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2016 Notre Dame Football Recruiting Big Board: Defense

Switching things up as the field dwindles, we'll look at sides of the ball rather than position groups. First up, DEE. FENSE.

Brian Kelly, pitchman. Get it?
Brian Kelly, pitchman. Get it?
David Banks/Getty Images

big board new

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.

Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.901 Eric Cuffee TX 5-11/188 Mild
.980 Kristian Fulton LA 6-0/177 Cold
.933 Damar Hamlin PA 6-1/175 Mild
.952 Lamar Jackson CA 6-3/205 Cold
.978 Trayvon Mullen FL 6-2/175 Cold
.940 Byron Murphy AZ 5-11/160 Cold
.894 Donte Vaughn TN 6-3/192 Warm
.922 JoeJuan Williams TN 6-2/195 Mild

Entering the Field

No new offers to report this cycle.

In Play

Physical Texan Eric Cuffee brought a sparkle to the coaches' eyes with his attitude during Irish Invasion. He has been racking up the frequent flyer points since then, with unofficial visits to LSU, Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn since then. He outlined his current eight top schools, which included Notre Dame, for Scout (free). He also intends to take an official visit to South Bend.

Kristian Fulton has long been considered a heavy LSU lean, but as Scout reports, his recruitment is dragging out longer than expected and that's good news for other schools. The Irish aren't even really on the fringe of this recruitment, but he hasn't officially eliminated anyone yet.

Top-of-the-board target Damar Hamlin just visited Notre Dame with his father, best friend and elite 2017 S Paris Ford, and teammate and 2017 LB David Adams. Hamlin had reportedly been trending towards Ohio State, but Notre Dame tightened up this race quite a bit on his last visit. Stay tuned.

Californian Lamar Jackson announced his official visit schedule - Notre Dame is included, along with Arizona State, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Oregon. USC and UCLA are very much in this race as well and could each actually be ahead of his five official visit targets; he'd rather take officials to schools that he can't drive to.

Trayvon Mullen announced his top three on Twitter - LSU, FSU, and Clemson - but also claimed his recruitment is still wide open. Despite the lack of official elimination, much like Kristian Fulton, the Irish aren't really in the picture here.

Nothing new on Byron Murphy, who still has Texas A&M as his only scheduled visit. Notre Dame hasn't gained any traction here to date.

Donte Vaughn, who has visited the Irish three times unofficially, has locked in an official visit for the Texas game. He has said that he wants to announce in mid-October on his birthday; at least Tennessee and possibly others will get official visits, but the Irish are firmly in the driver's seat right now.

JoeJuan Williams was a non-participating visitor for Irish Invasion and enjoyed his time on campus. Recently, much to everyone's surprise, he has been trending towards Vanderbilt as noted by 247's Barton Simmons ($).

Off the Board

Carlos Becker has scheduled official visits to North Carolina State, Wisconsin, and Iowa State, and may have interest in Kentucky after they offered recently. He and the Irish staff seem to have moved on from each other since Irish Invasion.

Mecole Hardman had talked about taking an official to Notre Dame, but just released his top ten via another Bleacher Report video and the Irish didn't make the cut.

Jaylon Jones committed to Ole Miss.

David Long committed to Stanford.

Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.977 Deontay Anderson TX 6-1/192 Cold
.948 Brandon Burton CA 6-2/195 Mild
.988 Brandon Jones TX 5-11/183 Cold
.857 Thomas Jones SC 6-2/190 Mild
.871 DJ Morgan CA 6-3/205 Mild
.865 Ikenna Okeke TN 6-2/200 Mild
.879 Andrew Pryts PA 6-1/199 Mild
.865 Devin Studstill FL 6-1/180 Mild
.864 Chanse Sylvie LA 6-0/ Mild
.857 Chacho Ulloa CA 6-0/190 Mild
.963 Nigel Warrior GA 6-0/175 Cold

Entering the Field

No new offers to report since our last update, although Skylar's cousin DJ Morgan recently decommitted from Arizona State and is back on the market. If he has serious interest in Notre Dame, which is quite uncertain at this point, he might not be able to find a way in - the staff has Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry on board, and has other prospects more highly rated than Morgan.

