Notre Dame lands legacy prospect Jerome Bettis Jr. to open St. Patrick’s Day recruiting push

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Notre Dame’s recruiting push on St. Patrick’s Day opened with a commitment Sunday morning when the Irish landed three-star receiver Jerome Bettis Jr., a legacy prospect with Hall of Fame bloodlines.

The son of former first-round pick Jerome Bettis, who went on to have a 13-year NFL career before ultimately returning to Notre Dame to finish his degree two years ago, became the 18th verbal commitment in the Irish class. That haul ranks No. 1 nationally on 247Sports and is the biggest recruiting class in the country in volume.

Bettis, who plays at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, is the third receiver in the haul. He follows Elijah Burress (Wayne, N.J.) and Shaun Terry (Ironton, Ohio). Both are three-star prospects. Burress is the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide out Plaxico Burress, a former teammate of Bettis with the Steelers.

How does Bettis fit into Notre Dame’s class?

There was little drama around Bettis’ final decision, only when it would happen.

Notre Dame’s other commitments had openly talked about the 6-2, 190-pound athlete as if he’d been committed for months. Bettis didn’t take many visits elsewhere, nor did he run up offers from other programs. He chose Notre Dame over an offer list that included Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Duke Georgia Tech, Cal and Boston College. Bigger name programs didn’t make their moves on Bettis, presumably because he was destined to follow his father to South Bend.

The Irish signed a banner haul of receivers last cycle — Cam Williams, Micah Gilbert and Logan Saldate — to rebuild a room hit hard by poor recruiting and transfers.

Landing Bettis, Burress and Terry is a solid followup, although Notre Dame continues to chase Derek Meadows from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. The 6-5, 200-pound wide out is a cut above Notre Dame’s three commitments and holds offers from Alabama, LSU, Michigan and Oregon.

Bettis would offer the Irish a little bit of everything at wide receiver, physical enough to help in the run game and quick enough to be effective in space. He’ll be an obvious fit for Notre Dame as well, not just because of his family connections, but also because he’ll be coming from a higher end academic school in Woodward Academy.

Can Notre Dame hold its No. 1 spot?

Notre Dame has been ranked No. 1 at some point in every full recruiting cycle since Marcus Freeman took over as coach. The Irish have never finished in the top five and have had to claw to stay in the top 10 by National Signing Day. This class might be an even tougher fight for rankings position than the previous two.

On 247Sports, Notre Dame has 12 three-star commitments this cycle, the same number as last cycle’s 23-prospect haul. Two years ago, the Irish signed just four three-star prospects in a 23-player class.

Not only is Notre Dame landing more three-star prospects as a percentage of its recruiting class this cycle, it’s finding less success with top-100 talent. Notre Dame signed five top-100 prospects on 247Sports last cycle and two in the class before that. The Irish have just one this cycle — safety Ivan Taylor from Florida — and would need to get on a hot streak to land enough to sign a top-10 class.

There are no five-star prospects in play after landing defensive end Bryce Young, another Notre Dame legacy, last year.

Other than Meadows (No. 32 on 247Sports), the Irish are chasing linebacker Nathaniel Owusu-Boateng (No. 45), defensive tackle Damien Shanklin (No. 47), cornerback Mark Zackery (No. 59), linebacker (No. 79) and cornerback Dallas Golden (No. 83).

Zackery and Golden appear to be the best bets to fall Notre Dame’s way.

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(Photo: Kent Horner / Getty Images)

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