Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 23, 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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42 OCT. 23, 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY BRYAN DRISKELL AND LOU SOMOGYI N otre Dame-USC is one of the most storied rivalries in col- lege football on the field, and there is often more at stake than victory or defeat. Recruiting momentum, especially when USC visits town, has become an emphasized element for the Fight- ing Irish in this rivalry. Barring some upsets, the 2017 matchup will be the 33rd time since the Associated Press poll began in 1936 that the Fighting Irish and Tro- jans were both ranked when the two teams met, and the first time since 2009, when USC was No. 6 and the Irish No. 25. When head coach Brian Kelly ar- rived at Notre Dame prior to the 2010 season, the Trojans were rid- ing a record-tying eight-game win streak over the Irish. Kelly has gone 4-3 against the Trojans, including a pair of wins in the last two matchups at Notre Dame Stadium. All three contests from 2011-15 in South Bend have been played at night, and the Irish staff has turned each into the marquee recruiting weekend of that season. 2015: VICTORY ON AND OFF THE FIELD When USC traveled to Notre Dame on Oct. 17, 2015, the Irish staff had more than 30 prospects on campus, including 15 committed players from the 2016 and 2017 classes. The Irish also welcomed 10 uncommitted play- ers who were premier targets on their board. Notre Dame defeated USC 41-31 on the field, and the Irish parlayed the victory into a huge success on the recruiting trail. Four-star defensive end Khalid Ka- reem trekked to Notre Dame for an official visit that weekend, and the former Alabama commit pledged to the Irish six days after the game. It was a significant coup for the Irish staff, which failed to land a defensive end in the previous class. Kareem is now emerging as a productive cog in the defensive end rotation. Three-star running back Deon Mc- Intosh committed to Notre Dame Nov. 11 after making it to South Bend that weekend for his official visit. He was joined on the visit by fellow Flo- ridian Devin Studstill, who commit- ted to Notre Dame Dec. 16. Studstill started nine games as a true fresh- man last season and is a top reserve for Notre Dame this fall. Four-star cornerback Troy Pride Jr. also made his official visit to Notre Dame for the USC showdown. The Irish made a huge impression on Pride, who committed to Notre Dame Dec. 25. Landing Pride allowed the Irish staff to back off four-star cornerback Damar Hamlin of Pittsburgh, who also visited the same weekend before signing with the Panthers. The two standout figures on cam- pus that weekend were five-star de- fensive end Daelin Hayes, the No. 31 overall prospect in the country, and four-star California wide receiver Javon McKinley, the No. 59 overall player in the 2016 class according to Rivals. Hayes had been committed to USC since July 2014, but the Notre Dame staff never gave up on him. Six days prior to the Notre Dame-USC game, Hayes decommitted from the Trojans, and the Irish staff became the team to beat. He watched Notre Dame defeat USC and on Dec. 11 he made his pledge to the Irish. Hayes is currently Notre Dame's starter at drop end and the lone Ri- vals five-star defensive recruit on the Irish roster. McKinley, who was the top wide receiver on the board for more than a year, is being redshirted after un- dergoing surgery last year. The Los Angeles native witnessed then Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller rack up 131 yards against USC's premier cor- nerback Adoree Jackson. Notre Dame's main loss from that weekend was Texas linebacker Jef- MARQUEE WEEKEND When USC comes to town, the Irish have a chance to build momentum on the recruiting trail The Irish picked up a pledge from Daelin Hayes (left) not long after the five-star prospect and former USC commit was on hand to watch the Irish knock off the Trojans 41-31 in 2015. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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