What's Next: Notre Dame Can Now Focus Its Attention On 2023 Cornerbacks

With standout Benjamin Morrison now committed the Notre Dame coaching staff can focus on the 2023 cover players
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Notre Dame landed Arizona star cornerback Benjamin Morrison to cap off its 2022 haul at the position. It marked the second straight year that Notre Dame landed four corners, and Morrison is it for corners in the 2022 class. 

With Morrison, Devin Moore, Jayden Bellamy and Jaden Mickey now committed the Notre Dame coaches can focus its 2022 attention on other important positions like safety, defensive line, wide receiver and offensive line.

For corners coach Mike Mickens he can now focus his entire cornerback attention on keeping his current commits happen and adding even more impact talent in the 2023 class.

2023 CORNER NEEDS

Notre Dame has landed eight cornerbacks in the last two classes, with the four 2022 commitments joining 2021 pickups Ryan Barnes, Philip Riley, Chance Tucker and JoJo Johnson.

Notre Dame would like to have three corners in the lineup at times, especially when it goes to a nickel package and a true 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 set. That means there's room for six players in the two deep, which partially explains why the staff wanted and landed so many corners in the 2021 and 2022 classes.

Despite that desire the odds are good that not all eight of the 2021 and 2022 corners will stay at the position. At least one or two will either move to nickel or safety full-time, or at least cross-train at one or both of both positions.

What we know for sure is that Notre Dame will not need to focus on numbers in the 2023 class; the focus will be on landing impact talent. Notre Dame could get away with just one cornerback, but two will likely be the goal, as long as those two are very high ceiling prospects.

TOP EARLY TARGETS

Notre Dame has already offered a number of the nation's top cornerbacks, and several were on the Irish campus this summer. Here's a look at the corners on the board for Notre Dame in the early part of the 2023 recruiting cycle.

AJ HARRIS - Harris, in my opinion, is the best cornerback in the entire country. He has elite size (6-2, 180), elite athleticism and his instincts on the football field are special. Harris is also an incredibly productive player that had 10 touchdowns last season ... on defense and special teams. Notre Dame is battling Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, Alabama and others for this elite cornerback that ranks as the nation's No. 21 overall player on the 247Sports composite list.

JUSTYN RHETT - Notre Dame loves long cornerbacks and Rhett is a very long cornerback at 6-1 and 190 pounds. The Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman cover man ranks as the nation's No. 53 overall player according to ESPN. Covid took all but two games of his junior season, but Rhett flashed top talent. He camped at Notre Dame this summer and blew the Irish coaches away, including running a low 4.4 during the testing portion of the event.

MALIK MUHAMMAD - A native of Texas, Muhammad will be playing at IMG Academy the next two seasons. Muhammad is planning to visit Notre Dame in late July, and getting him on campus this early is huge for the Irish if they are going to have a shot for him. Ranked as the nation's No. 41 overall player according to 247Sports, Muhammad is a smooth, fluid and aggressive young cover player that is just as good in press coverage as he is playing off man.

RYAN YAITES - Yaites fits the mold of what Notre Dame has coveted so much in recent seasons. He's long (6-2, 180), he's physical in coverage and he has a lot of positional flexibility. The Texas native ranks as the nation's No. 43 player according to Rivals. He loves to press and he uses his length and toughness to be a force at the line of scrimmage. Yaites is a fluid athlete that lacks the top end speed of other corners but he makes up for it with great instincts.

CALEB PRESSLEY - Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic has one of the nation's best corners in Pressley. Listed at 6-0, Pressley plays much longer due to his length, fast hands and physicality. This is a talented, confident and smart young football player. His foot quickness and transition skills are outstanding, and his route anticipation is advanced for a sophomore on film. Pressley is ranked as the nation's No. 126 overall player by 247Sports.

KAYIN LEE - Lee is one of the fastest rising corners this offseason. Listed at 6-0 and 160 pounds, Lee has added good weight and he's impressed at camps thanks to that growth spurt. Lee is a smooth athlete that plays with a lot of confidence, especially when playing off man. He will need to get stronger and continue filling out if he's going to play more press looks, but his coverage instincts and athleticism stand out, and you can see why he is considered a Top 100 recruit.

CHRISTIAN GRAY - Ranked as the nation's No. 142 overall player by ESPN, Gray is another in a long list of talented corners on the Irish board. Gray worked out for the Notre Dame coaches this summer and he was highly impressive, which earned him an immediate offer following his workout. Gray has good size (6-0, 175) but there isn't much film out there, so right now what I know about him is from sources who were impressed with his work during camps this summer.

COLE MARTIN - At 5-9 and 175 pounds Martin is not your typical Notre Dame cornerback target, but the Irish staff is high on him. What he lacks in size he makes up for with top-notch athleticism. His speed flashes on film and his agility is elite for such a young player. His ability to change direction with ease and suddenness is unique, and it allows him to thrive in coverage and as a return man. He ranks as the nation's No. 73 player in the country according to Rivals.

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