D.J. Morgan honors fallen friend with Notre Dame commitment

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

D.J. Morgan didn't have to wait.

When he took an official visit to Notre Dame for its season-opening 38-3 victory over Texas on Sept. 5, Morgan — a 6-foot-3, 200-pound safety — knew he was ready to commit to a future in South Bend. He even told head coach Brian Kelly that, though his verbal commitment remained a secret to the world at large.

He could have stolen some attention from a rowdy Irish win, going public with his commitment under the bright lights and the golden dome.

But that was never the plan.

Instead, Morgan chose to announce his verbal commitment on Sunday to honor his best friend, David Aguilar, who passed away after being involved in a car accident in January 2006. Sunday would have marked Aguilar's 17th birthday.

“It’s been really special," Morgan said. "It was really important for me to wait and announce it on this day, because that was my best friend, and I never got to say goodbye."

Morgan, who will start as a strong safety but could eventually shift to outside linebacker at Notre Dame, rescinded a verbal commitment to Arizona State in July. He also held scholarship offers from California, Colorado, Colorado State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Utah and Vanderbilt.

And while his suitors offered no shortage of hardware and tradition, Morgan — who will study political science in hopes of becoming a homicide detective — chose Notre Dame for everything else.

“My official visit really affected me a lot, because I got to sit down and talk with the academic advisors and all those people," Morgan said. "I really got to get more of an insight into Notre Dame than I did the first time I visited back in April.”

A standout defensive back at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif., Morgan is ranked as a four-star prospect, the No. 22 safety in the country and the No. 47 prospect from the state of California in the 2016 class by Rivals. He's tabbed as a three-star recruit, the No. 43 safety nationally and the No. 61 player in California by 247Sports.

“He has length and quick hands. He’s an athlete,” CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said of Morgan. “They’re looking at him more as a defensive back, but he can play both ways. He’s a guy that could even grow into an outside linebacker because he’s a physical ball player.”

Morgan, who racked up 112 tackles and two fumble recoveries in his junior season, becomes the fourth defensive back to commit to Notre Dame in the 2016 class. 

He also keeps the door open for more commitments from his area, a recruiting hotbed and prime territory for Notre Dame.

"It's a good catch for Notre Dame out of California. He's been a high target for a lot of people," Lemming said. "For Notre Dame to get him, it keeps the pipeline in Los Angeles going, which is just important as the kid coming in."

For Morgan, it was important not just to make the right decision, but to make the right decision on the right day. 

"It was really special," Morgan said. "I dedicate every moment, every play, every game to David.”

Very proud and blessed to say that I have committed to the University of Notre Dame #WeAreND#IDidItForDavidpic.twitter.com/xQW8tACxoo

— DJ MORGAN (@dj_morgan27) September 27, 2015

@dj_morgan27 LETSSS GOOOOOO BOYYYYYYY

— Julian Okwara (@704jo) September 27, 2015

#WeAreND

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) September 27, 2015

Couldn't be more happy for my bro DJ. ALL IRISH FANS SHOW SOME LOVE TO THE NEW COMMIT @dj_morgan27

— P-Money (@ParkerBoudreaux) September 27, 2015

@dj_morgan27 welcome to the fam #WeAreND

— Julian Love (@julianlove20) September 27, 2015

When you have know this for a month but had to ..... Welcome to the fam bro ✔️ https://t.co/6h4kAYtw0z

— UnoEze™ (@Jae_Uno_) September 27, 2015

@dj_morgan27 welcome to the family

— Avery Sebastian (@JimThqrpe4) September 27, 2015

Prep safety D.J. Morgan announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Sunday (photo courtesy Rivals).
California prep safety D.J. Morgan announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Sunday (photo courtesy Rivals).