No shortage of prospects along DL for Notre Dame

RECRUITING RESET

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

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Notre Dame waited, waited and waited some more to land defensive tackles in the 2014 recruiting class.

This cycle, the Irish didn’t wait before adding weight.

Notre Dame added three potential defensive tackle commitments in an eight-day June span. The Irish needed every day up until signing day to equal that number in the 2014 class.

Notre Dame’s defensive end recruiting is unfolding as an inverse to the 2014 class as well. The Irish signed four defensive ends in February but remain in search of an elite pass-rusher for this class.

The focus for Notre Dame moving forward will be adding one or two difference-makers along the defensive end with an emphasis on the edge.

COMMITMENTS

• DT Brandon Tiassum, 6-4, 296; Indianapolis Park Tudor: Tiassum started the defensive line recruiting frenzy on June 8. A little more than a week after receiving an Irish offer, he traveled to South Bend and committed following his visit.

Tiassum brings size, explosiveness off the ball and a thirst for excellence in academics. He chose to transfer from Ben Davis to Park Tudor as a freshman, a couple steps down in terms of football competition but a couple steps up in academic rigor.

Playing at the Class 2-A level makes for a tough evaluation, but continued improvement could allow him to climb the ranks like Speedway’s Justin Brent did a year ago. 247Sports slates Tiassum as a four-star prospect and the No. 21 defensive tackle in the country. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit and No. 24 at the position.

• DL Micah Dew-Treadway, 6-4, 269; Bolingbrook (Ill.) High: With Dew-Treadway’s versatility, it’s hard to peg him at a specific future position. He possesses the length of a typical defensive end, but plays more like a defensive tackle. As the Irish sort through the current and previous classes, his future will become more clear.

Dew-Treadway’s enthusiasm should help the Irish recruit the rest of the 2015 class. On his Twitter account, the three-star prospect uses all capital letters, a fitting match for his oversized personality.

Like Tiassum, Dew-Treadway’s recruitment ended quickly — an offer in late May, a visit in early June and a commitment to end the trip. 247Sports slates Dew-Treadway as the No. 32 strongside defensive end and the No. 9 prospect in Illinois. Rivals ranks him at No. 14 in the state.

DT Elijah Taylor, 6-3, 275; Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller: Consistency best describes Taylor’s game. He’s proven

the ability to stop the run on a consistent basis and should continue to plug holes in college. He’ll need to add some healthy size, but Taylor’s motor always will allow him to compete.

The Irish targeted Taylor early in the recruiting cycle and offered him on an unofficial visit in October. As offers from Miami, Ohio State, and Florida State arrived in the spring, the Irish were able to fight off the major contenders to land his commitment in June.

247Sports slates Taylor as a four-star prospect and the No. 19 defensive tackle in the country. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit and No. 31 at the position.

TOP TARGETS

Without a true defensive end commitment, Notre Dame has made progress with a number of recruits with unofficial visits or planned official visits.

• DE Austin Bryant, 6-4, 246; Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County Central: Bryant proved a worthy target at June’s Irish Invasion. While most of the top 2015 targets didn’t take part in the camp, Bryant competed against the top offensive linemen including tackle commit Jerry Tillery.

Bryant remained coy about top schools following his visit, but it seemed the Irish made a good impression moving forward and could receive an official fall visit. Notre Dame will have to fight some powerful SEC and ACC programs for the four-star prospect.

A long-armed prospect with an athletic frame, Bryant could develop into a dangerous pass-rusher with improved technique. 247Sports slates Bryant as the No. 10 weakside defensive end. Rivals ranks him as the No. 12 defensive end.

• DE Byron Cowart, 6-4, 250; Seffner (Fla.) Armwood: The Irish pulled off a major coup in June when Cowart visited campus with a crew from his Armwood team. Pulling this elite defensive end out of the South will likely require multiple visits to South Bend. Now the Irish, led by recruiting coordinator Tony Alford, will continue to work to book an official visit.

Ranked the nation’s No. 1 overall player by Rivals, Cowart possesses the complete package at defensive end. His size, speed and explosiveness is coveted by nearly every major program. Florida appears to be the favorite with Alabama, Auburn and Oregon right there. 247Sports slates Cowart as a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 4 strongside defensive end.

• DE Keisean Lucier-South, 6-6, 215; Orange (Calif.) Lutheran: With an official visit set for the Stanford game in October, the Irish are poised to make a serious run at Lucier-South. He also speaks highly of Michigan, so a Midwest commitment from a West Coast defensive end doesn’t seem far-fetched.

Lucier-South’s long and lean frame is the kind defensive line coaches hope to inherit. As usual, the Irish will have to fend off UCLA and USC in Lucier-South’s recruitment.

