Notre Dame is set to sign its best defensive recruiting class in years next week. At the rate Marcus Freeman and the Fighting Irish are going, it won’t take years to top the haul for 2022. It’ll take about 12 months after the Irish picked up yet another elite defender for the class of 2023 on Saturday night when elite cornerback Justyn Rhett committed to Notre Dame.
After Rhett’s commitment to Notre Dame on Saturday, the Irish have five defensive commitments for 2023. All five of them are currently in the 247 Composite Sports top 150. Rhett sits at #101 overall and #10 rated cornerback in the class. He selected Notre Dame over Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, but the Bishop Gorman product had offers from the likes of LSU, Texas A&M, Michigan, Oregon, USC, and Florida State as well.
Rhett is Notre Dame’s first commitment from powerhouse Bishop Gorman since 2015 when Notre Dame signed Alize Mack and Nicco Fertitta, who just so happens to be Rhett’s position coach. He’ll come to Notre Dame with great size (6’1″) and incredible speed (legit 4.43 speed) and will be ready to play early in his career.
Even though he is rated as the #101 overall prospect, Rhett is only the fourth highest-rated commitment for the Irish at the moment. Defensive ends Keon Keeley and Brenan Vernon, and linebacker Drayk Bowen are all ranked 62nd or higher. Notre Dame’s fifth defensive commitment, safety Adon Shuler, is ranked #149 overall and is seen as an ascending prospect.
Five defensive commits in the top-150 would have been considered good for the Irish in an entire class in some years. But, for 2023, Notre Dame is just getting started. At the moment, Notre Dame has just four top-150 defenders in the class of 2022, and that class will be one of the best on the defensive side of the ball in a while.
The addition of Rhett continues the upward trajectory of recruiting at the cornerback position. Former Notre Dame CB coach Todd Lyght did not excel on the recruiting trail, but Mike Mickens elevated cornerback recruiting quickly. Assuming all goes as planned next week, Notre Dame will sign 4-star corners Benjamin Morrison and Jaden Mickey, along with 3-star Jayden Bellamy, who is on the cusp of 4-star status. There is also a chance they reel back in 4-star CB Devin Moore, who decommited recently though some list Moore as a safety.
There is a long way to go between now and next December’s Early Signing Period, but if Marcus Freeman’s first season is a success on the field, Notre Dame could have its best class since the Holtz days. And Freeman is only just getting started recruiting offensive recruits. The Irish already have two 4-star commitments on offense – TE Cooper Flanagan and RB Sedrick Irvin Jr. Expect that total to rise in a hurry with Freeman’s aggressive approach to recruiting that he has said he will expect from every single assistant.