Notre Dame makes top five for LB recruit Justin Hilliard

NOTEBOOK

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame continues to sit well with Justin Hilliard.

The junior linebacker recruit from Cincinnati released a top five on Friday, and the Irish made the list.

His group included Alabama, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State. The Irish and the Buckeyes are the perceived favorites.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect last visited Notre Dame for the Blue-Gold Game in April. Earlier this month, he made a visit to Ohio State.

The product of St. Xavier High School is considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the 2015 class. 247Sports slates him as a five-star recruit, the No. 1 outside linebacker and No. 13 overall. Rivals ranks him as a four-star recruit, the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 49 overall.

Defensive line nuggets

The competition remains stiff for some of Notre Dame’s top defensive line targets in the 2015 class.

In the case of defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, the Irish have plenty of work to do. On Thursday, McKenzie released a list of his top 12 schools that did not include Notre Dame.

The 6-4, 309-pound junior at Concord (Calif.) De La Salle listed Tennessee, Arizona, USC, Wisconsin and Oklahoma as his top five schools. 247Sports slates McKenzie as a five-star prospect, the No. 2 defensive tackle and No. 10 overall. Rivals ranks him as a four-star prospect, the No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 31 overall.

Defensive end Jashon Cornell continues to add offers to contend with Notre Dame, once the perceived the favorite in his recruitment. Alabama offered the 6-4, 270-pound Cornell earlier this week.

A junior at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn., Cornell told the Detroit News earlier this month that Michigan State now led his recruitment after a visit for the Spartans’ spring game.

247Sports slates Cornell as a five-star prospect, the No. 5 weakside defensive end and No. 32 overall. Rivals ranks him as a four-star prospect, the No. 6 strongside defensive end and No. 76 overall.

Nelson strong

Upper-body strength won’t be an initial area of concern for Quenton Nelson when he arrives at Notre Dame.

Video of the 6-5, 302-pound incoming freshman offensive lineman bench pressing hit the web on Wednesday. He repped out 225 pounds 26 times, a number higher than many college prospects posted at the NFL Combine.

Nelson’s number ranks better than the No. 1 overall pick, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (21), and offensive tackle Jake Matthews (24), the second offensive lineman taken in the draft. Former Irish left tackle and Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Zack Martin hit 29 reps at the combine.

Watch Nelson's impressive lifting here.

More offers

The Irish stayed busy offering prospects in the 2015 and 2016 classes to start the week. Here's a rundown of recruits reporting new Notre Dame offers:

•OL Tommy Kraemer, 6-5, 308; Cincinnati Elder: 247Sports slates the four-star prospect as the No. 8 offensive tackle and No. 35 overall in the 2016 class. He already holds 10 offers, including Ohio State, Penn State and Louisville.

•TE Jacob Hausmann, 6-5, 230; Cincinnati Moeller: A four-star prospect, 247Sports slates him as the No. 6 tight end and No. 183 overall in the 2016 class. He already holds more than a dozen offers, including Florida State, Ohio State and Penn State.

QB Shea Patterson, 6-2, 190; Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist: An Arizona commit, Patterson reported an offer from Notre Dame on Wednesday. 247Sports slates him as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 57 overall in the 2016 class. He also holds offers from Alabama, Auburn and Clemson.

ATH Denzel Johnson, 6-1, 193; Columbia (S.C) A.C. Flora: Rivals gave the 2015 prospect three stars with his only other major offer from Clemson. A two-way player, Johnson caught 38 passes for 817 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior.

WR DaMarkus Lodge, 6-2, 185; Cedar Hill (Texas) High: A four-star prospect, Rivals rates him as the No. 5 wide receiver and No. 39 overall in the 2015 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 3 wide receiver and No. 42 overall. Lodge holds more than 20 offers, including Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU.

TJames1@SBTinfo.com| 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Linebacker prospect Justin Hilliard with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly on a visit. Photo via Hilliard's Twitter.