Notre Dame set out to build depth with the class of 2015 and they did just that. A class consisting of five defensive linemen, a truly elite trio of linebackers, and a defensive backfield featuring five recruits that could swell to six all helped Brian Kelly and his staff in putting together a class that filled out the depth chart while adding several potential big time playmakers for Brian VanGorder to continue to build the Notre Dame defense around.
As Signing Day kicks off, Notre Dame is still looking to add another safety with Arrington Farrar and Nathan Meadors the only two options likely left on the board for them. In the meantime, here is a rundown of all of the other recruits expected to fax in their letters of intent this morning.
Tevon Coney – LB
Summary: Notre Dame had to battle Florida for the commitment of Coney early on and then had to survive a hard charge from Miami all the way leading up to his early enrollment in January. In fact, many felt that Coney and fellow early enrollee Jerry Tillery, would end up flipping their commitments before arriving on campus. Luckily for Notre Dame Coney held true to his word and enrolled on time as planned. Coney has the potential to be a playmaking linebacker for the Irish and with his early start, that could be sooner rather than later.
Immediate Role: There figures to be some shuffling at the linebacker position this spring and fall before the Irish host Texas to start the year and there figures to be a lot of competition for the backup positions throughout both camps. With his early start, it would not be a surprise at all if Coney played at least a supporting role as a true freshmen. Even if he doesn’t, a role on special teams in 2015 should be in the cards.
Long-Term Role: Coney’s got all of the skills needed to be a dynamic player in the Notre Dame defense. Coney is the kind of athletic linebacker that Notre Dame has struggled to land in the past. If he is not entrenched as a starting linebacker for the Irish in a couple years, I will be very surprised.
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 220 lbs
- Hometown/School: Palm Beach Gardens, FL / Palm Beach Gardens
Competition: Florida, Alabama, Miami, Georgia, Ohio State Clemson
- Composite (247 Sports): 4-star / #11 ILB / #303 Overall
- 247 Sports: 4-star / #10 ILB
- ESPN: 4-star / #20 OLB / #295 Overall
- Rivals: 4-star / #6 ILB / #118 Overall
- Scout: 3-star / #17 MLB
Micah Dew-Treadway – DT
Summary: An early enrollee for Notre Dame, Dew-Treadway is already on campus after enrolling in January. The early start for the defensive lineman will serve him well as he will need the extra spring practice and time in the weight room. He brings a lot of versatility with him being able to potentially play either strong-side defensive end or move inside if he bulks up and adds some more more weight. Dew-Treadway was a Semper Fi All-American but struggled a bit in practice throughout the week as he adjusted to playing a much higher level of competition.
Immediate Role: A red-shirt season in 2015 is most likely in store for Dew-Treadway even with his early enorllment.
Long-Term Role: Like many defensive lineman, it will be all about how Dew-Treadway develops and how much he wants it during his college career. He’s got the tools to be a talented player for the Irish if he puts in the time to refine his craft.
- Height: 6-5
- Weight: 273 lbs
- Hometown/School: Bolingbrook, IL / Bolingbrook HS
Competition: Cincinnati, UConn, Maryland, Mississippi State, Virginia, Wisconsin
- Composite (247 Sports): 3-star / #30 SDE / #549 Overall
- 247 Sports: 3-star / #42 SDE
- ESPN: 3-star / #38 DE
- Rivals: 3-star / #36 DT
- Scout: 3-star / #34 DE
Jerry Tillery – DT
Summary: Jerry Tillery was the first recruit in the entire class of 2015 for Notre Dame, but despite his early addition, it was feared that he would flip to his home-state program of LSU all the way up to his early enrollment. Despite numerous visits to schools other than Notre Dame, Tillery held strong and stuck with Notre Dame through all of the visits. Originally recruited as an offensive tackle – and widely considered one of the best OT’s in the country – Tillery made some news in January when he reported that he would be starting off his Notre Dame career on the defensive side of the ball. He’ll be lining up on the defensive line come spring ball and will get the chance to stake his case for staying on the defensive side of the ball long-term.
Immediate Role: Notre Dame’s depth problems along the defensive line were on full display following the rash of injuries in 2014. The silver lining of all those injuries however is that some true freshmen cut their teeth early and now Notre Dame has some depth built heading into 2015. If Tillery is able to crack the rotation next year it will be because he earned it and not because he was forced into action.
Long-Term Role: This is tricky for Tillery since he very well could end up back on the offensive side of the ball before all is said and done with his career. While he is starting out on defense, his early start essentially lets the coaching staff test him in the defensive line with almost no risk. If he doesn’t show promise, he can move back to offense and still have a full fall camp there just like every other college freshman.
