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ndsmcobserver.com | Thursday, february 8, 2018 | The Observer

Meet the Class of 2018 Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Jayson Ademilola

Derrik Allen

Kevin Austin

Bo Bauer

Noah Boykin

defensive line

safety

Wide Receiver

Linebacker

Cornerback

In this year’s class, Notre Dame has snagged one of the nation’s top defensive lineman in Jayson Ademilola from Jackson, New Jersey. A student at St. Peter’s Prep, the four-star recruit is the 13thranked defensive tackle nationally, according to Rivals.com. Ademilola signed with Notre Dame in December. Throughout his high school career, he has shown his greatest strength to be his quickness. He comes off the ball with huge speed, and combined with his ability to change direction, he has proven to be a powerful force on the defensive line.

Notre Dame has gained an elite defensive back in Derrik Allen. Allen hails from Marietta, Georgia, and played at Lassiter High School. He is one of the highest rated recruits in his class due to his physicality and ability to play the run, coming in at No. 11 safety in the class of 2018, per Rivals. In addition to his speed, his ball skills will allow him to play the pass and read the offense. Allen was highly sought after by those in SEC territory, including Alabama and Auburn. Although his senior season was cut short due to a hand injury, Allen will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

A wide receiver from Coconut Creek, Florida, Austin signed with Notre Dame during the early signing period. The 4-star wide receiver stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 185 pounds. Per Rivals, Austin is the No. 15 receiver in the nation and a top-100 overall player nationwide. He was named to the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. He had a total of 2,495 receiving yards and 36 receiving touchdowns in three years of football at North Broward Preparatory School. Austin turned down offers from the likes of USC, Ohio State, Clemson and Miami (FL) for Notre Dame.

Bauer is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound inside linebacker from Erie, Pennsylvania. He attended Cathedral Prep and has been committed to Notre Dame since August 2016, enrolling early this spring. According to Rivals, the four-star recruit is the No. 4 recruit in Pennsylvania and No. 5 player at his position. A complete linebacker, Bauer mostly plays the strong side of the field, skilled in both dropping back into coverage and stopping the run. Bauer committed to Notre Dame despite offers from Michigan State, Penn State, Vanderbilt and a variety of others.

Notre Dame came out on top on national signing day in a fierce recruiting battle for four-star cornerback Noah Boykin, who had previously committed to Maryland and decommitted following a visit to Florida. At 6-foot-2, 170 lbs, Boykin’s length gives him the ability to match up with taller pass-catchers, and his success playing receiver for Howard D. Woodson High School could help provide the ball skills to make Boykin a turnover threat. After a cornerback-free class of 2017, Boykin joins Houston Griffith as a much-needed piece for Notre Dame’s future at the position.

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

6’3” • 290 St. Peter’s Prep Jersey City, N.J.

6’1” • 204 Lassiter High School Marietta, Ga.

6’3” • 185 North Broward Prep Pompano Beach, Fla.

6’3” • 216 Cathedral Prep Erie, Pa.

6’2” • 170 H.D. Woodson High School Washington D.C.

Houston Griffith

Micah Jones

Phil Jurkovec

Jack lamb

Braden Lenzy

Cornerback

Wide Receiver

quarterback

Linebacker

wide receiver

IMG Academy cornerback Houston Griffith has enrolled at Notre Dame this semester after decommitting from Florida State and signing with the Irish in December. At 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Griffith presents strong size to the defensive backfield. He originally attended Mount Carmel until transferring to IMG before his junior year where he excelled as an Under Armour AllAmerican. Griffith comes in at the No. 43 recruit overall and No. 4 safety in the country. The Irish could work with Griffith at cornerback or even potentially transition him into a role as safety given his versatility.

A top receiving recruit from Gurnee, Illinois, Jones is coming off a successful senior season, hauling in 50 passes for 681 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He helped lead Warren Township High School to an appearance in the Illinois State Playoffs. Jones also won All-State honors in Illinois and was named 2017 Player of the Year by the Lake County News-Sun. Per Rivals, he is the No. 2 player in the state. An explosive offensive producer with plenty of height, Jones is poised to be an important addition to an Irish receiving corps. Jones also was one of the early enrollees at the University.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly was quoted saying that the Phil Jurkovec is “the best in the country.” The four-star quarterback from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, weighs in at 190 pounds, with a height of 6-foot-5. The Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year has been committed to Notre Dame since May 2016. Before receiving this honor, he led his high school football team to the 6A state championship. Jurkovec, the No. 5 quarterback in his class, per Rivals, finished his high school career with over 8,000 passing yards and 71 touchdowns, with 3,969 of those yards coming in his senior year.

