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ND Defense Recruiting Big Board- 12.16.13

Less than 2 months to go until National Signing Day.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports


Welcome to the latest installment of the OFD Big Board. Today we're back with another look at the defensive side of the ball and we are tracking any progress the Irish have made since our last update.

Defensive Line
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.992 Lorenzo Carter GA 6-5/232 Cold
.927 Matt Elam KY 6-6/350 Mild
.947 Lorenzo Featherston NC 6-7/220 Cold
.852 Jaylen Johnson CA 6-3/232 Cold
.969 Thomas Holley NY 6-4/285 Cold
.877 Melvin Keihn MD 6-3/225 Cold
.981 Malik McDowell MI 6-7/290 Cold
.948 Derrick Nnadi VA 6-1/305 Cold
.988 Solomon Thomas TX 6-3/256 Cold
.908 Andrew Williams GA 6-4/247 Cold

We've had a small handful of verbals since our last update. The Irish were trying to get a closer look at (CA) DT Tashon Smallwood .894 but he committed to Arizona State four days ago. NC State got a big verbal over the weekend from (NC) DE Kentavius Street .958 and he's the Wolf Pack's top recruit for this class by a mile.

Not long after our last update the Irish gained the verbal from (MI) DE Jhonathon Williams .840 who should begin his career as a Cat linebacker in Notre Dame's scheme. Also, Notre Dame received a commitment from (TX) DE Kolin Hill .863 last night who further boosts the linebacker corps depth.

Back in the summer Notre Dame got a visit from Jaylen Johnson and had some positive momentum built up but things fell off and he gave a verbal to Boise State in mid-September. Just this past week Johnson left the Broncos class and has opened things back up. It it doubtful if the Irish spend much time trying to get back into it with him with so few scholarships available.

The Irish are still in it with Elam although Kentucky and Alabama (despite verbals from 5 defensive linemen already) will be tough to beat. He just came off another visit to Lexington this weekend.

Holley has eliminated Notre Dame and will decide between Penn State and Florida.

Notre Dame is trying to get Thomas to come for an official visit but it hasn't happened yet. He'll visit Stanford, Arkansas, and Ohio State next month.

The Irish may still get a visit from Williams but we'll see.

Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.977 Rashaan Evans AL 6-3/220 Cold
.934 Edwin Freeman TX 6-0/212 Cold
.985 Clifton Garrett IL 6-2/228 Cold
.857 Vincent Jackson FL 6-2/235 Cold
.990 Raekwon McMillan GA 6-2/242 Cold
.973 Nyles Morgan IL 6-2/228 Mild
.912 Kenny Young LA 6-2/220 Cold

Just yesterday the Irish received a verbal from (IL) LB Nile Sykes .872 who helps boost the depth at inside linebacker. He visited over the weekend and finally pulled the trigger after being offered two months ago.

Nyles Morgan remains (arguably) the biggest target on the board for Notre Dame and things have been trending hard for the Irish since he visited 3 times over a 5 week span from late October to late November. Morgan thought about visiting Vanderbilt this weekend but ultimately stayed home although he was visited at home by Commodores head coach James Franklin. He received a visit this past Thursday from Brian Kelly.

Defensive Back
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.986 Jamal Adams TX 6-0/199 Cold
.994 Tony Brown TX 6-0/188 Cold
.861 Payton Hendrix TX 6-3/190 Mild
.996 Adoree Jackson CA 5-9/182 Cold
.883 Mattrell McGraw LA 6-0/183 Cold
.987 Jalen Tabor DC 6-1/182 Cold
.943 Parrker Westphal IL 6-0/186 Cold

A long time ago the Irish were showing some interest with (CA) DB Jonathan Lockett .898 but he joined Washington's class in the middle of summer. On December 9th he left the Huskies and committed to USC a couple of days later.

The lone target left for Notre Dame in the secondary is Hendrix who is believed to be leaning towards Notre Dame. However, he had a good visit to Texas Tech in the first week of December and is coming off a visit to Arkansas this past weekend as well.

Irish Commits
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Position 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.898 Grant Blakenship TX 6-6/252 Defensive End
.860 Jonathan Bonner MO 6-4/250 Defensive End
.863 Kolin Hill TX 6-2/220 Defensive End
.931 Andrew Trumbetti NJ 6-5/250 Defensive End
.840 Jhonathon Williams MI 6-6/237 Defensive End
.891 Matt Dickerson CA 6-5/275 Defensive Tackle
.909 Jay Hayes NY 6-5/260 Defensive Tackle
.883 Greer Martini VA 6-3/232 Linebacker
.872 Nile Sykes IL 6-2/223 Linebacker
.904 Richard Yeargin FL 6-4/225 Linebacker
.939 Nick Watkins TX 6-1/185 Cornerback
.885 Drue Tranquill IN 6-2/210 Safety
.841 Tyler Newsome GA 6-3/190 Punter

It appears Notre Dame is set to take this class to the 25 limit, which would mean only 1 fifth-year player will be invited back, assuming no other attrition. With the recent verbals of Nile Sykes and Kolin Hill the Irish are sitting at 22 commits which includes the verbal of WR Isaiah McKenzie.

Tight end prospect Tyler Luatua is set to announce today on the 16th and if he joins the #GoldenArmy14 it appears Notre Dame will be working with 2 more scholarships pending the test results of McKenzie.

That's not a lot of room to work as we approach National Signing Day. The coaching staff should leave at least 1 scholarship open as we close in on National Signing Day for the ELITE prospects and with the numbers squeeze and not a huge need at safety it wouldn't surprise me if Hendrix ends up at Texas Tech or Arkansas.