The Big Board: Defense

As November approaches, the top prospects on Notre Dame's defensive board are broken down. Plus, what positions the Irish are likely to fill and how many prospects they're still likely to add.

Top Safety Prospects

-- 4-star Payton Hendrix (Dallas, Texas): It's a long shot if he takes return visits to Arkansas and Texas Tech, but should Oklahoma decide to offer after this season, Hendrix would give the Sooners serious thought. Oklahoma told Hendrix they wanted to see senior film before they made a move on him, so if the Sooners don't act soon, Hendrix should be Irish in just a matter of time.

-- 5-star Juju Smith (Long Beach, California): Smith has taken officials so far to Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oregon, and he's given stellar reviews to all three. Smith will still visit Alabama and Michigan and then announce at the Under Armour game in January. Hard to say where Smith is leaning right now, but Notre Dame is no doubt in the thick of things.

Top Cornerback Prospects

-- 4-star Nick Watkins (Dallas, Texas): Notre Dame leads for Watkins, who still wants to visit UCLA, USC and Oregon. He's also considering Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas. Watkins is taking the recruiting process seriously, and he wants to feel out all of his options, but it's hard to see him ending up anywhere but Notre Dame.

Top Outside Linebacker Targets

-- 4-star Andrew Williams (McDonough, Georgia): Williams has a top six of Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee. He doesn't plan on taking official visits until after the season, and Notre Dame will obviously push for one. As things look now, Auburn and Clemson appear to be at the top.

Top Defensive Line Targets

-- 4-star DE/LB Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas): Stanford seems the team to beat for Thomas right now, with Ohio State running not far behind. However, Thomas plans on taking officials after the season, and he'll likely visit Notre Dame. So, there's room for things to change.

-- 4-star NG Matthew Elam(Elizabethtown, Kentucky): Has a top three of Alabama, Kentucky, and Notre Dame. He doesn't plan on deciding until the Army game in January. He has officials planned to Kentucky and Alabama in December. If Notre Dame landed Elam, it would definitely be a "steal," but I think the Irish have a great shot.

-- 4-star DT Thomas Holley(Brooklyn, New York): He's taking his official to Notre Dame this weekend for the Navy game. Ohio State and Penn State will be Notre Dame's biggest competition, though he's also considering Alabama.

Top Middle Linebacker Targets

-- 4-star Drue Tranquill (Fort Wayne, Indiana): Tranquill may be going against the clock at this point, and he'll likely have to make up his mind sooner than later if he wants to become Irish. He will unofficially visit Purdue this weekend when the Boilermakers take on Ohio State. A decision should come shortly after that. The more time he takes to decide, I think it bodes in Purdue's favor, but I still believe he'll end up Irish.

Where Will the Irish Add?

Total Commitments: 17

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

Need: 1 NG, 1 S, 1 CB

Luxury: an additional DB, OLB/DE, ILB

Likely to add: 2 S, 1 ATH, 1 CB

Commitments of offense: 9 (3 WR, 4 OL, 1 TE, 1 QB)

Need: 1 RB

Luxury: 4th WR, 2nd TE, 5th OL

Likely to add: 1 TE, 1 WR Top Stories