College Football: On recruiting trail, Notre Dame enjoys home cooking
By LaMond Pope Sun-Times Media July 10, 2014 9:08PM
Providence's Miles Boykin (81) dives into the end zone after catching a pass against East St. Louis, November 16, 2013. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 11, 2014 2:14AM
Notre Dame has kept an eye close to home while building one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
The Irish are No. 7 in Rivals.com’s Class of 2015 team rankings. Eight of Notre Dame’s 17 verbal commitments are from Illinois, Indiana or Ohio.
“It’s not a deep year in the Midwest, but they have been able to grab several big-name guys from the local region: Chicago, Indiana, dipping into Ohio,” said Josh Helmholdt, the Midwest region analyst for Rivals.com. “I think it’s important to build your base with regional talent, local talent, but then obviously they have been able to go nationally with Texas, California, down south a few places and supplement their local talent with some big-name national talent.”
The talent includes Andrean High School (Merrillville, Indiana) linebacker Josh Barajas. The four-star recruit originally committed to Penn State. Barajas, who is 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, switched to the Irish on May 30.
“When you have a talent like Barajas in your back yard, I felt it was important that they secured him and locked him up. They were able to do that, flipping him from Penn State,” Helmholdt said. “He’s very athletic, a long linebacker who will help them out on the defensive side of the football.”
Barajas is one of nine defensive players in the class, which also includes Micah Dew-Treadway, a defensive tackle from Bolingbrook. Seven offensive players have verbally committed, including lineman Trevor Ruhland, of Cary.
Four-star wide receiver Miles Boykin, of Providence, was the most recent.
“Miles is a guy who tips the field in your favor because of his size and explosiveness combination,” Helmholdt said of the the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Boykin. “Early on, teams were recruiting Miles as a tight end, but as they’ve watched him this offseason, seen how explosive he is, they started recruiting him more as an outside receiver.
“That’s where I expect Notre Dame to start him off. He’s a guy that has that rare combination of size and speed.”
Notre Dame also added a kicker in Justin Yoon. But the Irish haven’t landed a quarterback. Blake Barnett originally verbally committed to Notre Dame, but switched to Alabama. The Irish were in the running for Travis Waller before he ultimately picked Oregon.
“It’s not to a critical point in terms of securing a quarterback in this class, but most coaches want a quarterback in every class because attrition, injuries, transfers, those happen,” Helmholdt said. “Whereas today you may feel good about your quarterback depth, a year from now you could be looking at a totally different situation.
“It’s important to get a quarterback in every class. It’s the most important position on the field and you don’t take any chances with that position in my opinion.”