- Height: 6-6
- Weight: 314 lbs
- Hometown/School: Shreveport, Louisiana / Evangel Christian HS
Competition: LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi
- Composite (247 Sports): 4-star / #11 OT / #158 Overall
- 247 Sports: 4-star / #6 OT / #85 Overall
- ESPN: 4-star / #30 OT / #280 Overall
- Rivals: 4-star / #15 DT / #145 Overall
- Scout: 4-star / #20 OT / #213 Overall
Josh Barajas – LB
Summary: Of the three 4-star linebackers Notre Dame is adding in the class of 2015, Barajas might just be the best of the bunch. At the US Army All-American Bowl Barajas was impressive throughout the week and drew some rave reviews. Barajas had originally committed to Penn State last spring before flipping to Notre Dame not too long after. Barajas projects as a SAM linebacker most likely for the Irish but could play the WILL position as well depending on how he develops.
Immediate Role: Like Coney, it might be tough to keep Barajas off the field as a freshman – at least in a special teams role – as long as he can pack on a little more weight before the start of the season. Barajas was listed at 212 lbs by the recruiting services so he’ll need to put in some work with Paul Longo before he’s ready to be an every down linebacker.
Long-Term Role: Like Coney, it would shock me if Barajas was not a starting linebacker for Notre Dame before too long. He’s one of the most talented linebackers to sign with Notre Dame not named Manti Te’o or Jaylon Smith in a while and his future looks very, very bright.
- Height: 6-3
- Weight: 212 lbs
- Hometown/School: Merrillville, IN / Andrean HS
Competition: Penn State (previous commitment), Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Wisconsin
- Composite (247 Sports): 4-star / #9 OLB / #137 Overall
- 247 Sports: 4-star / #8 OLB / #108 Overall
- ESPN: 4-star / #10 ILB
- Rivals: 4-star / #13 OLB / #180 Overall
- Scout: 4-star / #5 OLB / #51 Overall
Asmar Bilal – LB
Summary: Notre Dame battled Michigan for the services of the in-state 4-star linebacker coming out on top giving them a trio of 4-star linebackers that could form the nucleus of a dominant Irish defense in a few years. Of the three backers, Bilal needs the most work on the weight room coming in right around the 200 lbs mark. At the same time, Bilal might be the most athletic of the group as well with some thinking he could potentially play safety. Bilal’s future, however, is as a linebacker in the Irish defense. Bilal brings excellent coverage skills and terrific closing speed with him to Notre Dame. Bilal was a US Army All-American and recovered a fumble in the game and impressed those in attendance with his speed and athleticism during practice throughout the week.
Immediate Role: Despite needing some work in the weight room, Bilal looks like a perfect candidate for special teams as a freshman – likely from day one. Bilal can cover a lot of ground which should suit him well for the kick coverage units for Notre Dame very early on.
Long-Term Role: Down the road Bilal has all of the tools to be an excellent WILL linebacker in Notre Dame’s defense. The trio of Bilal-Coney-Barajas has the potential to give Notre Dame one of it’s most talented sets of linebackers in many years.
- Height: 6-3
- Weight: 196 lbs
- Hometown/School: Indianapolis, IN / Ben Davis HS
Competition: Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin
- Composite (247 Sports): 4-star / #6 ILB / #183 Overall
- 247 Sports: 4-star / #6 ILB / #187 Overall
- ESPN: 4-star / #23 OLB
- Rivals: 4-star / #17 OLB / #246 Overall
- Scout: 4-star / #8 OLB / #87 Overall
Nick Coleman – CB
Summary: Nick Coleman was one a flurry of commitments to Notre Dame over the summer and is one of our sleeper’s in this year’s class. Coleman didn’t have many scholarship offers prior to earning one from Notre Dame and it didn’t take the Ohio native long to jump at it once he had it. He played both offense and defense in high school and while he showed some promise as a running back on the prep level, defense is where he will make his mark on the collegiate level. Coleman played a lot of zone coverage in high school and will take some time to adjust to Brian VanGorder’s man heavy defensive scheme.
Immediate Role: A red-shirt year is most likely in the cards for Coleman given the adjustment he will need to make.
Long-Term Role: Coleman has the skill-set to earn himself a starting corner back job before his career is done at Notre Dame and has the potential to outperform the 3-star rating that all of the recruiting services have given him.
