Well, there is a freshman starting at corner for the Irish the fall. I don't think I am going out on a limb when I say that it isn't exactly who people thought it would be from the 2012 recruiting class.
I covered this in April following the departure of Tee Shepard and in the middle of spring practice. Given the recent loss of projected starter Lo Wood to a season-ending achilles tear, there has been a lot of discussion about the depth in the secondary, specifically at cornerback. We thought it would be good to revisit this heading into the season, this time including the recruiting misses (basically limited to those who took an official visit).
The staff has been addressing the issue through roster changes in camp (notably KeiVarae Russell and Elijah Shumate moving to corner) and recruiting (already receiving verbal commits from Devin Butler and Rashad Kinlaw/Will Fuller). It appears that CBK is set to take four total defensive backs in the 2013 class to help address the depth.
Again, I feel that it is important to note that issues with depth at corner are nothing new to the program over the past few years. In 2010, the staff relied on a three man rotation of Darrin Walls, Gary Gray and Robert Blanton. Last fall, Gray and Blanton took nearly all the significant minutes and left mop-up duty to Bennett Jackson, Lo Wood and Josh Atkinson.
By examining the last four recruiting classes, you can see that missing on the cornerback position is no new dilemma for the coaching staff. Over those four classes, a total of seven cornerbacks were at one time committed or enrolled at Notre Dame, only to de-commit or leave for one reason or another. Additionally, there have been 16 defensive backs to take an official visit to South Bend over the past four years, only to decide to go to school elsewhere.
Oh cornerbacks, where have you gone?
(Note: All rankings come from Rivals.com)
Byron Moore (Harbor City, CA - Narbonne) was a 4 star safety who signed with USC. He is now at Tennessee after spending a year in JUCO. He played in 11 games last fall, collecting 6 tackles with a forced fumble and a pass broken up.
Sean Parker (Harbor City, CA-Narbonne) was a 4 star safety (#21 S overall) who signed with Washington. He should start for the Huskies this fall at safety.
David Amerson (Greensboro, NC - Dudley) was a former 4 star recruit (#16 S) that narrowed his list down to NC State and Notre Dame. Did I mention he led the nation in INTs last fall?
Josh Shaw (Palmdale, CA - Palmdale) was a 4 star (#3 CBl) who signed with Florida and since transferred to USC this spring. He was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA and will be eligible this fall.
Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, FL - St. Thomas Aquinas) was a former 4 star CB target who signed with Florida. He is a projected starter for the Gators this fall.
Corey Cooper (Maywood, IL - Proviso East) was 4 star (#20 S) who looked to be a heavy ND lean throughout the process before ending up at Nebraska.
Dietrich Riley (La Canada, CA - St. Francis) was a former 4 star prospect (#9 S) who signed with UCLA. He started 5 games for the Bruins in 2011.
Marquis Flowers (Goodyear, AZ-Millennium) was a 4 star athlete who signed with Arizona. He should be one of the starting safeties for the Wildcats this fall.
Jeremy Ioane (Honolulu, HI-Punahou) was a 3 star safety that looked to be a late addition to Brian Kelly's first class when he opted to sign with Boise State instead. He should start this fall at safety for the Broncos.
Wayne Lyons (Fort Lauderdale, FL-Dillard) was a former 4 star safety (#9 S overall) who signed with Stanford. He played in two games as a freshman before suffering a broken foot and missing the remainder of the season.
(Note - I will just name the names and give the rankings. I think most everyone will remember some of the stories related to these players)
Shaquille Thompson (Sacramento, CA-Grant) - 5 star (#1 S, #4 overall), signed with Washington
Ishmael Adams (Westlake Village, CA-Oaks Christian) - 4 star (#10 CB, #117 overall), signed with UCLA
Donaldven Manning (Miami, FL-Miami Central) - 4 star (#11 CB, #140 overall), signed with Virginia Tech
Yuri Wright (Ramsey, NJ-Don Bosco) - 4 star (#7 CB, #85 overall), signed with Colorado
Anthony Standifer (Crete, IL-Crete Monee) - 3 star (#45 CB), signed with Ole Miss
Brian Poole (Bradenton, FL-Southeast) - 4 star (#5 CB, #80 overall), signed with Florida
EJ Banks (Pittsburgh, PA - Montour) was a 3 star recruit who signed with the 2009 class. He was listed as an athlete by Rivals (#45 Overall) and left Notre Dame in Dec 2010, transferring to Pitt. He spent some time at QB during the spring, but appears headed back to the secondary this fall.
Marlon Pollard (San Bernardino, CA - Cajon) was a 4 star recruit (#14 CB, #150 Overall) who committed to UCLA only to switch to Notre Dame (and eventually switch back). If that wasn't enough, Pollard left UCLA and is currently at Eastern Michigan, where he tallied 54 tackles and 8 passes defended along with a 5.9 yds per punt return in 2011. He is expected to start at corner for the Eagles this fall.
Toney Hurd, Jr (Missouri City, TX - Marshall) was a 3 star recruit (#47 CB) who eventually signed with Texas A&M. He saw action in every game as a freshman in 2010, totaling 8 tackles. As a sophomore, he tallied 20 tackles and 1 PBU. He appears to be in the two-deep at safety for Aggies this fall.
Spencer Boyd (Cape Coral, FL - Cape Coral) was a 3 star recruit (#39 CB) who enrolled early in 2010 and left school after the spring semester. He transferred to South Florida, totaling 4 tackles in 2011 for the Bulls. He transferred over the summer to Division II Sheperd Univeristy (West Virginia).
Bennett Okotcha (Coppell, TX - Coppell) was a 3 star recruit (#64 CB) and former high school teammate of Cam McDaniel. Okotcha was a one-time verbal to Wisconsin before flipping to the Irish, only to end up at Oklahoma after a late offer from and visit to Norman. He red-shirted in 2011 and left the program this fall. He reportedly will play for UT-San Antonio with his brother.
Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, MD - Potomac) was a 4 star recruit (#2 CB, #68 Overall) and long-time verbal commitment to Notre Dame through most of the 2012 cycle. Darby eventually ended up signing with Florida State, thanks in part to their track program. He appears to be in the two-deep at corner for the Seminoles heading into the season.
Tee Shepard (Fresno, CA - Washington Union) was also a 4 star recruit (#4 CB, #76 Overall). Not much else needs to be said about Tee other than I hope this kid gets a shot somewhere.