Four-star Louisville commitment Russ Yeast’s official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend added some suspense to a recruitment that only a couple weeks ago seemed like a sure thing for the Cardinals.
But Yeast’s father Craig told The Courier-Journal on Monday night that his son, who attends Center Grove High School near Indianapolis, remains committed to U of L after his trip to South Bend, Ind., though Craig Yeast added that he and his son had not spoken at length since Russ returned from Notre Dame.
“He hasn’t given me any indication that that (Louisville commitment) has changed,” Craig Yeast said. “As far as I know, he’s committed, and he hasn’t said anything to me in any way that he was going to flip his commitment. But then again I haven’t had the chance to sit down and really have a conversation with him. … But I have no indication that he is not strong with Louisville with his commitment, and he hasn’t said anything to me otherwise.”
Asked then if he believes Russ’ plans are still to sign with Louisville, Craig Yeast said, “Like I said, he hasn’t given me any indication that he’s not strong with Louisville, so I don’t know what else to tell you other than he hasn’t said, ‘Dad, I’m changing. I want to go somewhere else.’ He hasn’t made that statement since months and months and months ago back in the summer.”
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Russ Yeast didn’t answer a call to his cell phone Monday night, and Craig Yeast said his son prefers not to do any interviews with the media until after national signing day on Feb. 1.
As an underclassman, Russ Yeast was originally committed to Kentucky, where his father played wide receiver. But he withdrew that pledge in the summer and committed to Louisville in October after an official visit there.
Russ Yeast said last month in the run-up to the Under Armour All-American Game that he had essentially shut his recruitment down with this pledge to Louisville and that he had no plans to use his final two official visits. But having Notre Dame offer him a scholarship last Wednesday evidently made him reconsider, and he took a trip there just two days later.
The Irish have said they believe Russ Yeast would fill a need a corner and possibly in the return game and that they believe he is “Notre Dame material,” Craig Yeast said.
Yeast is no stranger to offers from traditional powerhouse schools. He received one from Alabama this past summer but didn’t strongly consider it. Auburn was the runner-up to U of L when Yeast committed in October. And Oklahoma made an offer to Russ Yeast two weeks ago, but Craig Yeast said Monday night that he doesn’t believe his son plans to visit there.
Notre Dame, however, has been a school that Russ Yeast has always been interested in, his father said, since Russ attended a camp in South Bend.
“Throughout this process, Notre Dame might have been one of the places that he thought he could see himself playing,” Craig Yeast said. “At the end of the day, he never had a Notre Dame offer, and out of the blue, with time running down, he’s a committed athlete, and just like any committed athlete, Notre Dame is an intriguing place. Notre Dame is what it is: It’s Notre Dame.”
Craig Yeast reiterated, however, that despite his son taking the visit, he hasn’t given any indication he’s not still committed to U of L.
“He wanted to go take a look at it, and everybody wants to make a big deal out of it,” the elder Yeast said. “And I understand that everybody has got to write their stories, but he took a visit, and he visited the University of Notre Dame – one of the most prestigious institutions in the world – and I think he liked it. I liked it. But at the end of the day, he still hasn’t said to me that he’s not going to Louisville. So as far as I know, he just took a visit.”
Yeast has now taken four of his five allotted official visits, but his father said that as of Monday night, Russ had no plans to use his fifth one or to travel anywhere unofficially for the final weekend before signing day.
Russ Yeast enjoyed an unofficial visit to Louisville three weekends ago in which he attended the U of L-Duke basketball game and stayed overnight with the football players and other visiting recruits, his father said. Craig Yeast said it felt like an “unofficial official” visit.
As for U of L’s home visit last week, Craig Yeast said new defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon and defensive backs coach Lorenzo Ward said they believe Russ would have a chance to compete for a starting job at cornerback.
In another surprising development, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops visited the Yeasts last week on the same day assistants from Louisville and Notre Dame did, but it’s not clear if Yeast is seriously considering UK at this point.
“Coach Stoops came in and had a conversation with us, and at this point, I have no idea what Russ wants to do in terms of the University of Kentucky,” Craig Yeast said. “He’s not talking about it much, and I don’t really have much information to give you other than Coach Stoops came in, we had a good visit with him and I think he may have talked to Coach Stoops a few times since the visit. That’s really all I know.”
The Wildcats haven’t recruited Yeast for the half-year since he decommitted, and Craig Yeast said the in-home visit “just kind of happened.” Craig Yeast wasn’t certain if UK is recruiting Russ now as a cornerback, receiver or general “athlete.”
“Russ is a good player, and I think it’s pretty evident he’s a good player, and Coach Stoops wanted to have a conversation with Russ, myself and my wife, and he came in and did that,” Craig Yeast said.
“Just like all the rest of the programs, they’re trying to get back into the party and see what can happen as a result of it.”