The Big Board: Defense

Notre Dame added two key pieces to its defensive class in October, and its gearing up to potentially add a third on Thursday. With remaining spots at a premium, we delve into where the Irish stand with their top prospects on defense left on the board in 2015.

On the defensive side of the ball, Notre Dame is likely set at interior defensive line (three - Elijah Taylor, Brandon Tiassum and Micah Dew-Treadway) and cornerback (three - Shaun Crawford, Nick Coleman and Ashton White). Notre Dame could be set at defensive end as well (one - Bo Wallace), though it should be noted Wallace is a pass-rushing specialist rather than an every down run-stopper. The Irish are most likely to still add at linebacker and safety.

With 20 commitments in the fold thus far in the 2015 class, Notre Dame will likely take three to four more to cap off at 23 or 24 pledges for this cycle.

The first number in parenthesis indicates the current number of position committed in this class; the second represents the number Notre Dame would still like to add or is still pursuing. The star indicates the number is flexible (see notes).

Linebacker (2-1*)

Four-star Te'Von Coney (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., High) - A projected weak-side linebacker by Notre Dame, Coney will announce his commitment on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 9 a.m. EST at his high school. Finalists include: Florida, Miami and Notre Dame. This one will come down to the Gators and the Irish. Will his stronger liking for Notre Dame win out over familiarity and location? Notre Dame feels confident it will. Adding Coney will give Notre Dame an impressive linebacker corp, as he'll join a pair of Indiana four-star linebackers commits, WILL linebacker Asmar Bilal and SAM linebacker Josh Barajas.

Notes: If Coney opts for Florida, Notre Dame will likely be done recruiting linebacker.

Safety (2-1)

Four-star Frank Buncom (San Diego, Calif., St. Augustine) - Notre Dame's top safety prospect left on the board, Buncom was offered after Notre Dame learned of Nicky Baratti's season-ending shoulder injury that came against Purdue. Buncom took an official visit to Notre Dame for the Stanford game, and the Irish did a great job here. However, Stanford has been the long-running favorite, and the Cardinal will get an official visit in January. Notre Dame will work hard to pull the upset, and the Irish have a better chance of doing such than mostly likely is perceived on the national scale.

Four-star Calvin Brewton (Miami, Fla., Central) - A Florida State commit, Brewton visited Notre Dame on an official visit for the Stanford game. He also saw the Irish play in Tallahassee. Notre Dame will continue to recruit him, though swaying him away from the 'Noles is an uphill challenge.

Three-star Hunter Dale (River Ridge, La., John Curtis Christian) - Dale, teammates with Irish commit Bo Wallace, is working on plans to visit Notre Dame on an official visit for the Louisville game. He's also considering Florida, Nebraska, Oregon and Tennessee.

Four-star Ronnie Harrison (Tallahassee, Fla., Florida State University School) - An Alabama commit, Harrison will visit Notre Dame on an official visit for the Louisville game. Harrison is open to shopping around after blowing up this summer and not getting the chance to indulge in the complete recruiting experience. He also has plans to visit Georgia, and LSU is a contender as well.

Three star Gary Jennings (Stafford, Va., Colonial Forge) - Jennings received a late offer from Notre Dame, and that could hurt the Irish's chances in the end. Expect a visit to occur after his high school season. West Virginia, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt are front-runners.

Four-star Rashad Roundtree (Evans, Ga., Lakeside) - Offered last week by Notre Dame, Roundtree has a decision date set for Nov. 7. Notre Dame got involved very late here in regards to an offer coming through due to an academic check, and it's not likely momentum will swing in Notre Dame's direction this late in the game. Georgia is the favorite.

Notes:Due to roster attrition at the safety position, Notre Dame wants to take three safeties in this class. Following the 2014 season, only Drue Tranquill, Max Redfield, Nicky Baratti, Elijah Shumate, Matthias Farley and Eilar Hardy will have eligibility remaining. Baratti will face an uphill climb to find his way back into the safety rotation following shoulder surgery, and Tranquill and Farley ideally project elsewhere on the gridiron, at linebacker and nickel, respectively. Recall that no true safety was taken in last year's class. Not mentioned above is four-star Kahlil Haughton of Waco (Texas) Midway who also holds an Irish offer, though not much has developed here. Baylor is the favorite.

Cornerback (3-1*)

Four-star Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif., Poly) - Marshall has the Irish in his top five, and he's announced that Notre Dame will receive one of his official visits. However, it's a long shot to see Marshall landing in South Bend. USC in the hometown favorite.

Four-star Ykili Ross (Riverside, Calif., Poly) - Ross will take his official visit to Notre Dame for the last home game of the season vs. Louisville. Ross is also considering Oklahoma and USC. Once thought to have the Irish out in front, it appears Notre Dame will have some ground to make up with Ross and his family on his official visit.

Notes:Should Marshall or Ross opt elsewhere, Notre Dame will likely not pursue another cornerback with vigor. Three represents a sufficient number depth-wise. However, it's possible that Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep prospect and teammate of quarterback commit Brandon Wimbush, four-star Minkah Fitzpatrick, will visit Notre Dame at some point down the line.

Defensive line (1-1*)

Four-star Mekhi Brown (Columbus, Ga., Carver) - This Alabama commit visited Notre Dame on an official visit for the Stanford game, and the Irish have given him something to think about. Still, "turning the Tide" here will not be an easy task.

Four-star Porter Gustin (Salem, Utah, Salem Hills) - Gustin projects as a weak-side linebacker, and he visited Notre Dame on an official visit for the Michigan game this season. The Irish impressed Gustin and his family, and Notre Dame will be among the schools in it until the very end. USC is generally thought to hold a slight edge at this point.

Four-star (DT) Christian Wilkins (Suffield, Conn.) Academy) - Notre Dame has been consistent about pushing for a visit from Wilkins, though nothing has yet to develop from it. Favorites to land him are Penn State and Ohio State.

Notes: Wilkins is a defensive tackle, and though Notre Dame is set at that position in this class, Wilkins is an elite player that Notre Dame would gladly accept. If Notre Dame doesn't add Brown or Gustin, it will likely close the 2015 class without having signed a true defensive end due to current defensive end commit Bo Wallace's early projection as a pass-rusher first. An edge run-stopper will be a position of emphasis in 2016.

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