Notre Dame 2008 Recruiting Targets – Defense

The Notre Dame coaching staff is making defense a recruiting priority for 2008. They have already extended at least ten scholarship offers and more should be in the mail soon.

Notre Dame could bring in as many as 12 defensive recruits with the 2008 recruiting class. It's a good bet that several of them will come from the group the coaching staff has already identified as their top prospects.

The Offers

Defensive tackle Sean Cwynar (Woodstock, Ill.) visited Notre Dame for the January junior day. It was his second visit to Notre Dame and it probably won't be his last. He came way from the junior day very excited about the opportunities at Notre Dame... shortly afterward the ND coaches extended him an offer. Notre Dame will get plenty of competition from all the schools in Midwest, and it appears interest is picking up across the country. Cwynar is a big physical defensive end in high school. He'll probably slide inside when he gets to college. Cwynar is a big-time player that should be one of the top DEs in the country as a senior. He's similar to Will Blackwell from the last recruiting class. As a junior, Cwynar recorded 103 tackles and 17 sacks at defensive end.

Interest in defensive tackle Ethan Johnson (Portland, Ore.) is just starting to pick up. The Irish were the latest to offer, and more will certainly be on their way. Although he says that he is very interested in Notre Dame it might be very difficult to lure him east if the big guys from the West make a big push for his services. Johnson is a player that could play defensive end in the '3-4' or pack on some weight and move to the nose. He's a very active player, so he could be a great candidate for nose tackle. As a junior he registered 80 tackles and 10 sacks.

Kyle Long (Charlottesville, Va.) has developed a strong relationship with Mike Brewster and both appear to be favoring Ohio State heavily at this time. Notre Dame has work to do here. Kyle could play either side of the ball in college, but Notre Dame is looking at him for defense. Long could be a perfect '3-4' defensive end. He definitely has the frame to add some size. He's a fighter... a tough battler on the field. He has good feet and quickness that gives him another dimension to his game. He is also an outstanding baseball prospect and may have interest in playing both in college.

Notre Dame is getting in early on defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (Weatherford, Texas) this year like they did with Kerry Neal last year. He is a Notre Dame kid and the Irish probably have an early lead. Lewis-Moore only has a couple offers, but they will start to pour in once word gets out on him. He's a tall, rangy athlete; he has good speed and he pursues the ball until the whistle blows. He's still a little raw, but he looks like he's just starting to put things together. As a junior he had 50 tackles, five sacks and 14 quarterback hurries.

Linebacker Steven Filer (Chicago, Ill.) attended the Notre Dame football camp last summer and the Irish coaches knew they wanted to offer him immediately. As soon as they were able to extend offers to juniors, September 1, Steven received his. Notre Dame should be considered the favorite at this time, but that doesn't mean they are a lock, because Filer is being recruited and offered by all of the top program in the country. Filer is an outstanding athlete that goes sideline to sideline. He's physical and he's smart… he's the total package. As a junior he had 85 tackles and eight sacks.

David Posluszny (Aliquippa, Pa.) is another linebacker prospect the Notre Dame coaches had a chance to watch during their football camp last summer. Posluszny had a wait a little longer for his offer, but after he came over for the January junior day he was rewarded. Many think the Irish will have trouble getting him from Penn State, since his brother Paul was an All-American for the Nittany Loins, but Notre Dame has a great shot with David. In fact, David really likes the Irish and they might be considered an early favorite. He isn't the biggest player, but Posluszny is an instinctual player and he's always around the football. When he gets there he finishes the play.

Recruiting momentum is just starting to build for linebacker Shayne Hale (Monroeville, Pa.) He has 15 scholarship offers and that number will grow quickly. The Irish have a chance with Hale and they probably are in his top tier of schools, but they probably need to do a little work. This kid is one of the top linebackers I've seen. He is a football player. They invented the game for a player like Hale. He has instincts. He is physical. He has size and he moves like a much smaller player. When he arrives at the football, the ball carrier knows it. Hale finished his junior season with 105 tackles including 13 for a loss. He also recorded five sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Whoever is doing the evaluation for the linebackers for Notre Dame, I like what they're doing. Anthony McDonald (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) is another fantastic linebacker prospect. Many expect him to sign with USC because his dad played for the Trojans, but that may not be the case….ND has a chance. He has great instincts and delivers a big hit when he meets the ball carrier. Rarely does the running back fall forward when he meets Mr. McDonald. He moves very well for his size. As a junior he registered 101 tackles, 9.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.

