Notre Dame is off to a smoking hot start on the 2022 recruiting trail, and that has been primarily driven by defensive recruiting. As that staff looks to cap off its wants and needs there are two very important players left on the board, and both are planning on making announcements this week.
Linebacker Jaylen Sneed and cornerback Benjamin Morrison are making announcements this week, with Sneed set to announce on Monday night and Morrison slated to make his decision public on Thursday. Notre Dame has been battling Pac 12 programs for both prospects, and they are both vitally important to the Fighting Irish staff landing the kind of elite defensive class that can close the gap on the big boys.
Landing just one of the two defenders would still build on what is already an outstanding defensive haul, but it wouldn't have quite the same game-changing impact as landing both would. Landing both would be special.
JAYLEN SNEED TO ANNOUNCE MONDAY
Sneed is expected to make his decision known Monday night after 7:00 PM ET. The 6-2, 210-pound linebacker has offers from programs all over the country, but Notre Dame and Oregon ultimately became the main contenders.
Notre Dame has been in a strong position for Sneed for some time, and now we'll find out if the Irish staff was able to close the deal.
Sneed ranks as the nation's No. 46 overall player according to Rivals and is the No. 70 player in the country on the 247Sports composite list. Sneed would become Notre Dame's highest ranked commit on both lists should he decide to announce for the Fighting Irish.
BENJAMIN MORRISON TO POP ON THURSDAY
The Arizona standout is down to the Irish, Alabama and Washington. Notre Dame has been battling to get Morrison in the class for months, and it's been a bit of a rocky road. We'll find out on Thursday if the staff was able to pull off the comeback, or if Morrison is going to stay out West or go play for the defending champs.
Morrison is a consensus four-star recruit but I would still contend he's one of the more underrated defensive backs in the entire class. You don't see many defensive backs outside of the top 250-300 in the country down to programs like Alabama, Washington and Notre Dame.
Landing Morrison would give Notre Dame four cornerbacks in the class for the second straight year. A strong case could be made that he's the key to making the secondary class work in the last two years. Should Notre Dame upset Washington and Alabama it would make it much easier to move other corners around in an attempt to fill out the short-handed safety position and to start building up the nickel depth chart.
WHAT WOULD THESE COMMITMENTS MEAN FOR NOTRE DAME?
Notre Dame already has the nation's best haul of linebackers, but adding Sneed to a class that includes Josh Burnham, Niuafe Tuihalamaka and Nolan Ziegler would make the class so loaded that it would be impossible for any other program to match that haul.
From a rankings standpoint it would give Notre Dame a third linebacker that ranks as a Top 100 recruit by at least one service. He would be the fourth Top 100 recruit on the defense, with defensive end Tyson Ford also ranking that high by at least one service.
More practically, landing Sneed - a prospect that could play Rover, Will or even Mike in the Irish defense - gives the Irish a long, athletic and versatile group of backers that would completely overhaul the depth chart. There's a lot of talent and playmaking potential in that group, should Sneed join it.
Morrison would give Notre Dame a fourth cornerback in the class, and he's arguably the best of the bunch. Sneed and Morrison would give Notre Dame eight defensive players that rank as composite four-star recruits.
NARROW THE FOCUS
One advantage to Sneed and Morrison making their announcements before the season is that no matter who they choose, Notre Dame's board of uncommitted defensive prospects in the 2022 class is getting very, very small. Essentially Notre Dame would be down to defensive lineman Anthony Lucas, safety Xavier Nwankpa, defensive end Cyrus Moss and possibly recently offered defensive tackle Hero Kanu.
Having such a narrow board would allow the Irish staff to put far greater resources and focus on those top prospects. For Notre Dame to truly land the class it needs, one that not only lands a number of impact players, but also one that meets all the personnel needs. Being able to focus more and more time on those prospects certainly helps Notre Dame's chances with those prospects.
Adding Sneed and Morrison to the class would also make this defensive class very, very attractive to those prospects. Top players want to play with other top players, and Notre Dame would have the kind of defensive haul that would make it hard for players like Lucas and Nwankpa to say no to. Notre Dame can sell the "you're the final piece" angle, and they would be telling the truth.
It won't be easy, but if Notre Dame is able to land Sneed and Morrison it would give the staff a chance to finish this class off in a way that puts the Irish defensive talent level on par with any program in the country.
Irish Breakdown Content
Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content, our premium message board and gets you a FREE subscription to Sports Illustrated! Click on the link below for more
Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time!
Join the Irish Breakdown community!
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channel
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes
Subscribe to our Irish Breakdown Rumble channel
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachD178
Follow me on Parler: @BryanDriskell
Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook