Like any program, one good recruiting class won't fill all your needs, and the Irish have been lacking in elite defenders for many years. They have signed a number of good defensive prospects over the last 15 years, but they've never really landed back-to-back classes full of elite players to give them a dominant defense. They landed a great group last year, and to become a championship level defense they'll need to continue to do that for years to come.
The Irish already are off to a quick start at a very critical position at interior defensive line. Tyler Stockton has Trevor Laws type of potential, and the ability to make plays in the offensive backfield. Notre Dame has struggled in the recent past landing quality interior linemen, and Stockton definitely fits the "quality" standard for the Irish.
Now they need to land another to go with Stockton, and unfortunately I can't really point to a guy that looks likely at this point. Landing another elite player at nose guard isn't vital, but the Irish have had difficulties landing big D-linemen in the past, so any chance they have to land one they'll likely jump at the opportunity.
A few names to keep an eye on for possible offers would be Adam Bellamy, Antwan Lowery and Chris Davenport. I expect at least one more interior defensive lineman offer to go out after the May evaluation period.
Defensive end is another key position at this point, and the good news is Notre Dame has plenty of solid options at this point.
Probably the most intriguing and likely at this point is Stockton's teammate, Anthony LaLota, who also has an Irish offer. The Irish have a very good chance to land LaLota, who will travel to South Bend again in the near future with most of his family at his side. Landing a commitment from LaLota would give the Irish a fast start at a very important area in building a dominant defense—defensive line.
Two Irish defensive end prospects, William Ming and Craig Roh, have already visited Notre Dame's campus earlier this spring, and both came away very impressed with Notre Dame. Three more defensive end prospects, Nick Kasa, Chris Bond and Gabe Ikard, are also planning to visit Notre Dame this summer.
The Irish really only need two defensive ends and two interior linemen, but could get away with signing just one at either spot if they couldn't land an elite guy for the second slot. However, it's important to keep building depth along the defensive line, and four total players would be ideal. Chances are Brown and Co. will deliver.
Linebacker has become somewhat of an interesting situation for Notre Dame.
The Irish are recruiting some real studs at linebacker, and if they land them they'll be in great shape, but a lot of these players come from states where Notre Dame has had some difficulty landing elite players in the past.
Hawaiian Manti Te'o is probably the biggest name of the bunch, and he's shown a solid interest in Notre Dame thus far. But Hawaii is a very long way from South Bend, and a different environment altogether. Still, head coach Charlie Weis speaks with Te'o constantly and has made it very well known that Te'o is a priority in this class. Getting Te'o on campus will be the most important objective, and they'll have to do that soon to stay in the race.
Carlo Calabrese appears the most likely candidate at this point, but he said he's close to making a decision at this point. He's certainly an elite player who would fit in well at Notre Dame.
Another five-star prospect Notre Dame is after is Jelani Jenkins. He also has shown solid interest thus far, but is a long way for deciding. A summer visit is planned for him and his family.
Notre Dame also is heavily recruiting Florida's Frankie Telefort and California's Jordan Barrett. Both players are elite plays and have shown solid interest. Surprisingly the Irish probably have the better shot at Telefort at this point.
Notre Dame is in the batting cage with some heavy hitters at linebacker. They do have some solid interest from most of their targets, but I wouldn't say any are heavily leaning towards Notre Dame at this point, and a good number will likely wait to announce their college decisions. Knowing this, I'd expect a few more offers to go out at linebacker at the end of May. Players like Hawatha Bell, Jonathan Stewart, Dustin Fox and Michael Buchanon look to be a few players on the radar.
Defensive back is another important are for the Irish. Notre Dame has done an outstanding job of recruiting defensive backs in the recent past, and to be a great defense you need quality defensive backs. I expect Notre Dame to sign three in 2009.
At corner Notre Dame has four solid prospects at this point. Brandon McGee is a big name from Florida that has shown a solid interest and will visit this summer. Can the Irish hold off Ohio State?
E.J. Banks is another top prospect who has already visited Notre Dame. The Irish appear to be in good shape with Banks, but he's not close to making a decision at this point.
Corey Brown is another player Notre Dame is recruiting heavily. Many expect this to be a Michigan/Notre Dame battle in the end, and Brown plans to visit both this summer. Michigan probably has the lead at this point, but he hasn't visited either school as of yet so things can change.
A new name to surface is Georgia prospect Branden Smith. Smith has plenty of size and speed, and will be a heavily recruited player over the next few months. Notre Dame and Corwin Brown have their work cut out for them with Smith, but he's shown solid interest early.
The Irish are also recruiting four safeties at this point. The two showing the most interest currently are Atlanta native Darius Myles, and Texas prospect Terrance Bullitt. Myles plans a summer visit to Notre Dame.
Two others, Devonte Holloman and Ray Ray Armstrong ,don't appear to be as interested in the Irish at this point.
Most likely you'll see Notre Dame recruit two corners and one safety in this class, but they may end up signing two safeties and one corner. The determining factor will likely be where freshman Jamoris Slaughter ends up once he enrolls at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame is in solid position at defensive back right now, and defensive coordinator Corwin Brown also coaches the position, which will help him recruiting this group of players. Still, besides Smith getting an offer soon, I'd expect maybe a few names to surface soon.
Notre Dame appears to be in pretty good shape with defensive recruiting. They probably aren't the clear leader for a lot of these players, but they definitely are in the race for most of them. I expect you'll see at least one nose guard offer go out at the end of May. My guess it at least two more linebacker offers, and most likely 2-3 offers at defensive back will also go out at the end of May. If the Irish can fill most of their defensive class with the names mentioned above, they should be in great shape for the future.
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