Irish Invasion: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame Looking to Stymie Ohio State's 2019 Recruiting Efforts

By Andrew Ellis on March 18, 2018 at 8:30 am
Urban Kelly and Brian Kelly will go head to head for several 2019 prospects.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports


Ohio State's last few recruiting cycles have featured prominent battles with the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, and Penn State. Urban Meyer's national approach has been well documented and has caused a number of changes regarding how the Buckeyes handle prospects within the state of Ohio. 

There was a time when Notre Dame was a legitimate annual threat within the state—especially in the Cincinnati area and among the Catholic schools. Brian Kelly signed Cleveland's Shaun Crawford in 2015 and Ohio's top two offensive tackles – Cincinnati's Tommy Kraemer and Cleveland's Liam Eichenberg – in 2016. 

However, Ohio State's success since Meyer's arrival has mostly thwarted the Fighting Irish efforts. This has been seen repeatedly with players like Dre'Mont Jones, Justin Hilliard, Jake Hausmann, and Luke Farrell.

Keeping up with Notre Dame recruiting is mostly the same from year to year. There's that segment of the Irish fanbase that thinks they're getting every player with a GPA that exceeds 3.0 — such as this one — as well as some analysts who do everything in their power to pump the academics and "rich tradition" in South Bend. Many of these are the same individuals who included Jaelen Gill in their "mock 2018 class."

Sometimes these guys are legitimately going out of their way to recruit prospects to Notre Dame, which is obviously the epitome of professionalism. 

Outside of the sunshine pumping and occasional holier-than-thou attitude, Notre Dame is absolutely a program to keep a close eye on between now and February. When looking at the Class of 2019, an argument can be made that the Fighting Irish may go down as the Buckeyes' greatest adversary.

Ohio State has offered seven Ohioans thus far, and five of them remain on the market. Only Buckeye commit Ryan Jacoby and Wolverine pledge Nolan Rumler have made their intentions known. The remaining prospects have also been offered by Notre Dame, and the Irish should be considered a threat – and perhaps even the top competition – for each one. 

Five-star defensive end Zach Harrison is the top player in the state, and he's likely the one player in the class that the Buckeyes can't afford to miss out on. The Lewis Center product is strongly considering Penn State, but Notre Dame (and Michigan) are also real contenders.

Harrison has made multiple trips to South Bend dating back to last summer. He's a high academic kid who doesn't seem to get caught up in the hoopla of big-time college football despite his lofty ranking. 247Sports lists the 6-foot-6, 240-pounder as America's No. 1 overall prospect.

Cincinnati (Walnut Hills) defensive tackle Jowon Briggs is the No. 2 player in the state, and the Irish are the heavy crystal ball favorite right now. The Buckeyes don't have a glaring need at tackle, and nabbing the four-star may be all the staff is looking for at the position. 

Cade Stover has long been though of as an Ohio State lock, but for some reason he's yet to pull the trigger, and the longer this one plays out the more we may need to consider some other potential destinations. At this point there's no reason for worry, but Stover has visited Notre Dame already and plans on returning for an official. If there's anyone who can keep him away from Columbus, then it may be the Irish.

The biggest potential battle between the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish may ultimately come down to the offensive line, and it involves two players that both staffs seem to covet. Zeke Correll is yet another Queen City product whose recruitment should come down to the two programs. The Anderson High School guard has been to Columbus multiple times and attended Notre Dame's junior day event two weeks back.

Correll's crystal ball is in the Buckeyes' favor, but Ohio State really needs tackles in this class and could be forced to make some trough decisions in the trenches. Harry Miller is another four-star lineman, and while he hails from the state of Georgia, he's the other piece of this puzzle as his recruitment also may come down to the Buckeyes and Irish. Correll is a pure interior guy while Miller likely has the versatility to play all over the line.

Ohio State may very well lead for both players, but it wouldn't be a total surprise if they split the pair with Notre Dame; especially if the staff feels Miller is also destined for the interior portion of the line.

Ohio State and Notre Dame have both extended offers to Mentor's Noah Potter, but it would be an absolute shock for the four-star to end up anywhere other than Columbus. The Crimson Tide entered the Fray on Thursday, and Nick Saban getting involved can aways be problematic. However, this one should end up in the Buckeyes' favor; and potentially very soon. 

The Irish appear to be the team to beat for St. Francis DeSales' Rodas Johnson. The defensive tackle checks in at 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds and is the No. 6 player in the state. Penn State and Michigan have also offered, but the Buckeyes have yet to toss their hat into the ring. 

The 2016 season had to sting a bit for the Irish, but they did bounce back nicely last year with a 10-3 campaign and a win over LSU in the Citrus Bowl. They've been a thorn in Ohio State's side before, and that could once again be the case for the 2019 recruiting cycle. 

Ohio State's national reach could actually help the Irish out a bit down the road. A number of talented Ohioans have left the state over the past several years, and teams like Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Kentucky have all benefited from Urban Meyer's recruiting wizardry. 

While the 2019 class should be much of the same, there are a number of battles that the Buckeyes can't afford to lose, and Notre Dame may end up being the biggest road block.

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