The Big Board: Defense

Broken down inside are remaining defensive prospects on Notre Dame's radar for its 2014 class. Key updates include middle linebacker Jaylen Johnson, safety Payton Hendrix and Andrew Williams.

Top Safety Prospects

- 3-star Payton Hendrix (Dallas, Texas): Has scheduled an official to Notre Dame the weekend of Oct. 18. Baylor most recently offered, and Oklahoma could be nearing an offer as well. Biggest competition is Arkansas and Texas Tech; although since he has held out this long, I think the Irish end up grabbing him.

-- 5-star Juju Smith (Long Beach, California): Has a top five of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, and USC. He's taking official visits to Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame (Oct. 18), Ohio State and Ole Miss, but is also considering California and USC.A decision is not likely to come until after the season. Alabama, USC may hold a slight edge right now.

Top Cornerback Prospects

-- 4-star Nick Watkins (Dallas, Texas): Told he is taking official visits to Alabama, Notre Dame (Oct. 18), Ole Miss, Oregon and UCLA. Other schools in the mix are Texas (recently jumped back in the picture), Baylor, Oklahoma and SMU. He has pushed back his decision date to next January and plans on taking all five officials. UCLA and Texas are the most serious competition.

Top Outside Linebacker Targets

-- 4-star Andrew Williams (McDonough, Georgia): Williams gives a different list of top schools in just about every interview. Notre Dame remains in contention because of his relationship with head coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame's academics, but schools like Auburn, Ole Miss, Clemson and Georgia are likely in better position.

-- 5-star Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Georgia): Notre Dame made his list of seven, though Alabama, Florida and Georgia are at the top of his list. He hasn't scheduled any officials yet.

Top Defensive Line Targets

-- 4-star DE/LB Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas): He has a top eight of Alabama, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and Stanford. He has an unofficial planned to Stanford, but that's the only trip on his fall agenda so far. A decision won't likely come until after the season.

-- 4-star NG Natrell Curtis (Phoenix, Arizona): Arizona and Washington lead, but since a decision has yet to come, Notre Dame could end up pushing for an official visit.

-- 4-star NG Matthew Elam (Elizabethtown, Kentucky): Has a top three of Alabama, Kentucky, and Notre Dame, with Louisville and Ohio State rounding out his top five. A high priority for Notre Dame, he will give the Irish an official visit on Oct. 19. Notre Dame has a great shot here; he was really impressed after his late-June visit, and similar to defensive tackle commit Matt Dickerson, the Irish could end up stealing this 350-pound athlete.

-- 4-star DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, New York): Has a top five of Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. Syracuse has recently jumped into the picture. Irish are likely to get an official visit, though he doesn't plan on deciding until after the season.

-- 4-star DT Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): A Florida decommit who has told Scout's Amy Campbell the Irish will receive an official visit. His top three right now though are Florida State, Miami and South Carolina. He doesn't plan on deciding until Signing Day.

Top Middle Linebacker Targets

-- 4-star Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Indiana): Purdue commit who will choose between Purdue and Notre Dame in upcoming weeks. Tranquill will be on hand in West Lafayette this weekend for Notre Dame vs. Purdue, and he'll take an official to Notre Dame sometime this season. The sales pitch he's hearing from both teams are opposite, and it will end up being a matter of gut and personal preference for the four-star.

Where Will the Irish Add?

Total Commitments: 16

Commitments on defense: 7 (2 DE, 2 DT, 1 CAT LB, 2 ILB)

Need: 1 NG, 1 S, 1 CB

Luxury: an additional CB, OLB/DE, ILB

Likely to add: 1 NG, 1 CB, 1 S, 1 ILB Top Stories