Breaking Down Notre Dame Football’s Two Year Recruiting Haul: Defense

Recruiting classes are very often analyzed and gauged in two year increments. No class is targeted in a vacuum; the current seasons recruiting class is often influenced by the season before it. For example, in 2017 Notre Dame signed zero corners. The year after, they signed five.

Breaking down the last two classes will show where Notre Dame is talent wise at each position group, how the numbers look, and where the Irish are likely to go heavy in 2020. We did the offense earlier in the week, which showed once again the offensive line brought in the most raw talent, and the need for more at running back and wide receiver.

Defensive Line

  • 2018 Signed- Jayson Ademilola, Ja’Mion Franklin, Justin Ademilola 
  • 2019 Signed- Jacob Lacy, Hunter Spears, Nana Osafa-Mensah, Howard Cross
  • Likely 2019- Isaiah Foskey 
  • Average Composite Rating: .9080 
  • Top 200: 2

The headliners are Lacy and Jayson Ademilola, their two top 200 players, with the latter player contributing notable minutes for the Irish last season. I added Foskey to the mix because he is something close to a lock to join Notre Dame next week on signing day, and he was just outside of the top 200 at 211. Osafa-Mensah was seen as a headliner when he committed, he was ranked #105 the day he pledged to Notre Dame in May of last year, but just as a player can rise in the rankings as the year goes on (Kyle Hamilton), they can also drop, as the Texas defensive end is now listed at #298.

Still, eight along the defensive line, with a composite four star rating just above the overall talent of the team, is impressive for the staff and bodes well for the Irish team composition in the future. Two of the best recruited position are the two lines, which is exactly how Notre Dame needs to win games.


  • 2018 Signed- Shayne Simon, Bo Bauer, Jack Lamb, Ovie Oghoufo 
  • 2019 Signed- Jack Kiser, Osita Ekwonu, JD Bertrand, Marist Liufau 
  • Average Composite Rating: .9086 
  • Top 200: 2

2019 is a big year on the field for the 2018 group. Their three premiere signees–Shayne Simon, Jack Lamb, and Bo Baur–are all expected to push in the spring for starting positions after the departures of Te’Von Coney and Drue Tranquill. Much like the defensive line, this unit has seen a big bump in talent acquisition the last two seasons. Even the players who could be called “depth signees” saw big rises in their rankings, namely Jack Kiser and Marist Liufau. Those are two players who were middling three stars early in the cycle and are now listed as four stars on multiple sites.

This unit is a good mix of top talent with solid players behind them, easing the drop off, and I’d expect that trend to continue going forward with the defensive coordinator Clark Lea being in charge of this group.


  • 2018 Signed- Noah Boykin, TaRiq Bracy, DJ Brown
  • 2019 Signed- Isaiah Rutherford, KJ Wallace
  • Average Composite Rating- .8961
  • Top 200- 0

This group was hit in overall rating and numbers by Houston Griffith moving to safety and Joe Wilkins moving to receiver (although Wilkins is rumored to be moving back to corner in the spring). As it is, pretty good numbers with five signed in the last two seasons, a little short in saw talent. Bracy looked promising at times last year, but fell out of favor against USC, the other two 2018 corners didn’t see the field. With All-American Julian Love moving on to the NFL, there is a spot open for the taking on defense and it will likely come from someone in the 2018 group.

Moving forward, Notre Dame will want at least a couple in the 2020 cycle, preferably who can conceivably come in and play early with Troy Pride leaving after this season. Wouldn’t call this position a miss at the moment, we don’t know what these guys will turn into, but they’d love some upgrades.


  • 2018 Signed- Derrik Allen, Houston Griffith, Paul Moala
  • 2019 Signed- Kyle Hamilton, Litchfield Ajavon
  • Average Composite Rating- .9309
  • Top 200- 3

This is the group that rivals what anyone has done the last two seasons. Three in the top 200, two of those in the top 100. I’d expect the top three of Allen, Griffith, and Hamilton to play this year, and Moala has already been a heavy contributor on special teams. Ajavon has a skill set similar to that of Gilman and Elliott, which obviously has appeal in this defense.

Notre Dame will be on the lookout for more safeties in 2020, five isn’t a huge number and you generally don’t want to punt on a position group, but it’s not of dire need. Needless to say, Notre Dame hasn’t had a run of talent like this at the safety position in a long time.

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  1. Our team is loaded on both sides of the ball. The only real experience gaps are the linebackers on defense and running backs on offense. Those can be filled by step-up players. What we really need to replace is our kicker and punter.

    BGC ’77 ’82

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