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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Top RB Sony Michel headlines weekend visitors

After landing what ESPN called the fourth-best recruiting class of 2013, the Irish have hit the ground running as they work on assembling the class of 2014.

Notre Dame has already landed six verbal commitments - Maryland offensive lineman Sam Mustipher was the most recent addition to the class when he pledged to the Irish on Monday - and will host a stable of juniors this weekend.

Florida running back Sony Michel tops the list of expected visitors to South Bend for the spring game. Michel is one of the most highly rated players in the country and has Notre Dame positioned in his top five schools, according to Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank.

"Sony Michel, he's a big-time player," said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily. "Some people have him as high as the No. 2 player in the country."

Frank said Notre Dame has a few connections working in its favor when it comes to landing the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Michel. The Plantation, Fla., native attends the American Heritage School and was a high school teammate of future Irish linebacker Michael Deeb, who is a member of the class of 2013 and will enroll at Notre Dame in June. In addition, American Heritage head coach and former NFL player Mike Rumph spoke at the Notre Dame coaches clinic this past weekend. Although some think Michel could stay home and attend a local school such as Miami or Florida State, Frank said he thinks the Irish have a legitimate opportunity to land Michel.

"Notre Dame has a pretty good shot," Frank said. "He's been up here a couple times and each time he's seemed to enjoy it. So I'm thinking it's good Notre Dame can get another look at him and he'll get another look at Notre Dame and we'll see what happens."

The Irish will also welcome a pair of talented receivers this weekend. Arizona receiver Mark Andrews and Tennessee receiver Josh Malone are two of the most notable Irish targets in a rapidly expanding pool of receivers who have been offered scholarships by Notre Dame. Frank said with the recent transfers of former Irish receivers Davonte' Neal and Justin Ferguson, Notre Dame has offered more scholarships to receivers in the past week. The Irish could potentially sign up to four receivers in the class of 2014.

Frank said Malone is "a very big-time prospect" and "has offers from everybody under the sun." Andrews, meanwhile, is a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder who Frank said is the other receiver the Irish will likely be working very hard to reel in.

As for other skill position prospects on the horizon, Frank said North Carolina running back Elijah Hood, who Rivals listed as the 12th-ranked player in the nation, is expected to visit next weekend. As has been the case with a host of Irish recruits, players and now decommitments in recent years, family ties could be a key factor with Hood.

"He's been up here a number of times. It looked like Notre Dame had a great shot at him and he may be ready to pull the trigger but again the closeness to home," Frank said. "He likes where he's at, where his parents can come see him play, and it's also real expensive to come up from North Carolina. So I think that had something to do with it. ... His parents are going to play a big role in this."

Current Irish class of 2014 commits Justin Brent, a receiver from Indianapolis, and Jimmy Byrne, an offensive lineman from Cleveland, are highlights among the already-pledged players expected to visit this weekend. But whereas last year early Irish commitments such as early enrollee receiver James Onwualu and early enrollee quarterback Malik Zaire played an integral part in recruiting other prospects, Frank said no similar leaders have emerged yet for Notre Dame in the class of 2014.

"This year it doesn't seem to be as much," Frank said. "I think it just depends on who you are. I think Jimmy Byrne has reached a number of guys, trying to get them to come and visit and I know Justin Brent has been up a number of times. His last time up, recently, he said he was going to get more active in that. But they haven't had kind of the ringleader or the guy who is mobilizing that. Previously they got Malik Zaire to commit early and James Onwualu to commit early and those two spearheaded the race on that initially and it paid big dividends."

While Frank said recruiting ringleaders aren't necessarily the biggest component, guys like Onwualu and Zaire can certainly help with other recruits.

"You want to get guys like that if you can, obviously, because I do think it helps," Frank said. "You start to feel more and more comfortable with the guys you would be attending school with so it becomes very familiar and an easier decision to make when you know the guys you are going to be playing with you get along and they seem interested as well."

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank's Email Mike at and tell him The Observer sent you.

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