Big Board: Outside linebacker
Notre Dame added the No. 1 guy it wanted in the state of Indiana when four-star outside linebacker Josh Barajas of Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean flipped his pledge from Penn State to Notre Dame last week. Barajas, who could be utilized as an utility man if necessary, projects primarily as an outside SAM linebacker at Notre Dame. The Irish are likely to add three linebackers (total) in this class, and at the very most, four - depending on the skill sets of who they add at defensive end. While Notre Dame would like to add one true middle linebacker, that would leave one to two more spots for the taking at outside linebacker. Top targets, in order of ranking: 1. John Houston - Houston is visiting Notre Dame on June 27. Not only is it noteworthy considering the five-star is taking an unofficial to South Bend from California, but that is currently the only unofficial visit he has scheduled for the summer. He visited UCLA and USC this spring, and he's shooting for a Signing Day decision. 2. Justin Hilliard - Hilliard has a top five of Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State, and he plans to announce his final decision this summer. Hilliard could possibly visit Notre Dame in a few weeks for Irish Invasion. He will head to Iowa before that, however. Ohio State seems to have the inside track right now. 3. Jerome Baker - Baker has a top three (in order) of Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame, and he plans to announce his decision in July. Notre Dame would need to land a visit from Baker this month if it hopes to pull the upset. 4. Osa Masina - Masina released his top eight in May, which included Notre Dame. He's likely looking at cutting his list to five within the next couple of weeks. Academics are big for Masina, and it's probable the Irish make the cut for his top five. Masina is versatile and could project inside as well, operating with an entire 6-foot-4 frame. 5. Porter Gustin - Gustin has already scheduled two trips to Notre Dame, one for Irish Invasion and one as an official for the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game. UCLA, USC, Wisconsin and Ohio State are also schools standing out to Gustin, who also plans on playing baseball (pitcher) in college. He is being recruited as an outside linebacker/weak side defensive end. 6. Asmar Bilal – Another in-state ‘backer, Bilal picked up an offer when he visited campus in April. Michigan is the biggest threat so far, but if spots don't fill up before he makes a decision, I like the Irish's chances very much here in the end. 7. Cassius Peat - Peat will visit Notre Dame officially for the Stanford game in the fall. Peat is certainly worthy keeping an eye on, though it's not unfair to say both parties have other prospects/teams higher on their respective lists. 8. Adonis Thomas - Thomas recently released a top three of Alabama, Florida and Notre Dame. While the SEC schools seem like the favorite to land the Georgia native, Thomas has said he plans to leave the state for college, so distance does not seem like a factor. He'll be on campus for Irish Invasion, and Notre Dame could make a big jump here. 9. Dominic Sheppard - Sheppard could potentially visit Notre Dame this summer, but if he doesn't make the trip from Miami in the next couple of months, he has said that he plans on giving Notre Dame a crack at an official visit. This summer, Sheppard will see Ohio State, Texas A&M, LSU, Florida State and Florida. 10. Bo Wallace - Wallace visited Notre Dame this past week with his parents, and he came away with a favorable impression of Notre Dame. Texas A&M and LSU are likely the favorites.
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