Notre Dame has a number of holes to fill on the defensive side of the football heading into the new year with key losses hitting the linebacker corps hard.
There are three targets already committed, but a late visit by Deon Hollins Jr. to end January may add a fourth to the list. Notre Dame has an amazing class for 2013, but Hollins Jr. is the most important remaining target for this coaching staff.
Hollins Jr. is a 6'2", 225-pound consensus 4-star.
Notre Dame will have lost Manti Te’o, Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese to graduation after this past year. All three were contributors to the defense, with Fox and Te’o being leaders on D.
Te’o made such an impact from his inside linebacker position that he earned the honor of becoming a Heisman Finalist this fall. He is one of the few defenders to ever finish as a finalist for the award.
The Irish are trying to replace a wealth of talent and experience with one signing class. If they can grab Deon Hollins Jr. from UCLA, they may be able to accomplish that goal.
Deon Hollins Jr. is currently committed to UCLA, but he has set up an official visit to South Bend on January 25. That is just slightly over a week before national signing day.
This staff has to be confident that they will land his signature since they were able to get him to visit the second to last weekend of the 2013 recruiting season. Hollins Jr. would be a great fit for the Irish at outside linebacker.
Hollins Jr. has been a defensive end during his high school career, but his size and athleticism make him the perfect fit for the outside linebacker role in the Bob Diaco scheme.
He has also shown the ability to shed blocks easily, and he plays furiously with his hands at the point of attack when engaged with a blocker. That is a benefit he gained from playing along the line in high school.
One problem that he will face will be pass coverage. As an outside linebacker he will have a lot to work on when it comes to sticking to tight ends and reading screens from the backfield. If he can find those reads this summer in the process, he could contribute early for this defense.
The Irish have work to do if they plan on landing the signature of Hollins Jr. At this point he is clearly the most important remaining target for this impressive 2013 recruiting class.
Hollins Jr. is the No. 15 outside linebacker and the No. 211 player in the country according to the 247Sports.com Composite Ranking.