Safety recruit Devin Studstill commits to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Devin Studstill gave Notre Dame his word, but he wanted to make one more visit.

Before he revealed his commitment publicly Tuesday night on ESPN West Palm Radio, the senior safety recruit made an official visit to Texas over the weekend.

The Longhorns tried to make a push at the 11th hour, but Studstill didn’t waver from the silent commitment he made to head coach Brian Kelly and running backs coach Autry Denson when they visited his home on Dec. 3.

“I told them to keep it on the hush-hush,” Studstill said on the High School Hysteria radio show. “They all got re-nervous and re-anxious when I went to Texas. They were texting me the day before, every single last coach, hitting me up the day before asking me Irish this and Irish that — a lot of mentions about the Irish.

“I'm solid with my word. I didn't want to recommit, decommit. I wanted to make sure the thing was right. I'm 100 percent committed."

With that, Notre Dame officially added its 20th verbal commitment to the 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., chose the Irish over offers from Miami, West Virginia, North Carolina and Texas, among others.

Notre Dame made the safety position a priority in the 2016 class and has addressed it with commitments from Studstill, Spencer Perry, D.J. Morgan and Jalen Elliott. Studstill, who last visited South Bend in October for the USC game, was at or near the top of Notre Dame’s list.

“When you talk to sources at Notre Dame, I think he's the top defensive player on their board arguably,” said 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong. “They think they're getting an elite guy. He can cover. He certainly can hit. He's a playmaker in the secondary.”

Recruiting rankings don’t quite put Studstill in the elite category. 247Sports slates Studstill as a four-star prospect, the No. 13 safety and No. 306 overall in the 2016 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 45 athlete.

But the Irish coaching staff has put more stock in its own evaluations and shown an appreciation for versatile players in the secondary.

“Notre Dame always had him as a talented safety recruit for them,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He's good-sized. He runs well, and he's a physical ball player."

Studstill played cornerback and safety in addition to spending time at wide receiver and quarterback as a senior. Elliott and cornerback commit Julian Love have also had productive careers on both sides of the ball.

Wiltfong believes Studstill is an instant impact recruit who could — along with Elliott and defensive end commit Khalid Kareem — play as a freshmen for Notre Dame.

"He flies to the football,” Wiltfong said of Studstill. “He's a space eater in the secondary. He has good instincts. When the football's in his area, he can make a play on it whether it's forcing a fumble or picking it off. I love the pickup."

Studstill, a high school teammate of Irish freshman linebacker Te’von Coney, has been on Notre Dame’s radar for nearly two years. The Irish extended him a scholarship offer in May 2014. Like Coney, Studstill plans to take the early enrollment path to Notre Dame and join the Irish next month.

“At first, over the summer, when I wasn't really turning to anyone, he was bothering me every day about it,” Studstill told ESPN West Palm of Coney’s recruiting pitch. “'The coaches really want you. Come slide, bro.' That's my boy. He let me make my own decision now."

Two visits to Notre Dame showed Studstill what the Irish had to offer, but he credited the weekly Showtime documentary “A Season with Notre Dame Football” as a tipping point in his recruitment.

“That gave me insight of the everyday life of players as much,” Studstill told ESPN West Palm. “That was great and very positive for me."

More than a quarter of Notre Dame’s 2016 class hails from Florida with Studstill becoming the sixth recruit from the Sunshine State.

Denson, who was asked in part to take over former recruiting coordinator Tony Alford’s territory in Florida, appears to have made an impact in the state in his first year coaching at Notre Dame. A slew of ND assistant coaches — Mike Denbrock, Scott Booker, Todd Lyght and Harry Hiestand — have also played key roles in the recruitment of the six Florida commitments.

“You have to really praise Autry Denson again,” Lemming said. “Another catch for him. He's now become a star recruiter at Notre Dame in just 10 months. It's another big catch for Notre Dame."

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame safety Devin Studstill could challenge for playing time as a freshman. (Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Post)