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Kelly stays on the West Coast as coaches hit the recruiting trail

Arik Armstead

When the Irish loaded up and departed the San Francisco airport late Saturday night, head coach Brian Kelly stayed behind, swinging by some key West Coast spots before returning to his team later this week.

While the internet is abuzz with a full fledged quarterback controversy after Andrew Hendrix gave the offense a jolt in the second half against Stanford, the Irish coaching staff is combing the country, trying to lock down commitments for the 2012 recruiting class, while also making head way on the class of 2013 as well.

That’s life for a BCS football coach between now and a bowl game. While the rest of the world replays the disappointments from Saturday, Kelly and the rest of his coaching staff will scatter across the country keeping Irish commitments intact while trying to add other impact recruits into the fold.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the recruits getting an at-home visit:

Tee Shepard, CB (Commit): Shepard has had to sit out his senior season of high school football thanks to a transfer snafu. But the talented cornerback is still set to enroll a semester early, giving him a jump-start on the open competition at cornerback. According to Pete Sampson at, Kelly and West Coast recruiter Mike Denbrock visited the Shepard family, and everything is on target for Shepard to enroll early.

Arik Armstead, DL (Target): There’s no larger recruit left on the board for the Irish (maybe Zach Banner), with Armstead set to early enroll. Multiple sources are reporting that Kelly will have an in-home visit with Armstead, possibly as early as Monday night, where he’ll give one final sales pitch to the two-sport athlete that was once a USC commitment.

KeiVarae Russell, RB (Target): With Byron Marshall off the board and Keith Marshall down to the wire between Georgia, the Irish and a few other schools, Russell is a really important recruiting target and a guy that profiles perfectly for the Irish. He’ll likely be hearing from Kelly and Denbrock as well, but still has his hometown Huskies and other Pac-10 teams chasing him.

Davonte Neal, ATH (Target): A name that’s probably new to many recruitniks, but certainly not the coaching staff. Neal’s family shutdown the recruiting process during the season, but now that the Arizona native capped off his third straight state title, he’s got the Irish at the front of his list. Assistant coach Kerry Cooks was the first visitor the Neal family welcomed, and according to, Neal will make Notre Dame his first official visit, for the team’s award show and banquet on December 9.

Will Mahone, RB (Commit): According to his Twitter account, Mahone had a visit from offensive line coach and run game coordinator Ed Warinner this evening. Even more interesting, Mahone also said via Twitter that he’s expecting a visit from Brian Kelly on December 8. Kelly’s also set to be joined by running backs coach Tim Hinton, who’s had his name thrown around quite a bit today as a potential member of Urban Meyer’s first Ohio State staff.

That’s hardly the extent of recruiting visits, as the Irish have coaches canvassing the country, with staffers in Florida and working their way around the country while the Irish squad enjoys a brief break from football as they await their bowl destination.