Virtual recruiting the only option for Notre Dame and everyone else

Brian Kelly Notre Dame
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The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the recruiting calendar is clear: It will be shorter, though later. While that later will include the in-person evaluations, summer drill work and campus visits — fingers crossed — Notre Dame’s recruiting has not stopped entirely during this nationwide lull.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly has stayed in touch with recruits this week in the same way we have all kept in contact with work, family and friends: frequently but from a distance.

“Every recruit is very popular right now,” Kelly said late Wednesday night in an interview on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt. “Coaches have plenty of time to be on the phone, to be using FaceTime, all of the social platforms where you can get out.”

In normal times, this would have been a quiet period until April 15, meaning recruits were allowed to visit Notre Dame. Instead, the NCAA made this a dead period, essentially boiling down contact to only what can be done via phone.

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The Irish aren’t the only ones leaning into video calls, traditional calls and all the social media graphics conceivable. There are 129 other programs in this same position.

“I feel for the young men who are in this recruiting process right now,” Kelly said. “They’re probably sick of us already and we’ve only been at this for a few weeks.”

Amplify that over another month or more, and even teenagers might be sick of their phones.

“We have to have some semblance of normalcy here pretty soon when it comes to recruiting because right now it’s unlimited in the sense that you can be on the phone, you can make that one phone call, but they can’t get back to you every day,” Kelly said.

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A return to normalcy would mean an evaluation period starting April 15, allowing coaches to visit high schools to gauge recruits’ viability. That would have been the status quo through May, along with official visits to Notre Dame as recruits wanted. There should be little expectation of any of that normalcy coming soon, so Kelly & Co. will need to learn restraint on their own.

Those official visits are now likely to be pushed to the 2020 season — again, fingers crossed — or perhaps the NCAA will extend the summer visit window past its current outer limit of June 21.

Until then, the Irish may need to get creative. As Irish Sports Daily’s Matt Freeman pointed out, Notre Dame already has a website geared toward virtual visits. That emphasis was only a matter of time, a timeline presumably now accelerated.