Notre Dame just offered Arthur Brown (Wichita, Kan.) and he is as good as any player in the natio., In fact, I fully expect him to be a top ten national player when the initial rankings come out in June. He's fantastic. He's a devastating hitter. He's a playmaker. Everyone in the country is recruiting him. He has mentioned Notre Dame a couple times, but he often omits the Irish when listing his top schools. The Irish have work to do, but there is time. Brown was a first-team all-combine selection at the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio. As a junior he amassed 168 tackles, eight sacks and one interception.

Notre Dame is only going to take one safety this year and they want the best…Will Hill (Jersey City, N.J.) just might be that guy. Hill had Notre Dame high on his list, but once other big programs started to offer, the Irish have moved to the middle of the pack. I think Notre Dame has some work to do here. Hill plays quarterback and safety at St. Peter's Prep. He's a gifted athlete that has very good speed. He's a very elusive runner. On defense he likes to be physical, he tackles well and he is a ball hawk. As a junior, he rushed for 669 yards and 12 touchdowns; he completed 39 of 67 passes for 791 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had 61 tackles and three interceptions at safety.

Next In Line

Another top linebacker the Irish are very high on is Brandan Beal of Succasunna, N.J. Beal attended Notre Dame's January junior day and he is extremely interested in the Irish. When he talks about academics being important, it isn't just lip service. If the Irish offer, they would be very difficult to beat. Beal could be used as an outside linebacker in Notre Dame's new ‘3-4' defense, or he could grow into a defensive end. He's a big strong player that is capable of playing early in his career. As a junior he registered 150 tackles and 11 sacks.

Like Beal, Darius Fleming (Chicago, Ill.) could fit into the outside linebacker position or grow into a defensive end. I think the Irish like his potential at defensive end. Fleming is a Chicago Catholic league kid, and they would have an early lead if they offered, but he isn't a slam-dunk for the Irish. Fleming is a high-energy guy. He constantly works to get to the ball and he is very physical. He takes on blockers and does a good job of working through traffic. He appears to have terrific instincts. Fleming was a first-team all-combine selection at the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio. As a junior, Fleming registered 105 tackles, with 15 for loss, nine sacks, forced four fumbles, recovered three fumbles and tipped six passes.

Athlete Jarred Holley (Easton, Pa.) has the ability to play on both sides of the ball in college, but Notre Dame is looking at him as a defensive back. Holley already has a number of solid early offers, but the Irish could jump to the top of his list if they decide to extend an offer. He's kind of a ‘tweener' between a cornerback and a safety. He has good speed and good ball skills. He understands coverages and he locates the ball well. He needs to add some size, but he should be able to do so without losing speed. Holley was a first-team all-combine selection at the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio. As a junior, Holley had 129 carries for 648 yards and 12 touchdowns. He caught 37 passes for 548 yards and eight touchdowns. On defense, he had nine interceptions and 54 tackles.

Patrick Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) has a ton of athletic ability and he already has several big offers. He has the Irish in his early top five, and he appears to have sincere interest in Notre Dame. He has good size, but like Holley, he may be a ‘tweener' in terms of the position he'll play in college. He has great cornerback size, but he may be better suited for safety. He is a smooth athlete, with good speed. Johnson was a first-team all-combine selection at the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio. Last season he recorded 54 tackles and picked off seven passes.

Another top Florida cornerback Notre Dame is pursuing is T.J. Bryant of Tallahassee, Fla. He is a true coast to coast, border to border recruit. Everyone is recruiting him and he's already been offered by most schools. It will be incredibly difficult for the Irish to pull him to South Bend, but he recently listed Notre Dame as one of his early favorites. Bryant is probably the early favorite to be the top cornerback in the country and he should be a top ten national prospect. He is a special athlete that could play anywhere. He has very good speed and he changes direction effortlessly. He has very good size for a cornerback and he isn't afraid to put a hat on someone.

Akron, Ohio cornerback, Johnny Adams will be another highly rated player once the rankings come out in June. He made a trip to Notre Dame's junior day in January and he enjoyed his visit. He likes what Notre Dame has to offer, but getting top cornerbacks out of Ohio over the past several years has been near impossible. Adams has good size, very good speed and he has the ability to cover in one-on-one situations. He's a solid kid with an energetic personality. If the grades are there, he should see an offer very soon.

Like so many players Notre Dame is recruiting, Kenny Tate (Hyattsville, Md.) could play several positions. Wide receiver is frequently mentioned, but Notre Dame likes Tate as a safety. Generally elite prospects like to be on the offensive side of the ball, but Tate has said that he'd like the opportunity to play safety in college. Ohio State has already offered, as well as several other top programs. I think the Irish would have an outstanding shot if they offered. He is a silky smooth athlete with a ton of upside. He has ideal size for a free safety and he has plenty of speed to be a playmaker in the secondary. Top Stories