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Recruiting Report Card: Defense

Is Notre Dame ahead of the game with its defensive recruiting? Irish Illustrated answers that question with a mid-term report card.

With National Signing Day less than six months away, Irish Illustrated grades out Notre Dame’s defensive class, position by position.

Commitments, success rate with top targets, and current standing with prospects still on the board were all taken into account.


Grade: B+

Committed: Paulson Adebo (4-star, No. 19 ATH, No. 240 overall)

Top Targets: Salvon Ahmed, Elijah Gates, Thomas Graham, Elijah Hicks, Darnay Holmes, Jaylon Redd, Ambry Thomas, Shaun Wade

Recap: Notre Dame hosted a few of its top cornerback targets early, including LeAnthony Williams, AJ Terrell, Jamyest Williams and Latavious Brini, all of whom hail from the South and are expected to stay there for college. Adebo committed to Notre Dame in June, just days after Irish Invasion, though he wasn’t in town for the event. Adebo also had offers from a number of Big 12 and SEC programs. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete is one of the top competitors regardless of position in his class. He’s a two-way player in high school with good ball skills on the offensive side of the ball as well.

Outlook: Notre Dame would like to add one more cornerback. Ahmed will take an official visit to Notre Dame for the Michigan State game and plans to make a decision in October. The Irish are in his top five and have the potential to make a major move following his first visit to campus. One of the top cornerbacks in the class, Thomas, has visited Notre Dame multiple times, though Notre Dame trails in-state schools Michigan and Michigan State. Notre Dame is working to pull Gates, Graham, Hicks, Holmes and Redd out of California, but the Irish aren’t considered the favorite to land any of them, though Graham has an official visit date locked in for the Michigan State game. Five-star Wade is an Ohio State commitment, but Florida and Notre Dame are working to flip him. Wade visited this summer and plans to return this fall for the Michigan State game.


Grade: B

Committed: Isaiah Robertson (4-star, No. 29 S)

Top Targets: Chaz Ah You, Amari Carter, Jaiden Cole, Jaylen Kelly-Powell

Recap: Isaiah Pryor was a one-time Notre Dame lean, but ever since he pledged to the Buckeyes last year he’s been a solid Ohio State commitment. In-state safety R.J. Potts added an offer last year, but Notre Dame decided to go in a different direction this offseason. Robertson committed to Notre Dame back in April over Illinois, Maryland, Penn State, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound athlete plays both ways in high school and was coveted on the recruiting trail for his range, versatility and upside. 

Outlook: Notre Dame would like to take one more safety in this class. Carter is the top target. Miami is Notre Dame’s biggest competition, and Mark Richt’s program gained some momentum in July following the Hurricanes’ Paradise Camp. However, Notre Dame feels good about its chances to ultimately land Carter, who visited for Irish Invasion and will return on an official visit for the Stanford game. Ah You has yet to officially narrow his list beyond a top 10, but Notre Dame is regarded as among his top three or four. Ah You will serve his two-year LDS mission following high school, so he won’t enroll in college until 2019. Notre Dame offered Cole earlier this month. The Irish could gain some traction if he visits this fall, but for now, Arkansas and Oklahoma State are the frontrunners. Kelly-Powell is a frequent visitor to campus, but Michigan is the favorite to land him. 


Grade: C-

Committed: Jonathon MacCollister (3-star, No. 82 OT)

Top Targets: Cortez Alston, K’Jakyre Daley, Donovan Jeter, Joshua Paschal, Chris Whittaker

Recap: Notre Dame missed on these four-star weak-side ends by a slim margin: Robert Beal (Georgia), Joshua Kaindoh (Maryland) and Hunter Echols (USC). Strong-side ends Corey Malone-Hatcher, A.J. Epenesa, Jordan Williams and Zachary Carter all considered the Irish before committing to Michigan, Iowa, Clemson and Florida, respectively. MacCollister chose Notre Dame over other national offers, including Ohio State, Clemson, Miami and Oregon. He projects as a strong-side end. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound prospect was also seen as a tight end prospect, which is where the Buckeyes offered him.

Outlook: Notre Dame needs at least two more defensive ends in the class, and there’s emphasis on pure pass rushers. Alston, Daley and Whittaker have talked up interest, but none have taken trips to campus. Jeter will take an official visit to Notre Dame for the Michigan State game. Pittsburgh is the presumed leader. Paschal considers the Irish among his top three along with the Terps and Sooners. The edge goes to Maryland for now.


Grade: B

Committed: Kurt Hinish (3-star, No. 27 DT), Darnell Ewell (4-star, No. 8 OG, No. 149 overall)

Top targets: Martin Andrus

Recap: Notre Dame missed out on Haskell Garrett (Ohio State) and Phil Paea (Michigan) but landed a couple of solid interior prospects in Hinish and Ewell. Hinish chose Notre Dame over Penn State. Ewell chose the Irish over Ohio State and Virginia Tech. Hinish should be considered one of the more underrated players on Notre Dame’s commitment list. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound prospect took home defensive line MVP at The Opening Regional in Columbus this spring. Ewell is even more intriguing considering Notre Dame never gets talent out of the Tidewater region. He’s a bull on the interior.

Outlook: Notre Dame is likely done adding along the interior of the defensive front. Andrus will take an official visit to Notre Dame for the Stanford game, but he isn’t expected to leave the West Coast for college.


Grade: B+

Committed: David Adams (4-star, No. 5 ILB, No. 102 overall), Pete Werner (4-star, No. 19 OLB, No. 236 overall), Drew White (3-star, No. 33 ILB)

Top Targets: Baron Browning, Justin Foster, Rahyme Johnson, Nate McBride, Jacob Phillips

Recap: Notre Dame’s three linebacker commits joined the class within 30 hours of one another in March. Adams, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound athlete, projects as a middle linebacker and chose Notre Dame over Florida, Michigan, Penn State and Stanford. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound White will start off at weak-side linebacker, and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Werner will begin his career as a strong-side linebacker. White had offers from Michigan, LSU and Wisconsin, while Werner chose Notre Dame over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Outlook: Notre Dame could be set at linebacker or it could go beyond its targeted number for the class. Browning would be an upset should Notre Dame land him, but he liked what he saw during Irish Invasion. Clemson leads for Foster, but Notre Dame is still in contention and plans to host him this fall. Johnson has an official visit scheduled for the Stanford game. McBride is expected to take an official visit to Notre Dame but ultimately stay in the South. Foster and Phillips could both grow into defensive ends down the road.

To view Notre Dame’s report card on offense, click here (http://www.scout.com/college/notre-dame/story/1692233-recruiting-report-card-offense).

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