May 15, 2012, 2:52 PM EDT
One of the first big running back dominoes came off the recruiting board today, with Illinois running back Ty Isaac committing to USC this morning. Isaac had a final three schools of Notre Dame, Michigan and the Trojans before announcing his commitment via Twitter.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior from Joliet Catholic is a top 20 prospect in the country as rated by Rivals and is listed as their No. 2 running back in the nation. Isaac is listed as a four-star prospect on 247sports.com, and while they’re slightly less bullish on Isaac he’s still ranked the No. 6 back in the country.
EdgyTim.com got Isaac on the record.
“I had a great feeling about USC when I first visited the school and it just felt like me out there,” Isaac told EdgyTim.com. “I went out a second time last week with my Mom for another visit and I felt even stronger about playing for USC and my Mom agreed that it’s a great fit for me. I just really get along great with the coaching staff and the players and everyone around the program at USC. I know that even when I take football out of the picture I’ll be getting a great education and a degree from USC. I really wanted to go to a school that offered the best mix on and off the field and for me that is USC.”
The loss of Isaac, one of the Midwest’s elite skill position players, has to be considered disappointing for Irish fans. But Notre Dame had Isaac on campus multiple times and was in on his recruitment early. The Irish seemed to be fighting an uphill battle from the start as Isaac has long made it public that he wanted to play in a pro-style system. (If there’s a fandom smarting today, it’s got to be Michigan’s, who thought they were in the driver’s seat for Isaac.)
For the Irish, that turns the focus onto Florida’s Ryan Green, long Notre Dame’s top running back prospect. It’s a recruitment that won’t be decided any time soon, and a huge battle for Tony Alford, who’ll be pitted against some of the best programs in the country.
“I’m going to take my time and just make my decision on National Signing Day,” Green told 247 Sports’ Florida State site. “I’ve been talking to my parents and they don’t want me to make an early decision and regret it. They want me to take my time. I could just pull the trigger when I feel comfortable, but most likely it won’t be this summer and I’ll just wait until signing day.”
After some heated recruiting battles between Notre Dame and Florida State over the past two years, expect the Seminoles to battle for Green’s services until the end. In fact, the line for Green might even be longer than the one for Isaac, with Green’s recruiting cohorts more impressive that Isaacs, including programs like Alabama, LSU and Florida.
On tape, Green is a dynamic prospect, comparing favorably to one-time Irish target Keith Marshall, who ended up picking Georgia after visiting Notre Dame. Green is the shorter and more explosive of the two running backs, and his ability to catch the ball in space and home-run speed play into what the Irish are looking for, especially with big back Will Mahone set to enroll this summer.
Green had the Irish pegged his number one school after visiting this spring, and while Florida State has forced its way into the conversation, the Irish still have as good of a chance as any. Bringing in KeiVarae Russell, Mahone and Amir Carlisle last year helps the Irish be more selective this cycle. But with Isaac’s decision to head to Southern California, the top of the Irish board just narrowed itself down.