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 175 lbs
- Hometown/School: Kettering, OH / Archbishop Alter HS
Competition: Boston College, Michigan State, Pitt
- Composite (247 Sports): 3-star / #66 CB / #686 Overall
- 247 Sports: 3-star / #69 CB
- ESPN: 3-star / #76 ATH
- Rivals: 3-star / #63 CB
- Scout: 3-star / #53 CB
Shaun Crawford – CB
Summary: Crawford was a one-time commitment to Michigan before decommitting and selecting Notre Dame with offers in hand from just about every Big 10 program on top of other elite programs like Florida State. An Under Armour All-American, Crawford more than held his own against some of the nation’s elite wide receivers putting to rest the one knock on his game – his height. If Crawford were 2 inches taller, he’d probably have been a 5-star recruit with even more offers. Simply put, Notre Dame got an elite corner in Crawford.
Immediate Role: Don’t expect Crawford to red-shirt next year even though size is not on his side. It’s very possible that Crawford could compete for the nickel position in 2015 along with sophomore to be Nick Watkins.
Long-Term Role: The nickel corner position might suit Crawford perfectly long-term as well since it wouldn’t expose him to as many mis-matches with tall, physical wide receivers like playing on the outside would. Crawford has the skill to be an every down corner though and will likely be a multiple year starter for the Notre Dame defense before he graduates.
- Height: 5-9
- Weight: 170 lbs
- Hometown/School: Lakewood, OH / St. Edward HS
- Speed: 4.5
Competition: Michigan (previous commitment), Florida State, Miami, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
- Composite (247 Sports): 4-star / #14 CB / #113 Overall
- 247 Sports: 4-star / #22 CB / #179 Overall
- ESPN: 4-star / #13 ATH / #169 Overall
- Rivals: 4-star / #7 CB / #82 Overall
- Scout: 4-star / #15 CB / #116 Overall
Nicco Fertitta – S
Summary: The son of UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and high school teammate of fellow incoming freshman Alize Jones, Fertitta is likely to become a fan favorite at Notre Dame. He is not the biggest safety in the world – not be a long shot – but he is a tough as nails player that will throw his weight around and will never shy away from contact. Fertitta was a US Army All-American and while he had some struggles in coverage during the game, he drew praise for his toughness throughout the week.
Immediate Role: Because of his toughness and tenacity on the field, it would not be a surprise to see Fertitta earn a spot as a gunner on the kick coverage units as a freshman in 2015.
Long-Term Role: Fertitta’s long-term role is a bit more complicated since his lack of size could prevent him from being an every down starting safety. That being said, he will at a minimum be a special teams stalwart for the next four years and will be a valuable member of this year’s class regardless.
- Height: 5-9
- Weight: 172 lbs
- Hometown/School: Las Vegas, NV / Bishop Gorman HS
- Speed: 4.5
Competition: Arizona, Boston College, Hawaii, Utah,
- Composite (247 Sports): 3-star / #68 S / #943 Overall
- 247 Sports: 3-star / #79 S
- ESPN: 3-star / #93 S
- Rivals: 3-star / #54 S
- Scout: 3-star / #63 S
Elijah Taylor – DT
Summary: Taylor will report to Notre Dame with the most impressive resume of the players who were originally recruited as defensive linemen (Tillery’s offer list is more impressive but almost all of those offers were as a offensive linemen). The recruiting services are split on Taylor between being a 4-star recruit (247 & Scout) and a 3-star (ESPN & Rivals). His offers from Florida State and Ohio State should indicate, however, that Taylor has some big time promise on the collegiate level.
Immediate Role: Notre Dame built up some depth along the defensive line in 2014 due to the rash of injuries they suffered in the front 7. As a result, Taylor could be headed for a red-shirt season which is exactly what you want most of the time for an interior defensive lineman.
Long-Term Role: Taylor’s got all of the tools to be a disruptive force on the interior of the Notre Dame defensive line, but interior linemen are usually some of the toughest to project on the collegiate level. Taylor has the talent, however, to be a very good player.
- Height: 6-3
- WeightL 285 lbs
- Hometown/School: Cincinnati, OH / Moeller HS
Competition: Florida State, Michigan State, Miami, Ohio State, Wisconsin
- Composite (247 Sports): 4-star / #21 DT / #317 Overall
- 247 Sports: 4-star / #19 DT
- ESPN: 3-star / #34 DT
- Rivals: 3-star / #39 DT
- Scout: 4-star / #20 DT / #203 Overall
Brandon Tiassum – DT
Summary: Tiassum committed to Notre Dame during a stretch where the Irish picked up three defensive linemen all very quickly. While his offer list is not jump off the page impressive, Tiassum was named a Semper Fi-All American and brings with him a lot of talent and potential. It will be up to the Irish coaching staff to tap into that potential but there is going to be a lot to work with for them. Tiassum is quick out of his stance and with some work in the weight room he should be at the very least be able to be a regular contributor for the Irish defense.
Immediate Role: One of the more likely red-shirt candidates in 2015 because he will need to work on his technique as well put in the work in the weight room before he’s ready for regular playing time.
