Jordan Prestwood commits to the Irish


This afternoon Plant City, Florida offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood committed to Brian Kelly, becoming the second recruit to verbally commit to Notre Dame. Prestwood is an elite offensive tackle prospect, with offers from coast to coast, including Alabama, Florida, and USC.

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive tackle had this to say during his press conference today.

“Coach Kelly is outstanding. Coach Alford did a great job recruiting me. Dave Peloquin gave me an unbelievable tour of Notre Dame. The entire staff is top notch and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick is incredible. Notre Dame is the whole package.”

Prestwood joins Ohio defensive end Brad Carrico in the 2011 recruiting class, adding a much needed offensive lineman to the fold. Prestwood visited Notre Dame last week unofficially, the third time he’s visited the campus, but only the first time he’d met Kelly and offensive line coach Ed Warinner.

Prestwood made it clear that the decision was final.

“The recruiting process is over for me,” he said. “This is more than a verbal commitment. My decision is final. I will not be recruited anymore.”

Before announcing his choice, Prestwood took the time to thank the coaches that recruited him at Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, Florida State, USC and Central Florida, giving everyone an idea of just how big of a get this is for Kelly and the Irish staff.

Prestwood’s athleticism seems impressive, especially considering he played his sophomore season as a 6-foot-4, 185-pound tight end, before gaining 60 pounds during offseason work before his junior season. Prestwood’s high school coach, Jason Strunk, raved about his prized athlete’s transformation to

“He’s always been an athlete,” Strunk told ISD. “From day one he was an athlete. He’s grown into his body now. I’ve repeatedly said he’s the best recruit in Florida because there is no 6-6, 273-pound kid running bubble screens, blocking kids half his size in space and all those other things. No other kid in the state of Florida is doing that other than Jordan.”

It’s a scary thought picturing a guy that big catching bubble screens and running fades. It’s that athleticism that likely attracted attention from coaches across the country. All in all, a great addition to the Irish recruiting class, and another impressive job by recruiting ace Tony Alford.

Even amidst chaos, Kelly expecting USC’s best

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rocky Hayes, Blaise Taylor

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was fired on Monday, with interim head coach Clay Helton taking the reins of the Trojan program during tumultuous times. Helton will be the fourth different USC head coach to face Notre Dame in as many years, illustrative of the chaos that’s shaken up Heritage Hall in the years since Pete Carroll left for the NFL.

All eyes are on the SC program, with heat on athletic director Pat Haden and the ensuing media circus that only Los Angeles can provide. But Brian Kelly doesn’t expect anything but their best when USC boards a plane to take on the Irish in South Bend.

While the majority of Notre Dame’s focus will be inward this week, Kelly did take the time on Sunday and Monday to talk with his team about the changes atop the Trojan program, and how they’ll likely impact the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh.

“We talked about there would be an interim coach, and what that means,” Kelly said. “Teams come together under those circumstances and they’re going to play their very best. And I just reminded them of that.”

While nobody on this Notre Dame roster has experienced a coaching change, they’ve seen their share of scrutiny. The Irish managed to spring an upset not many saw coming against LSU last year in the Music City Bowl after a humiliating defeat against the Trojans and amidst the chaos of a quarterbacking controversy. And just last week, we saw Charlie Strong’s team spring an upset against arch rival Oklahoma when just about everybody left the Longhorns for dead.

“I think you look at the way Texas responded this past weekend with a lot of media scrutiny,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I expect USC to respond the same way, so we’re going to have to play extremely well.”

Outside of the head coaching departure, it’s difficult to know if there’ll be any significant difference between a team lead by Sarkisian or the one that Helton will lead into battle. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has been at USC for six years, and has already held the title of interim head coach when he led the Trojans to a 2013 Las Vegas Bowl title after Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron left the program after he wasn’t given the full time position.

Helton will likely call plays, a role he partially handled even when Sarkisian was on the sideline. The defense will still be run by Justin Wilcox. And more importantly, the game plan will be executed by a group of players that are among the most talented in the country.

“They have some of the finest athletes in the country. I’ve recruited a lot of them, and they have an immense amount of pride for their program and personal pride,” Kelly said. “So they will come out with that here at Notre Dame, there is no question about that.”

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.