As Notre Dame looks to shore up its secondary through recruiting in the 2022 class, the Fighting Irish already have a strong foundation to build around, and that is Corona (Calif.) Centennial cornerback Jaden Mickey.
Mickey is completely solid in his pledge to the Fighting Irish, and now the staff will look to add more talent to the roster.
Mickey just wrapped up his junior campaign after the fall season was canceled due to Covid. According to Mickey's father, Lamar, the four-star ball hawk had a strong season that saw him improve on several aspects of his game. Particularly, the elder Mickey said Jaden focused on staying aggressive at the line of scrimmage when he's lined up in press-man coverage.
With disrupting opposing receivers as a point of emphasis, Mickey mostly shut down his side of the field all season long. Mickey mentioned that teams did not throw his son's way very much this year, and he wound up with one interception and did not allow a touchdown in any of his team's five games. So while Mickey's junior year was short, it was still filled with quality competition (Centennial went 4-1) and he had an opportunity to brush up on his coverage skills before playing his senior season in just a few months.
Apart from his work as a defender, Mickey is really trying to make an impact on special teams as a punt returner. In his first game as a junior, Mickey took a long punt return to the house for a touchdown and added another punt return score later in the year. Mickey has talked with the Notre Dame staff about returning punts in college, so he's already proving to be a weapon in that phase of the game.
Before the season, this is how Centennial head coach Matt Logan described his talented junior cornerback:
“If you haven't seen him play, he's one of the most competitive athletes we've had,” Logan told Irish Breakdown. “Everything is full-go with him, full throttle. He's always been a guy that works tremendously hard with us and outside of us as well. He's always involved with other things. He's pretty much worked on every aspect of his game. I think he has six interceptions last year, which tied a school record. He's got great ball skills. You can always improve, but he is tremendous at everything. He just tries to take his game to the next level.”
Due to the dead period, Mickey actually has not been able to visit Notre Dame's campus yet even though he committed, but the four-star has taken numerous virtual campus visits with the staff over Zoom and has met with the academic team at ND as well to up his comfort level even more. That will change, though, when Mickey takes his official visit to South Bend the weekend of June 25-27.
Many of Notre Dame's commits will be in town the weekend before, but this is the time that worked best for Mickey's schedule, and the Fighting Irish do still plan to host a loaded group of prospects for the final weekend in June as well. In addition to Mickey, Notre Dame is expecting visits from fellow commit Jadarian Price, running back Gavin Sawchuk, wide receiver C.J. Williams and safety Kevin Winston, so it is sure to be a busy time on campus either way.
Now that his football season has ended, Mickey is going to start running track for Centennial on Monday, and he figures to compete in the 100- and 200-meter dash for the Huskies this Spring.
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