Long-Term Role: For Tiassum, it will all be about how good he wants to be. He has the tools and the talent, but he is also a bit of a project as evidenced by the lack of big time D1 offers. One thing to watch out for here is a potential move to the offensive line. With Tillery switching over to defense, Notre Dame could be looking to add a body on the other side of the ball at some point. ESPN actually rated Tiassum as a OG instead of a DT like the other services so he’s got some potential there as well.
- Height: 6-4
- Weight: 296 lbs
- Hometown/School: Indianapolis, IN / Park Tudor School HS
Competition: Boston College, Cincinnati, Miami, Louisville.
- Composite (247 Sports): 3-star / #32 DT / #536 Overall
- 247 Sports: 3-star / #27 DT
- ESPN: 3-star / #44 OG
- Rivals: 3-star / #28 DT
- Scout: 3-star / #66 DT
Bo Wallace – DE
Summary: Notre Dame is in desparate need of some edge pass rushers. It has been entirely too long since the Irish defense featured an elite threat off the edge. Bo Wallace could grow into that pass rusher. In fact, he was listed as one of our hidden gems in this year’s class earlier this week because his got the potential to be a much better player than his 3-star rating across the board suggests. If Wallace is able to retain his explosiveness off the edge while adding weight, he easily leave Notre Dame with a double digit sack season or two under his belt. When assessing Wallace remember that Justin Tuck was listed at 6’5″, 215 lbs coming out of high school as well before bulking up and becoming Notre Dame’s all-time leader in sacks.
Immediate Role: A red-shirt season could be in store for Wallace to let him focus on bulking up.
Long-Term Role: Wallace is one of the lower rated recruits that we are the most excited about because he has the tools to be the kind of pass rusher Notre Dame has lacked. At the same time, there’s no guarantee that Wallace will be able to maintain those pass rush skills while bulking up to 250+ lbs so there is some boom or bust potential here as well.
- Height: 6-4
- Weight: 215 lbs
- Hometown/School: River Ridge, LA / John Curtis HS
- Speed: 4.7
Competition: Arizona State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA
- Composite (247 Sports): 3-star / #26 OLB / #353 Overall
- 247 Sports: 3-star / #29 OLB
- Rivals: 3-star / #26 OLB
- Scout: 4-star / #21 OLB / #261 Overall
Ashton White – CB
Summary: A versatile defensive back who could potentially play corner or safety for Notre Dame depending on need. He is a bit more advanced than fellow corner Nick Coleman, but will still need some work and development before he is ready for regular playing time. The offer from Ohio State jumps out the most from his offer list which otherwise lacks many elite offers. White had originally committed to Virginia Tech before decommitting last spring and eventually selecting the Irish and shutting down his recruiting.
Immediate Role: Like Coleman, a red-shirt season is most likely in the cards for White.
Long-Term Role: It will be interesting to see where White ends up long term since he can play either corner or safety. He was originally recruited as a corner so he will start off there most likely.
- Height: 5-11
- Weight: 182 lbs
- Hometown/School: Forestville, MD / Bishop McNamara HS
Competition: Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State, Virginia, Virginia Tech
- Composite (247 Sports): 3-star / #44 CB / #593 Overall
- 247 Sports: 3-star / #35 CB
- ESPN: 3-star / #31 CB
- Rivals: 3-star / #75 CB
- Scout: 3-star / #42 CB
Mykelti Williams – S
Summary: Notre Dame continued it’s dominance in recruiting in the state of Indiana with the addition of Williams in December. Notre Dame was late to offer Williams, but Williams was quick to accept once the offer was extended. Luckily for Notre Dame Williams jumped at the offer given the scramble the Irish were in throughout January trying to add another safety. Had they not landed Williams when they did, they would have been in an even more dire position. Rivals is the only recruiting service to rate Williams as a 4-star prospect which prompted us to list him as a hidden gem in this year’s class because we feel he’s got the ability to outperform those ratings when all is said and done.
Immediate Role: There is playing time to be had in the Irish secondary so it would not be a surprise if Williams saw the field as a true freshman just as Drue Tranquill did last year as a freshman.
Long-Term Role: Williams has got a great skill set to be able to play either safety position on the college level depending on what is needed of him. He doesn’t have ideal size, but he more than makes up for it with his ability to deliver the big hit and make his presence felt.
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 185 lbs
- Hometown/School:Indianapolis, IN / Warren Central
- Speed: 4.4
Competition: Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin
- Composite (247 Sports): 3-star / #29 S / #463 Overall
- 247 Sports: 3-star / #20 S
- ESPN: 3-star / #74 S
- Rivals: 4-star / #16 S / #237 Overall
- Scout: 3-star / #42 S