Four-Star Safety Reacts To New Notre Dame Offer
Last Wednesday, Severn (Md.) Archbishop Spalding class of 2021 safety Zakee Wheatley announced a top eight schools list of Maryland, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wisconsin.
Six days later, the 6-2, 180-pound safety added an offer from Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish staff has been in communication with Wheatley for several months and things heated during the January contact period. Notre Dame stopped by his school and even saw him in action during an away basketball game.
“It’s a relationship that has been building,” Wheatley said. “I wasn’t really shocked [by the offer] because I’ve been talking to them for a minute, but it was a little bit of a surprise. Coach texted me saying that he had good news. I called him and they offered.”
The Irish coach who got on the phone with the four-star defensive back to inform him of the good news was new cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens.
“He was talking about him getting the job not too long ago and wanting to build a relationship with me,” Wheatley said. “He’s been talking to me since he got the job.”
Wheatley knows a thing or two about Notre Dame, and he certainly hopes to get to South Bend at some point after the dead period forced by the coronavirus lifts.
“I definitely know that it’s independent, it has a prestigious history, great academically and in football,” noted Wheatley.
Where does Notre Dame fit into Wheatley's recruitment? While he has his top eight schools list, the Irish extending an offer to him puts Notre Dame in a good spot in his recruitment.
“I’m taking it as it goes; I’m going with the process,” Wheatley added. “I’m just getting through the whole virus thing, see how visits set up and take it from there.”
Wheatley had official visits set for Penn State, Virginia and Wisconsin set for this spring and summer, but all of those trips are up in the air. He has also been in communication with Maryland about an official visit, and he would love to get to Notre Dame as well.
“I definitely want to see Notre Dame. Definitely,” he said.
Wheatley had an impressive junior season, catching 56 passes for 803 yards and seven scores, plus recorded 28 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions.
Rivals lists Wheatley as a safety, but the 6-2, 180-pounder has also played cornerback. According to Wheatley, though, the Irish probably prefer his talents at safety.