Running back KeiVarae Russell (Everett, Wash./Mariner) started what should be a busy few days of commitments by announcing for Notre Dame over in-state Washington. Russell has been an Irish lean since his official visit in October.
The commitment is another big blow in what has been a terrible two weeks for the Huskies. Offensive lineman Joshua Garnett (Puyallup, Wash.) cut the Huskies from his list. Defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin left for UCLA and took defensive backs Taylor LaGace (Arcadia, Calif.) and Bryan Harper (Ontario, Calif./Colony) with him. With Russell leaving, Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash./Lakes) becomes a huge priority to salvage this Husky class.
Offensive linemen Cedrick Poutasi (Las Vegas, Nev./Desert Pines) and Brandon Fanaika (Pleasant Grove, Utah) will announce Thursday night at the Offense-Defense Bowl, and Utah is the one school the two cousins have in common. The two linemen have talked about playing together in college for the last year, and it would be a surprise if they don’t grab a Utes hat.
Former Michigan commit Pharaoh Brown (Lyndhurst, Ohio/Brush) also will announce at the Offense-Defense Bowl, and Oregon is the only school the tight end visited. In fact, it’s not even certain what other schools Brown has on his short list other than the Ducks, so Oregon fans have to feel confident on this one.
There will be a handful of announcements at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Tuesday, as well. Defensive end DeForest Buckner (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou) will make his choice between Cal, Oregon and UCLA but this is another one that looks like a no-brainer for the Ducks.
Buckner has only visited Oregon and has already said he’s canceling his January visit to UCLA. He was expected to trip to Cal in early December but that was visit was canceled by the Bears. By process of elimination alone, Buckner looks to be going green in the fall.
Also announcing will be offensive lineman Matthew Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony). Cochran was leaning to Auburn but had his scholarship pulled the day he was going to commit to the Tigers in late October.
The center also visited Cal, Tennessee and Washington but narrowed his choices to the Bears and Vols. The feeling is the Bears have been a heavy leader for the last month and that is likely where the lineman ends up.
The other big news to come out during check-in at the Semper Fidelis game was Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Washington Union) saying publicly what people privately had been whispering for the last few weeks.
The talented cornerback said he no longer was a rock solid commitment to Notre Dame and now will wait until signing day Feb. 1 before he makes a final decision between the Irish and USC. Shepard visited USC two weeks ago but reportedly re-affirmed his commitment to Notre Dame immediately after the visit. At this point, it looks like anyone’s guess where the corner will sign.