Nelson Agholor

Irish impress Agholor with weekend recruiting visit

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There might not be a bigger weekend on the recruiting calendar than next week’s primetime showdown with USC. While the numbers are still being confirmed, the Irish will host a slew of blue-chip talent, with many of the country’s top players coming to town to see the Irish and the Trojans battle it out under the lights.

We’ll spend the proper amount of time getting you up to speed on who’s visiting for Southern Cal, but one of the Irish’s top recruiting targets, Tampa’s Nelson Agholor, had the stage to himself this past weekend, and it sounds like the Irish definitely helped their case.

Agholor caught up with’s Chris Nee to fill him in on the weekend visit, a trip that put the Irish in a great position to bring in one of the country’s most heralded recruits.

“I loved it,” Agholor told Rivals. “That is an area right there where I feel football is number one. The fans, the people there, they back that program up 100% whether they win or they lose. They, right now I think they have a 3-2 record, but you would think they were undefeated with how all of the tickets are selling out. The history of the program is amazing. It has a legacy, people passing tickets down to their grandchildren, they keep the tradition going.”

Agholor has played the recruiting game relatively close to the vest, unwilling to list a top five or a short list to help build the drama of his recruitment. But the Irish seem to be in great shape with the high schooler who just so happens to wears No. 3 on his jersey. It wasn’t hard for Agholor — or the coaching staff — to talk about replacing another No. 3 that will be gone after the season.

“What they relayed to me is the opportunity to play wide receiver and play it big and early,” Agholor said. “With Michael Floyd leaving, I feel like there is a void that will need to be filled in that offense. They need a big, big-time receiver and that is something I definitely think I could work towards.”

Agholor had the weekend off from his Berkeley Prep season, and used it to take his first visit to South Bend. With no other official visits scheduled, it was clear that getting to Notre Dame was a priority for the nation’s No. 1 ranked athlete. That alone was great news for the Irish.

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.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.