The day after National Signing Day for the Class of 2013, Irish Sports Daily released a comprehensive preview of the 2014 recruiting cycle, which you can check out here. Nearly two months later, it’s time to take another quick glance at the 2014 recruiting board and which prospects Notre Dame has a great chance at landing.
This is not an exhaustive list of every prospect that has interest in the Irish, just a quick update with some of the players who either have or could end up developing a serious interest in Notre Dame. The list is broken down by position. Today we look at defense. You can check our look at the offense here. Any relevant recent updates will be linked at the bottom of each section.
Notre Dame has already landed a pair of targets for its defensive front in defensive ends Jay Hayes and Andrew Trumbetti. The latter could end up seeing some time at Cat linebacker, but the focus will move to the middle with the search for a defensive tackle.
Thomas Holley blew up over the last month and a half, going well over a dozen offers, and has serious interest in Notre Dame and is looking to make a visit this summer. Other interior targets, Khari Clark, Josh Frazier and Anthony Moten, have the Irish on their list of favorites; Frazier has a top five, Clark a top six and Moten a top 10.
Don’t expect the Irish to stop recruiting other defensive line candidates either, especially those who could also play some linebacker. Andrew Williams and Malik McDowell are top targets with legit interest along with Enoch Smith, Natrell Curtis and Melvin Keihn.
Again, there could be some crossover with some of the candidates listed above, but here’s a look at some surefire linebackers on the Irish board. With Greer Martini already in the fold, the Irish will look to bring in two or three more at the position.
Dillon Bates (pictured) is definitely one of the names at the top of board and he’s got some real interest in Notre Dame, but also has serious interest in Ohio State and Tennessee, where his father Bill starred, among other schools. Dante Booker made a visit to South Bend last month, but it’s going to be real tough to pull him away from Ohio State.
Raekwon McMillan had the Irish in his early top five, but they’ve faded of late.
Thanks to 2013’s successful secondary haul, defensive backs won’t be a major need for the Irish this cycle. Notre Dame won’t have a big need at corner or especially safety, but the Irish will still going after some of the nation’s best.
Notre Dame hasn’t been able to establish too much traction with elite New Jersey corner Jabrill Peppers, but the Irish are on his list. They also seem to be fading a bit with Washington D.C. cornerback Jalen Tabor, but should have a chance to make up some ground if he ends up visiting in the coming months as he’d planned
Jonathan Lockett was impressed when he landed an offer from the Irish and even though he craves an offer from USC, they’ll likely have some shot. Also, Texas’ Nick Watkins and Florida’s Quincy Wilson plan to check out South Bend. Both are stud prospects and Wilson could also play some safety.
Versatile prospects always provide programs with invaluable position flexibility, both in terms of a single recruiting class and an entire roster once on campus. Most of the prospects mentioned below could help in the secondary, or at an offensive skill position.
Adoree’ Jackson is one of the most dynamic prospects in the entire country and the Notre Dame staff has told him there isn’t another player who have such an impact on both sides of the ball. The California prospect has roots in Illinois, so geography is less likely to work against Notre Dame.
Michiah Quick is another California player who could play in the secondary or at receiver. Notre Dame was in early on Quick and his relationship with former Irish commit Tee Shepard is actually a positive. Quick will be in South Bend later this month when his coach attends the coaches clinic.
Juju Smith is a third California athlete with offers from across the country who doesn’t seem to be set on staying out West; his top five currently includes the Irish, UCLA, USC, Michigan and Ohio State.
Tommy Mister has the Irish in his top three, but they used to be his clear number one. Mister plays quarterback in high school, but is being recruited as a true athlete. It sounds like Notre Dame might not be worried about dropping behind Iowa State and Illinois.
Notre Dame hasn’t offered Curtis Samuel just yet, but it sounds like one could come when he visits. There were reports that he was going to be at the Irish’s Junior Day last month, but he had a personal conflict. He has plans to make the trip eventually and we believe he will. An offer will likely put Notre Dame in a strong position.
A new name in the athlete category is Iowa’s Matt Nelson. The 6-foot-8, 245-pounder could play tight end, offensive tackle, defensive end or linebacker. Nelson has early offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Yale and San Diego State. His high school coach has a connection with Irish assistant Bob Elliott and Nelson will be visiting Notre Dame in mid-April.