Jan 22, 2010, 7:30 AM EDT
One recruit doesn’t make the sky fall, but Irish fans are reeling after blue-chip athlete Anthony Barr committed to UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel yesterday, canceling his in-home visit with assistant coach Mike Denbrock and turning his back on a family legacy at Notre Dame.
Barr would’ve been the top recruit of Kelly’s first class, and while he’s still in on a handful of top-notch players, the loss of Barr to UCLA has to sting. While Barr’s mother went to St. Mary’s, and his father and uncle starred for the Irish football team, it just wasn’t enough to sway the projected safety/wide receiver/running back/athlete to South Bend.
Before people start calling Kelly to the carpet for missing on a sure-thing, it bears mentioning that Neuheisel had years to develop a relationship with Barr, and held the ultimate trump card — his son Jerry is Barr’s teammate and high school quarterback at Loyola High. Add to that the fact that Barr’s girlfriend is reportedly transferring to Westwood (internet gossip, not fact) and he only had a month-and-a-half to get to know the new coaching staff, and this isn’t that surprising.
The beat goes on for Kelly though, as he visited other top-target Dietrich Riley, who reportedly posted on his Facebook page that things went “GREAT” with Coach Kelly. He’s also impressed the family of Seantrel Henderson in the past week, bringing by a XXL number 77 Irish jersey that got the family seriously thinking about Notre Dame. Kelly is also trying to organize one last recruiting push, getting a bunch of high-profile and uncommitted recruits to campus next weekend, just days before Signing Day.