Very few get after it on the recruiting trail like Notre Dame recruiting coordinator and special teams coach Brian Polian. He has a strong reputation as a recruiter and he backed that up this cycle with the class of 2019.
In total, Polian is being credited as the lead recruiter for five Notre Dame signees this cycle and as the secondary recruiter for three others. The biggest pull this cycle, with the help of cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght and defensive coordinator Clark Lea, was Carmichael (Calif.) Jesuit cornerback Isaiah Rutherford. Notre Dame was one of the first schools to offer the Top247 prospect, but couldn’t gain much traction. In fact, Rutherford narrowed his recruitment down over the summer and didn’t even include the Fighting Irish in that group. However, that didn’t stop Polian from continuing to push hard for the west coast standout. Notre Dame eventually secured an official visit from Rutherford in September and he was in town for the big win over Michigan. That was the point where everything changed and the Irish became the team to beat. On Oct. 13, Rutherford announced his commitment to the Fighting Irish.
In addition, Polian had been keeping tabs for quite some time on Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou linebacker Marist Liufau, who is widely regarded as one of the more underrated and under-recruited prospects this cycle. Per the 247Sports Composite Rankings, he was listed in the 1,700’s nationally, but some major schools were close to offering, which should make it clear that he is much better than that, and his senior tape came out which was outstanding. With schools like Arizona, Oregon, Notre Dame, USC and Washington coming after him and eventually offering him late in the process, it’s clear that Polian’s strong effort made complete sense. Notre Dame eventually got the Polynesian Bowl All-American on campus for an official visit in November and secured his commitment just days after that first and only trip to South Bend. 247Sports now ranks him as the No. 456 overall recruit this cycle and if he performs well in that final All-American game, he could move up even further.
Polian is also credited for going into Georgia and securing a commitment from Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity Catholic linebacker JD Bertrand, who was once committed to Georgia. Polian, safeties coach Terry Joseph and defensive coordinator Clark Lea all worked hard on that one. He’s listed as the No. 234 overall player in the 2019 class per 247Sports. He is part of a terrific linebacker group headed to suit up for the Fighting Irish.
“He was the first coach that I talked to when I went on campus this year,” said Bertrand of Polian. “He sat me down and we went through a thorough presentation, which was really impressive. He was so straightforward about everything with my parents and I. He wasn’t making a pitch or full of nonsense or telling me things that I wanted to hear. He was that way with all of us the whole time, which I appreciated. He has been doing this for so long and you can tell that he knows what he’s doing. He has an expertise about him and how he goes about his business. With Notre Dame, I always had an attraction to the school, but I think I knew for sure that I wanted to be there after the Florida State game. Getting up there, talking with him and the other coaches, and being there with Kyle Hamilton and KJ Wallace, it was that point that it all felt like home.”
With there being a major need to land a punter and kicker this cycle, as both Tyler Newsome and Justin Yoon will head to the next chapter in their lives, Polian went out and secured commitments from two of the nation’s best. Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Hillcrest All-American Jay Bramblett is going to push for the starting punter job when he arrives in June and Avon (Conn.) Old Farms kicker Harrison Leonard will battle with Jonathan Doerer as Yoon’s replacement in the fall.
Regarding his role as the secondary recruiter, Polian is credited for helping in obtain commitments from Midlothian (Va.) Manchester quarterback Brendan Clark, Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland offensive tackle Andrew Kristofic and Royal Center (Ind.) Pioneer linebacker Jack Kiser.
All that said, he’s not done yet. Notre Dame is still involved with two more class of 2019 prospects and Polian is the primary recruiter with both. Along with the help of defensive line coach Mike Elston, Notre Dame is the team to beat and the heavy favorite to eventually secure a commitment from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle four-star defensive end and All-American Isaiah Foskey, who will go public with his decision on National Signing Day in February on ESPN. Carlsbad (Calif.) high school four-star linebacker and All-American Asa Turner is expected to announce his final decision between Notre Dame and Washington on Friday, the final day of the Early Signing Period. Polian and defensive coordinator Clark Lea are leading the charge on that one. We’ll see how these two recruitments play out, but those inside the Gug are optimistic on both, especially with Foskey.