Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Top 2013 Defensive Targets

Connor KillorenSenior Analyst IMarch 1, 2012

Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Top 2013 Defensive Targets

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    Now that we've gone over Notre Dame's top offensive targets in the class of 2013, it's time to take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

    The Irish are in hot pursuit of a number of the nation's elite defensive players and have sent out a vast amount of offers.

    For a more detailed look, follow along with the slideshow.

    Enjoy.

Tashawn Bower, DE

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    Somerville, New Jersey native Tashawn Bower was offered by the Fighting Irish on February 21st, shortly before a very important weekend in which Brian Kelly and Co. will be hosting juniors.

    Rated as a 4-Star prospect by Rivals.com, Bower has received offers from many of the nation's premier programs.

    Among the schools that have offered Bower are Arkansas, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and South Carolina, to name a few.

    Classified as a weakside defensive end, the 6'5", 230-pound prospect projects as a dominant outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but has the capability to add the necessary size to play on the interior.

    The Irish may have an advantage in acquiring Bower as he attends Immaculata High School, the alma mater of current running back Theo Riddick.

Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE

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    Notre Dame is likely to have a great chance at landing Ramsey, New Jersey native Al-Quadin Muhammad because of the fact that he attends Don Bosco Prep, alma mater of incoming freshman Elijah Shumate.

    Similar to Tashawn Bower, Muhammad plays weakside defensive end for Don Bosco, but projects as an outside linebacker at the next level.

    The 6'4", 225-pound Muhammad has received tempered interest from programs thus far, having earned offers from Boston College, Colorado, UConn, Rutgers, South Carolina and Tennessee, aside from Notre Dame.

    Also giving Notre Dame an upper hand in Muhammad's recruitment is Bob Diaco, who is personally handling the stud prospect.

Hatari Byrd, DB

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    As Notre Dame continues to build depth in the defensive backfield, the addition of a player such as Hatari Byrd would be more than welcome.

    Byrd, a 6'1", 195-pound native of Fresno, Calif., is rated as a 4-star prospect by Rivals.com.

    An interesting storyline with Byrd is that he attends the same high school (Central East) that incoming freshman Tee Shepard attended for three years.

    It remains to be seen whether or not that connection will pay dividends for Notre Dame.

    That's not the only storyline with Byrd, though. He is being personally recruited for Houston by Jamie Christian, the same coach who was able to lure Deontay Greenberry out the Irish's grasp on National Signing Day.

    Will he be able to do the same with Hatari Byrd?

    Only time will tell.

Su'a Cravens, DB

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    The top safety in the class of 2013, Su'a Cravens is receiving plenty of attention from virtually every program in America, including Notre Dame.

    The Irish are merely one among dozens of schools to have offered the 5-star prospect from Murietta, California.

    The 6'1", 205-pound Cravens has received offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC and Wisconsin, among many others.

    Recent developments have revealed that Cravens is showing some unique interest in USC and Oklahoma. However, it's still very early in the recruiting process.

    We all know a lot can change in a matter of days, or even hours, for that matter.

    On another note, Irish passing game coordinator Mike Denbrock is handling the recruitment of Cravens for Notre Dame.

Kylie Fitts, DE

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    Notre Dame is searching for more depth along the defensive line to relieve Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt, and the Irish may have found an answer in Redlands, Calif. defensive end Kylie Fitts.

    Fitts, a 6'4", 260-pound product out of East Valley High School, is rated as a 4-star prospect by Rivals.com.

    Fitts has received a fair amount of interest from some of the nation's elite programs, having received offers from Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame, Nebraska and California, among others.

    According to 247Sports.com, Fitts has been very high on USC in recent weeks.

Johnny Johnson, DB

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    Another Fresno defensive back target, another head-to-head battle with Houston assistant coach Jamie Christian.

    This time, the reward is Central East defensive back Johnny Johnson.

    Johnson, a 5'10", 175-pound cornerback, has received offers from California, Colorado State, Houston, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA and USC.

    However, Houston and Notre Dame may be too late on Johnson, as 247Sports.com is reporting that he has been showing some very warm interest in USC as of late.

Isaac Rochell, DE

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    One of the nation's best defensive linemen in the class of 2013, Isaac Rochell is being chased by a slew of top-tier programs. 

    Among those schools that have offered Rochell are Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame and South Carolina, to name a few.

    Ranked as the 73rd-best prospect nationally regardless of position, Rochell has recently named an early top five, which consists of Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida.

    The good news for Notre Dame is that Rochell is planning a spring visit to South Bend.

Jaylon Smith, LB

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    4-star linebacker prospect Jaylon Smith may be the closest to a "lock" that Notre Dame may have thus far in the 2013 recruiting cycle. 

    Smith attends Bishop Luers High School in nearby Fort Wayne, Ind. The school is also the alma mater of current Ohio State basketball standout Deshaun Thomas.

    The school is also affiliated with the Catholic church, giving Notre Dame a potential upper hand with the 6'3", 202-pound prospect.

    According to 247sports.com, Smith has shown very warm interest in Notre Dame, Ohio State and Purdue.

    It'll be no surprise if his decision comes down to the Irish and Buckeyes.

Others

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    Among other high-profile recruits whom the Irish have offered are:

    • Priest Willis, CB
    • Cole Luke, CB
    • Chans Cox, LB

    The Irish still have a lot of work to do with this class, and things should become a bit more clear following the Blue-Gold game at the end of April.

    Thanks for reading!