Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 23, 2017

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

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Page 42 of 55 OCT. 23, 2017 43 FOOTBALL RECRUITING frey McCulloch, who eventually chose the Longhorns over the Irish. 2013: QUENTON NELSON AND NICK WATKINS HIGHLIGHT THE HAUL In a defensive slugfest, the Irish held off the Trojans 14-10 on Oct. 19, 2013. Unlike in 2015, Notre Dame did not have as much recruiting success from this victory. Four-star commits Corey Holmes at wide receiver and Richard Yeargin at defensive end were in attendance, as was five-star offensive lineman Quen- ton Nelson. Holmes and Nelson ulti- mately signed with Notre Dame, but Yeargin decommitted in January and eventually inked with Clemson. Nelson is Notre Dame's starting left guard and is projected as a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Less than two weeks after the Notre Dame victory, four-star cornerback Nick Watkins committed to the Irish, giving the staff a Rivals250 player at the position. Watkins, the nation's No. 186 overall player coming out of high school, is currently Notre Dame's starting boundary corner- back. Three-star tight end Tyler Luatua attended the game for his official visit, and in December he picked the Irish. Luatua earned playing time right away for Notre Dame, but injuries ultimately derailed his career. California wide receiver JuJu Smith- Schuster was in attendance that day, but he ended up signing with USC. Another California native — Michiah Quick — held the Irish in high esteem, but picked Oklahoma late in the process. Five-star Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough made his official visit to Notre Dame that weekend, but went on to sign with the Crimson Tide. Notre Dame hoped to get Iowa na- tive Allen Lazard to decommit from Iowa State, but the nation's No. 47 player stuck with his commitment to the Cyclones. Lazard will end his career as Iowa State's all-time leader in receptions, and with 259 yards in 2017 he'll end his career as the pro- gram's all-time leader in receiving yards as well. 2011: CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' Notre Dame had much success with its 2015 visitors, but the oppo- site was true when the Irish made the Oct. 22, 2011 game the most massive recruiting weekend for a game in its history. The Irish had more than 30 pros- pects on campus, including numer- ous five-stars, and the school pulled out all the stops, including the first night game at home in 21 years, brand new shiny gold helmets and piped-in music for the first time at Notre Dame Stadium. There was a game to play, too, and before one knew it USC was up 14-0 after two possessions and went on to defeat the Irish 31-17. The off-the-field ramifications were steep, too. Notre Dame did end up getting commitments from Washington state four-star cornerback KeiVarae Rus- sell and Nevada four-star offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley. Both had stellar careers at Notre Dame, with Stanley becoming the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and Rus- sell going in the third round. The Irish targeted a plethora of top West Coast prospects in the 2012 class, and many were on campus that weekend with Russell (from Wash- ington) and Stanley (from Nevada). Washington native and five-star of- fensive tackle Zach Banner — Rivals No. 16 overall player in the country — went into that visit highly inter- ested in Notre Dame. He watched USC take it to the Irish on Notre Dame's home field and eventu- ally signed with the Trojans, where he went on to become a three-year starter. Another five-star recruit — Flor- ida wide receiver Nelson Agholor — visited that weekend, and like Banner he signed with USC. A pair of highly ranked California tar- gets — Rivals100 end Arik Armstead and Rivals250 running back Byron Mar- shall — signed with Oregon after visiting Notre Dame. The nation's No. 81 overall player —California wideout Bryce Treggs — made his official visit, but instead of se- lecting Notre Dame he chose the Cal Golden Bears. Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Chris- tian standouts Jordan Payton, a wide re- ceiver and the No. 93 overall player in the country, and four-star cornerback Ish- mael Adams, the No. 117 overall recruit in the land, were on campus as well but signed with UCLA. Five-star safety Shaq Thompson was a player the Notre Dame staff desperately wanted, but the performance failed to make an impact on Thompson, who went on to sign with Washington before devel- oping into a first-round NFL Draft pick. Also on campus were two other five- star figures in North Carolina running Keith Marshall and Florida offensive tackle John Theus, but both ended up at Georgia. Five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel, made an appearance at the game, and chose Notre Dame at the final second in January after originally committing to both Indiana and LSU. He would transfer to Cincinnati after his freshman season. ✦ Note: Recruiting writers Corey Bod- den and David McKinney contributed much research to this story. Notre Dame hosted five-star wide receiver Nelson Agholar (above) and five-star offensive tackle Zach Banner for the 2011 USC game, but both ended up picking the Trojans after watching the Irish fall 31-17. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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