Lynch is the third recruit from Kelly’s first full recruiting cycle to make a U-turn from South Bend in recent weeks. The other two defectors are also from Florida - defensive end Clay Burton, who is now pledged to Florida, and offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood, who is uncommitted but reportedly leaning toward Florida State.
That leaves the Irish class at 17. The earliest recruits can sign a binding letter-of-intent is Feb. 2.
So if you’re Brian Kelly and you just lost to Navy and Tulsa back to back, and you’re getting pounded by the media, and you’ve lost your starting quarterback, running back, tight end and nose guard for the balance of the season, what do you tell recruits about your long-term vision?
“I don’t really beg any of them to come to Notre Dame if they don’t understand what we’re trying to do here,” Kelly said Sunday, a day after a 28-27 loss to Tulsa pushed his first-year bottom line to 4-5.
“They get an opportunity to meet with me personally, and, in that personal conversation, I talk about what I’m looking for from them and whether they want to be part of that. Look, in this recruiting process every year you’re going to lose guys. We’re going to continue to talk about what we’re doing here.
“We’re going to give them opportunities to meet with us individually and talk to our players. And in that process, if they believe that Notre Dame is the right place, then we’ll get them here. But there are plenty of great players out there, and we’re not going to lose sight of the fact that we’re going to develop our players and we want guys here that want to be here.”
The defensive end and/or outside linebacker types the Irish are still trying to persuade are Ray Drew, a 6-5, 243-pounder from Thomasville, Ga. (Thomas Co. Central H.S.); Ishaq Williams, a 6-6, 220-pounder from Brooklyn, N.Y. (Abraham Lincoln); and Christian French, a 6-6½, 229-pounder from Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Kennedy).
Only French, of the three, has taken an official visit to ND so far.
“Ishaq Williams told me on my TV show (MaxPreps Lemming Report) last week that Notre Dame and Penn State lead,” Lemming said.
“What Kelly needs to do at this point is throw himself into recruiting and put the pressure on his nine assistants to do the same. The season’s really already passed them by. The future is still there for them, so they’ve got to protect the 17 players they still have and land another six or seven blue-chippers. ND is still an easy school to sell, and you can also sell the opportunity to play early.”
The Irish have an open date Saturday before finishing with games against sixth-ranked Utah at home on Nov. 13, Army at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 20 and USC in Los Angeles on Nov. 27.
Kelly’s message, win or lose, will be the same to the players he’s trying to add and also the ones he is trying to hang on to.
“(We’re) a team that plays together, a team that’s growing together,” he said. “We had eight players in their first year of collegiate experience out there on the offensive side of the ball (on Saturday). It’s a team that’s developing a camaraderie, a team that’s obviously going to see great success.
“Some are impatient, and we realize that. That’s why we want to be firm in making sure we’re going to take guys who understand that the process is moving forward, the foundation is being built. And if you want to be part of a winning program, these are things we can give you at Notre Dame.”
Staff writer Eric Hansen: email@example.com 574-235-6470