It may have been three decades since the Notre Dame football program had a Heisman Trophy winner or nearly that since the Fighting Irish actually won a championship. However, the aura of the renowned program hasn't lost its luster with teenagers in 2017.
The Irish secured its latest recruiting commitment Friday and its fourth in the past month. North Broward Prep (Pompano Beach, Fla.) wide receiver Kevin Austin pledged his commitment to Notre Dame.
“I think kids look at more than one season,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said recently of his program's recruiting success this summer. “They look at Notre Dame, the tradition at Notre Dame.”
The Fighting Irish now have secured 16 verbal commitments from 2018 seniors, with Austin being the 11th four-star recruit according to Scout.com.
Notre Dame's class is currently ranked seventh nationally according to that specific recruiting site.
In the past month, Notre Dame has added commitments from Austin, linebackers Shayne Simon (St. Peters Prep, Jersey City, N.J.) and Jack Lamb (Great Oak High School, Temecula, Calif.), and running back Jahmir Smith (Lee County High School, Sanford, N.C.). Each of these recruits was not dissuaded by the 4-8 season that the Irish put together last fall.
“They look at more than just one season,” Kelly reiterated. “They look at the university and what this university can do for them.”
Despite the dearth of national status in recent years, the Fighting Irish are still doing the two things that appeal to most recruits – if not all of them.
Former Irish offensive lineman Zack Martin is reportedly in negotiations with the Dallas Cowboys to become the highest paid guard in the NFL when he signs his contract extension, while former quarterback DeShone Kizer performed well in Thursday's preseason game with the Cleveland Browns.
“A lot of these guys see that it's more than just a four-year decision,” Kelly said. “It's what Notre Dame can do for them for the rest of their lives. (They can) still have a great deal of success regardless of last year in getting players to the next level. We've developed our players, obviously, from that standpoint.”
Austin joins fellow wide receiver Micah Jones (Warren Township High School, Gurnee, Ill.) in the 2018 class. He is a bigger receiver at 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds already, and was ranked as the 35th best receive nationally and 175th best player.
Austin was recruited by Notre Dame running backs coach Autry Denson.
Kelly has simplified the mission for the current Notre Dame players heading into the 2017 season and that message is also being preached to the recruits that Kelly and his staff are in pursuit of.
“Our mission is really clear to our football team,” Kelly said. “That is to graduate all of our players and to win a national championship. That is why I am here. That is the only reason why I am here is to fulfill that mission.”
Austin held a multitude of offers from the nation's top collegiate programs, including Clemson, Michigan, Miami (Fla.), Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Ohio State, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin and many others.
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