Sting Factor: Justyn Rhett's decommitment from Notre Dame
When a major program loses a key recruit, Rivals.com takes a look at how big of a blow it is to the respective school, analyzing it from a local and national level. To quantify the “sting” of each decommitment, we assign a score from one to 10, with one being no big deal and 10 being a catastrophic hit.
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The four-star cornerback from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman had developed such a strong bond with coaches Marcus Freeman and Mike Mickens that he decided to commit to Notre Dame on Dec. 11.
Rhett made it no secret that he had an excellent relationship with Freeman and when he took over for Brian Kelly as the head coach that Notre Dame shot even higher up Rhett’s list.
But throughout the four-star’s recruitment, he was intrigued by SEC football and especially Georgia. The Bulldogs along with Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee were the other schools most seriously considered in his recruitment but it was always talk of Georgia being the biggest threat to Notre Dame.
So it made sense that Rhett reopened his recruitment over the weekend as he was on a trip to Georgia. The Bulldogs are definitely a major player in his recruitment now and could be the team to beat.
Rhett's departure from Notre Dame's previously top-ranked class in the country didn't catch the Irish coaching staff by surprise, but that doesn't mean Rhett won't be missed. The Irish rarely sign a cornerback of his caliber. During Kelly's tenure (2010-21), Notre Dame only inked two cornerbacks who finished ranked inside the Rivals100: Tee Shepard (2012) and Shaun Crawford (2015). The hope is that will change under Freeman. When Rhett committed to the Irish in December, he became the first 2023 recruit to do so under Freeman.
The good news for Notre Dame is the first reviews of early enrolled freshmen Jaden Mickey and Jayden Bellamy have been positive for cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens. And four-star cornerback Benjamin Morrison will join the Irish this summer.
But none of the 2022 signees were as highly ranked as Rhett and neither are the remaining 2023 cornerback targets with whom the Irish have gained traction. As it currently stands, Christian Gray is Notre Dame's best chance at adding an elite four-star cornerback. Gray visited Notre Dame again this past week and told us he has a commitment date in mind. The sting of Rhett's exit and the drop to No. 2 in the 2023 class rankings shouldn't last long for the Irish. Notre Dame expects to add multiple four-star commitments at other positions before the end of April. - Tyler James, InsideNDSports.com
Sting factor: 8
Losing Rhett is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination since he’s a top-seven cornerback in a loaded class at his position and has developed such closeness with Freeman, Mickens and others. But Notre Dame has thrived in years when cornerback recruiting was not at the peak and the Irish will continue doing so in years to come. Having Rhett on the team would have definitely been a nice situation because he’s physical, he’s competitive and confident and there’s a lot to like but Notre Dame has its sights set on others like Christian Gray as well and more names will join the list soon now that Rhett is on the market. Keeping him would have been best. That’s not going to happen but Notre Dame should be just fine. - Adam Gorney, Rivals National Recruiting Director
Sting factor: 6