With the 2013 recruiting class in the books, Notre Dame can turn its full attention the Class of 2014 and so can Irish Sports Daily.
Today, we’re breaking down the 2014 class by position and looking at the prospects Notre Dame figures to recruit the hardest. Here’s a list of players Notre Dame has identified early as top targets and who have also expressed an interest in the Irish.
Click on each prospect’s name to view their full profile.
Target Number: 3-4
Greer Martini (Cary, N.C./Woodberry Forest): The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder became Notre Dame’s first 2014 verbal commitment, in fact he became the earliest public pledge in Notre Dame’s history when he committed last July. Martini will follow in the footsteps of 2012 signee C.J. Prosise and 2013 signee Doug Randolph from Woodberry to South Bend. Martini’s early commitment is likely to prevent him from receiving some of the accolades uncommitted prospects tend to get, but he’s caught the attention of Nick Saban. Still, Martini is solid with his commitment.
Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra): The son of former Tennessee and Dallas Cowboy standout Bill Bates, the 6-foot-3, 218-pounder is a big-time player gaining big-time attention. He already has offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Virginia among others. He’s planning a spring swing of visits and South Bend is going to be on the itinerary. The Irish will probably be in the mix for a long time, but they’re going to have plenty of competition.
Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County): Possibly the top linebacker prospect in the Class of 2014, the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder has offers from schools like Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas and USC. The Irish were able to crack his early top five along with Ohio State, Florida, Clemson and Alabama. Jaylon Smith has been working McMillan on Twitter, but the Irish will need to get him on campus and the sooner, the better.
Vincent Jackson (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit): The talented linebacker from Florida showcased his talent early and often last season, leaving his opponents dumbfounded. The 6-foot-3, 237-pound prospect had 76 tackles last season (30 of those for losses) and 13 1/2 sacks. Looking at that stat line, it's easy to see why he's already sitting on close to 30 offers from some of the top teams in the nation including Auburn, Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC, and West Virginia.
Clifton Garrett (Joliet, Ill./Plainfield South): The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker has been one of the hottest recruits of the past year in the Midwest. The Irish will be competing for his services with loads other schools including Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan State, and even Ole Miss is in on the action. Garrett visited Notre Dame for the Michigan game, where he was able to watch his first ever live college football game. He has yet to name a leader, but has said that Notre Dame is in a group of schools that’s in the forefront of his mind.
Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee): The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker is quickly becoming a hot commodity across the college football nation. In addition to his Notre Dame offer, he’s being courted by 14 other schools including Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Florida. Morgan made it to Notre Dame Stadium for the Michigan game and was in awe of the raucous environment he witnessed. He currently has Michigan State as his leader, but it seems that everyone else is in a tie for second.
OTHER LB PROSPECTS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Davonte James, Kenny Young, Brandon Lee, Greg Miclisse, Christian Miller, Gelen Robinson, Dwight Williams, Richard Yeargin, Dante Booker, Kevin Crosby
Target Number: 3-4
Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside): One of the top safety prospects this cycle, the 6-foot-2, 196-pounder has Notre Dame inside his early top 10 along with Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Virginia and West Virginia. Blanding is likely to make an early decision, so Notre Dame will want to get him on campus as soon as possible.
Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship): The 6-foot-1, 181-pound cornerback has a top 10 that includes Notre Dame, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. Brian Kelly made sure to stop by Friendship during his travels last month. Tabor has never been to South Bend, but is planning a trip this spring and isn’t in any rush to make a decision.
Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic): Possibly the best 2014 cornerback in America, the 6-foot, 190-pounder transferred from Don Bosco to Paramus Catholic before his junior season. A mature kid, Peppers seems to have his priorities in order when it comes to recruiting. Stanford, Michigan and Ohio State figure to be Notre Dame’s biggest competition at this point, but the Irish are hopeful they’ll get him on campus soon.
Nick Watkins (Dallas, Texas/Skyline): One of several top defensive back prospects in the state of Texas for 2014, this 6-foot, 180-pounder is one of Notre Dame’s top targets. He has offers from Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA and of course, Texas and Texas A&M. Watkins will be a tough pull, but he’s well worth the effort.
Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University): At 6-2 and 195 pounds, Wilson has the size of a safety, but the agility and skills of a corner. His shuttle time at the Under Armour All-American Underclassmen Combine even impressed Deion Sanders. His ever-growing offer sheet currently includes Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Michigan State, Ohio State, North Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and West Virginia among several others. Irish assistant Tony Alford has formed a great relationship already, as he does with all of his top prospects, and Wilson is considering an official visit, but Notre Dame will have to compete with LSU, Ohio State, Florida and Clemson.
Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook): Maybe the top cornerback prospect in the Midwest this cycle, the 6-foot-1, 181-pounder has made a trip to South Bend and also saw the Irish in action against Miami in Chicago last fall. Notre Dame has been working to get him back on campus ever since. He already holds offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Nebraska, Florida and West Virginia among others. Westphal seems impressed with Notre Dame’s package, but hasn’t been blown away just yet.
Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen): Another of the talented junior defensive backs from the Lone Star State, Brown may be the best and should be considered an elite prospect. This 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is big enough to be a safety and certainly fast enough to be a corner. He was one of only a couple 2014 prospects at Gridiron Kings last summer, along with Blanding, and both proved they belonged. Brown has offers from Notre Dame, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, UCLA and USC. Brown was honored by his Irish offer, but hasn’t decided which schools he’s going to visit yet.
OTHER DB PROSPECTS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Darius West, Nick Glass, Nicholas Ruffin, Ed Paris, Brandon Simmons, Todd Kelly, Germaine Pratt, Edwin Freeman, Devin Williams, Chris Hardeman, Troy Vincent, Jamal Adams, Budda Baker
Target Number: 1-2
Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central): Notre Dame isn’t going to stop recruiting Fresno and athletes like Quick are the reason why. The 6-foot, 170-pounder was one of Notre Dame’s first offers in the Class of 2014 and that made a huge impression on Quick. At one point, he had the Irish as his clear leader. He’s backed off that just a bit, but Notre Dame is a school he still has a strong interest in and he’s expected to be in South Bend for the Irish’s spring game in April. Quick could play running back, receiver or defensive back. He also has offers from Cal, Oklahoma, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington and, yes, Houston.
Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech): Early offers from Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State and Tennessee among others prove the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is one of the most sought-after prospects this cycle. Ohio State, Florida and Alabama were his leaders at one point, but Hurd is no longer claiming any favorites. Hurd wants to play running back in college.
Tommy Mister (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita): The 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback was offered by the Irish as an athlete and Brian Kelly will move cautiously before that offer upgrades to quarterback. He was offered as a quarterback by both Indiana and Illinois. He recently transferred from Richards High School to St. Rita, which is more of a ground-and-pound offensive scheme and may not showcase his talent as much. Mister was able to get to South Bend for the Michigan game and was blown away by the atmosphere. He has clearly stated that Notre Dame is his leader and was close to committing at the Michigan game, but his parents convinced him to wait a little longer.
OTHER ATH PROSPECTS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Adoree Jackson, Lonnie Jackson, Nate Hall, Johnathan Lloyd