Who’s Next?

With four commitments on board in less than a week, Notre Dame could be halfway home this recruiting cycle. So where will the Irish go to take the next step? Irish Illustrated picks five candidates.

The Scholarship Chart for 2018 hit a milestone on Friday afternoon when three-star wide receiver Micah Jones committed to Notre Dame.

The Irish are unofficially full in their next recruiting class.

OK, not exactly.

But a look at the Scholarship Chart reveals just how precious space will be moving forward in a campaign Brian Kelly and staff could turn into one of their best. The Irish rank No. 2 on Scout.com’s Team Rankings (and just about everybody else’s) and seem to have a favorable runway during the coming months.

Running up against the 85-man limit after 10 commitments shows how tight space will be in a class that ideally will push 20 commitments. There will be suspensions, transfers, draft jumps, injuries and ineligibilities to make room. The roster hasn’t gone without those for an entire off-season in more than 30 years, which is as far back as Irish Illustrated has looked.

Just this off-season the Irish lost receivers Justin Brent and Corey Holmes, plus offensive linemen Colin McGovern and John Montelus, to graduate transfers. Quarterback Malik Zaire made that move too. DeShone Kizer and Tarean Folston declared early for the NFL Draft.

Point being, space will open up next cycle.

It’s a matter of who/when, not a matter of if.

So which prospects might grab spots in Notre Dame’s class first to get the Irish moving toward 15 verbal commitments? Irish Illustrated picks five prospects to track with spring practice approaching.

http://www.scout.com/player/201833-john-dirksen?s=109

The default position for Ohio prospects who are Ohio State fans is to assume they’ll be Buckeyes. And yet, Notre Dame has offered and Ohio State has not. On top of that, the Irish have beaten the Buckeyes head-to-head in their own backyard for offensive linemen before, although Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer both came from private schools. Look for Dirksen to visit Notre Dame during spring practice and leave impressed with the cult of Harry Hiestand. The Irish want two pure tackles in this class and a swing prospect, with Dirksen potentially that guy. The offer list isn’t a typical Hiestand recruit with coast-to-coast interest, but Notre Dame’s offensive line coach has earned the benefit of the doubt.

http://www.scout.com/player/191383-houston-griffith?s=109

The four-star cornerback visited Notre Dame again this weekend, not that he needed to check much out. Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght remains in place, as does area recruiter Autry Denson. Griffith started visiting Notre Dame during spring practice two years ago when he showed up for a workout on the same day as a sophomore defensive end named Robert Beal. Griffith has been back for games and Irish Invasion. This most recent trip was to meet up with defensive coordinator Mike Elko, who has been a hit with most prospects to date. Considering Griffith is a Chicago product – he transferred to IMG Academy last year – it’s hard to imagine him not going Irish in the end. He’d continue Notre Dame’s perfect start at defensive back with Kalon Gervin and Derrik Allen.

http://www.scout.com/player/202327-braden-lenzy?s=109

Until Junior Day last weekend, this recruitment looked like a match on paper but it wasn’t clear it would be a connection in person. Now it does. Lenzy, who recently picked up a USC offer, is an on-field and off-field match for Notre Dame with the speed to complement a high academic background. His father is a Purdue graduate and the family has some Midwest roots despite an Oregon address. If you’re looking for social media clues, Lenzy has offered a few. His Twitter avatar is his Notre Dame photo shoot pic. He’s been tweeting about Notre Dame’s growing class. Basically, there’s a ton to like here, including the ability of offensive coordinator Chip Long and wide receivers coach Del Alexander to sell early playing time after the Irish didn’t sign a true burner last cycle.

http://www.scout.com/player/202787-ryan-hayes?s=109

Notre Dame usually gets what it wants on the offensive line, particularly in the Midwest. Let’s start there, same as Dirksen. On top of that, Hayes would fill a major need in Notre Dame’s class as a pure tackle, the kind of athlete the Irish haven’t signed often in recent hauls. At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, Hayes has a Mike McGlinchey kind of build. Now Hayes can watch McGlinchey grow into a first-round pick. It would be a surprise if Hayes didn’t get to South Bend for a spring practice or the spring game. Michigan State has offered and is Notre Dame’s biggest competition for now. The fact Michigan hasn’t moved on him is a positive. An offer list that includes Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Virginia speaks well to a prospect who values academics. Let’s face it, offensive linemen come off the board early.

http://www.scout.com/player/200613-malik-vann?s=109

Who else figured Vann would be among Notre Dame’s first 10 commitments in this class? Probably the entire Irish staff considering how connected Notre Dame is with the Ohio defensive end who kept close tabs on each commitment in South Bend. Bottom line, the Irish are hurting for a defensive end with natural pass rush ability. Vann offers that. He didn’t attend Junior Day last weekend but tweeted enough about it to probably feel like he did. While Vann has told Irish Illustrated he’s in no rush to make a decision, Notre Dame has recruiting momentum on its side. If there’s a holdup, it could be potential interest in Ohio State. The Buckeyes signed one true defensive end last cycle, but he was a big one in five-star Chase Young. Of course, five-star linebacker Baron Browning could grow into a rush end too. There are no such roadblocks in South Bend.

Scholarship Chart 2018

 
Freshman
Eligibility

26
Sophomore
Eligibility
17
Junior
Eligibility
24
Senior
Eligibility
18
QB
Avery Davis*
Phil Jurkovec
Ian Book* Brandon Wimbush*  
RB
Markese Stepp C.J. Holmes
Tony Jones Jr.*
  Josh Adams
Dexter Williams
WR
Jafar Armstrong*
Micah Jones
Michael Young*
Deon McIntosh* Miles Boykin*
Chase Claypool
Chris Finke*
Javon McKinley
Kevin Stepherson
Freddy Canteen*
C.J. Sanders
Equanimeous St. Brown
TE
Cole Kmet* Brock Wright Alize Jones* Nic Weishar*
OT
Aaron Banks*
Josh Lugg*
Cole Mabry
Liam Eichenberg*
Tommy Kraemer*
  Alex Bars*
OG
Dillan Gibbons*
Robert Hainsey*
Parker Boudreaux* Trevor Ruhland*  
C
    Tristen Hoge* Sam Mustipher*
DE
Justin Ademilola
Jonathan MacCollister*
Kofi Wardlow*
Ade Ogundeji* Daelin Hayes
Khalid Kareem
Julian Okwara
Jonathan Bonner*
Jay Hayes*
DT
Jayson Ademilola
Kurt Hinish*
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa*
Darnell Ewell Micah Dew-Treadway*
Elijah Taylor*
Brandon Tiassum*
Jerry Tillery
LB
Bo Bauer
David Adams*
Ovie Oghoufo
Drew White*
Jonathan Jones* Josh Barajas*
Asmar Bilal*
Jamir Jones
Te’von Coney
ROV
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah* Spencer Perry* Drue Tranquill#
CB
Kalon Gervin Shaun Crawford## Julian Love
Troy Pride Jr.
Donte Vaughn
Nick Watkins*
S
Derrik Allen
Jordan Genmark-Heath*
D.J. Morgan*
Isaiah Robertson
Jalen Elliott
Devin Studstill
Ashton White*
Nick Coleman
Nicco Fertitta
ST
  Jonathan Doerer
John Shannon*
  Tyler Newsome*
Justin Yoon
Total
26/85
43/85
676/85
85/85

*Took a red-shirt season to preserve a season of eligibility # Took a medical red-shirt season
## Took two medical red-shirt seasons.


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