In their words: Notre Dame coaches talk on 2018 Irish recruits
SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame completed its 2018 recruiting class Wednesday by adding six more student-athletes to the 21 previously signed in the early signing period in December.
“It’s probably from an across the board depth standpoint on the back end of our defense and at the wide receiver position,” veteran Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday, “an area that I feel is good about as any class that we’ve recruited here at Notre Dame. Now, look, they’re all young players, and they’ve got to prove themselves. But I think when I walk away at the end of the day and take a step back, those two areas I feel really good about relative to what we’ve done there.”
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Kelly added commitments Wednesday from a pair of offensive linemen (Jarrett Patterson, Laguna Hills, Calif. and Luke Jones, Little Rock, Arkansas), a wide receiver (Lawrence Keys, New Orleans), a running back (C’Bo Flemister, Williamson, Georgia), and a pair of Washington, D.C.-area defensive backs (DJ Brown and Noah Boykin).
In all, the Irish added four offensive linemen in this class, four wide receivers, a couple of tight ends, a quarterback, two running backs, three defensive linemen, four linebackers, two safeties (though Houston Griffith has the versatility to play either cornerback or safety) and five cornerbacks (though Tariq Bracy has the versatility to potentially move to running back, while Joe Wilkins Jr. could also move to wide receiver).
Those newcomers also will be joined by former Navy safety Alohi Gilman, who will be eligible in the fall.
Here is a look at the 2018 Notre Dame football recruiting class and what the Irish coaches had to say about each prospect:
Jayson Ademilola – DL 6-3 288 Jackson, NJ/St. Peter’s Prep
Defensive line coach Mike Elston: I went to two games and I came away very, very impressed both of (the Ademilola twins’) development in terms of fundamentals and how aggressive they played. I do believe that Jayson is going to be able to come in and give us some great depth, added depth in several areas. The plan is to get them both ready to play if we need them and we’ll see what happens.
Justin Ademilola – DL 6-2 246 Jackson, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep
Defensive line coach Mike Elston: I know that Justin is going to come in with a chip on his shoulder. The world has kind of made him second-fiddle to his brother, which I’m all good with. I hope he does have a chip. I think that he’ll be the surprise of the (recruiting) class. We’re planning on getting both (twins) ready to play early if we have to.
Tariq Bracy – DB 5-11 170 Milpitas, Calif./Milpitas
Cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght: He is a speedster out of California, an outstanding young talent. He has a little bit of a smaller frame, in the strength and power area he is going to have to do some work because he’ll have to develop there, but his play-making skills, his ball skills, his speed, and his reactive athleticism are second to none in this class. He’s going to be out there playing field corner for us. I know that coach Kelly was thinking about moving him to offense and letting him try to run the ball a little bit, but he’s a talented player that we want to keep on the defensive side of the ball.
Derrik Allen – DB 6-2 215 Marietta, Ga./Lassiter
Cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght: Derrik has been our longest committed safety. He is an outstanding young man and a great student-athlete. He is the type of player that can come in and help us right away due to his size and strength. Derrik is a phenomenal player and obviously one of the best in the country and we are thrilled to have him.
Bo Bauer – LB 6-2 212 Harborcreek, Pa./Cathedral Prep
Defensive Coordinator Clark Lea:
With Bo and (fellow recruit Jack Lamb), those guys are natural interior, inside linebackers, at a certain point, both positions are interchangeable. You are going to see what they can handle early and where are the needs on the depth chart as we get through spring and then plug them in accordingly.
Kevin Austin – WR 6-2 197 Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./North Broward Prep
Wide receivers coach Del Alexander: Kevin is one of the guys, in terms of publicity, is one of the bigger fish. Kevin and I have already developed a relationship and we are communicating on the little things that are going to help him hit the ground running.
DJ Brown – DB 6-1 180 Annapolis, Md./St. John’s College
Coach Brian Kelly: We really think that we’ve got somebody here that is a true corner. He is long at 6-1 and a very smart player. I think what stood out for us is his football intelligence, the way he played the game. He comes to us with a great background in terms of coming from a school like St. John’s. He’s prepared for the academics here at Notre Dame, as well. So again, this is a lot about fit, as well. We’re reminded so many times of how many great players are out there, but there has to be both. There has to be a strong commitment to the culture here at Notre Dame and their workload academically. It’s not just about the football things.
