Master List: Defense

Notre Dame has blown up its board on the defensive line. Can the Irish land one of those late offers? Irish Illustrated updates the Master List with Notre Dame looking for talent up and down the defense.


Defensive Line

Jerron Cage
6-3, 280
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Ohio State
There’s always been speculation about Cage flipping to Notre Dame despite a longstanding commitment to Ohio State. He visited several times during the season to watch his older brother, Irish defensive lineman Daniel Cage. Could an official visit be next? Stay tuned.
Elijah Conliffe
6-4, 305
Offer: No Visit: No Recruiter: Elko Top Offers: Alabama, Florida, Penn State
NEW: Conliffe’s recruitment remains open. Penn State is the only official visit he’s taken. Tennessee is in the mix. So is Florida. Both are trying to get visits. Notre Dame plans to stop by during the contact period. Both parties will see how to proceed from there.
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.
Kendrick Green
6-3, 275
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Illinois
NEW: Green committed to Illinois in December, giving head coach Love Smith a quality in-state defensive line prospect. Notre Dame handed out an offer in January and wants a visit. Green hasn’t committed to that idea yet.

Jalen Harris
6-4, 210

Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Polian Top Offers: Arizona, Oregon, Washington
NEW: Harris has quietly been on the radar for awhile, landing an offer earlier this month. He’s been committed to Arizona since August and took his official visit there in early December. Notre Dame hopes to gain late traction. Washington also offered recently.
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.

Ryan Johnson
6-4, 255 

Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denson Top Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Stanford
NEW: After some time off the list, Johnson is back on after naming Notre Dame to a final six. Alabama, Auburn, Texas, Stanford and Oregon are also in the mix. Johnson is targeting a midweek trip to South Bend this month.
Jonathon MacCollister
6-4, 255
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denson Committed on June 17
MacCollister started the Irish Invasion recruiting run by committing before the event. All has been well on that front since. MacCollister returned to campus for Echoes weekend.
Jarez Parks
6-5, 255
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Elko Top Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Florida State
NEW: Long shot? Sure. But worth a try. Parks connected with Notre Dame commitments Cole Kmet and Josh Lugg during Army Bowl week. He’s since been talking about a trip to either Notre Dame or USC for an out-of-region official visit before signing day.
Brandon Pili
6-4, 300
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Polian Top Offers: Oregon State, Ole Miss, USC
NEW: Contenders are taking shape for Pili with January visits in the works. He’s already taken trips to Oregon State and USC. Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Washington look like Pili’s final three trips before National Signing Day.
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa
6-4, 270
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Polian Top Offers: Georgia Tech, Oregon, USC
NEW: Expanding the defensive line search has the Irish back on the Hawaiian Islands. Tagovailoa-Amosa is considering Notre Dame or Oregon for his final official visit. Georgia Tech and USC have already played host. Navy and Vanderbilt are scheduled to do so.
Deontre Thomas
6-3, 275
Offer: No Visit: No Recruiter: Elko Top Offers: Michigan, Nebraska, Texas A&M
NEW: Thomas, a Nebraska commitment dating back to the spring, started talking with Mike Elko recently and there’s been some chatter about the possibility of a visit. Look for Elko to meet with Thomas once the contact period begins.
Notes: Think new defensive coordinator Mike Elko has identified a position of need? There’s a slew of new names in defensive line recruiting and probably more to come. Notre Dame has a solid base with commitments from Darnell Ewell, Kurt Hinish and Jonathon MacCollister. But there’s no doubt adding more bodies is top priority with three visit weekends remaining before National Signing Day. Sorting out who will visit and when is the next step. Brandon Pili and Ryan Johnson are both on record saying trips will happen. Notre Dame is trying to wiggle into the visit mix with Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Jarez Parks. Kendrick Green and Jalen Harris, both pledged elsewhere, are also considering trips. Whether Elijah Conliffe does so likely boils down to if an offer materializes in the next couple weeks. Same goes for Deontre Thomas. Based on the sheer expanded numbers, it would be a mild surprise if the Irish didn’t come up with at least one new defensive line commitment by signing day. Then again, it’s hard to see who that would be. There’s still much movement to come over the next three weeks, and likely more names to be added to this list. Either way, Elko has shaken things up significantly with the recruiting board and built some possibilities out of almost nothing before he came on board.


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.
Ellis Brooks
6-1, 225
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Maryland, Ole Miss, Oregon
NEW: Notre Dame faded out of the picture with Brooks earlier in the process by filling up at linebacker. That’s no longer the case and the renewed interest will bring Brooks to campus right before signing day. Official visits to Oregon and LSU are in the works as well.
Antjuan Simmons
6-1, 215
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Gilmore Top Offers: tArizona, Michigan Stateext
There’s almost always an old target that pops back onto the board during winter. Simmons is that guy this cycle after his de-commitment from Ohio State. Arizona got an official visit in mid-December and Simmons has Michigan State ties. But it’s hard to not like Notre Dame’s chances.
Drew White
6-1, 220
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denson Committed on March 21
White hoped to visit for The Echoes, but only if his football season ended sooner than expected. Turns out that didn’t happen. Instead, he led St. Thomas Aquinas to a third straight Florida Class 7A state championship.
Notes: Back in the spring, Notre Dame looked full at linebacker with three commitments. David Adams and Drew White are still solidly on board. Peter Werner is now committed to Ohio State after backing off his longtime pledge thanks in part to staff turnover. That’s ushered in a couple new targets: Ellis Brooks and Antjuan Simmons. Brooks fell off the list after the Irish landed a trio of commitments and he committed to Duke. He’s been back on the open market for a while and Notre Dame worked its way back on the radar, scoring a Jan. 27 visit along the way. Maryland is likely the leader at this point. Oregon and LSU, a couple January offers, are in line for visits this month as well. Simmons, a one-time Ohio State commitment, is expected back at Notre Dame on Jan. 20 for an official visit. Arizona played host in December. Michigan State did so in November. But the smart money here is on Notre Dame, which surged back into contention after Simmons reopened his recruitment. There’s plenty of room, so the Irish would likely take Brooks and Simmons if they both wanted on board.


