Big-Time Safety Xavier Nwankpa Bonding With Freeman, Notre Dame
Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk safety Xavier Nwankpa was Notre Dame’s second defensive back offer in the 2022 class when the 6-2, 185-pounder sat down with head coach Brian Kelly in November 2019.
Nwankpa kept in touch with the Notre Dame staff here and there throughout 2020 and contact between the two parties has heated up since Marcus Freeman arrived as the Irish’s defensive coordinator last month.
“I’m talking to Coach Freeman weekly — building that relationship,” Nwankpa said.
Some of Nwankpa’s recent conversations with the Irish staff have been on Zoom calls, and a recent video chat he had with the staff included how a Notre Dame degree can benefit him after his football career finishes.
“It was mostly was about what Notre Dame can provide not just for football but the long run too,” Nwankpa noted. “They also said how much they wanted me and were going to recruit me hard.”
Freeman, cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens and new safeties coach Chris O’Leary have Nwankpa near the very top of their safety board. Look for their recruitment of the four-star prospect to only increase from here.
“The relationship is developing,” Nwankpa added. “I enjoy the conversations we have not just about football but about life and academics too. [Coach Freeman] is very relatable. I hope to get over there if visits open up.”
Nwankpa hopes to take visits in the near future, but the NCAA’s recruiting dead period is expected to be extended from April 15 to the end of May.
“I’m hoping we can visit so I can get out and see these schools and not make a decision just from over the phone conversations and Zooms,” he said. “My decision date will most likely get pushed back so I can make visits.”
No junior season stats are available, but Nwankpa had a strong year in 2020, helping lead Southeast Polk to the Iowa class 4A state championship game but came up short.
“We made a good playoff run,” he said. “I’m excited for next season because we still have more to prove. Now we’re just back to the grind.”
Rivals ranks Nwankpa as the nation’s No. 79 overall prospect and No. 6 safety, plus the No. 1 player in the state of Iowa.
• Learn more about our print and digital publication, Blue & Gold Illustrated.
• Watch our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
• Sign up for Blue & Gold's news alerts and daily newsletter.
• Subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts.
• Like us on Facebook.