Notre Dame always recruits the state of Illinois, particularly Chicagoland, well. So, it's no surprise that the Irish are making a move for one of the top overall prospects in the area for the 2014 cycle.
According to the 247Sports Crystal Ball, the Irish are trending for four-star linebacker Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) and sources believe that Notre Dame is now the team to beat ahead of Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
There's a possibility that Morgan, the No. 4 inside linebacker prospect this cycle nationally per 247Sports Composite rankings, officially visits the Commodores this weekend. If he makes that visit, Vanderbilt could make a move. If not, chances are he announces for the Fighting Irish at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4.
While on the surface, it's not a huge recruiting surprise that Notre Dame beats an SEC West program on a top Chicagoland prospect, a deeper look shows this is a bigger deal that it appears.
Crete-Monee has been good to Ole Miss of late. The Rebels landed the top receiver prospect in the country for the 2013 cycle, Laquon Treadwell, out of the school and he's in the mix for freshman All-American honors this season. Ole Miss appeared to have the inside track with Morgan until Notre Dame started making its charge when the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder made an official visit to South Bend on Oct. 19. Morgan followed up with unofficial visits to Notre Dame on Nov. 23 and 27.
Morgan may not be the only Illinois linebacker to head to South Bend in this class. Nile Sykes (Oak Park, Ill./Motini Catholic) is a late-riser who had a big senior campaign and earned an offer from Notre Dame on Nov. 14. Since the offer, the Irish have been trending in a big way. Crystal Ball has Notre Dame predicted at 73 percent. Sykes will make an official visit to South Bend this weekend.
Landing Sykes and Morgan will give the Irish much-needed upgrades at linebacker during the last two cycles. Notre Dame already has Richard Yeargin III (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) and Greer Martini (Woodberry Forest, Va.) committed and landed Jaylon Smith (who started this year and could be a three-and-doner) and Doug Randolph (who they like) in the 2013 cycle.
Notre Dame currently has the No. 9 class nationally for the 2014 cycle.