Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Meet the Fighting Irish's 2018 Class

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2018

FILE - In this Nov. 11, 2017, file photo, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly walks on the field before an NCAA college football game against Miami in Miami Gardens, Fla. The game between No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 20 Stanford may not carry the pomp and circumstances of some previous meetings, but it does give Irish coach Brian Kelly his latest chance to complete an elusive mission: beat a ranked team on the road. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

A bounce-back season on the field has carried over to the recruiting trail for Notre Dame, which signed the nation's 10th-best class for 2018, per 247Sports. The haul started during the early signing period, with 21 players coming on board in December. Another six were added on national signing day.

While the Fighting Irish did not sign any 5-star prospects, they still landed a strong group, one that features players from 15 states and nearly every position on the field. Follow along as we break down the class alphabetically.

       

Jayson Ademilola

247Sports

Height/Weight: 6'3", 290 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star defensive tackle/No. 128

High School: St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, NJ)

The higher rated of twin brothers who signed with Notre Dame, Jayson Ademilola has 50 pounds on Justin and has used that extra weight to make himself a force on the inside of the defensive line. Alabama and Michigan were also high on him, though the Fighting Irish were most interested in the package deal.

       

Justin Ademilola

Height/Weight: 6'3", 240 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star defensive end/No. 626

High School: St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.)

Though not as highly regarded as twin brother Jayson, Justin Ademilola may have more upside if he's able to develop as a pass-rusher; he's already good at defending the run. Playing as a true freshman isn't likely because he still needs to add strength and improve his quickness.

      

Derrik Allen

Height/Weight: 6'2", 211 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star safety/No. 106

High School: Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.)

Notre Dame might have lost to Georgia on the field in September, but it beat the Bulldogs for Derrik Allen long before that. The ninth-best safety in 2018 and the No. 14 player from the Peach State already has the skills to play immediately, particularly as someone who will excel as an open-field tackler.

       

Kevin Austin

Height/Weight: 6'3", 198 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star wide receiver/No. 82

High School: North Broward Prep (Pompano Beach, Fla.)

With Notre Dame losing leading receiver Equanimeous St. Brown early to the NFL draft, there's an immediate opening for No. 1 target in the passing game. Kevin Austin should be given every shot to be that guy, tapping into his leaping ability and after-the-catch instincts.

      

Matthew Bauer

Height/Weight: 6' 2½", 222 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star linebacker/No. 291

High School: Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.)

Matthew Bauer can play anywhere in the middle but figures to start off inside, where his speed will be effective at rushing the passer and plugging up running lanes. Once he becomes more adept at backing off the line of scrimmage to handle pass coverage, he'll see his playing time rapidly increase.

    

Noah Boykin

Height/Weight: 6'2", 170 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star cornerback/No. 366 overall

High School: Woodson (Washington, D.C.)

Noah Boykin came on board on national signing day, two weeks after decommitting from Maryland. The second-best player from Washington, D.C., has the size to be either a cover corner or move over to safety, giving Notre Dame some options with how it uses him.

        

Tariq Bracy

Height/Weight: 6'0", 170 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star athlete/No. 433

High School: Milpitas (Milpitas, Calif.)

A true all-around athlete who amassed more than 6,400 all-purpose yards and scored 73 times in high school, Tariq Bracy will first get a look at cornerback with Notre Dame. That might not be his only position, though, as he could be valuable in the return game.

DJ Brown

Height/Weight: 6'1", 185 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star cornerback/No. 487 overall

High School: St. John's College (Washington, D.C.)

DJ Brown committed to Notre Dame on national signing day, choosing the Fighting Irish after decommitting from Virginia on Jan. 30. The fourth-best player from Washington, D.C., is a physical defensive back who can challenge receivers at the line or play off them and then close on the ball late.

       

John Dirksen

247Sports

Height/Weight: 6'5", 305 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star offensive tackle/No. 513

High School: Marion Local (Maria Stein, Ohio)

John Dirksen already has the size to play tackle in college but his future may be at guard, where his "farm strength," per 247Sports' Kevin Sinclair, can be better put to use in run blocking. He will need to learn to handle the speed of elite edge-rushers before he can be looked at on the outside of the line.

C'Bo Flemister

Height/Weight: 5'11", 197 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star running back/No. 1,208

High School: Pike County (Zebluon, Ga.)

C'Bo Flemister was among Notre Dame's six national signing day signees, his coming via a flip from Georgia Tech. Rated as the No. 69 running back in the country, he ran for 1,771 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior year of high school.

       

Ja'Mion Franklin

Height/Weight: 6'1", 295 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star defensive tackle/No. 565

High School: North Caroline (Ridgely, Md.)

With a quick first step and great power, Ja'Mion Franklin can overwhelm blockers who aren't ready for such a burst. That will work well against downhill runners, but he must develop lateral speed in order to be the kind of player who is on the field for every snap.

       

Houston Griffith

Height/Weight: 6'1", 192 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star cornerback/No. 70

High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

The highest-rated player in Notre Dame's class, Houston Griffith decommitted from Florida State in late November following head coach Jimbo Fisher's departure. Notre Dame had been on the sizable defender for a while and got him to come on board two weeks later. He may end up playing safety instead of cornerback, depending on how his speed develops.

        

Luke Jones

Height/Weight: 6'5", 292 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star offensive tackle/No. 514

High School: Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.)

Luke Jones was set to go to Arkansas, but he didn't sign early and then flipped to Notre Dame in late December. He gives the Fighting Irish another body on the offensive line to help rebuild depth after the departure of three starters and a key backup.

       

Micah Jones

Height/Weight: 6'5", 206 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star wide receiver/No. 374

High School: Warren Township (Gurnee, Ill.)