Noah Boykin – DB 6-2 176 Washington, D.C./Howard D. Woodson
Coach Brian Kelly: We love the intangibles about Noah. He comes from a school that is not a predictor, a school that we would normally not recruit here at Notre Dame, but I will tell you that one of the things that we were so impressed with, and maybe this doesn’t happen everywhere, we weren’t certain about Noah and his ability to come to Notre Dame and be a great fit until after his admissions meeting. The feedback that we got from admissions in terms of his interview really sold us on this was the right place for us. Here is a young man that wanted to reach for the best and not settle, and that’s what really, for us, drove this.
John Dirksen – OL 6-5 303 Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local
Coach Brian Kelly: He is a winner. We’re looking for offensive linemen that have had success, that have been successful, that are great teammates and will fit into the culture of our offensive line room. That’s a huge piece for us. Our offensive linemen are eminently involved in the recruiting process. They give us thumbs up and thumbs down on a lot of the guys that we’re recruiting. They are part of this recruiting process.
They first and foremost have to fit that room, and then we look at their potential, the developmental potential of that player, and John fits that for us.
C’Bo Flemister – RB 5-11 190 Williamson, Ga./Pike County
Running backs coach Autry Denson: When you look at our (Notre Dame running backs) we always talk about ‘Holistically, who are they?’ From a faith standpoint, C’Bo is a very strong young man, he and his family. From an academic standpoint, he is right on par with what we believe in, and then from an athletic standpoint, he can run, I call him my ‘throw-back player.’ He is a down, dirty, just old-school, get it done type of player. He checks every box for us.
Ja’Mion Franklin – DL 6-1 296 Ridgely, Md./North Caroline
Defensive line coach Mike Elston:
I wanted to add toughness. We’ve been able to change the culture of the defensive line, we’re not there yet, but we are changing that culture. We identified Ja’Mion very early as a guy that is going to add to that and improve that with an aggressiveness and a toughness. He was a marquee get for us because of that.
Houston Griffith – DB 6-0 194 Chicago, Ill./IMG Academy (FL)
Cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght:
Houston is a very talented defensive back. He is dynamic athlete. We’re going to start him playing corner, but he has the ability to play both corner and safety so we’re going to move him around. He is the type of player that has such position versatility, where he is going to be a real weapon for us on defense. We’re going to start him in the boundary, but he can play a little bit of strong safety, a little bit of free safety, a little bit of nickel and find out what suits him best.
Luke Jones – OL 6-5 289 Little Rock, Ark./Pulaski Academy
Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn: Luke was my first visit. I was hired on Tuesday and Wednesday coach Kelly and I went down to Luke’s home. That is a very high-achieving family. These are outstanding parents, who have raised three outstanding children. They are great people and Luke was a great find. He comes from a championship program.
Micah Jones – WR 6-5 202 Gurnee, Ill./Warren
Wide receivers coach Del Alexander: Micah was our first commit and he is here now and he is running around and doing well in the weight room. He is getting some good attention there because when we are doing conditioning and weight training, he doesn’t seem to be a freshman. He is being just as productive as the guys around him.
Phil Jurkovec – QB 6-5 204 Pittsburgh, Pa./Pine-Richlandn
Quarterback coach Tom Rees: The mental make-up of Phil is the most impressive thing. You touch on the ‘big man on campus’ part, he’s been a four-year starter in basketball in a really good high school program. He has started in football in the last three, so he has dealt with that. I watched him play hoops and he goes into a great atmosphere and has to deal with the pressure of being the guy that everyone knows and the student section is chirping at. You can see his competitive fire and his will to win and when you break him down mentally, that is probably the most impressive trait that he has. When you worry about him coming in here and mentally fitting in, that is the least concern that you have. He is such a strong-willed individual.
Lawrence Keys III – WR 5-11 170 New Orleans, La./McDonogh 35
Wide receivers coach Del Alexander: Lawrence has a lot of grit. He’s a playmaker. He is different. He is different in a lot of ways. He is different on and off the field and that is what stood out to me. He is his own individual person and I think that he wants to be different than some of the people (in New Orleans area) or the environment that you see there. For the most part, he has been raised by his mom, who graduated from college this past fall. She has been kind of his role model. Because of her guidance, he has been able to be different and to be someone that can come from Louisiana to Notre Dame and have a tremendous amount of success.
Jack Lamb – LB 6-3 211 Temecula, Calif./Great Oak
Coach Brian Kelly: You can see that (Lamb and fellow Irish recruit Ovie Oghoufo) are not just box players. They can play outside the box. They are guys that are extremely athletic. We would rather take them and then begin to hone in on where they can best fit in that defensive structure rather than saying, he’s a box player, that’s all he can play. These guys give us flexibility to see how they’re going to fill out and develop.
