If Notre Dame wants to keep its place as a top recruiting class the Fighting Irish staff must finish as strong as it started, if not better. Possessing the No. 2 class in the country right now, the Irish still have holes it must fill on defense in the 2022 class and there are some impact players that the staff must close on.
As we discussed on offense, the prospects are on the board and now its time for the Notre Dame staff to close.
LAND FRONT SEVEN GAP CLOSERS
Notre Dame already has an outstanding four-man group along the defensive line and has arguably the best group of linebackers in the country. There are still three front seven players on the board and Notre Dame absolutely must land two of them.
Hilton Head (S.C.) High School linebacker Jaylen Sneed is one of those players. Notre Dame and Oregon have been in a battle for awhile, but things are trending in the favor of the Irish right now. Closing on Sneed would give Notre Dame the kind of elite linebacker haul that can completely change the trajectory at the position in just one class.
Sneed is likely to announce his decision in the relatively near future, and if things continue going the way they have been he will be the final very talented piece to the linebacker puzzle.
Lucas is an elite player that can dominate as a three-technique and also has the pass rushing prowess to play on the edge, which makes him a perfect fit for the Marcus Freeman defense. Notre Dame hasn't signed a player like Lucas since it landed Stephon Tuitt back in the 2011 class, and we all know what kind of player Tuitt turned out to be.
Notre Dame will be in a battle for Lucas until the end, but Texas A&M, Miami and Alabama will present very, very formidable foes for him. Freeman and defensive line coach Mike Elston need to close on Lucas, which would give the Irish arguably the best defensive line haul in the country.
Notre Dame isn't in as good of shape with Moss, but the staff will continue to push for him. Moss is a pure edge player and he's an explosive athlete, one that could provide the Irish with a boost in speed rushing off the edge.
CORNERBACK BOARD IS INTRIGUING
Notre Dame got its cornerback class off to a strong start when it landed Corona (Calif.) Centennial standout Jaden Mickey. Notre Dame is still another strong class away from completely repairing the cornerback depth chart.
Notre Dame has three cornerbacks on the board right now, Naples (Fla.) High School standout Devin Moore, Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy Prep athlete Benjamin Morrison and Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic defensive back Jayden Bellamy.
Notre Dame needs to land two players from this group and the ideal scenario is that the Irish land the first two. Moore is a very talented, long, athletic and versatile defensive back. Alabama and Florida are pushing hard but Notre Dame feels very good about where things stand. The Irish have to close on Moore this summer, because if this one drags into the fall it will be much tougher.
Reports out of Washington are far more confident for Morrison than they were a week ago when Notre Dame was feeling very, very good for where it stood with the Arizona cornerback. A week ago it looked as though the Irish were in great shape with both Moore and Morrison, and now the Irish are in a dogfight to close on one of them.
The Irish have to get at least one of those two players.
Notre Dame hosted Bellamy this past weekend, and he's an intriguing prospect. Bellamy has the game of a safety but the body of a cornerback at 5-11 and 175 pounds. He's a bit of a project as a corner but he does have speed and he can hit. Penn State is right there and Bellamy also had Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma and Rutgers in his final list.
Tom Loy of 247Sports recently made a prediction that Notre Dame would land Bellamy, which adds to my concern about Notre Dame being able to land Morrison and Moore. Bellamy isn't the prospect that Moore and Morrison are right now, but he has a lot of tools.
SAFETY IS STILL SHAKY, BUT THE POTENTIAL IS THERE
Notre Dame has yet to land a safety in the 2022 class despite it being a very important position. There are just two safeties left on the board, Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk star Xavier Nwankpa and Buford (Ga.) High School athlete Jake Pope.
Nwankpa is a gap closer, a must get, a game changer, pick whatever phrase you want, he's that good of a player at a very important position. Ohio State is considered the school to beat but Notre Dame did a great job closing that gap this past weekend. If the Irish staff can continue trending in the right direction there's a chance they pull off the upset, which would be huge for the Notre Dame defense.
It would also be quite the start to recruiting for position coach Chris O'Leary, and the first-year safety coach absolutely needs to hit that kind of home run in year one to erase any concerns about his youth or inexperience. It would back up why the staff hired him and announce him as a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail.
Notre Dame also wants Pope in the class. He's a dynamic athlete that could play safety, nickel or even wide receiver. That kind of athlete is always a must for a program like Notre Dame.
He visited Ohio State this past weekend and heads to Alabama next weekend, but Notre Dame is feeling good about where it stands with the Georgia native.
The board is in place for Notre Dame to land arguably the best defensive haul in the country. That won't happen, however, if the staff doesn't finish on a very strong note on all three levels of the defense. That means landing Lucas, Sneed, Nwankpa, Moore and ideally two more defensive backs.
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