Lamb from Great Oak High School in Temecula, California, may be among the class of 2018 recruits best suited to make an immediate impact as a freshman for Notre Dame. At 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, the rangy linebacker has the physical tools to succeed in coverage but has proven adept against the run too, recording 117 tackles and 18 tackles for loss as a junior before a senior season limited by injuries. Lamb committed to Notre Dame in July, choosing the Irish over UCLA. As an early enrollee, Lamb will have the opportunity to impress defensive coordinator Clark Lea during the spring season.

Lenzy, a 6-foot, 165-pound athlete out of Portland, Oregon, committed to Notre Dame to close out its early signing period. After receiving offers from a host of Pac-12 schools, including the likes of USC, UCLA, Washington State, and Stanford, he originally committed to Notre Dame but flipped his commitment to Oregon in June. However, after Ducks head coach Willie Taggart left Oregon, Lenzy flipped back to Notre Dame, announcing his final decision in a story in The Players’ Tribune. Lenzy is the No. 12 athlete in the country, per Rivals, and the No. 3 recruit coming out of Oregon.

6’1” • 192 IMG Academy Bradenton, Fla.

6’5” • 205 Warren Township High School Gurnee, Ill.

6’5” • 190 Pine-Richland High School Gibsonia, Penn.

6’4” • 224 Great Oak High School Temecula, Calif.

6’0” • 165 Tigard High School Portland, Ore.


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ndsmcobserver.com | Thursday, february 8, 2018 | The Observer

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Meet the Class of 2018 Justin Ademilola

DJ Brown

defensive line

Cornerback

Ademilola, a three-star recruit, is a product of the same high school as current Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound strongside pass rusher is known for his athletic abilities that propelled him to 182 total tackles and 18.5 sacks over the course of his high school career.

Under Armour All-American DJ Brown decommitted from Virginia, and new defensive coordinator Clark Lea sparked renewed interest in Brown. He is the No. 67 corner in the country, per Rivals. Brown is one more cornerback the Irish can use to build defense and depth, after not signing any in 2017.

Tariq Bracy

John Dirksen

Cornerback

offensive line

Bracy, standing at 5-foot-11 tall and weighing in 170 pounds, saw time as a defensive back, wide receiver, running back and punt returner for Milpitas High School in Milpitas, California. Bracy is rated as the No. 52 athlete from California and No. 36 player at his position by Rivals.com.

Standing at 6-foot-5, Dirksen is an offensive lineman from Maria Stein, Ohio. Dirksen spent his high school career at Marion Local High School where he helped lead his team to two Division VI state championships. Dirksen is the No. 37 offensive tackle in the nation according to Rivals.

6’3” • 234 St. Peter’s Prep Jersey City, N.J. Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, Rivals

6’1” • 180 St. John’s College High School Washington D.C.

Jarrett Patterson

Shayne Simon

George Takacs

Offensive Line

Linebacker

TIght End

Jarrett Patterson, a 6-foot5, 275-pounder hailing from Mission Viejo, California, got the Irish off to a good start on National Signing Day this year, committing to Notre Dame over Auburn, Arizona State, Michigan, Nevraska, Boise State, UCLA and numerous other programs around the country. A student at Mission Viejo High School, Patterson is listed as the No. 29 offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals and has received first team all-league, first team all-county, first team all-CIF and second team all-state honors. Patterson has the potential to become a multi-year starter at Notre Dame.

Linebacker Shayne Simon will join the Irish after attending St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a four-star recruit and the No. 4 player in his home state, as well as No. 14 linebacker in the entire nation, Simon will be an essential part in the signing class. Whether he is played at outside linebacker or safety, Simon will be an asset to the defense. Simon is highly touted for his ability to move laterally, tackle and break to defend a pass, which could potentially suit him well at the “Rover” position. He is a hybrid defensive player who has the size and athleticism to perform well in a collegiate setting.