Braden Lenzy – WR 6-0 175 Tigard, Ore./Tigard Senior
Wide receivers coach Del Alexander: He is just a spark plug. He is a kid that has a wealth of knowledge of everything in sports, but he is really intelligent outside of sports. Braden is a gym rat, a (football) junkie. He wants to be really good as a football player, but he also wants everything that Notre Dame has to offer off the field.
Cole Mabry – OL 6-5 275 Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood
Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn: We’re going to find the best five (offensive linemen). I’ve said this many times, if your best five are all tackles, then two of them are going to have to play guard and one is going to have to play center. That is the fair way to approach it. The players in the room respect that. You have to cross train (players). Sometimes in a game, unfortunately, a guy goes down and the next guy has to go in.”
Paul Moala – DB 5-11 196 Mishawaka, Ind./Penn
Cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght: Paul is a local talent and is a guy that went out to the Polynesian Bowl (in Hawaii) and did a lot of outstanding things. He ran a kick-off back for a touchdown. He is an outstanding young player that can come in right away and help us on special teams. His combination of speed and size and strength makes him a very, very dangerous freshman coming in. He is really going to push all of the safeties in front of him.
Ovie Oghoufo – LB 6-3 208 Lathrup Village, Mich./Harrison
Defensive coordinator Clark Lea: Ovie, really, I could see playing either outside position. He has been a run and hit player in high school. His best defense has been played, kind of alley to alley on the move. I’ve got to help him with the mechanics of playing in the box every down and how you attack gaps, but I know that he can run and hit. Either the Buck or Rover position, both of those could enhance that skill set.
Jarrett Patterson – OL 6-4 280 Laguna Hills, Calif./Mission Viejo
Coach Brian Kelly: We look at the offensive line with Luke Jones and Jarrett Patterson. We get great versatility in both of them. Luke Jones, four-time state champion. He’s a winner. Jarrett Patterson, obviously, a winner, state champion, as well. Luke gives us great versatility and can play the guard position and center, we were looking for that. In particular, he is an inside guy that had that versatility. Then Jarrett Patterson, he’s a guy that’s long but can play both guard and tackle, as well. So versatility was really what we were looking for at that offensive line position. I think we did an incredible job of adding two offensive linemen that are going to shape this class quite well.
Shayne Simon – LB 6-3 212 West Orange, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep
Defensive Coordinator Clark Lea: He is an incredible athlete and a better person, honestly. Shayne is a safety in high school, who has played some field-overhang, I think he is a natural fit at the rover position. He’ll get his first reps there and we’ll see how he grows and develops from that point, but I think that is a great fit for them.
Jahmir Smith – RB 5-10 198 Sanford, N.C./Lee County
Running backs coach Autry Denson: You are talking about a great student, great home life, great faith life, and someone that can also play a significant role on the football field. I’m excited to have him (already) on campus. Anytime that you can get a young man here early, that obviously adds to his maturity and his process in regards to developing. He is walking around with a big smile on his face, so that is really good to see.
George Takacs – TE 6-6 244 Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast
Offensive Coordinator Chip Long: Both (Tommy Tremble and fellow recruit George Takacs) are very athletic, but George has spent a little bit more time with his hand on the ground than Tommy has. Tommy has been more of a skilled wide-out coming in. The good thing, this year, that I got to see with George is that he was split out wide and did a lot of good things in the passing game. Both have ball skills. Both are very smart and very athletic in their way. Tommy is probably a little bit more explosive, where George has a little bit more size.
Tommy Tremble – TE 6-3 224 Johns Creek, Ga./Wesleyan
Offensive Coordinator Chip Long: With the tight end group, I like to have size and athleticism and both (Tommy Tremble and fellow recruit George Takacs) bring that. Both are a little different, which I think is good. You don’t always want the same type of player. You want to have a variety, certain guys can do certain things. I always like to have that versatility each year and in each signing class. George is already here doing a great job. Both of them bring a different style. It can present different challenges for the defense with those kind of guys and still being very physical.
Joe Wilkins Jr. – DB 6-2 180 North Fort Myers, Fla./North Fort Myers
Cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght: He is a long, tall athlete and is a really, really smart kid. I love the way that he competes on both sides of the ball. His length and his ball skills can really make him an outstanding boundary corner. His background is more on the offensive side of the ball, which is OK, but he came along in his senior year defensively and became a more sure tackler. With his length and speed, he can become an outstanding press corner.
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