Prentice McKinney flips commitment to UNC


One of Notre Dame’s long-time verbal commitments is no longer planning on joining the Irish’s 2015 recruiting class. Texas safety Prentice McKinney took an official visit to North Carolina last weekend and flipped his commitment to Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels on Wednesday, dropping Notre Dame’s recruiting class down to 22 players and just two safeties.

McKinney took to Twitter to announce the news.

“I want to thank everybody that helped me throughout my recruiting process and appreciate your support. I’ve officially decided to flip my commitment to the University of North Carolina,” McKinney said (before using a few interesting emoticons).

For much of the past month, McKinney’s commitment was being questioned, with multiple outlets reporting that there was an admissions snag at Notre Dame. While those surrounding the safety denied it — and McKinney looked the part of a totally committed Irish recruit as recently as the Semper Fi All-Star game — the idea that he was visiting North Carolina and would eventually be a part of another school’s 2015 haul seemed to be an assumption the Irish coaching staff worked from as they’ve been in pursuit of another safety.

What the Irish lose in McKinney will be interesting to see. A large, physical presence in the middle of the field, Notre Dame plucked the Dallas safety from relative obscurity, offering and accepting his commitment before he had arrived on the national scene. He’s seen his profile rise since then, with offers from Oklahoma, TCU and Arizona State among others before ultimately picking North Carolina.

McKinney’s flip pushes the Irish back to 22 commitments with just under two weeks to go before Signing Day.

Irish recruiting efforts coming into focus


While the Irish coaching staff traverses the country taking in-home visits, Notre Dame’s staff is close to putting the finishing touches on a stellar recruiting class. The additional of Aliz’e Jones pushes the Irish into a consensus Top 10 class — quite an accomplishment considering this was supposed to be a smaller group.

Yet with two weeks to go, the Irish sit at 23 recruits. And most believe they’ll end things with at 25 signees, with the possibility of landing one more if things go according to plans.

From a need perspective, it looks as if the Irish will be filling one very large hole with Dexter Williams. The running back has been an early target of the Irish staff and took his official visit last weekend. A one-time Miami commitment, Williams very well could have been the intended target of a since-deleted Tweet by a Miami assistant that compared weather forecasts in both cities. (Most assumed it was linebacker Tevon Coney.)

Williams is far from a consolation prize. His offer list is elite, his highlight film looks the part and all signs (and Crystal Balls) seem to point to Notre Dame. So while the Irish staff will still likely continue their chase of Soso Jamabo, Notre Dame should have a second running back in this class when it comes time to turn on the fax machine.

At wide receiver, it appears that just about everybody following things thinks the Irish will land another one of their early targets at the position in Equanimeous St. Brown. If it does happen, the Orange County, California prospect will have turned down a Dos Equis commercial a slew of other elite schools to come to South Bend, giving Notre Dame another big-bodied, lanky receiver in the mold of Corey Robinson, with better speed.

St. Brown’s recruiting stock seems to have roller-coastered a bit this year, but Notre Dame’s interest never did. And at a position where early playing time doesn’t necessarily look possible, playing the long game on an athletic talent as unique as St. Brown (he’s 6’5″ and fast) seems to be a good bet. Add to that another player from powerhouse Servite, and it’s a win-win-win for the Irish staff… assuming the Irish hear from the 949 area code in a few Wednesdays.

When it comes to filling a final hole at safety, things get a little interesting. The Irish are chasing multiple athletes at the position still, a priority spot in a class that already includes three commits. But with smoke surrounding Prentice McKinney‘s status, filling this slot is important, especially with the uncertain future of Nicky Baratti.

The Irish entertained Nathan Meadors last weekend, with Notre Dame “pulling even” with UCLA. A San Bernadino native, the Bruins are essentially the hometown school. But the Irish staff believes he’s a great prospect and a player that the recruiting services seem to undervalue. Expect the in-home visit to be important with Brian Kelly.

That’s hardly the only bet the Irish are taking. They’re still fighting for an official visit from Arrington Farrar, a long-time Stanford commit that’s on the market again. Louisiana safety Justin Reid will be on campus this weekend. LSU (where his brother played) will get a late look as well, but Kerry Cooks is working the case.

The Irish staff is still hunting some big fish as well. They haven’t given up on Biggie Marshall, though it’s a long shot to happen. And they just used an in-home visit on defensive end Mekhi Brown, an Alabama commitment who took an official to South Bend during the season.

With two weeks to go, the final pieces seem to be coming together. But none of that matters until Signing Day.