Takacs committed to Notre Dame in June and signed during the early signing period. Standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 235 pounds, he was a tight end for Gulf Coast High School in Naples, Florida. During his senior season, Takacs recorded 23 catches for 207 receiving yards and one touchdown. He was selected to participate in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. Ranked as Rivals’ No. 11 tight end nationally and the No. 50 player from Florida, Takacs is a difficult matchup for any defensive back. He also provides an imposing blocking presence and can clear holes for running backs.

C’Bo Flemister

Luke jones

Cole Mabry

Ovie Oghoufu

Tommy Tremble

running back

offensive line

offensive line

linebacker

tight end

In a late turn of events, Notre Dame was able to flip three-star running back C’Bo Flemister, who signed with the Irish despite initially committing verbally to Georgia Tech. He ran for 2,348 yards and 35 touchdowns during his senior season en-route to being named the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s 3A Offensive Player of the Year.

Rated a three-star recruit by Rivals, Jones was named firstteam All-Arkansas by USA Today and won the Willie Roaf Award as the top high school offensive lineman in Arkansas. A four-time state champion with Pulaski Academy, Jones’ greatest strength is perhaps his versatility, as he can line up at the guard position or center.

Notre Dame adds some strength to the offensive line with Mabry from Brentwood, Tennessee. At 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, Mabry is ranked as the No. 63 offensive tackle in the country by Rivals. com and the No. 23 from his home state. Mabry brings versatility as he can play at either the guard or tackle positions.

Oghoufo is an outside linebacker with a 4.85 40-yard dash, which is quick compared to players at his position. His relatively small size allows him to have a quick first step at the snap of the ball. The three-star recruit committed to Notre Dame in July of 2016, and his knack for special teams could make him an asset right away.

Standing at 6-foot-4, Tremble is ranked the No. 20 tight end of his class and No. 50 player out of Georgia, per Rivals. The Georgia recruit joins a strong tight end class for the Irish, which should prove to be a force under offensive coordinator Chip Long. Tremble chose Notre Dame over the likes of Michigan and UCLA.

Ja’Mion Franklin

lawrence keys

Paul Moala

Jahmir smith

Joe Wilkins Jr.

defensive line

wide receiver

safety

Running Back

CornerBack

A three-star commit, according to Rivals.com, Franklin chose the Irish over several perennial rivals including Navy and Northwestern, as well as ACC opponents. A transfer to North Caroline, he totaled 108 tackles, nine sacks and five forced fumbles in his final two seasons.

After receiving over 25 offers, including from Texas, Alabama and Georgia, Keys III ultimately signed with the Irish. The 5-foot11, four-star wide receiver weighs in at 160 pounds. Keys brings his talent speed, playmaking ability and athleticism to the table for Notre Dame.

Moala decided to stay close to home to continue his football career. A three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, he is known for being a great defender with quick instincts and ball speed. Moala style of play earned him all-state honors his junior year, Northern Indiana Conference MVP his senior year.

Hailing from Sanford, North Carolina, Smith is ranked the No. 20 running back by Rivals.com. He had a strong 2016 campaign with Lee County High School; Smith had over 2,000 rushing yards and 40 rushing touchdowns in his junior season. Smith only played two games in his senior year.

Wilkins, a 6-foot-3 corner from North Fort Myers, Florida, was a threat on both sides of the ball in high school. He has been targeted as a cornerback by the coaching staff, as his height and length have been noted throughout the recruitment as huge assets to Notre Dame’s defensive efforts.

6’5” • 275 Mission Viejo High School Mission Viejo, Calif.

5’11” • 192 Pike County High School Zebulon, Ga.

6’3” • 305 North Caroline High School Ridgely, Md.

6’3” • 210 St. Peter’s Prep Jersey City, N.J.

6’4” • 290 Pulaski Academy Little Rock, Ark.

5’11” • 160 McDonogh 35 High School New Orleans

6’6” • 235 Gulf Coast High School Naples, Fla.

6’6” • 255 Brentwood High School Brentwood, Tenn.

6’0” • 202 Penn High School Mishawaka, Ind.

6’0” • 170 Milpitas High School Milpitas, Calif.

6’2” • 207 Harrison High School Farmington Hills, Mich.

6’0” • 199 Lee County High School Sanford, N.C.

6’5” • 290 Marion Local High School Maria Stein, Ohio

6’4” • 225 Wesleyan School Norcross, Ga.

