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Tuesday, April 2, 2013
ND-USC recruiting battle shifts to Midwest

By Jared Shanker

Notre Dame recruits the state of California heavily, so naturally the Irish go head to head with on-the-field rival USC several times a year on the recruiting front, as well, for prospects from the Golden State.

It is not too often the programs are competing for the same prospect out of Minnesota, but that was the case Tuesday.

Sophomore defensive end/outside linebacker Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) added an offer from USC on Tuesday afternoon. Notre Dame was not far behind. The Irish offered three hours later.

Cornell visited each school’s campus on consecutive weekends in March, visiting Los Angeles while on spring break with his family this past Saturday. His high school coach told him to call defensive line coach Ed Orgeron at lunch today.

“On the visit they said they like me on film and I’m the type of player that fits USC,” Cornell said, “and today said they would like to offer me a scholarship. He said he likes me as a player and a student.”

Caught a little off-guard by the offer, Cornell wasn’t entirely surprised as he noticed the coaches showed him more attention than some other recruits while he was visiting this past weekend. Orgeron and the defensive staff spent a lot of time talking with Cornell on Saturday.

Likewise, Cornell was equally impressed with the Trojans.

“It was really beautiful. The campus is huge, and knowing the history of the Coliseum, the Olympics being there, it was real nice,” Cornell said. “The coaching staff was nice. I watched some drills and the D-line drills are crazy and intense. I had a chance to see them do the Oklahoma drill, and you see the players going after it.”

Notre Dame hosted Cornell for a visit two weekends ago before he went to a camp in Michigan, where the 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive standout was named MVP. Defensive line coach Mike Elston spent time with Cornell on that visit, and it was Elston who formally offered Cornell on Tuesday.

“I like them as a school, the history there,” Cornell said. “Last time I was there I thought they were ready to go back to a national championship. Hopefully James can do something about that.”

The James he is referring to is former teammate James Onwualu, who enrolled early at Notre Dame this spring. The two talked Tuesday, but the offer from Notre Dame or even Onwualu’s first few months at Notre Dame were not talked about.

Onwualu is the latest Cretin-Derham product to go to Notre Dame, as several prospects from the elite Midwest program have played collegiately for the Irish. Cornell said that won’t have any bearing on his future decision, however.

“I’m looking for the school that best fits me academically and athletically,” Cornell said.

Cornell likely will visit Notre Dame on Apr. 20 for the spring game, and he wants to visit Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State soon.