Things are happening, folks. Things. Are. Happening.
The plan for the UHND staff following the February 1st signing day for the 2017 class was to put recruiting on the back burner and focus on upcoming spring practice, winter conditioning, and the 2017 season.
Luckily, that was not the plan for the revamped Irish staff. Notre Dame picked up three big time commitments this week–with a possible fourth coming on Friday in receiver Micah Jones–and coupled with the three additions that came on national signing day and the three pickups in the last couple of weeks in the 2017 cycle, that makes nine total commitments for a staff that has been working as a complete unit for a little less than two months.
Obviously, there is a long way to go until any of these guys make it official–about 49 weeks–and recruiting can be a fickle mistress, but right now the pieces are in place for a very special class in 2018. So I felt it was a good idea to take a look at where things are as they stand today. Again, look for receiver Micah Jones to be added to this list on Friday. As a disclaimer, and per UHND practice, we are only providing info that is free to the public.
2018 Recruiting (As Of 2/15)
- Commitments: 9
- Class Rank (according to 247 sports): 2
- Avg rating: .9192 (2017 avg. rating: .8917)
Phil Jurkovec- Gibsonia, PA 6-5, 190
Rankings: 28th nationally, 2nd quarterback
Composite rating: .9828, four star
As of right now the crown jewel of the class, Jurkovec is an extremely high rated prospect out of the Pittsburgh area. He’s been committed since May of last year, and he held firm even following the poor 2016 season and the departure of his main recruiter, Mike Sanford. He’s seen as a dual threat quarterback, which is something considering his 6-5 frame, but is more of a passer than a runner. He seems to be about as mobile as Everett Golson and a very accomplished passer. I guess he’d be considered a cross between having Everett Golson mobility with Kizers arm and size. I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved up to five star status at some point following the summer camp circuit. In short, this kid is a stud. And I mean, Pittsburgh. Quarterback. Notre Dame. It just fits.
Markese Stepp- Indianapolis, IN 6-0, 205
Rankings: 197th national, 9th running back
Composite rating: .9219, four star
Another early commitment, Stepp joined the 2018 class in June of 2016. He actually dropped some in his ranking because of a hamstring injury in the first game of his 2016 season, which subsequently cost him a big portion of his junior season, something he has indicated he is particularly salty about. It’s hard to accurately describe his running style; he runs with good power, but without being a power back, and he’s got really nice burst with long speed, but he isn’t a speed back either. There hasn’t really been a back for Notre Dame recently who has fit his running style, but to take things further back he reminds me of Robert Farmer in style. He just looks like one of those guys who I hated playing against. He could run you over–and tackling him looks like an awful experience–or gives a shimmy and runs by you.
This is another guy who if he rebounds from his junior hamstring injury, will certainly move up in the rankings. He also might legitimately be the best recruiter in the Notre Dame program, I think he’s talked to every player Notre Dame is considering. It’s actually quite remarkable.
Cole Mabry- Brentwood, Tennessee 6-6, 265
Rankings: 48th lineman in the country
Composite rating: .8466, three star
Mabry is the latest to commit, his came in on Tuesday following his visit for Junior Day the weekend before, just after he officially received an offer from Notre Dame. Needless to say, he was excited to get that offer. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the offensive line in terms of what makes guys good prospects versus other prospects; high school linemen always tend to dominate the opposition. I will say my favorite thing about watching Mabry on film is the fact that whoever he is assigned to block on a particular play, he seems to have a personal problem with. He just won’t stop, and defenders obviously hate this. On one particular play the defender just gives up trying to tackle the ball carrier and goes after Mabry. If you can get your guy to not even care about the play, that’s winning in my book.
Jayson Ademilola- Jersey City, NJ 6-3, 283
Rankings: 244th nationally, 21st defensive tackle
Composite rating: .9087, four star
One of two Ademilola’s in the Irish class, he and his twin brother have been committed since June of last year, so they are two of the hardliners in this class. I honestly think he would have a higher rating if his highlight tape was better produced. Field level shots guys? No little circle thingy to let me know where he is pre-snap? Anyway, Jayson’s game is a little Louis Nix-y, but with a little more athleticism. He’s got some nice little moves for an inside player who is no doubt stronger than pretty much everyone he plays, and for a big dude he’s got some twitchiness to his game, meaning he shows good explosion and quickness in his movements.
