Hoke and Kelly have recruited at a high level for their respective programs, including tight victories against each other for touted prospects.
The Michigan-Notre Dame football rivalry is drawing to a close, with the 41st and second-to-last meeting scheduled between the two programs set to take place this Saturday night in Ann Arbor under the lights of The Big House.
What will be a great environment, and always a big recruiting weekend regardless of who the home team is, will be no longer be after the Irish host the Wolverines next season. Notre Dame opted out of the 2015-17 games because of its new scheduling obligations with the ACC, and no future meeting between the two Midwest powers is in the foreseeable future.
While Michigan and Notre Dame don’t go head-to-head for as many recruits as they used to in the previous century, they’ll still go head-to-head for a couple prospects each year, keeping the rivalry alive in a sense.
With Hoke and Kelly leading their respective programs back to national relevance, 247Sports takes a look at some of the key recruiting battles they’ve already had on the recruiting trail, and a couple that are expected down the road.
Alex Bars – Notre Dame
The Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy Top247 offensive tackle committed to the Irish on May 17, in what was a very tough decision for the 6-foot-6, 287-pound Bars. Sources indicated that both coaching staffs felt good about where they stood with Bars leading up to his decision before he decided to go with his father’s alma mater. Bars has plenty of family that also attended Michigan, including his older brother Blake who currently plays for the Maize and Blue.
Ian Bunting – Michigan
Michigan flipped the script on Notre Dame for Ian Bunting.
The Top247 tight end from Hinsdale (Ill.) Central saw Notre Dame move to the top of his list following a visit to South Bend on April 13. Sources indicated that Bunting would commit to the Irish unless trips to USC or Michigan blew him away. The Wolverines did just that when he visited on April 21. He committed to Hoke and company two days later.
Kyle Bosch – Michigan
The recruiting process began very early for the Top100 offensive guard out of Wheaton (Ill.) St. Francis. Bosch started making college visits as a freshman in high school and he was Notre Dame’s to lose from the beginning. The thing is, the Irish never offered until Harry Hiestand replaced Ed Warinner as the offensive line coach and by then Notre Dame had fallen behind Michigan and Michigan State. Bosch didn’t plan on committing to the Wolverines heading into his Feb. 18 visit but couldn’t turn away from the opportunity upon returning to the Ann Arbor campus with his grandfather.
Steve Elmer – Notre Dame
The first time Michigan hosted Notre Dame under the lights two years ago in Ann Arbor, the Midland (Mich.) High Top247 offensive tackle had to be the only person in the stadium not connected with the Notre Dame program at the time disappointed in the Wolverines epic come-from-behind victory. Elmer knew then that if he was quietly rooting for Notre Dame in that amazing pro-Michigan environment, he was destined to be in South Bend. He committed to the Irish the following weekend while visiting the campus.
Amara Darboh – Michigan
Day was high on Michigan early in the process before ultimately choosing Notre Dame.
The Top247 receiver from West Des Moines (Iowa) Dowling Catholic broke out at Notre Dame’s summer camp prior to his junior season and earned his first major offer from the Irish. He took a couple visits to South Bend, but as the recruiting process continued, Michigan offered and quickly moved up the ladder behind the recruitment of Curt Mallory, who had a close relationship with Darboh’s head coach. Darboh took his first visit to Michigan and it was then that the tide turned and after taking official visits including one to Ann Arbor for the win over Ohio State, Darboh stuck with his gut and chose the Wolverines.
Sheldon Day – Notre Dame
Michigan had early momentum with the Top100 defensive tackle from Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central. The Wolverines were one of the first programs to offer and got Day and his older brother, a Michigan fan, on campus. Day enjoyed his time in Ann Arbor, but the momentum began to swing when Day took his first visit to Notre Dame. He traveled to South Bend twice before his senior season and committed on Aug. 3. Day is still the only prospect in Warren Central’s great football history to receive a scholarship from Notre Dame.
Look ahead to 2015
Two of the top prospects on both programs board in five-star defensive end Jashon Cornell and Top50 linebacker Justin Hilliard will be at the game on Saturday. The Irish and Wolverines are among the leaders for both, and it could come down to both programs when talking Cornell.
For a list of the prospects expected to attend this weekend's game, click here.