Notre Dame secondary is well-stocked in 2015 class


South Bend Tribune


Notre Dame loaded the boat in the secondary.

Looking for reinforcements in the 2015 class, the Notre Dame football team has already secured five verbal commitments at cornerback and safety. After the run of pledges, Notre Dame appears set at both positions

However, a few elite cornerbacks are still floating on the outside. Depending how the rest of Notre Dame’s class unfolds, the Irish could find room for one more difference-maker in the secondary.

The five commitments complement each other nicely, a combination of varying skill, size and coverage ability.


S Prentice McKinney, 6-3, 180; Dallas South Oak Cliff: The first secondary player to join the class, McKinney didn’t even need to see Notre Dame in person before committing. He gave his pledge to the Irish in March before an April visit to South Bend.

McKinney brings a physical presence to the secondary. On film, he frequently closes the gap between him and the receiver in a hurry to deflect the pass or force the receiver to finish the catch through contact.

McKinney’s size inflates his upside as a safety. Rivals rates McKinney as a four-star prospect and the No. 11 safety in the country. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and No. 36 at the position.

S Nicco Fertitta, 5-10, 175; Las Vegas Bishop Gorman: Undersized and under-recruited, Fertitta jumped on his Irish offer. Unconcerned about his limitations, Notre Dame offered Fertitta in January, when most major programs had yet to show a ton of interest. The three-star prospect committed to the Irish in April and has continued to improve his game.

At the very least, Fertitta can serve as a special teams player that isn’t afraid to get after it. He showed improved coverage skills at the Irish Invasion camp as he works to prove that he has a future in the Notre Dame secondary.

Fertitta possesses decent speed but above average explosion out of breaks and plays with a mean streak. Rivals ranks Fertitta as the No. 36 safety in the country. 247Sports slates him No. 74 at the position.

CB Nick Coleman, 6-0, 170; Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter: Coleman didn’t wait long to take Notre Dame up on its offer. The three-star prospect made a trip to South Bend in June less than two weeks after receiving the offer and gave the Irish his pledge.

Coleman’s film doesn’t necessarily match an offer list which consisted mainly of Midwest schools. A running back and cornerback at Alter, Coleman makes big plays on both sides of the ball. His length makes him an ideal college cornerback, but he could certainly play running back in a pinch. He possesses the speed and quickness to run with receivers all over the field.

Rivals ranks Coleman as the No. 45 prospect in Ohio. 247Sports slates him No. 57 at the position.

CB Shaun Crawford, 5-9, 170; Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward: Crawford became the gem of Notre Dame’s secondary class when he committed in June. Previously a Michigan commit, Crawford and linebacker Josh Barajas are Notre Dame’s two best defensive commits with the order up for debate.

Like Coleman, Crawford is a two-way playmaker in high school. He plays safety at St. Edward in order to make a bigger impact on the game. A fast and explosive four-star prospect, Crawford has the potential to be an elite cornerback despite his size. He could also be asked to serve as a returner on special teams.

Rivals ranks him as the No. 13 cornerback in the country. 247Sports slates him No. 15 at the position.

CB Ashton White, 5-11, 198; Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara: White earned his offer from Notre Dame with a camp performance in June. Days later he committed to the Irish. The three-star prospect brings versatility to the secondary with the skill set to play both corner and safety in college.

White has the size and quickness to play man coverage out wide or in the slot. His physicality helps keep receivers in front of him, and he seems to prefer playing closer to the line of scrimmage. He also looks comfortable blitzing from the slot.

247Sports slates him as the No. 43 athlete prospect. Rivals ranks him as the No. 21 prospect in Maryland.


CB Iman Marshall, 6-1, 190; Long Beach (Calif.) Poly: There will always be room for Iman Marshall. The five-star prospect is as elite as it comes in terms of high school cornerbacks. He’s the total package of size, speed, physicality and coverage skills. Both Rivals and 247Sports slate Marshall as the nation’s top cornerback and in the top 10 regardless of position.

But do the Irish have a chance with Marshall? He told reporters at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge that he’s strongly considering an official visit to Notre Dame. That’s worth hanging onto as the Irish move into the 2014 season. USC, UCLA and Stanford seem the likeliest destinations for the recruit nicknamed Biggie.

CB Ykili Ross, 6-2, 185; Riverside (Calif.) Poly: Ross keeps quiet with media, but it’s the noise on the field that’s captivated college coaches. The two-way high school player could line up at wide receiver or any defensive secondary position in college. As a junior, Ross combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense and 15 touchdowns. On defense, he has safety size and corner coverage skills.

Notre Dame is likely to stay interested in the four-star prospect as long as he keeps them in the conversation. Rivals ranks Ross as the No. 31 cornerback recruit in the 2015 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 7 wide receiver.

CB John Reid, 5-10, 180; Philadelphia St. Joseph’s: With a decision from Reid not likely to come until after his senior season, Reid may not be a realistic option for Notre Dame. But depending on the way the class shakes out, the Irish could still push for his commitment. The four-star prospect visited Notre Dame in March for a spring practice.

A solid all-around corner, Reid owns higher ratings than any of Notre Dame’s committed cornerbacks. Rivals ranks Reid as the No. 10 cornerback in the country. 247Sports slates him No. 13 at the position. ¦ 574-235-6214 ¦ Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith with 2015 cornerback commit Shaun Crawford during Irish Invasion football camp on Friday, June 20, 2014, at Notre Dame. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

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

Sunday: Quarterbacks

Monday: Running backs

Tuesday: Wide receivers

Wednesday: Offensive line/Tight ends

Thursday: Defensive line

Friday: Linebackers

Saturday: Defensive backs