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Notre Dame Football Recruiting Big Board: Defense

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

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Welcome back to the One Foot Down recruiting Big Board for Fighting Irish football. Many prospects have come off the board recently as recruiting season has heated up around the country, so we're switching to doing sides of the ball instead of position groups.

One quick note before we continue... I only share info here that is freely available, usually found via Twitter and a careful perusing of free articles and headlines on pay articles at the recruiting services. I have a great deal of respect for the people who work really hard at those services to provide premium info, and I'm careful not to step over any lines by just relaying it here for free. So, yes, sometimes I know a little more than what's here and I'll leave something vague on purpose. I ask that if you are a subscriber to any of the services, you please also try to respect their work and keep the pay info on the pay sites. Thanks!

Now, on the to the fun stuff... Inside Linebacker is left out below intentionally - everyone the staff was pursuing who is classified at that position by the recruiting services is now off the board.

Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.940 Jordan Fuller NJ 6-2/190 Mild
.933 Damar Hamlin PA 6-1/175 Mild
.855 Troy Pride SC 6-0/175 Mild

In Play

Jordan Fuller has had an eventful stretch since we last checked in on him. He took his official visit to Notre Dame, his first to any school, for the football banquet weekend, he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for New Jersey, and he led Old Tappan to a state title and the first perfect season in school history. Busy kid.

247's Tom Loy, who despite his optimistic reputation had been loath to predict a landing spot for Damar Hamlin, put in a crystal ball prediction for Notre Dame. Those of you who follow 247 no doubt know Loy's reputation for being overly rosy, but first of all I think that's overblown and second, and perhaps more importantly, there has been lots of smoke over the last several month or so that Notre Dame is trending. Certainly the longer his recruitment goes on the better it is for the Irish.

Troy Pride announced his decommitment from Virginia Tech shortly after Frank Beamer's retirement was announced. He visited Notre Dame for the USC game and reportedly loved it, but with the decommitment done he has started to talk about other schools too. We'll have to watch this race very closely. He just picked up an offer from in-state Clemson today, which could shake up his recruitment.

Off the Board

JoeJuan Williams committed to Vandy.

Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.948 Brandon Burton CA 6-2/195 Mild
.963 Nigel Warrior GA 6-0/175 Cold

In Play

We noted last time that Brandon Burton loved his USC game visit, but it seems the Irish have faded since then and are no longer in his top group. Worth keeping an eye on.

Nigel Warrior took his first official visit, to Ohio State, a few weeks ago and has scheduled officials to LSU, Alabama, and Tennesee after the dead period. Georgia is also on his radar but he hasn't scheduled an official visit there yet. He did tell 247 recently, though, about a top five (free). We're not taking him off the board yet thanks to that "not 100 percent concrete" thing, but we're not holding our breath either.

"It is not 100 percent concrete, but in my mind my top five are LSU, Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee," Warrior said.

Off the Board

Devin Studstill is Irish!

Ikenna Okeke committed to Texas A&M.

Outside Linebacker
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.988 Ben Davis AL 6-4/230 Cold
.895 Aaron Hansford DC 6-2/210 Warm
.876 Jonathan Jones FL 6-0/225 Mild
.989 Caleb Kelly CA 6-3/215 Cold
.959 Jeffrey McCulloch TX 6-2/230 Mild

In Play:

Tide legacy Ben Davis surprised us quite a bit by scheduling an official visit to Notre Dame. In January. Whatever else might happen, he must be seriously interested in at least seeing what Notre Dame is about if he'll swing through South Bend in the dead of winter. He has already taken officials to Georgia and LSU, and has scheduled officials to Auburn and Alabama in January as well. As we've been saying here for months, despite all the visits, it'd be shocking if he picks anyone other than Alabama.

Nothing much to report on Aaron Hansford; he still favors Notre Dame, but it might not be a realistic option for him.

Jonathan Jones is another recent crystal-ball-to-ND pick by Tom Loy. You may remember that he favored Michigan early in the process, visited Notre Dame for the UMass game and was greatly impressed, but then seemed to be drifting back towards the Spartans. Momentum seems to be shifting back in the other direction again.

Caleb Kelly has developed a good relationship with Jordan Fuller, and was fired up about them both being on campus for the football banquet. The Irish staff again made a big move, but it may not have been enough to overcome Oklahoma.

Loy also put in a crystal ball pick for Jeffrey McCulloch, who visited for the USC game. There's lots of smoke out there about McCulloch being seriously interested, especially if you read his Twitter feed.

Well. That's... interesting. He also put out his top five in no particular order, but with the Irish in top:

Defensive Tackle
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.999 Rashan Gary NJ 6-4/290 Cold

In Play:

Once again, no updates on #1 overall prospect Rashan Gary. Michigan has felt good about this recruitment since forever thanks to the addition of Gary's high school coach to their off-field staff, but watch Ohio State here - Greg Schiano stepping into the vacant DC role could shake up the recruiting picture for everyone.

Defensive End
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.992 Oluwole Betiku CA 6-3.5/240 Cold
.946 Daelin Hayes MI 6-4/250 Mild

In Play:

Oluwole Betiku seems to be trending to USC right now, which is normal for his high school but surprising for him. His school is as much of a SC pipeline as you can get, but he was committed to UCLA before decommitting and giving Texas A&M and Notre Dame a pretty serious look.

Off the Board:

Daelin Hayes is Irish!