In Play

Deontay Anderson promised to release his top five schools soon; as we mentioned last time, Notre Dame won't be in that list. Ole Miss probably leads for him, with LSU running second.

Californian Brandon Burton scheduled an official visit to Notre Dame for the USC game. SC has faded for the Junipero Serra prospect as they've backed off their recruitment of him, which could make Irish eyes smile.

Brandon Jones mentioned that Texas and Texas A&M are his leaders, and LSU lurks here as well. He hasn't officially eliminated anyone but Notre Dame isn't seriously in this race.

Nothing new to report on Thomas Jones, who enjoyed his visit to South Bend but may ultimately feel the pull of the Vandy baseball program too strongly to land anywhere outside Nashville.

DJ Morgan, Skylar Diggins's cousin, decommitted from Arizona State before our last update and re-entered the Big Board. He'll take an official visit to Notre Dame for the Texas game, but he may have missed his chance with the Irish if he was so inclined.

Ikenna Okeke recently visited Georgia and has shown no indication that he intends to wrap his recruitment up soon. Similar to Morgan, though, the ship may have sailed on Okeke.

Penn State legacy Andrew Pryts had widely been considered to be down to Ohio State and Notre Dame, but the Nittany Lions could be making a late move here after fading a couple of months ago.

Devin Studstill could visit Miami, or not. All signs point to the Irish leading for Studstill; the staff has him rated much higher than the recruiting services do and would be willing to wait for him.

Chacho Ulloa will take official visits to Notre Dame (for the USC game), Stanford, and Arizona State. If I were a betting man I would put my money on Stanford here; I think Notre Dame has taken their diamond in the rough guys already and will hold the remaining spots for higher-profile prospects.

Georgian Nigel Warrior somewhat surprisingly included Notre Dame in his top 10 recently- surprisingly, because the Irish weren't mentioned in connection with him for quite some time. He's a superb athlete and would be an exceptional addition to the class, so keep an eye on this one.

Off the Board

Deontay Anderson promised to release his top five and followed through; perhaps to the chagrin but not to the surprise of the Notre Dame staff, the list included Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss, and USC.

Tarean Folston's cousin Chanse Sylvie committed to Oklahoma, shortening his recruitment considerably over what was expected.

Inside Linebacker
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.913 Devin Bush FL 6-0/220 Cold
.955 Brendan Ferns OH 6-3/223 Cold
.938 Dontavious Jackson TX 6-2/239 Cold
.853 Elysee Mbem-Bosse GA 6-3/232 Cold
.848 Jonathan Smith NC 6-1/220 Cold

Entering the Field:

No new offers were extended to inside linebackers since our last update.

In Play:

Florida State legacy Devin Bush announced a top three of Florida State, Michigan, and Georgia, with Auburn also trending strongly recently. He plans to announce his finalists before the season starts.

Brendan Ferns took another visit to West Virginia, but is very likely to pick his other finalist, Penn State.

Dontavious Jackson announced his top 12 recently and Notre Dame made the cut; he also tweeted that he'll announce his commitment on National Signing Day. It's good to be in it, but the vibe here is that if Texas pushes they'll get him.

Jonathan Smith will announce later today, probably for either North Carolina or Duke.

Off the Board:

Elysee Mbem-Bosse took to Twitter to announce his top five - wait for it... Auburn, USC, Michigan, Stanford, and Wake Forest. Yeah, good luck, Wake. Auburn is the presumed leader here.

Outside Linebacker
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.988 Ben Davis AL 6-4/230 Cold
.871 Aaron Hansford DC 6-2/210 Cold
.989 Caleb Kelly CA 6-3/215 Cold
.915 Jaleel Laguins GA 6-2/213 Cold

Entering the Field:

No new offers to report.

