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2015 Notre Dame Recruiting Big Board: Defense

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Our focus turns to the secondary with under two months until National Signing Day.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Welcome back to the OFD Big Board for December 16, 2014.

Defensive Tackle
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.905 Darrion Daniels TX 6-3/290 Cold
.965 Neville Gallimore ON 6-3/300 Cold
.992 Rasheem Green CA 6-5/275 Cold
.960 Tim Settle VA 6-2/362 Cold
.969 Christian Wilkins CT 6-4/290 Cold
.935 Joseph Wicker CA 6-2/265 Cold

We've had a pair of tackles come off the board since our last update beginning with (SC) Albert Huggins .959 who gave a verbal to Clemson. He'll be looking for a lot of playing time and may square up against Notre Dame next year as the Tigers lose 6 defensive linemen this off-season.

Several weeks ago we told you about (MD) Adam McLean .943 leaving Penn State's class. Earlier this month he decided to join his in-state Maryland Terrapins. Not long after there were some rumors about academic issues being raised but his high school coach says he'll be fine.

We have now downgraded Christian Wilkins to Cold. The Suffield Academy product is coming off an official visit to Ohio State this past weekend and has already taken OV's to Clemson, Penn State, and Stanford. It is possible that he takes his last visit to Notre Dame but things are not trending in that direction right now.

Notre Dame was in a similar position with Joseph Wicker (hoping for the last OV) but that is not going to happen. The Long Beach Poly product has taken 4 official visits in recent weeks to Texas Tech, Arizona State, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Wicker mentioned possibly coming to South Bend in January but it looks like he'll use his last OV to UCLA.

We've reiterated many times that Notre Dame was interested in Nick Watkins' former high school teammate Darrion Daniels but this relationship stalled a long time ago. Now it appears that Daniels will be staying in the Big 12 region.

Daniels has taken official visits to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech so far.

Larz and Jamie have been fighting back tears as Canadian Neville Gallimore has been zeroing in on schools which don't include Notre Dame. He only has one OV left and has already been to Oklahoma, Florida State, Auburn, and Ohio State.

He'll be committing at the U.S. Army All-American game early next month.

Defensive End
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.997 Byron Cowart FL 6-4/250 Cold
.996 CeCe Jefferson FL 6-2/250 Cold

Florida State recently received some big news as (VA) Josh Sweat .996 committed to the Seminoles over Virginia Tech. The country's top defensive end was injured for most of his senior season but gives FSU a major weapon off the edge. And yes, it is the most Florida State thing ever to refer to themselves as Five Star University.

The country is anxiously awaiting the conclusion to the recruitment of Byron Cowart. A bunch of teams are still in the mix including Florida, Auburn, Florida State, and Alabama with Cowart still lining up official visits.

The other top defensive end CeCe Jefferson is fresh off a visit to Alabama. If you go by numbers of visits it looks like his decision will come down to Florida or the Crimson Tide.

If Notre Dame adds any defensive end-types it'll likely be from the OLB position below.

We do not have any inside linebackers left on the Big Board but will note that (FL) Cecil Cherry .877 recently left Tennessee's class and just committed to Texas last night.

Also, Notre Dame never did end up offering him but  former Michigan commit (IN) Darrin Kirkland .925 committed to Tennessee last night, as well.

Outside Linebacker
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.969 Porter Gustin UT 6-5/240 Mild
.956 Jeffery Holland FL 6-2/230 Cold
.983 John Houston CA 6-3/211 Cold
.993 Malik Jefferson TX 6-2/215 Cold
.973 Osa Masina UT 6-4/230 Cold
.868 Arthur McGinnis LA 6-2/226 Cold

One of Florida's casualties this season was (GA) Adonis Thomas .923 who left the Gators class back in late October. About a week ago Thomas gave a verbal to Alabama. He'll visit Tuscaloosa next month, presumably a smart move to fend off any talk from new Florida head coach Jim McElwain.

Porter Gustin is laying low since a late November official visit to USC. The Trojans are still considered the heavy favorites but he may visit Ohio State or Arizona State at some point too. Gustin was recently in New York City as part of the U.S. Army Player of the Year celebration.

We'll find out where Malik Jefferson commits later this week. He appears to be down to Texas A&M, Texas, and UCLA. He just got done visiting the Bruins and was recently given the Butkus Award as the top high school linebacker in the United States.

Arthur McGinnis recently released a top five which does not include Notre Dame. He's looking at Arizona, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas A&M.

Corner
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.943 Frank Buncom IV CA 6-1/190 Mild
.948 Holton Hill TX 6-2/184 Cold
.914 Jaylon Lane TX 6-1/177 Cold
.997 Iman Marshall CA 6-1/190 Mild
.991 Kendall Sheffield TX 6-0/181 Cold

There was some big national news when Oklahoma State pulled its offer from Jaylon Lane following the prep star's arrest about 3 weeks ago. I would imagine he's not someone the Irish will be hotly pursuing down the stretch.

As noted in our award's banquet preview the Irish are heaving up a prayer with Iman Marshall and hoping his visit to Notre Dame makes a big difference. USC has long been the favorite and the Irish will have to deal with that in addition to Marshall still having 4 more official visits available to use.

Frank Buncom is down to 4 teams: Stanford, Notre Dame, California, and Vanderbilt. He's already taken his official visits to South Bend and Nashville and will be visiting Palo Alto and Berkeley next month. He was supposed to see Cal this past weekend but a knee injury during his playoff championship game prevented such a trip.

Remember that Buncom has apparently cleared admissions at Stanford and they presumably have a sizable lead. He'll be deciding in late January after he's done with his visits.

Safety
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.863 Hunter Dale LA 5-11/195 Mild
.890 Ben Edwards FL 6-0/196 Mild
.896 Kahlil Haughton TX 6-2/175 Cold
.965 DeChaun Holiday CA 6-2/195 Cold
.833 Denzel Johnson SC 6-2/187 Cold
.969 Marvell Tell CA 6-2/175 Cold

As we take a look at this position keep in mind that listed receivers (VA) Gary Jennings .838 and (CA) Ykili Ross .940 plus athlete (CA) Nathan Meadors .880 are all targets at safety for Notre Dame. Jennings was one of the visitors this past weekend at the Notre Dame awards banquet.

The Irish also hosted Michigan commit (OH) Tyree Kinnel .920 this past weekend and are making a strong push to flip him. As of now he'll be visiting Michigan State on January 16th and waiting to see who Michigan hires as their new head coach.

Last week Notre Dame offered Nebraska commit (GA) Aaron Williams .861 but he appears to be content with the hiring of Mike Riley and pulled out of a planned visit to South Bend this past weekend.

Ben Edwards remains one of the top options for Notre Dame. He took an OV to South Bend a few weeks ago and still has two more visits left on his docket.

Right now he is looking at Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA, Miami, Ohio State, and North Carolina. He's planning a visit to UCLA next month but hasn't scheduled his final official as of yet.