Once a liability in recruiting, the safety position has exploded for the Irish in the last two cycles, giving the Irish three players in the top 110, four in the top 250, and a local product who has already contributed on special teams for the Irish football team.
Houston Griffith, 2018
The 70th ranked player in the 2018 class, Griffith played a ton for the Irish this season out of the nickel position due to the injury to cornerback Shaun Crawford. He had an up and down season while playing out of position, but with the return of Crawford, and the development of the younger corners in the 2018 class, Griffith is very likely to move back to his original position of safety in the spring.
Derrik Allen, 2018
The 106th ranked player in the 2018 class, Allen redshirted while getting acclimated to the college game. The word on Allen was he needed some physical development before he was ready to see the field and may have struggled some with the defensive concepts (this is another reason why enrolling early is a big deal, as Griffith did). That said, Allen is an excellent prospect who may even grow into a Rover, which could lead to some incredible athleticism in the back end.
Paul Moala, 2018
Moala was the three star, local recruit who many figured wouldn’t see the field for the Irish for some time. As it went, Moala played in seven games as a special teams participant. Moala is ahead of schedule in his development and if the lowest rated safety of the five mentioned here is going to be on the field helping the team, then that position is doing very well. Further development like we’ve seen from Jalen Elliott could lead to exciting things for Moala.
Kyle Hamilton, 2019
Hamilton might be the jewel of the 2019 class, having seen a meteoric rise up the rankings as a senior, reaching as high as 22nd overall in 247’s house rankings (he’s 103rd by composite, which could further change). With Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott both returning next year, and Griffith and Allen ahead of him from the previous class, getting onto the field for Hamilton could be tough in 2019, but he’s talented enough to make his presence felt. He is not among the 10 enrolling early, making it tougher, but this guy can really play.
Litchfield Ajavon, 2019
Ajavon is the 223rd rated prospect nationally and reminds me of the 1995-1999 safety A’Jani Sanders in his physicality, build, and playing style. Sanders was a multi-year starter for Notre Dame on some very good defenses, and Ajavon can be that type of player for Clark Lea’s defense as well. With so much talent now in the back end, it’s hard to envision how Ajavon gets on the field defensively any time soon, but the fact that I’m saying that about a player of his caliber tells you about the type of talent Notre Dame has accumulated at safety.