6’2” • 175 North Fort Myers High School North Fort Myers, Fla.


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The observer | Thursday, February 8, 2018 | ndsmcobserver.com

COMMENTARY

Irish hit ‘home run’ with 2018 class Marek Mazurek Assistant Managing Editor

It’s called National Signing Day, but that’s not entirely accurate. W hile Wednesday was the official day where high school prospects around the countr y announced where they would attend college, the events of National Signing Day are shaped by more than just one day. It’s important to note the action on Signing Day doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it’s equally important not to evaluate Signing Day in a vacuum either. Because in a vacuum, Notre Dame’s newest class of student-athletes looks extremely solid. The buzz around Pennsylvania quarterback Phil Jurkovec is significant, the defensive side of the ball looks like one of the best in Brian Kelly’s tenure and Notre Dame even snagged a solid group of secondar y players to shore up a major team need. But beyond the numbers, National Signing Day was a much-needed win for Notre Dame in what has been a mostly muddled offseason. The thrill of an exciting Citrus Bowl victor y was quick ly diminished by defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s departure to Texas A&M, offensive line coach Harr y Hiestand’s departure for the NFL and a slew of players getting dismissed from the team. The promotion of Clark Lea to defensive coordinator and the hires of Jeff Quinn and Terr y Joseph seemed fine at the time, but a good deal of uncertainty remained, given the shoes they had to fill. But with the additions of six players — five of whom were not previously committed to Notre Dame — Kelly scored a huge program win. The addition of three-star defensive back DJ Brown and the surprise signing of fourstar cornerback Noah Boykin should put doubts to rest about Joseph’s effectiveness as a recruiter. The talent the Irish add in the secondar y with Boykin, Houston Griffith and Derrik A llen should give Irish fans hope after a lackluster season of safety play. Likewise, National Signing Day saw the Irish seal the deal with offensive lineman Luke Evans from Arkansas, who had previously verbally

committed to the Irish. But opinion was split on whether California four-star Jarrett Patterson would end up in South Bend. The fact that Quinn was able to keep Evans happy, while simultaneously nabbing Patterson should quell skepticism from fans who weren’t a fan of the hire. The other two commits who signed with the Irish on Wednesday — three-star running back C’Borious Flemister and three-star wide receiver Lawrence Keys — shore up Notre Dame’s depth chart at key offensive positions, especially running back. By any measure, Kelly and his staff hit a home run, if not a grand slam. Notre Dame finished the 2018 recruiting cycle with the 10th best class in the nation according to both Rivals.com and 247sports. Based on the sheer number (27 signees total), the high-end rankings on the offensive side of the ball and the depth on defense, 2018 ranks as Kelly’s best class at Notre Dame, second at the worst. Of course, a top-10 class — or even a No. 1 recruiting class — doesn’t guarantee any wins when the season rolls around, but Irish fans should be satisfied for now. In many ways, Signing Day was an extension of the extensive changes Kelly made at the end of 2016. Kelly reinvented himself and brought in the right people to reach the 10-win threshold. And though some of those people have since left, the results from Signing Day show recruits believe Kelly’s newest hires are still the right people — they believe in the transformation Kelly promised at the start of last year’s offseason. At the end of day, it’s the recruits whom Kelly has to convince, not the armchair critics or the media. And whether it was Kelly, Quinn, Joseph or recruiting coordinator Brian Polian, the Irish coaching staff succeeded. If Signing Day is a process, so is Kelly’s rebuild of Notre Dame football. Wednesday was a big step for both. Contact Marek Mazurek at mmazurek@nd.edu The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Irish round out class with late push, add six recruits By TOBIAS HOONHOUT Associate Sports Editor

