Master List: Defense

Notre Dame hits the recruiting stretch run with work to do on defense. Pete Werner is off the board while safety is a mixed bag. Yet there’s some positive flashes at other positions, including the upcoming visit for four-star defensive end Joshua Paschal.

Defensive Line

Darnell Ewell
6-4, 295
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Booker Committed on July 15
Ewell finished off interior defensive line recruiting in a big way, giving the Irish a rare pledge out of the Tidewater area of Virginia. He could play on either side of the ball but will take his bullish talents to defense in South Bend.
Kurt Hinish
6-3, 285
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Booker Committed on March 21
Hinish is sometimes overlooked in this defensive line recruiting haul, yet has been one of its most productive members during the season with tackles for loss. He’s been key for Central Catholic.
Jonathon MacCollister
6-4, 255
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denson Committed on June 17
Commitment runs have to start somewhere and it was MacCollister who got Notre Dame rolling just before Irish Invasion kicked off. MacCollister might be destined for the interior eventually, but he’s a quality add.
Joshua Paschal
6-3, 253
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Booker Top Offers: Clemson, Maryland, Ohio State
UPDATE: Just how serious Paschal is about Notre Dame should reveal itself shortly. Paschal is scheduled to visit for The Echoes weekend, making him the highest profile uncommitted prospect on the list. That’s a big step forward for both parties.
Notes: Three commitments have been in hand since summer. Kurt Hinish got things started in the spring, Jonathon MacCollister followed during Irish Invasion weekend and Darnell Ewell pulled the trigger in mid-July. Ewell is the jewel of that group in terms of ranking, yet Hinish has arguably been the most productive in his senior season. Adding beyond that trio has always been part of the plan. Four-star defensive end Donovan Jeter filled was that guy for about a month before de-committing for Michigan. Now the Irish have their sights on Joshua Paschal, who visited over the summer. Paschal came off that trip with positive things to say yet faded from the board as the season progressed. Keith Gilmore helped restart communication and secured a postseason official visit. Even better, it appears Paschal has put in enough work off the field to make the Irish a legitimate option. Early playing time abounds, so that’s something working in Notre Dame’s favor. Others involved include Oklahoma, Ohio State, Kentucky and Maryland. Word out of Norman is the Sooners feel cautiously optimistic after hosting Paschal on an official visit early in the season. Kentucky is slated to get an official visit later this week.


David Adams
6-2, 225
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Booker Committed on March 20
Adams plays with Kurt Hinish at Pittsburgh Central Catholic and beat his teammate in committing to Notre Dame by a day. In terms of position, Adams looks like a future middle linebacker.
Rahyme Johnson
6-4, 210
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denbrock Top Offers: Florida, Nebraska, Texas A&M
UPDATE: Notre Dame is trying to get back in the mix with Johnson after sending an assistant coach to check in during the first couple days after the season. Johnson has one official visit left to use and the Irish would like to land it.
Drew White
6-1, 220
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denson Committed on March 21
Notre Dame got back in at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale by snagging White, one of its top defensive players. A foot injury held White back toward the end of last season but he’s since fully recovered and that didn’t keep the Irish, plus several others, from offering.
Notes: Linebacker recruiting had been complete for months after Notre Dame landed David Adams, Pete Werner and Drew White all within 24 hours during the spring. Not so much anymore. Adams and White remain firmly pledge. Werner is now out of the mix. He took an unofficial visit to Ohio State, de-committed and is expected to see the Buckeyes again. In the end, Werner viewed the Irish as unstable after a 4-8 season and decided to drop his pledge while looking seriously at a program that’s headed toward the College Football Playoff. Notre Dame, meanwhile, still feels good about the linebacker position and doesn’t plan to offer any Plan B types. Rahyme Johnson is a longtime target. He had previously been scheduled to visit for the Stanford game but cancelled those plans. Nebraska, Oregon, Oregon State and Texas A&M have already hosted official visits. Most view Oregon as the presumptive leader, although potential coaching unrest there could have an impact. Either way, Notre Dame is vying for that last official visit and it’s something Johnson is considering after the Irish sent a coach to check in on him in late November. Getting the visit is, obviously, crucial to having any real chance.


