Notre Dame received its 3rd commitment in the 2016 recruiting class when Illinois athlete Julian Love gave his pledge during Junior Day. Love is listed at 5'11" and 175 pounds with a self-reported 4.53 40 yard dash. The 247 Composite has Love as the #578 overall player, #52 cornerback, and #14 player in Illinois. While his rankings are not exceptional, Chicago area people who follow local high school ball consistently hold that he is an excellent athlete and has an unparalleled work ethic.
Julian has been waiting a long time for this offer, and has been very open about his affinity for Notre Dame. He trains with Core 6, who will take a group trip to Notre Dame next weekend; there was some conjecture that even if Love got an offer this weekend, he would wait until next to commit with his workout group. Well, it turned out that he couldn't wait, and so much better for the Irish. Love will be a serious recruiter for this class, so the sooner he gets to work the better.
Speaking of Core 6... A lot of top Chicago-area talent works out with them, including some names that should be familiar to Irish fans from recent years: Miles Boykin, Nyles Morgan, Nile Sykes, Clifton Garrett, Ian Bunting, Laquon Treadwell, Colin McGovern, Anthony Standifer, Ty Isaac. After missing out on many of those earlier prospects, the Irish have made some serious noise lately in the strongest prep training group in Illinois. Better than a sharp stick in the eye. Love will no doubt work on some of his Core 6 mates, like safety Kenny Lyke who is also awaiting an offer from the Irish.
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals - 3 star (5.7 rating), NR overall, #30 position, #10 in Illinois
247 - 3 star (87 rating), NR overall, #51 position, #13 in Illinois
ESPN - 3 star (no rating), NR overall, NR position, NR in Illinois
Scout - 3 star, NR overall, #42 position, #15 in Illinois
247 Composite - 3 star (0.8604 rating), #578 overall, #52 position, #14 in Illinois
Love, who wears #20 for Nazareth Academy, has a highlight reel reminds me an awful lot of the guy who currently wears #20 for Notre Dame, CJ Prosise. Love is a little smaller; Prosise was 6'0"/190 coming out of high school and Love is 5'11"/175, but otherwise their high school games look very similar. With the ball in his hands, Love shows plus straight-line speed - not exceptional, but certainly enough - to go with excellent vision and cutback ability and soft hands. On defense, he looks very natural in man coverage or in centerfield, is serious about run support, and shows solid play recognition.
Before I go completely in the tank I'd like to see some senior film, but right now Julian has the look of one of those "how is this guy rated so low" guys. His team won the state title last year and, judging by how he's used in every facet of the game, he's most likely their best player. Why hasn't he been noticed more? Don't know, don't care. He's Irish.
It's tough to handicap what the 2016 cornerback depth chart will look like at this point. Keivarae Russell will have a fifth year available but it's hard to envision him taking it, and Cole Luke would be a true senior but might jump to the draft before then if he has a phenomenal 2015 season. Even if just one of those two guys leave, though, it should be enough to give Love the opportunity to earn some time.
It's also worth noting that Love is a potential swing candidate, either to safety or even offense, so he may have multiple avenues to playing time.
Long Term / Career
Given his natural ability and work ethic, I think the floor for Love in Brian Kelly parlance is "key backup." I could definitely see him emerging as an upperclassman starter too; he has the athletic ability. I think he'll become a starter at either corner or safety down the road, and contribute in the return game at some point as well.