Tag: Byron Marshall

Arik Armstead

Armstead’s recruitment highlights West Coast visitors


This Saturday was already a critical weekend in the head-to-head recruiting battle the Irish and Trojans are waging with each other. It just got a whole lot more interesting with five-star defensive end recruit Arik Armstead backing away from his commitment to USC on Sunday, less than a week before his official recruiting visit to Notre Dame.

At 6-foot-7, 280-pounds, Armstead doesn’t do the word prototype any justice. He’s a monstrous prospect that also doubles as a power forward during basketball season. Whether he ends up at defensive end like he prefers or as an offensive tackle, his athleticism has him among the top players at either position in the country.

While Armstead was the longest tenured commitment to the Trojan recruiting class, the idea of a de-commitment had to at least be in the back of the minds of both USC coaches and fans thanks to the mysterious medical situation surrounding Arik’s brother Armond, a senior defensive end on the Trojan roster. Armond has been held out of Trojan contact drills with an undisclosed ailment, and the Armstead family hasn’t been happy with the way the university has treated the situation.

“All I can say is that over the last six months, my family has been a little disappointed with some things going at USC but that’s all I want to say on that,” Arik told ESPN.com’s Greg Biggins.

Armstead plans on enrolling early, shortening the recruiting process and putting a huge emphasis on the upcoming weekend. He’ll be joined by a very large West Coast contingent in South Bend, with nearly every recruit holding offers from both Notre Dame and Southern Cal.

Here’s a quick look at a few key targets for both schools:

Zach Banner, OL: At 6-foot-9, 310-pounds, Banner is one of the few recruits that look down at Armstead. He’s got coast to coast offers and is one of the most coveted offensive line targets in the country.

Byron Marshall, RB: The San Jose native has a brother at Arizona State, but offers from just about every team in the Pac-12. He’d be a great complement to Will Mahone.

KeiVarae Russell, RB: Another dual-threat running back, the Irish will likely battle hometown Washington and the Trojans for Russell’s services.

Shaq Thompson, S: It won’t be hard for Thompson to see Harrison Smith and know he’ll have a shot at his job next season. But Thompson has choices, including USC, Auburn, Alabama, Oregon and Cal, where he was once committed.

Jordan Payton, WR: Once committed to the Trojans, Payton saw the Irish in Ann Arbor and will see them again this Saturday. His offers include most of the Pac-12 and Florida, Oklahoma, Miami and Michigan among others.


There are plenty of other recruits that are looking at both schools visiting South Bend on Saturday, including top national players like Cal commit Bryce Treggs and Georgia commit John Theus. Blue-chip offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, entertaining offers from both USC and Notre Dame was scheduled to make his first visit to South Bend, but IrishSportsDaily.com reports scheduling conflicts have pushed that visit back.

Either way, the recruiting subplot will be an interesting one on Saturday. And there might not be a more important cog in all of this than Armstead, one of the biggest players — both literally and figuratively — on either teams’ recruiting board.


Reeling in RBs a must in this recruiting cycle

Getty Images - Jonathan Daniel

If you’re looking at the Irish roster, you’ll notice there’s one particularly important position that could use a little bit of padding. After focusing on quarterbacks and defensive ends in their first two recruiting classes, Brian Kelly and his offensive staff have spent most of this recruiting cycle identifying running backs and casting a wide net, hoping to fill a void on the roster that’s come with the loss of seniors Armando Allen and Robert Hughes.

With Cameron Roberson likely spending most of the season still recovering from ACL surgery, the Irish have Cierre Wood returning and Jonas Gray back for a final season. Behind them — well, it’s anybody’s guess.

Incoming freshman Cam McDaniel was the only running back recruited on the roster. George Atkinson, who was expected to enter as a wide receiver and played safety in the US Army All-American Bowl, will shift to tailback to help add some depth. But as the Irish head into the fall looking to fill some slots on the offensive side of the ball, they’ve targeted some pretty big names to fill the depth chart. Let’s look at a couple that the Irish have their cross-hairs on.


Keith Marshall, Raleigh, NC: Just watching his highlight tape gives you a clue that he’s one of the most explosive backs to come out of the high school ranks in quite some time. Marshall plans on enrolling early, and he’s got the Irish in his top dozen teams.

William Mahone, Austintown, OH: A powerful back with Ohio roots, Mahone had his eyes opened by a recent Notre Dame visit. The Irish will battle Michigan State, Pitt and Penn State among other teams.

KeiVarae Russell, Everett, WA: One of the best offensive players on the West Coast, Russell has legit interest in the Irish and plans on being in South Bend for the Irish’s date with the Trojans. He could slide to the slot as well.

I’Tavious Mathers, Murfreesboro, TN: The Irish have had their sights on Mathers for months, along with programs like Alabama, Tennessee, and Ole Miss. The reigning player of the year in Tennessee rushed for over 2,600 yards during his junior year.

Byron Marshall, San Jose, CA: Marshall has most of the West Coast after him, but he took a summer Spanish course to get his credits up to speed for the Irish, a signal that Mike Denbrock is doing his job. Getting an official visit from Marshall will be next, but the Irish appear to be in great shape.

Chris Mangus, Raleigh, NC: Another North Carolina running back, Mangus looks better suited to play in space as opposed to being an every down back for the Irish. Virginia Tech and Clemson are in the running as well, but the Irish have already gotten Mangus on campus.

Drew Harris, Exton, PA: Another big back, Harris might be tough to pull out of Pennsylvania, especially after a Skype conversation with the ageless Joe Paterno. He’s got offers from Arkansas, Florida State, Miami, and South Carolina among others.

Expect Kelly and the Irish to continue chasing running backs even after they get their first commitment. If they could play it correctly, the Irish would take one pure tailback and add another guy that can play well in space, making a guy like Russell or Mangus great complimentary players as well as running back targets.