A future go-to player in the red zone because of his big, sturdy frame, Micah Jones could also be someone Notre Dame targets over the middle because it will be hard for defenders to bump him off his route. The fifth-best player in Illinois had offers from several Big Ten schools.

        

Phil Jurkovec

247Sports

Height/Weight: 6'5", 215 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star quarterback/No. 83

High School: Pine-Richland (Gibsonia, Pa.)

Phil Jurkovec threw for more than 8,000 yards and ran for nearly 3,000 in three seasons in high school, scoring 109 total touchdowns. A read-option specialist, how he advances with his throwing will dictate where he fits on the depth chart and how quickly he gets a chance to play.

Lawrence Keys III

Height/Weight: 5'10 ½", 160 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star wide receiver/No. 286 overall

High School: McDonogh 35 (New Orleans, La.)

Lawrence Keys III was offered by Notre Dame a year ago but didn't commit until national signing day. The 10th-best prospect from Louisiana had more than 30 offers, including several from the Big 12 and SEC, but ended up going with the Fighting Irish. He projects as a slot receiver.

        

Jack Lamb

Height/Weight: 6'4", 220 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star linebacker/No. 99

High School: Great Oak (Temecula, Calif.)

The No. 4 inside linebacker in the country, Jack Lamb picked the Fighting Irish over Oregon, Penn State, UCLA and Washington. His length is unique for someone who plays in the middle, and he uses it well, managing to get through blocks by keeping them off his body. With some extra weight, he'll be a force.

        

Braden Lenzy

Height/Weight: 6'0", 175 lbs.

Position/Ranking: 4-star athlete/No. 215

High School: Tigard (Portland, Ore.)

While the vast majority of Notre Dame's early signees were locked in for a long time, Braden Lenzy came aboard at the last minute. He decommitted from Oregon shortly after Willie Taggart left to take the Florida State head coaching job and right before making an official visit to South Bend. His commitment came via an essay posted to the Players Tribune.

         

Cole Mabry

Height/Weight: 6'6", 275 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star offensive tackle/No. 710

High School: Brentwood (Brentwood, Tenn.)

Cole Mabry committed to Notre Dame nearly a year ago and never wavered, ending up with the Fighting Irish because of a longstanding relationship with offensive coordinator Chip Long dating back to his time at Memphis. He's already got the frame and just needs to bulk up to be able to fight off defenders.

         

Paul Moala

Height/Weight: 6'0", 200 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star safety/NA

High School: Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.)

He may be the lowest-rated player in Notre Dame's 2018 class, but Paul Moala isn't chopped liver. Iowa, Nebraska and Vanderbilt all wanted him because of his knack for hitting hard and a fondness for chasing down runners.

         

Ovie Oghoufo

Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star linebacker/No. 544

High School: Harrison (Farmington, Mich.)

Ovie Oghoufo starred on both sides of the ball in high school, and while he's slotted for defense at Notre Dame, his offensive instincts could come in handy. His side-to-side mobility makes him a great fit for a rover-type position that specializes in pass coverage, and he can head toward the line of scrimmage to cut down ball-carriers.

        

Jarrett Patterson

Height/Weight: 6'5", 285 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star offensive tackle/No. 369

High School: Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.)

Jarrett Patterson was a key national signing day addition, the 25th-best tackle in his class who chose Notre Dame over Arizona State, Auburn, Michigan and UCLA. He had been pledged to ASU but decommitted in December, right after the school replaced coach Todd Graham with Herm Edwards, and the Fighting Irish offered him in early January.

Shayne Simon

Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star linebacker/No. 90

High School: St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.)

The highest rated of the three teammates whom Notre Dame signed from the same high school, along with twin defensive linemen Jayson and Justin Ademilola, Shayne Simon picked the Fighting Irish over Michigan. The No. 6 outside linebacker in 2018 has safety-like instincts that will make him a stud in pass coverage.

         

Jahmir Smith

Height/Weight: 6'0", 205 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star running back/No. 603

High School: Lee County (Sanford, N.C.)

There are a lot of touches up for grabs now that Josh Adams has declared for the NFL draft. Jahmir Smith has a shot to get a fair amount of those if the early enrollee fares well during spring practice. While most of Notre Dame's other backs are of the speedy variety, Smith is a north-south guy who will invite contact.

         

George Takacs

Height/Weight: 6'7", 242 lbs

Position/Ranking: 4-star tight end/No. 281

High School: Gulf Coast (Naples, Fla.)

George Takacs will make for an enormous target on short routes just off the line and over the middle, though more often than not, he will be used as a blocker. His tremendous length, paired with added bulk, could essentially turn him into a sixth offensive lineman.

         

Tommy Tremble

Height/Weight: 6'4", 225 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star tight end/No. 489

High School: Wesleyan School (Norcross, Ga.)

Built more like an oversized wide receiver than a prototypical tight end, Tommy Tremble should find himself used quite often in the passing game. The closer he plays to the line, the more likely he'll get guarded by linebackers, many of whom he'll have a distinct speed edge on.

         

Joe Wilkins Jr.

Height/Weight: 6'2", 180 lbs

Position/Ranking: 3-star athlete/No. 734

High School: North Fort Myers (North Fort Myers, Fla.)

Joe Wilkins Jr. was recruited by many schools as a wide receiver, but Notre Dame sees his future breaking up passes instead of catching them. He has great length and the necessary speed to keep up with wideouts on the outside.

      

Text on certain recruits also appears in Bleacher Report's "National Signing Day 2018: Tracking Top 100 College Football Recruits" article. Recruiting rankings from 247Sports' composite unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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