247Sports slates him as a five-star prospect and the No. 3 weakside defensive end. Rivals rates him as a four-star recruit and No. 2 at the position.

• DE Porter Gustin, 6-5, 237; Salem (Utah) Hills: Few prospects in the 2015 class have as interesting a resume as Gustin. As a junior, the four-star prospect played both quarterback and linebacker in an injury-shortened season. He owns freakish athleticism and excellent size in a slightly smaller version of former Irish linebacker/tight end Troy Niklas.

Following a May offer from the Irish, Gustin has eyed a September official visit to Notre Dame for the Michigan game. While some project Gustin as an outside linebacker, he’d likely fit best as a defensive end at Notre Dame with a little more weight. 247Sports slates him as the No. 4 outside linebacker prospect in the country. Rivals ranks him No. 7 at the position.

OTHERS TO WATCH

• DE Jashon Cornell, 6-4, 260; St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall: Cornell committed to Ohio State on Wednesday, but it’s hard to imagine the Irish closing the door if he were to have second thoughts. For now, Cornell has chosen to take a different path than former Irish Ryan Harris and Michael Floyd and sophomore linebacker James Onwualu, who are among the handful of players to make the jump from Cretin-Derham Hall to Notre Dame.

247Sports slates Cornell as a five-star prospect and the No. 5 weakside defensive end. Rivals rates Cornell as a four-star prospect and the No. 6 strongside defensive end.

• DL Joseph Wicker, 6-3, 265; Long Beach (Calif.) Poly: Notre Dame missed on Poly safety John “JuJu” Smith last cycle but returns to the school to recruit Wicker and cornerback Iman Marshall for 2015. The four-star prospect with position versatility will likely land with a Pac-12 program.

Rivals ranks Wicker as the No. 17 strongside defensive end. 247Sports slates him as the No. 18 defensive tackle.

• DT Neville Gallimore, 6-3, 300; St. Catharines (Ontario) Canada Prep: Gallimore’s intrigue isn’t limited to the fact that college coaches need passports to visit his school. The athletic defensive lineman exploded this spring with offers across the U.S.

For once, the Irish may be able to use their proximity to Canada as a positive. Gallimore should fall into the small group of interior defensive linemen Notre Dame would find a spot for in the crowded class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 7 defensive tackle. Rivals ranks Gallimore 18th at the position.

• DE Mekhi Brown, 6-5, 215; Columbus (Ga.) Carver: Visiting with some teammates in the days following the Irish Invasion, Brown, an Alabama commit, wasn’t shy about his impressions of Notre Dame via Twitter. But without another visit to Notre Dame, it’s hard to tell if Brown was just soaking up the attention from Irish fans.

Barring something drastic, it’s likely that Brown stays committed to Alabama. Rivals ranks Brown as the No. 3 weakside defensive end. 247Sports slates him No. 6 at the position.

• DT Rasheem Green, 6-5, 269; Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra: Another standout at the USC pipeline, Green will likely wind up signing with the Trojans. But for now, Green’s focused on 15 schools, including Notre Dame, with a long way to go.

Staying in the running for as long as possible is a positive for Notre Dame with this elite talent. Rivals rates Green as a five-star prospect and the No. 3 defensive tackle. 247Sports slates him as a four-star prospect and No. 8 at the position.

• DE Andrew Butcher, 6-3, 250; Alpharetta (Ga.) High: Notre Dame visited twice during the spring evaluation period with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder began canvassing some familiar territory in Georgia. Flirting with Butcher, who committed to Tennessee in June 2013, may be fruitless, but it’s worth making the connection at a position of need.

Rivals rates Butcher as a four-star prospect and the No. 7 weakside defensive end. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 13 strongside defensive end.

• DT Christian Wilkins, 6-4, 290; Suffield (Conn.) Academy: Notre Dame’s pull in the Northeast may be weakened by a crowded defensive tackle class, but Wilkins could still see a quick path to the field. The four-star prospect has expressed interest in what the Irish offer on and off the field. Rivals ranks Wilkins the No. 7 defensive tackle in the class. 247Sports slates him No. 14 at the position.

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

Defensive line commit Brandon Tiassum visits during the Irish Invasion football camp on Friday, June 20, 2014, at Notre Dame. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)

Sunday: Quarterbacks

Monday: Running backs

Tuesday: Wide receivers

Wednesday: Offensive line/Tight ends

Thursday: Defensive line

Friday: Linebackers

Saturday: Defensive backs

Part five in a seven-day series bringing a position-by-position analysis of Notre Dame's 2015 football recruiting efforts.