 10 includes schools that were the most relentless in recruiting him. He said he was able to build solid player-coach relationships with his recruiting contacts, and he feels he can fit in at any of the locations.

"The coaches that were recruiting me, a lot of times, they didn't even talk about football," he said. We talked about what the school could do for me and made sure I stayed on top of my grades. They went into detail about what I could do after football. I like that."

Wherever he ends up, Chambers wants to be an immediate impact player. He's improved, physically and technically, as a defensive end with the assistance of his defensive line coach. Steve Strahan was an All-Southwest Conference lineman at Baylor who was a sixth-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL draft.

"We work on my hands a lot," Chambers said. "All the stuff [Strahan] learned got him to the league. He teaches me about my hand placement, coming off the edge, going down and dropping my shoulder, stuff like that. I've got a pretty good D-line coach."

Good enough to turn Chambers into even more of a menace on the defensive side of the ball? Chambers said it's possible. He has his own personal goals as he prepares for his senior season.

"I think it's possible to get 28 or 30 [sacks]," he said. "I can get three in a game. I know Clowney had a lot his senior year, so why not?"

Of Chambers' top 10, five are in-state schools. Baylor, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Houston all would be ideal spots. The big question, with him being a Houston athlete, is if the near-meteoric rise in recruiting at the University of Houston is good enough to lure him.

Chambers is well aware of the "H-Town Takeover" campaign the Cougars are pitching to athletes in the greater Houston area, as Houston is looking to keep all the best talent as close to home as possible. Houston already has a defensive tackle combo of 5-star Ed Oliver and 4-star Jordan Elliott committed, and the program picked up a defensive end pledge Tuesday in 3-star Hasaun Glasgow.

"A lot of guys are talking about it around here," Chambers said. "It's pretty smart that they're trying to build a legacy. I wasn't looking at going to U of H at first, but they've really been preaching about the legacy thing. It definitely makes you think about it."

Of the 10 schools, Chambers said Houston, TCU, Michigan and Washington have been recruiting him the hardest. Playing out of state is an intriguing option for him, but he said he wants to take some official visits before making anything final. He said he's planning on going to Michigan later this summer.

With Michigan, Chambers said the coaches check in periodically, and he's a fan of the energy head coach Jim Harbaugh brings to the table. Washington, however, may be the school recruiting him the hardest. He said the Huskies have made him their top priority, and he's built good relationships with head coach Chris Petersen, defensive line coach Jeff Choate and defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.

Along with a trip to Michigan, Chambers said he has plans of visiting Baylor and TCU before the start of the 2015 season. He said he's hoping to have a top five at that time.

Whatever the case, he knows he can't go wrong with his final choice. And he expects to be a sack master in college, as well.

"All of the programs on my list are good schools, and they're recruiting me hard," Chambers said. "It's just a matter of me getting to them and finding out more. I know I've got some pretty good choices."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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LSU Vaults to No. 1 Recruiting Ranking, but Will Tigers Stay on Top?

The LSU Tigers lead the 2016 national recruiting rankings after a Wednesday-night commitment from coveted Texas defensive back Eric Monroe:

Monroe, rated second nationally among safety prospects, pushed LSU past Ohio State and Florida State on the list. The Seminoles previously occupied the No. 1 spot for a significant stretch.

"Since my freshman year, the LSU coaches have been with me every step of the way," Monroe told Shea Dixon of 247Sports. “It felt great knowing we have that top class, and it feels good to say I can be a part of helping get that top spot. LSU is building something special right now.”

The Tigers now hold 17 commitments, with 12 players carrying distinction as a 4-star recruit or better. That total of top-tier talent is only surpassed by Ohio State, though the Buckeyes don't carry a 5-star pledge (LSU has landed two of them).

Head coach Les Miles matched his lowest win total at LSU last season when the Tigers finished 8-5. It snapped a four-year streak of double-digit victories, but an occasionally frustrating fall clearly couldn't halt momentum on the recruiting trail. 

Among LSU's latest haul of high school standouts, seven are considered top-10 prospects at their respective position.

Aside from Monroe, this collection features Feleipe Franks (No. 1 dual-threat quarterback), Saivion Smith (No. 2 cornerback), Donavaughn Campbell (No. 3 offensive guard), Jamal Pettigrew (No. 6 tight end), Edwin Alexander (No. 7 defensive tackle) and Erick Fowler (No. 8 outside linebacker). 

These additions promise to bolster positions across the roster, while substantial room remains for growth within this recruiting class leading up to national signing day.

Defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence and offensive lineman Willie Allen are 5-star targets in Louisiana, while cornerback Trayvon Mullen, defensive end Emmit Gooden and linebacker Keion Joyner are among prized possibilities beyond state borders.

LSU certainly seems primed to sign a third consecutive top-five recruiting class in February. Its status atop the list remains to be seen, as several programs are also enjoying an immensely successful cycle.

Ohio State is fresh off a national championship run, and Urban Meyer rivals any recruiter in America. Florida State caught fire early, claiming a nation-high three 5-star prospects in the process.

Both teams have sights set on high-value talent moving forward and will undoubtedly add to quality stockpiles in the coming months.

Longtime LSU rival Alabama may be the most intriguing contender among this top pack.

The Crimson Tide started the 2016 cycle relatively sluggishly but continue to pick up the pace and piece together another strong group, surging to fifth overall this month. Head coach Nick Saban is attempting to do the unthinkable by assembling a sixth straight top-rated recruiting class.