For Brian Kelly on Notre Dame’s 2018 Signing Day on Wednesday, it was all about fit. “[I’m] ver y pleased with today in terms of what we were hoping for, we were extremely intentional in going into this second phase of signing day,” Kelly said in a press conference Wednesday. “ … We were ver y intentional in terms of what we were looking for to round out this class … relative to where we wanted to be we are extremely pleased.” After adding 21 recruits this past December during the recently-instituted early signing period, Kelly said the program’s focus to round out the class with versatility and depth, particularly with the offensive line, defensive secondar y and wide receiver positions. With much of the class filled out heading into NSD, Kelly said his staff’s ability to focus on a few recruits paid off in the Irish landing five additional recruits on the day. Despite the departure of offensive line coach Harr y Heistand to the NFL this offseason, new hire Jeff Quinn and the 2017 Joe Moore Award winning unit still added two pieces in Luke Jones, who committed to the Irish on Dec. 27, and Jarrett Patterson. “With Luke Jones and Jarrett Patterson, we get great versatility in both of them,” Kelly said. “Luke Jones, four-time state champion, he’s a winner, and Jarrett Patterson, obviously a winner, state champion as well. Luke gives us great versatility, can play the guard position, can play center, we were looking for that in particular— an inside guy that had that versatility. And then Jarrett Patterson, a guy that’s long, but can play both guard and tackle as well. “So versatility at that offensive line position augmenting the depth there. I think we did an incredible job of adding two offensive lineman that are going to shape this class quite well.” Notre Dame also added two athletes in offensive skill positions — running back C’Bo Flemister and wide receiver Lawrence Keys.

Kelly said he was excited about how well both fit into Notre Dame’s future plans. “The running back position was obviously a need for us, and C’Bo Flemister is a guy that was really attractive to us with his running style,” he said. “From a football standpoint we loved the fact that we had a north-and-south back here that played with low pads, and that was what we were looking for: a guy that could really hit it inside/ out for us, and extremely productive at the position. Great fit for us, really solid student that fits here at Notre Dame. “… Lawrence Keys, wide receiver out of New Orleans, really gives us an explosive playmaker. He really adds to the depth of that class; Braden Lenzy, who I didn’t talk about last time — was a signee after the signing day. W hen you add two guys like Lenzy and Keys, extremely athletic with the ball in their hands, it complements really well the entire receiving class, with Micah Jones, who is already here, that really talks about the balance of the class in terms of what we were able to assemble there at the wide receiver position.” Notre Dame’s biggest Signing Day surprise came perhaps in its biggest area of need. A major focus for the Irish was in the secondar y, where Notre Dame focused heavily in the fall. On Wednesday, Kelly and his staff landed two more recruits, both from Washington D.C., DJ Brown and surprise commit Noah Boykin. “DJ Brown, out of St. John’s College, we really think we’ve got somebody here that’s a true corner. He’s long at 6-foot-1, ver y smart player,” Kelly said. “W hat stood out for us was his football intelligence, the way he played the game, and again, comes to us with a great background in terms of coming from a school like St. John’s, he’s prepared for the academics here at Notre Dame as well. “This is a lot about fit as well, and we’re reminding so many times about all the good players out there, but there has to be both, a strong commitment to the culture here at Notre Dame and their work load academically. It’s not just

about the football things.” “…We love the intangibles about Noah. Comes from a school that’s not a predictor, a school we wouldn’t normally recruit at Notre Dame, but I will tell you that one of things that we were so impressed with, we weren’t certain about Noah and his ability to come to Notre Dame and be a great fit until after his admissions meeting, and the feedback that we got from admissions on his inter view really sold us that this was the right place for him. “Here’s a young man who wanted to reach for the best and not settle, and that’s what really for us drove this. Todd Lyght did an incredible job staying with this process with Noah, and again, what we know about his football ability; he was one of the best players at the A ll-Star game, has a confidence about him at that corner position, he’s a natural corner, gives us great f lexibility and depth at that position that we’ve been lacking for so long here. Here’s a young man that chose Notre Dame for the right reasons, and we’re really excited about having him here.” A ll in all, Kelly was ver y happy with his program’s haul, and how it can impact the season ahead. “W hen you’re only recruiting about eight players from the middle of December through Februar y, you really can be on each one of those players individually.” Kelly said. “That’s what’s required to finish the way we finished, I have a great staff that set it up, remember I still only get one home visit. So I think our coaches did a great job of setting it up for me to go in there where we had a number of opportunities. “…We need to get better from [scholarship] 65 to 85, this will strengthen our football team at that area, which sometimes goes unnoticed in the length of your season. We have to play better football in November, that’s my job, and part of this recruiting class is going to address some of those needs in November.” Contact Tobias Hoonhout at thoonhou@nd.edu

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Print Edition of the 2018 National Signing Day Insider  

Print Edition of The Observer's National Signing Day Insider

Print Edition of the 2018 National Signing Day Insider  

Print Edition of The Observer's National Signing Day Insider

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