In Play:

Five-star Alabama legacy Ben Davis has said the right things about Notre Dame but has yet to schedule a visit. He's entertaining several other Southern schools, but it would be a shock if he didn't ultimately choose the Tide.

Aaron Hansford could target Ohio State for an official visit, in addition to a planned visit to Notre Dame.

No news to report on Caleb Kelly since he scratched his visit for the beginning of the month. He says he definitely wants to take an official visit to Notre Dame; we're in "show me" mode at this point.

Jaleel Laguins will announce his commitment on August 19th. He hasn't visited Notre Dame, so connect the dots there. The heavy expectation is that Georgia will land the talented linebacker.

Off the Board:

Jeffrey McCulloch had talked about taking an official visit to Notre Dame, but announced finalists recently and the Irish didn't make the cut.

Defensive Tackle
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.999 Rashan Gary NJ 6-4/290 Cold
.977 Antwuan Jackson GA 6-2/285 Cold
.990 Dexter Lawrence NC 6-5/310 Cold

New On The Scene:

No new offers on the inside.

In Play:

Rashan Gary never quite managed to make it to South Bend this summer, although he did make it to Ann Arbor. While he hasn't eliminated anyone yet and there's a small chance he could still take an official visit to Notre Dame, the Irish's chances of landing the 247 Composite's #1 overall player in the country are likely on life support right now.

Dexter Lawrence visited North Carolina State recently and rumor has it that they Wolfpack are leading for Rivals's #1 overall player.

Off the Board:

No commitments to report on the inside.

Defensive End
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.923 Patrick Bethel FL 6-3/243 Cold
.915 Amani Bledsoe KS 6-5/270 Cold
.870 Brian Burns FL 6-5/212 Cold
.875 Kyree Campbell VA 6-5/305 Cold
.871 Antonneous Clayton GA 6-4/218 Cold
.896 Carlo Kemp CO 6-3/255 Warm
.952 Justin Madubuike TX 6-3/255 Cold
.875 Jordan Smith GA 6-6/222 Cold

New On The Scene:

No new offers to report.

In Play:

Canes legacy Patrick Bethel will visit Miami this weekend.

Amani Bledsoe just took unofficial visits to Oklahoma ("Hello.") and Oklahoma State.

Brian Burns has a top four of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, and Georgia, although he says his recruitment is not narrowed down to just those schools. He had talked about visiting Notre Dame but nothing was ever set up, so it seems the Irish are on the outside looking in here.

Georgian Antonneous Clayton will announce a top ten soon. He made yet another visit to Auburn this past weekend and it seems the Tigers are well on their way to landing a commitment.

Carlo Kemp somewhat puzzlingly has been trending towards Michigan after picking up an Irish offer and talking about how Notre Dame was his dream school. He even managed to get all the way from Colorado to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit, but never made it to South Bend. Hmm. He clearly projects as a 3-tech DE/DT swing player, which is less of a need in this class than a true DE. It's possible that with the commitments of Ade Ogundeji and Jarron Jones, the staff has cooled on Kemp.

Justin Madubuike will make an official visit to Notre Dame some time this fall. He'll be a tough pull out of Texas, but the staff will no doubt pull out all the stops for the last truly elite defensive end currently on the board who has real interest in them.

Off the Board:

McTelvin Agim has a final four of Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Baylor.

Nick Bosa finally made it official and committed to Ohio State.

Oluwole Betiku, who terrorized opponents at The Opening and showed real interest in Notre Dame, committed to UCLA. He lives with former Penn State standout Lavar Arrington; Arrington's old coach is UCLA's current defensive coordinator. The Bruins were playing from in front on this one since the beginning.

Xavier Kelly, who said nice things about Notre Dame and actually visited, committed to Clemson.