Latavious Brini
6-2, 180
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Georgia, Oklahoma, Miami 
NEW: Another player that used to be on the list, Brini has been talking with defensive backs coach Todd Lyght again in recent weeks. But it remains to be seen if he’ll actually visit. Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia are all in the mix to some degree.
Elijah Hicks
5-10, 170
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denbrock Committed on Oct. 18
Despite a visit to Michigan, Hicks remains in the commitment column for Notre Dame as things have settled down. Mike Denbrock and Todd Lyght followed up shortly after the contact period opened and have been able to hold off the Wolverines so far. Cal is also showing interest.
Greg Johnson
5-10, 180
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denbrock Top Offers: Nebraska, UCLA, USC 
Johnson remained a Notre Dame target despite his commitment to Arizona, which is no more. He backed off that pledge recently after defensive backs coach Donte Williams left Arizona for Nebraska. Now the Huskers are likely the top contender, but he visited Notre Dame for The Echoes and gave it positive reviews. 
Jason Pinnock
6-1, 190
Offer: No Visit: No Recruiter: Elko Top Offers: Boston College, Pittsburgh, UConn
NEW: Elko reached out to Pinnock recently to express interest and mentioned an offer could be in the works. Pinnock, who’s since de-committed from Boston College, is expected to visit later this month. Pittsburgh is also in the picture.
O.J. Tucker
6-0, 190
Offer: No Visit: No Recruiter: Elko Top Offers: Maryland, Wake Forest, UCF
NEW: Tucker got to know Mike Elko when he was still at Wake Forest. Now that Elko is the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, Tucker is hoping for a reconnect and an offer. Doing so would likely position the Irish for a visit.
Connor Wedington
6-1, 193
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Stanford, UCLA, Washington
NEW: It’s a final five for Wedington: Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA and Washington. All signs point to Stanford, especially since Wedington gained admission there then de-committed from Washington. But the Irish offer a similar academic environment and should get a visit.
Notes: Another position desperately in need of more options, Elko has expanded this board too. What choice does he have? Paulson Adebo is off the board after de-committing. It’s a tough blow for Notre Dame. Adebo had been committed since summer and was, without question, one of the most talented pledges on board. Although not out of the question, the likelihood of Adebo jumping back on board later is an extreme long shot. De-commitments very rarely end in re-commitments. That leaves only Elijah Hicks committed at cornerback and even that pledge has been on tenuous ground in the not-so-distant past. Hicks visited Michigan during the season. Those waters have since appeared to calm, but nothing should be taken for granted. So, who’s next? Jason Pinnock and O.J. Tucker look likely to land offers down the stretch. Pinnock has gone so far as to de-commit from Boston College and schedule a trip to Notre Dame for the Jan. 27 weekend. Tucker proactively reached out to Elko after his job title changed and hopes an offer from the Irish materializes to make them a legitimate option. That’s always a positive sign. Brini is at best a long shot, although Todd Lyght has been kicking the tires there. Greg Johnson continues to keep Notre Dame in play with Nebraska, USC, Arizona State and Cal. Oregon has also been talked about as a visit option. But it looks like a USC-Nebraska battle is shaping up. Johnson de-committed from Arizona after his primary recruiter/position coach left for a job at Nebraska. Then there’s the matter of his younger brother being committed to USC, giving the Trojans a little extra juice. Cornerback is another position that could see more targets emerge even with little time left before signing day.


Evan Fields
6-1, 187
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Arizona State, Kansas State, Mississippi State
UPDATE: Six remain for Fields: Arizona State, Baylor, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA. He plans to see Notre Dame on Jan. 20 and has two more official visits available. There’s an announcement date set for Jan. 30.
Isaiah Robertson
6-3, 190
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denbrock Committed on April 15 
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
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.
Notes: Safety is likely another position in need of a few new targets. Isaiah Robertson enrolls this month, so that’s a bit of good news. He’ll jump right into offseason conditioning then be available for spring ball. Otherwise the outlook is bleak. Chaz Ah You, Jaiden Cole and Isaiah Pola-Mao are off the list as, essentially, unrealistic possibilities barring a change. Cole is the only of the three that visited. He did so back in September. Evan Fields is front and center as the primary target heading into the contact period. Fields recently released his top six and set the Jan. 30 announcement date. Notre Dame is line to get a visit before then. He’s already seen Kansas State and Arizona State. That leaves a couple open weekends for Fields to see any of the other contenders. Arizona State might lead after that recent visit, but Notre Dame should feel optimistic about its chances to make a move. When it all boils down, barring some new targets, Fields is about the only bet left.

Updated: 1/10/17 Top Stories