Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Breaking Down Top 2015 Target at Each Position
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After cruising through the spring season, now’s a perfect time to flip our attention toward some Notre Dame football recruiting talk.
We’ll focus here on the class of 2015. It’s still very early in the process, but things are picking up around the country (see Alabama’s weekend).
With that in mind, let’s take a look at Notre Dame’s top target at each position in the class of 2015.
Now, we’ll add a layer of realism to this; otherwise, you could just look at your favorite go-to recruiting service and its rankings and pick the top player at each position. The players who follow are definitely top targets, but, in most cases, we’ll try to restrict the names to those who reportedly have at least some interest in Notre Dame or who Notre Dame is reportedly targeting seriously.
And, where applicable, we’ll throw in a few other names to keep an eye on too.
On we go.
*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
It’s not essential for Notre Dame to nab another quarterback from the class of 2015. Current Irish quarterbacks Everett Golson (two years of eligibility remaining) and Malik Zaire (four years) still have time in South Bend, and 2014 signee DeShone Kizer is set to the join the squad as well.
Still, Notre Dame likely wouldn’t hesitate to add the likes of Torrance Gibson, an athletic quarterback at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla. ESPN ranks Gibson as its No. 1 athlete, while 247Sports lists him as a dual-threat quarterback.
Per 247Sports, Notre Dame was the second school to offer Gibson, but it’d be a surprise if Gibson joined the Irish.
After not grabbing a running back in the 2014 recruiting cycle, Notre Dame very well could be active at the position this time around.
Just ask Tony Alford, Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator and running backs coach.
I've got an APB out on the very best RB's in the country. I know who you are & where you are & I'm coming to get you!! #NotreDameFootball— Coach Tony Alford (@CoachTonyAlford) April 18, 2014
So who are the very best?
ESPN ranks Damien Harris as its top back (27th overall). Rivals also slots Harris as the No. 1 running back (fourth overall), and 247Sports has the Berea, Ky., native as its second-best back. He’s likely a top target, but there doesn’t appear to be much traction there for the Irish, according to the 247Sports timeline.
Other top targets are Soso Jamabo and Nick Brossette. Jamabo is ESPN’s No. 4 running back, and the Texas native reportedly visited for Notre Dame’s game against Arizona State in Dallas in October, according to 247Sports.
Brossette, ESPN’s No. 7 running back, is an LSU commit, but Tom Loy of 247Sports reported (subscription required) a few months ago that the Louisiana native is “keeping his options open and still looking at Notre Dame.
Campbell is widely sought-after, for many of the reasons our own Edwin Weathersby recently explained.
After Campbell, some of the slightly more realistic options are receivers such as Ryan Newsome, Alex Ofodile, Equanimeous St. Brown, Cordell Broadus and Miles Boykin. All five receivers rank in the top 300 of ESPN’s overall rankings.
Alize Jones figures to be the top target here. The 6’4”, 212-pounder is the No. 1 tight end, per Rivals. Though he committed to UCLA in November, the Las Vegas native attends Bishop Gorman High School, where he is teammates with Nicco Fertitta, a 2015 safety who recently pledged to Notre Dame.
Irish offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley is also a Bishop Gorman product.
After Jones, Chris Clark likely headlines more realistic tight ends. Rivals pegs Clark as the No. 7 tight end. The 6’6”, 247-pounder recently decommitted from North Carolina, and Mike Farrell, National Recruiting Director for Rivals, predicts Clark will end up in South Bend.
The offensive line is pretty well stocked. The Irish landed five linemen in the class of 2013, four in the class of 2014 and already have two—Tristen Hoge and Jerry Tillery—committed for this year’s recruiting cycle.
Who else could be atop Notre Dame’s board?
Chuma Edoga is ESPN’s No. 3 offensive tackle, and he figures to be a top name. After Edoga and other elite linemen, California native Zach Robertson is an interesting name to keep an eye on. According to 247Sports, Notre Dame is the leader for Robertson.
You can hear from Robertson himself here, via 247Sports.
For a while, Jashon Cornell was the No. 1 overall player in ESPN’s 2015 rankings. While the defensive end has dropped to No. 16 overall, ESPN still tabs him as one of just 16 5-star recruits in the nation.
According to 247Sports, Cornell has visited Notre Dame on multiple occasions. The Saint Paul, Minn., native also attends the same high school (Cretin-Derham Hall) that produced former Irish wide receiver Michael Floyd and current Irish safety/linebacker James Onwualu.
Cornell recently set a decision date of Aug. 28, per Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.
In the same way Notre Dame has been in on Jashon Cornell for a while, the Irish have consistently been tied to Cincinnati linebacker Justin Hilliard, ESPN’s No. 13 overall player.
According to 247Sports, Hilliard has visited Notre Dame twice in the past two months—once for Junior Day in March and again last weekend for the Blue-Gold Game.
As one of the top linebackers in the nation, Hilliard is likely Notre Dame’s top target here.
The Irish added a strong contingent of 2014 linebackers, as well as a multiple players who could profile as pass-rushing defensive ends or linebackers. Hilliard would be a huge addition to that group.
Like Gibson, McFadden attends American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla. Irish sophomore linebacker Michael Deeb attended American Heritage.
Both Marshall and McFadden would add high-end ability to the current corps of corners. Notre Dame currently has junior KeiVarae Russell and sophomores Devin Butler and Cole Luke leading the position, and incoming freshman Nick Watkins was ESPN’s No. 14 cornerback in the class of 2014.
It’s difficult to say what lies ahead in this recruiting cycle for Notre Dame at safety.
Dallas native Prentice McKinney committed to the Irish in late March and the aforementioned Nicco Fertitta joined him in early April, making two of Notre Dame’s six commitments safeties.
Might Notre Dame be done at safety in 2015?
In any event, California safety Marvell Tell grabbed a Notre Dame offer in October, according to 247Sports, and Rivals lists the 6’3”, 185-pounder as its No. 122 player overall, and ESPN ranks Tell 97th.
Notre Dame is currently deep at safety, but the Irish didn’t add anyone in the 2014 class, and sophomore Max Redfield and Onwualu are the only underclassman safeties currently on Notre Dame’s roster.
Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.
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