Notre Dame had a critical recruiting weekend wrap up today and it is already paying some dividends. The Irish picked up their much needed first commitment in the defensive backfield Monday when New Jersey native Clarence Lewis committed to Notre Dame on the heels of his official visit this past weekend.
Defensive back recruiting has been a hot topic for Notre Dame fans as the Irish have stockpiled elite recruits on the offensive side of the ball for 2020. Until today, they did not have a single defensive back, however, when they are reportedly looking to take 4-5 backs in this class. Lewis is a good start.
In terms of profile, Lewis fits the mold of rising sophomore wide receiver Joe Wilkins pretty closely. He is currently listed as a wide receiver by 247Sports in their rankings, but was being recruited on defense by most schools. Wilkins was the opposite in that he was recruited as a corner but quickly moved to wide receiver once he arrived on campus. Profile wise though, they are similar athletically.
Virginia Tech was the first big time program to offer Lewis almost a year ago already, but there has been more buzz around Lewis lately. His current offer list also includes Boston College, Duke, Purdue, and West Virginia, but that was – and still maybe – expected to grow.
Notre Dame’s recruitment of Lewis moved fast. He was only offered in the first week of May and quickly set up an unofficial visit and then a return trip this past weekend for his official visit. His offer came during a stretch in which Notre Dame reset it’s defensive back recruiting board following a string of losses to some of their initial top targets.
With Lewis, Notre Dame is finally on the board in the defensive backfield. They are adding an intriguing prospect who is just scratching the surface of his talent. He’s been a two way star for Mater Dei HS in Middletown, NJ. That is why 247 and other services have him ranked as a receiver. Expect a re-evaluation as a defensive back in the future.
Working as a two way player also has Lewis still relatively raw from a technique standpoint. The physical tools, however, are there for the Irish coaching staff to work with. He’s got great length at 6’0″ and has put up some impressive speed/agility numbers on the combine circuit over the spring.
While they are now on the board, there is still a lot of work to do for the Notre Dame staff. Their top safety prospect Lathan Ransom was in town this weekend for an official visit as well, but that still seems like an uphill battle for Notre Dame. That’s not ideal immediately following an official visit. Notre Dame is still trying to stay in the race for Clark Phillips as well but that’s another one where the Irish are believed to be on the outside looking in.
Adding Clarence Lewis was a good start to defensive back recruiting for Notre Dame. Todd Lyght and Terry Joseph need to build on this commitment now to round out the secondary. Look for Mike Elston and Clark Lea to take on more of a role here as well with defensive line recruiting almost all wrapped up and Notre Dame unlikely to add a linebacker.
Defensive line recruiting could come to a close if Mitchell Melton, another visitor this past weekend, follows Lewis’s lead and commits to Notre Dame. If he were, Notre Dame will close out defensive line recruiting and have the full defensive staff to focus on the secondary.