Paulson Adebo
6-1, 180
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Sanford Committed on June 20
Quietly, Adebo has remained solid to Notre Dame since making a somewhat surprise commitment in June. He returned for the Stanford game as an official visitor and reconnected with fellow pledges on hand.
Thomas Graham
5-11, 163
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Sanford Top Offers: Oklahoma, UCLA, USC
UPDATE: What might it take to pull Graham off the West Coast? Notre Dame keeps working to make that possibility a reality, having hosted Graham twice already. Brian Kelly is expected to visit with Graham soon in hopes of spurring things along.
Elijah Hicks
5-10, 170
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denbrock Committed on Oct. 18
UPDATE: Despite an official visit to Michigan, Hicks remains in the commitment column. Notre Dame sent a couple coaches to check in with Hicks after the USC game and there’s been an emerging optimism that the Irish can hold off other contenders. Locals UCLA and USC remain involved as well.
Shaun Wade 
6-2, 175
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Ohio State
UPDATE: Safe to say a losing season isn’t the best way to convince a prospect committed to Ohio State that he should look elsewhere. Wade has been on the downtrend since visiting. Alabama and Florida have been trying to pull Wade away from the Buckeyes too.
Notes: As things stand now, Notre Dame has a pair of high quality commitments at cornerback in Paulson Adebo and Elijah Hicks. Adebo has remained quietly solid in his commitment since making a somewhat surprise announcement over the summer. He’s also had the look of one of the top athletes in Texas by making an impact on both sides of the ball for Mansfield, which bowed out of the playoffs after a 10-3 season. Things have been less certain with Hicks after a recent official visit to Michigan. Buzz after the trip had the Wolverines surging, yet Notre Dame emerged from its meeting with Hicks shortly after the USC game feeling optimistic it could keep a pledge in hand. Either way, it’ll be a battle down to the stretch with UCLA and USC lingering. Thomas Graham remains the top remaining uncommitted prospect at the position. Graham has visited twice and his parents have reportedly signed off on Notre Dame as a strong fit. But is that enough to get Graham off the West Coast? That’s the million dollar question. Brian Kelly and Todd Lyght are expected to visit soon in hopes of making that more of a reality.


Chaz Ah You
6-2, 190
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Oregon, Stanford, UCLA
Right now it looks like most of Ah You’s visits will take place after the season. Notre Dame is still a possibility but has plenty of work to do. Stanford and Washington are likely January visits. UCLA is the prohibitive favorite.
Jaiden Cole
6-1, 195
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Arkansas, Texas A&M, Washington
Cole made it to campus for the Michigan State game, a trip he reviewed positively while also mentioning South Bend was colder than expected. In September. That’s not exactly a great narrative for the Irish moving forward. Arizona State and Oklahoma State are other official visit possibilities.
Isaiah Pola-Mao
6-4, 190
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Arizona State, USC, Washington
Pola-Mao continues to express a desire to see Notre Dame. There’s no reason to doubt his sincerity in that regard. But it’s difficult to see him leaving the West Coast. Arizona State has been considered a favorite with Washington emerging as well.
Isaiah Robertson
6-3, 190
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denbrock Committed on April 15 
UPDATE: Robertson remains the only committed safety and Notre Dame will know what it has in him sooner than later. Over the next few weeks, Robertson will wrap up his high school career in advance of enrolling in college for the second semester.
TreSean Smith
6-3, 180
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Louisville
UPDATE: Notre Dame offered the Louisville commitment in-season hoping to get a look. Mission accomplished as Smith visited for the Virginia Tech game. But he’s since visited Louisville again and indicated the Irish are all but out of the mix.

Daniel Wright
6-2, 175

Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denson Top Offers: Alabama, Florida State
Wright committed to Florida State in July but has been looking at other programs during the season. Alabama received an official visit earlier this month. Wright mentioned trying to fit in a trip to Notre Dame along with one scheduled to Florida State already.
Notes: It’s difficult to tell where safety recruiting might go down the stretch without a couple new offers. Isaiah Robertson has been the foundation for months and is on track to finish up his high school coursework a semester early to get a jump on his college career. Combing through the uncommitted targets brings about some dubious possibilities. Chaz Ah You has long listed the Irish as a potential visit, yet never scheduled one. UCLA has been the longtime favorite. Jaiden Cole visited for the Michigan State game and has since all but fallen off the radar with Arkansas and Oklahoma State emerging as contenders. Isaiah Pola-Mao and Daniel Wright are similar to Ah You. They’ve mentioned wanting to visit Notre Dame at various points but haven’t gone so far as to schedule one. Skepticism on those possible trips will stick around until they actually hit the schedule. TreSean Smith actually did visit after landing an offer. But there’s been no indication the Irish can make a serious run at Louisville, which has since gotten Smith back on campus.

Updated: 11/30/16 Top Stories