Five days away from National Signing Day, Notre Dame’s recruiting class is far from finalized. Even if standout targets like DE/OLB Ken Ekanem take their talents elsewhere, Brian Kelly is assured of an outstanding haul on the defensive side of the football.
Of all the defenders headed to South Bend, this trio appears poised to have the biggest impact in an Irish uniform:
DT Sheldon Day
The prize of this year’s class, Day’s build—6’2”, 286 lbs—will let Kelly play him at any line position in Notre Dame’s 3-4 fronts. Day is far from a traditional space-filling NT, though, because his forte is making plays on his own.
If he lives up to his billing even partially, he’ll occupy blockers anyway because opposing teams will need numbers to keep him out of their backfields. In the best-case scenario, Day might even bring back memories of bygone D-linemen such as Bryant Young.
CB Tee Shepard
As tough as Notre Dame’s defense was in 2011, cornerback was hardly a team strength. Fortunately, while Gary Gray and Robert Blanton are on their way out, a new potential star is on his way in.
Tee Shepard has the coverage skills expected of a high-level CB prospect, but he also brings above-average size at 6’1”, 180 lbs. Look for him to step into a key role right away on an otherwise experienced defense.
S Elijah Shumate
New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep has become one of the hottest high school programs in the country, and this year’s impressive crop of prospects features Shumate as the top DB. He’s a first-rate safety whose skill set also had him taking some practice reps with the linebackers at the All-American game.
With his combination of hard hitting and coverage ability, Shumate will be a big-play threat against either the run or the pass. He’ll certainly make opposing receivers think twice about coming across the middle against the Irish.