The possibility becomes more viable with 5-star targets like Lyndell WilsonBen Davis and Rashan Gary reciprocating heavy interest. As usual, LSU will face Alabama for several common targets, including Allen, Lawrence and 4-star Louisiana wide receiver Mykel Jones.

There are a few wild-card classes that could eventually threaten LSU as things progress.

No team in top-10 rankings holds fewer commitments than Georgia (12) at this stage, but the Bulldogs rate seventh thanks to outstanding value among their pledges (two 5-stars and five 4-stars). It's another loaded class in the Peach State this year, and head coach Mark Richt is in solid position with many of those premier prospects.

Michigan failed to land a single 2016 commit during the first 14 weeks of head coach Jim Harbaugh's tenure. That situation shifted drastically this spring, and Michigan now sits ninth on the list with 10 pledges in June alone.

Don't underestimate Harbaugh's widespread appeal to high school athletes who've watched him win plenty of meaningful NFL games in recent years. A strong start to his first season in Ann Arbor could set off a series of major recruiting moves for the Wolverines.

Ultimately, Ohio State is the biggest threat to knock LSU off the mountaintop.

The Buckeyes are riding high on the recruiting trail and figure to receive more national exposure than anyone this fall, considering their champion status and a collection of potential Heisman Trophy candidates.

LSU deserves a lot of credit for unseating Florida State, but its stay at No. 1 may be temporary.


Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Rough Offseason Has Left Alabama's RB Depth Surprisingly Thin

In the winter of 2013, when Alabama signed Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones, it appeared that head coach Nick Saban was intent on constructing a city in west Alabama with a population consisting solely of running backs.

That appeared to be the case again during the two most recent recruiting cycles, when Bo Scarbrough, DeSherrius Flowers and Damien Harris signed with the Crimson Tide.

Now, that city looks more like a ghost town.

Kamara transferred to junior college and eventually to Tennessee, Tenpenny bailed, Jones was dismissed and Scarbrough tore his ACL in spring practice.

The running back corps took another hit on Wednesday afternoon, when the school announced via email that Flowers—who enrolled early in January and participated in spring practice—will not be cleared for enrollment at Alabama this fall because of a recently discovered initial-eligibility issue.

The 6'0 ½,", 204-pounder from Mobile, Alabama, was a 4-star prospect in the most recent recruiting class and being counted on to provide depth this year in the Tide backfield.

As Marq Burnett of the Anniston Star notes, that leaves Alabama's running back depth perilously thin behind Henry and the ultra-versatile senior Kenyan Drake.

That is going to put an enormous amount of pressure on incoming true freshman and 5-star stud Damien Harris because he's going to get his fair share of true No. 2 carries three months removed from high school.

Drake, assuming he's back to 100 percent after recovering from a broken leg suffered last fall against Ole Miss, will play a more hybrid running back/wide receiver role, with Henry gobbling up the majority of those first-team carries. Essentially, the duo will be 1A and 1B for offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

That means it's Harris and then a bunch of question marks in the true "backup" role, which not only gives Alabama zero margin for error on the injury front all year long, but also hurts the scout team and the way a defense prepares for opponents.

Flowers wasn't going to be a superstar this year, and barring a few late-game carries against UL-Monroe or Charleston Southern, he might not have even seen the field at all.

But he was good enough to give the defense something to contend with in practice on the scout team. Now that responsibility is going to fall on defensive back/running back Ronnie Clark, who's coming off an Achilles injury, as well as Buddy Pell, Hamilton Phillips and Lawrence Erekosima, all of whom walked on.

At the very least, Flowers would have been an effective emergency/scout team running back for the Crimson Tide, and his absence will hurt in that respect.

This is a true "rich man's problem" for Saban, though.

For normal teams, the transfer of a 4-star prospect (Tenpenny), dismissal of another (Jones), potential season-ending injury to another (Scarbrough) and eligibility issue with another (Flowers) in one offseason would derail the entire season.

For Alabama, it has cut away at the depth.

If somebody else gets hurt or departs the program, though, Saban's worst fears could become reality.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Eric Monroe to LSU: Tigers Land 4-Star Safety Prospect

Eric Monroe, a 4-star safety prospect out of North Shore High School in Houston, announced that he will play college football for LSU.

Shea Dixon of 247Sports reported the news.

Monroe is rated as the No. 2 safety in the Class of 2016 and the No. 31 overall prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings. What makes him intriguing is that he's 6'0" and 180 pounds, but he can bulk up even more before he steps onto the NCAA gridiron.

Added strength will only make Monroe more dangerous in the secondary. The young star already plays with plenty of aggression and isn't afraid to deliver a crushing hit. Such traits should allow him to be an effective run-stopper early in his career.

Monroe could improve his technique in coverage, as his tendency to overpursue due to his style of play can leave him susceptible to getting beat.

Opposing quarterbacks will have to look him off, though, because he has the natural instincts to read their eyes, anticipate where the throw is going, close quickly and put his exceptional ball skills to use.

It's more about refining footwork with Monroe than it is about sheer ability for him to become a better all-around safety.

Any criticisms are small shortcomings that Monroe should be able to overcome, provided he receives proper college coaching. He has shown dominant play in one of the most competitive high school football states in the country.

Monroe's range might be the most impressive component of his game, and it helps make up for any minor flaws he has.

The need to perform up to expectations in his prep career should bode well for him as he makes the transition to college. It should also help him manage the hype and see the field sooner than many of his 2016 classmates.


Note: All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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