Meet The Class: Defense

Here’s how the Irish assembled their defensive haul.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Recruiting Rewind:

The question was never competition for Jones, mostly regional programs in the Northeast. The question was whether Notre Dame would offer. When Brian VanGorder green lit this scholarship last summer it led to an almost instant commitment. 

Recruiting Rewind:

The early enrollee was a onetime Michigan State and Alabama commitment, but the Crimson Tide moved away from him late in the process. Notre Dame was happy to jump into this mix, scooping him up after an October official visit. He’ll play early next season.

Recruiting Rewind:

Ogundeji is a project and knows it, which is a healthy place for the lanky defensive end to be. He was a former Western Michigan commitment but reopened his process last spring and ultimately picked Notre Dame over offers from Oregon, Pittsburgh and Rutgers. He needs muscle and technique to compete.

Recruiting Rewind:

The younger brother of Romeo Okwara committed last April over offers from Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee and others. He’s long and lean like Romeo, but Julian is also just two-and-a-half years younger despite being four academic classes behind. That’s a good thing for his physical development in South Bend.

LINEBACKER

Recruiting Rewind:

Hayes attended four high schools in the past three years and dealt with two season-ending shoulder injuries. While that’s reason for pause with the early enrollee, this is an immense talent Notre Dame took away from USC. If healthy, Hayes is a potential five-star prospect.

Recruiting Rewind:

The undersized middle linebacker committed to Notre Dame on National Signing Day over Michigan, giving the Irish an important piece of the puzzle at a position that went un-recruited last cycle. Jones is a likely red-shirt to add muscle, which should open the door for a fifth year.

CORNERBACK

Recruiting Rewind:

The second commitment in this class, Love went Irish at Junior Day last March. The Irish weren’t afraid to go for this regional prospect with an offer list of Boston College, Iowa, Northwestern, Indiana and Illinois. Love owns the kind of athleticism that might make him a nickel back.

Recruiting Rewind:

No commitment rose up the rankings more than Pride this season as the South Carolina product added a fourth star. South Carolina and Clemson tried to get in late with the former Virginia Tech commitment, but Notre Dame locked him down on Christmas Eve. The Irish may have a steal.

Recruiting Rewind:

Notre Dame beat an SEC field that included Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss for Vaughn, a cornerback with unique size. It’s hard to imagine him not getting a look immediately next fall, even if it’s just on special teams. It’s hard to find this kind of range in cornerbacks or safeties.

SAFETY

Recruiting Rewind:

An Irish Invasion target, Notre Dame beat out a host of ACC schools for the safety last summer after moving early on the Virginia product. While he could get a look at cornerback or receiver, it’s hard to imagine Elliott not sticking at the back end of Notre Dame’s defense.

Recruiting Rewind:

Notre Dame passed on Morgan initially, doubling back after he backed off a commitment to Arizona State. Morgan is second cousins with former Irish basketball star Skylar Diggins. He’s also an entry into powerhouse St. John Bosco in Southern California.

Recruiting Rewind:

Perry committed to Florida last spring but went Notre Dame over the summer after attending the Irish Invasion. He’s got a linebacker’s frame for the long haul but figures to get a look at strong safety first. He was a teammate of Tony Jones Jr. at IMG Academy and an early enrollee.

Recruiting Rewind:

Studstill might be the first impact player in this secondary class as an early enrollee at a need position. He chose Notre Dame over West Virginia, Texas and Miami. His father played at West Virginia on the team that lost to Notre Dame in the national title game after the 1988 season.


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