Build with a solid foundation. The Notre Dame staff has done that with pledges from Justin Trattou, Kerry Neal, Aaron Nagel and Steve Paskorz. Add some bulk in the middle and a couple speedy cornerbacks and call it a day.
It isn't that easy, but when I look up and down the defensive prospects that the Irish are targeting, I actually feel pretty good with where they stand overall. The key to their success with these players is performance. If the defense gets it done, most of the players below will come to South Bend. I think it's as simple as that.
Ben Martin (6-foot-6, 220 pounds): Scout.com's No. 8 ranked defensive end. Martin is very difficult to read and I really think he is wrestling with his decision. I believe it will come down to Notre Dame and Ohio State. Some days my gut tells me Notre Dame, other days my gut tells me that something is wrong. I think our Buckeye counterparts feel the same way. Stock: Hold
Sam Acho (6-foot-2, 247 pounds): Acho has garnered the attention of several top programs over the last several months and he's accumulating some solid offers. Notre Dame isn't one of them…yet. If they do send him an offer, they will be in his lead group. Stock: Hold
Joseph Barksdale (6-foot-4, 315-pounds): Scout.com's No. 11 rated defensive tackle and one of Notre Dame's top overall targets. As Barksdale starts to get serious about his recruitment the more open it has become. Ohio State had the lead for months, but something shook the Buckeyes loose. Rumors started circulating about Texas, but based on my latest conversation with Joseph, the Longhorns have slipped back to the pack. Barksdale is building his top-five and he's starting to peek at official visits. The Irish will be in his top-five and he is eyeing a date to return to South Bend. It is likely that Joseph will make an unofficial visit to Notre Dame as well. I'm not going to recommend a buy, but that could come soon. Stock: Hold
Ian Williams (6-foot-2, 300 pounds): Florida had a giant lead for some time, but recently Williams provided a glimmer of hope for the Irish. Still, Notre Dame has an uphill battle if they are going to lure this standout north. Hope is a good thing. Stock: Hold
Martez Wilson (6-foot-4, 235 pounds): Scout.com's No. 2 ranked defensive end. Wilson is an important recruit for the Irish and the type of player they need to land in order to become an elite program. Recently he indicated that Illinois was in front of the Irish. Ron Zook is doing a fantastic job recruiting, but eventually the Illini will have to play a game. Their first big game is September 23 against Iowa. September 24 Wilson names a new leader. Stock: Hold
Chris Donald (6-foot-3, 220 pounds): Donald is listed as Scout.com's No. 15 ranked linebacker, but when Scout revises their rankings expect Chris' to make a noticeable jump. Based on all of my conversations with Chris leading up to his July visit, I considered him a long shot at best. I recall telling members, "Maybe we should focus on prospects that Notre Dame has a chance to sign."… Then again maybe I should consider a new career. Stock: Buy
Malcolm Smith (6-foot-2, 215 pounds): Scout.com's No 10 ranked linebacker, but he could also play safety. His brother Steve is a starting wide receiver for USC, but Malcolm insists that he'll make his decision based on his needs. He grew up on the West Coast, but all of his favorite teams were east of the Mississippi. He's going to make a late decision, and I think Notre Dame might be out of scholarships by the time he decides. Stock: Sell
Harrison Smith (6-foot-2, 205 pounds): Scout.com's No. 8 ranked safety Smith is another recruit that could play a couple positions. I'm not certain the Irish staff knows where he'll play (linebacker or safety), but they love his athleticism. Like Donald, Smith planned to announce prior to the start of his season but he backed off those plans and he has decided to take his official visits. Stanford and Auburn are still under consideration, but this should come down to Notre Dame and Tennessee. Tennessee led for most of the year, but the Irish have stolen the momentum. Stock: Buy
Michael Williams (5-foot-10, 175 pounds): Scout.com's No. 5 ranked cornerback. Rumors starting floating around that Williams had committed to Michigan, but those rumors were founded on speculation. Michigan is making this situation much closer than I ever anticipated, but in the end I believe he will end up in South Bend. Stock: Buy
Gary Gray (5-foot-11, 165 pounds): Scout.com's No. 6 ranked cornerback. Gray will be in South Bend September 16 for the Michigan game. I believe his only other trip will be to South Carolina the week before he travels to Notre Dame. His decision should come shortly after his visits. Momentum is a big factor in recruiting. I think Notre Dame had it at one time…I'm not sure they have it now. Stock: Hold
Lorenzo Edwards (6-foot-2, 221 pounds): Scout.com's No. 3 ranked linebacker. Edwards is playing everything close to the vest, but it isn't difficult to figure out that he likes Notre Dame quite a bit. He has a solid relationship with the Irish staff and he was impressed with the Notre Dame campus when he visited in April. Great kid, great player. Stock: Hold
Major Wright (6-foot-1, 204 pounds): No. 10 ranked safety. For time to time people ask which recruit could be influenced if Notre Dame had a strong season. I think this is one of those guys. Notre Dame has to show considerable improvement on defense in order to make a strong impression with Wright. If they do they have a legitimate shot. Stock: Hold
I provided an update for selected prospects. For a complete list of prospects please refer to the target list.