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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Irish’s Top Targets to Watch at the Opening

June 28, 2016

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Notre Dame football enjoyed a recent surge of commitments, and the program has a chance to keep that recruiting momentum alive during The Opening on Nike’s campus in Oregon.

Oddly enough, the Irish don’t hold any verbal commitments from prospects attending the showcase. Knowing the world of recruiting, however, that could change quickly.

The Opening is filled with Notre Dame targets on both sides of the football. Although no pledges are official, a few Irish leans could become important recruiters for other top prospects.


Offensive Targets to Watch

Though both Donovan Peoples-Jones and Joseph Lewis—the country’s top two receivers—are high-priority targets, fellow 5-star Tyjon Lindsey is a more realistic option.

In 2014, Lindsey snagged 34 passes for 884 yards and 15 scores. Last year, the California speedster registered 45 receptions, 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns.

CJ Holmes checks in as the No. 20 athlete but would be a tremendous addition for Notre Dame. He boasts offers from Alabama, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA and Penn State, among others.

While skill positions often receive the most attention, The Opening’s group of offensive linemen is loaded.

Foster Sarell is a 5-star, and Trey Smith is trending that direction. He recently rose to No. 3 on 247Sports’ site rankings. Additionally, Jedrick Wills, Andrew Thomas and Robert Hainsey are each 4-star talents.

According to Tom Loy of 247Sports, Holmes and Hainsey are expected to announce their respective college decisions at The Opening. In both cases, Notre Dame is considered the favorite.


Defensive Targets to Watch

On the defensive line, the Irish are pursuing 4-stars LaBryan Ray and Joshua Paschal, who recently took an unofficial visit to South Bend.

Another mid-June visitor was Hunter Echols, who called the trip “unbelievable,” per Loy. Echols is currently a UCLA commit but plans on returning to campus when Notre Dame hosts Stanford.

Baron Browning would be the gem of the 2017 class, though head coach Brian Kelly and his staff may have an uphill climb against TCU and Ohio State. Still, Browning is an undeniable talent who participated at the Irish Invasion camp.

Justin Fosterthe top-rated player from North Carolina—also headed to South Bend for the camp. According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, the 4-star linebacker said Tennessee has an edge but liked how Notre Dame is “big on education” and “all about football.”

Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght visited Thomas Graham in May, and the 4-star defensive back is scheduled to take an official visit to campus in September.

Irish fans can track plenty of names, but it’s important to remain realistic about the entire list. Each of the following prospects are in the picture yet would be tough pulls.

Leonard Warner, a 4-star linebacker, listed an unofficial top three of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida State, per Kipp Adams of 247Sports.

Notre Dame will attempt to snag a couple high-profile defensive backs, too. Hopeful options include Darnay Holmes and Amir RiepJaylen Kelly-Powell, Grant Delpit, Devon HunterShaun Wade and Salvon Ahmed are on the radar.

All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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