Bo Bauer- Erie, PA 6-3, 215
Rankings: 134 nationally, 5th inside linebacker
Composite rating: .9377, four star
Another hardliner who committed in August of last year, his name is actually Matthew, but he goes by “Bo” and lets not be ridiculous, we’re not passing that up. First thing that jumps out about him on film is he wears a cowboy collar, so we at least know he is a five star person. I always try to find out exactly who he reminds me of, and he’s hard, but it finally hit me that he is a cross between Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese. Obviously, many shuddered at that, but I think a guy who hits like Calabrese and had his toughness, with the build and athleticism of Fox, sounds pretty good to me. Another thing I like about him is it appears he plays a good amount of running back. Finding holes is just as important on defense as it is on offense and his being able to play running back shows that his vision and feel for holes is on point.
Justin Ademilola- Jersey City, NJ 6-3, 240
Rankings: 346th nationally, 24th outside linebacker
Composite rating: .8878, three star
So Justin is listed as an outside linebacker, and there is almost no chance of that at Notre Dame. He’s already 240, he plays with his hand on the ground exclusively in high school and he doesn’t seem athletic enough for it. He seems remarkably similar to Kapron Lewis-Moore when he committed, who was also around 240-250 and beefed up to become a defensive tackle in college. I see similar things for Justin, who is pretty nifty getting after the quarterback, but in ways that won’t really work as a rush end at the division I level. It’s actually pretty striking to see him working right next to his brother on film, they seem to compliment each other really well. I could see similar things at Notre Dame, just on the interior.
Ovie Oghoufo- Farmington, MI 6-3, 207
Rankings: 347th, nationally, 25th outside linebacker
Composite rating: .8877, three star
Funny enough, Oghoufo is rated directly behind Justin Ademilola in the national and positional rankings; unlike Justin, he will be playing linebacker in college. College recruiting can be really funny sometimes; Oghoufo is built just like Equanimeous St. Brown, but will play linebacker. Chase Claypool is built like a linebacker, but he will play receiver. Anyway, if Ovie can put on the weight he needs to play the position, he’s a very exciting prospect. He’s very aggressive for someone as slight as he is, and he plays physical when you’d think he’d mainly use his athleticism to get by. Notre Dame doesn’t normally bring in a player like this on defense to try and develop, but it’s a positive development.
By the way, Ovie is a Michigan product and there are clips of him playing games in Michigan Stadium. I always like it when we get guys who play games in our rivals stadiums. Like, yeah I’ve been there, it was just meh.
Derrik Allen- Marrieta, GA 6-1, 205
Rankings: 52nd nationally, 5th safety
Composite rating: .9697, four star
The excitement levels around this commitment, that came on Monday, are reaching a feverish point. First, it’s a position of need. Second, Allen is an extremely highly rated prospect from a state that Notre Dame doesn’t traditionally do very well in. Third, it’s a position that Notre Dame has had a difficult time recruiting in terms of bringing in elite players. They’ve tried for the last four cycles and they’ve missed in all of them. If he was in the 2017 class, he would have been their highest rated player. BGI’s Bryan Driskell called Allen the best player he’s evaluated to play safety at Notre Dame since Harrison Smith, which can be accurately described as high praise. Allen can cover (he plays a ton of corner in high school), is very physical in the run game, shows very good range at safety and has advanced ball skills. In short, he does all the things you want a safety to be able to do.
Kalon Gervin- Detroit, MI 5-11, 180
Rankings: 164th nationally, 20th corner
Composite rating: .9302, four star
Gervin got this commitment party train rolling when he announced for Notre Dame early on Monday. Notre Dame pulling a highly rated player out of Cass Tech in Detroit is like an NBA team going to Golden State and winning a game. Like, yeah we’ll go give it our best shot, but we sort of know how this movie ends. This time Notre Dame flipped the script. Like, Allen, a huge position of need after striking out at corner in 2017, He’s similar to Shaun Crawford in that if he was an inch or two taller, he’s a five star player. Very physical playing style–his team uses a lot of press–and they aren’t afraid to put him in the nickel and send him off the edge. He said early playing time was a factor in his decision, and given his skill set it’s easy to see him making a difference as soon as possible for Notre Dame.