Notre Dame is running out of room.
When three-star defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji committed on Thursday it pushed the class to 13 commitments, with seven coming in the past month. Expect the Irish to sign at least 20 but no more than 22. Notre Dame will host a handful of its top targets this month before the official visit season kicks off against Texas and peaks against USC.
Here are our picks – alphabetically listed – for the dozen players most wanted by Notre Dame’s staff, with the emphasis on defensive playmakers more than offensive fireworks. The players’ rankings are listed by their position group on Scout.com.
Damian Alloway - No. 36 wide receiver - Notre Dame will receive a visit from Alloway next week. He plans to make a decision soon after. Notre Dame leads with UCLA running second. Alloway has already scheduled an official visit to Notre Dame for USC game weekend.
Oluwole Betiku - No. 3 defensive end - UCLA is the frontrunner for the five-star California product but Notre Dame can make an impression when Betiku takes an official visit. Florida, Florida State, Penn State and Texas A&M round out his top six. Betiku has yet to schedule any trips.
Marquez Callaway - No. 11 athlete - Notre Dame hosted Callaway for the Irish Invasion and made big strides for the Georgia wide receiver. SEC programs are a formidable challenge, but Notre Dame should get an official visit from the versatile and explosive playmaker.
Jordan Fuller - No. 10 cornerback - Notre Dame will host Fuller on July 30. Ohio State is the top competition at this point. The Irish should get an official visit too, with Fuller a combination defensive back.
Damar Hamlin - No. 16 cornerback - Notre Dame trails Penn State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State, but the Irish remain in the running to receive an official visit. It will be a steep uphill climb to land Hamlin, but he’s a top target.
Daelin Hayes - No. 14 outside linebacker - A USC commit, Notre Dame hopes to receive an official visit from the Michigan native. A source told Irish Illustrated, “He’s a player that could end up Irish and doesn’t even know it yet.” His father said Hayes will be at the Notre Dame-USC game in October.
Caleb Kelly - No. 1 outside linebacker - Notre Dame expects to host Kelly on his first visit to campus within the next two weeks. Oklahoma and Michigan will likely be the teams to beat. The Irish are in the top seven and will likely get an official too.
Justin Madubuike - No. 4 defensive end - Madubuike has yet to trim his list, but Notre Dame is a legit contender to be included when he does. Notre Dame hopes he will use of his five official visits for a trip to South Bend.
Jeffrey McCulloch - No. 5 outside linebacker - Notre Dame will host McCulloch on a visit on July 27. If all goes according to plan, expect McCulloch to return in the fall for an official visit. He is still considering many programs, with academics as his top criteria.
Javon McKinley - No. 11 wide receiver - Notre Dame leads for McKinley, who has already scheduled his official visit for the weekend Notre Dame plays USC. The Trojans were once the biggest competition but that spot may now belong to nearby UCLA. Oregon and Tennessee are also contenders. It would not be surprising to see McKinley commit somewhere during the middle of the season.
Devin Studstill - No. 77 safety - Studstill visited for the Irish Invasion. He has a top three of Miami, Notre Dame and West Virginia. Notre Dame will enter the fall season within in striking distance, although Studstill recently tweeted that he won’t be rushed into a commitment.
Donte Vaughn - No. 18 safety - Vaughn will make a return visit to Notre Dame this weekend with his parents. The Irish are in the driver’s seat to receive a commitment in the near future.
Defensive line coach Keith Gilmore got his man this week when defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji made a commitment.
Ogundeji put a lot of faith in Gilmore, seeing the veteran coach as perhaps his best chance to develop at a high rate in college. Ogundeji called himself “raw” a couple different times, although outside observers have seen plenty of potential.
“He has really good upside,” Scout.com Midwest recruiting manager Allen Trieu said. “He’s a true edge guy who can change direction and make plays in space. He showed at camps that he can be a wide speed rusher, but he had better technique than I expected. I don't see a kid that will stand up. I think he’ll add weight and end up with his hand on the ground full time.”
Ogundeji made 68 tackles last season in leading Walled Lake (Mich.) Central to a district title. He’s gone to work on refining technique all offseason, including when he worked with Gilmore at camp last month.
But the room for growth is still immense.
Adding weight to his frame will be the first step, likely necessitating a redshirt season at Notre Dame.
“He needs to get bigger from the 215 pounds he's at now,” Trieu said. “He’s lanky, maybe a little awkward still on film, but I didn't see that as much at camp. He has to get stronger and bigger, that's the main thing. On film I would have said he looked quite raw, but after seeing him at camp, I'm less concerned about that. He's farther along than I thought in that regard.”
Four-star safety Donte Vaughn and four-star junior linebacker David Adams are expected to visit Notre Dame this month.
Vaughn, a 6-foot-3, 196-pounder from Memphis should arrive on campus with his father on Friday. The Vaughns plan to stay the night in South Bend and leave late Saturday.
The visit will be the second for Vaughn, who visited earlier in June and immediately scheduled a return trip to allow his parents to see the campus.
With a top eight of Auburn, LSU, Missouri, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M, Vaughn is close to trimming his list down to just five schools. He then plans to take an official visit to each and commit on his birthday, which is Oct. 12.
Adams, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder from Pittsburgh, holds 12 offers and has drawn interest from Notre Dame in recent weeks. He spoke with Irish assistant coach Mike Elston on Wednesday to set up his July 31 visit.
The Irish haven’t indicated which linebacker position they project him to play in college but Adams is comfortable inside or outside.He grew up following Notre Dame and considers the school a dream destination. His parents are very high on academics and he knows they’d be elated if he were to land an offer from the program.
Notre Dame hasn’t given up with four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but the Irish aren’t holding out much hope either. Haskins committed to Maryland in May but maintains intermittent contact with quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford.
In fact, if Sanford had been at Notre Dame longer than one off-season, Haskins might even be in the Irish recruiting class. Instead, familiarity with the hometown school won out for the product of Potomac, Md.
Haskins visited Notre Dame in March for Junior Day.
“They’re both great schools. ND is a great academic school. With Maryland, it’s closer to home,” Haskins said. “Built a great relationship with the coaching staff. Coach Sanford is the new offensive coordinator there and I started to get to know him, but I definitely had a stronger relationship with Maryland than Notre Dame.”
“(Sanford) is a great guy. I love everything about him. I didn’t get to know him well enough before I decided to make a decision. But getting to know him, he’s a great recruiter, a great coach.
Haskins said Florida and Alabama also maintain contact, but barring something disastrous with Maryland coming down, he’s set with the Terps.
“Those are some schools that just reach out to me,” he said. “In case something happens (at Maryland), just have a backup plan.”
Long recently spoke to Irish head coach Brian Kelly and assistant coach Mike Denbrock, who both pushed for Long to visit campus. That’s something he hopes to do this fall on an official visit.
At The Opening earlier this month Long was lukewarm about Notre Dame and visiting this summer, even indicating he has enough information to make a commitment before seeing South Bend. That makes Stanford and UCLA look like better bets than Notre Dame for the Loyola High School athlete in Los Angeles.