Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame continues to add reinforcements at cornerback

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame’s need for cornerbacks was made apparent this season. Fortunately for the Irish, it was a need they already addressed in the 2016 recruiting class.

That’s why all three freshmen — Julian Love, Donte Vaughn and Troy Pride Jr. — have seen significant playing time this season. But the Irish can’t count on one recruiting class to carry the load. Any holes on the roster typically reflect on recruiting failures.

Notre Dame has made cornerback a priority once again in the 2017 class. The Irish have landed a commitment from two players at the position already and are working to add a third.

Commitments

• Paulson Adebo, 6-1, 180; Mansfield (Texas) High: A disinterest in doing interviews, confusion with his name and disagreements on his best position have all combined to keep Adebo as an under-the-radar recruit for Notre Dame. Though he’s listed on some websites as Saiid Adebo, he has said he prefers to be called Paulson. Regardless of the name, Notre Dame’s happy to have him as part of its class.

Adebo turned down offers from Texas, LSU, Oklahoma, Georgia and others to commit to Notre Dame in June. Any time the Irish can pull a talented player out of Texas that the Longhorns wanted, it should be considered a victory. The two-way player fits as an athletic cornerback for the Irish.

Adebo leads his team in receptions with 18 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns in an offense dominated by Oklahoma running back commit Kennedy Brooks (2,651 rushing yards). He’s added 36 tackles and three interceptions on defense and will be tasked with trying to stop Notre Dame quarterback commit Avery Davis and the Cedar Hill offense this weekend.

247Sports slates Adebo as a four-star recruit and the No. 27 cornerback in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him as a three-star recruit and the No. 58 wide receiver.

• Elijah Hicks, 6-0, 170; La Mirada (Calif.) High: Hicks ended his recruitment following a visit to Notre Dame in October, but a trip to Michigan last weekend will test the strength of his commitment. The fact that he made the visit isn’t an encouraging sign for Notre Dame, but knowing Michigan wants to add him to its class is a compliment of Notre Dame’s ability to identify talent.

Hicks, a product of the same high school as Irish tight end Tyler Luatua, has also shown the skill to make plays in multiple aspects of the game. Last week, he caught a pair of passes to set up a game-winning field goal, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and intercepted a pass.

His nine touchdowns this season for La Mirada have come on four receptions, three punt returns, one kick return and one interception return. Hicks has tallied 30 tackles, four tackles for a loss and four interceptions.

Rivals ranks Hicks as a four-star recruit and the No. 27 athlete in the class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 49 cornerback.

Remaining targets

• Thomas Graham, 5-11, 177; Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High: The end could be near for Graham. Though he said this week he doesn’t have a decision date in mind, he also said he doesn’t have any other visits scheduled. This after making trips to UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, Notre Dame and Nebraska this season. He’s already used all five of his official visits and should have a good idea of which schools are leading the pack.

Graham, a former USC commit, hasn’t narrowed his list of favorites since releasing a top 10 in July. Visits to Notre Dame in March and September should keep Notre Dame confident in their chances with the four-star recruit.

Rivals ranks Graham as the No. 7 cornerback in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him No. 12.

• Shaun Wade, 6-2, 179; Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian: Despite a long-standing commitment to Ohio State, Wade has routinely shown an interest in Notre Dame. Landing visits from him in June and September put the Irish in a surprisingly good position for Wade. But with Notre Dame struggling, Alabama making a move for him and Ohio State continuing to be a top team in the country, reason for Irish optimism has faded.

Wade hasn’t completely shut down his recruitment yet as he will reportedly visit Alabama again this weekend for the Iron Bowl.

Rivals ranks Wade as a five-star recruit and the No. 4 cornerback in the class. 247Sports also slates him as the No. 4 cornerback but pegs him as a four-star recruit.

• Greg Johnson, 5-10, 183; Los Angeles Augustus Hawkins: The Arizona commit has visited Notre Dame before but plans to get him on campus for a game this season fell through. The Irish hopes on flipping his commitment rest on the ability to get him back on campus in the final months of the recruiting cycle.

Johnson has shown an interest in visiting other schools. The four-star recruit took his first official visit to Nebraska in October.

247Sports slates Johnson as the No. 10 athlete in the class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 11 cornerback.

(UPDATE: Johnson dropped his commitment to Arizona on Dec. 4.)

Missed targets

• Darnay Holmes, 5-10, 195; Calabasas (Calif.) High: Holmes made an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in July, but speculation of a return visit never came true. Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Washington are among the frontrunners for one of the top cornerbacks in the class.

247Sports: Five stars, No. 1 CB. | Rivals: Five stars, No. 3 CB.

• A.J. Terrell, 6-2, 180; Atlanta Westlake: A visit to Notre Dame in March didn’t resonate with Terrell. After visiting a number of schools in the SEC, Terrell opted to commit to Clemson in August.

Rivals: Five stars, No. 2 CB. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 9 CB.

• Ambry Thomas, 6-0, 174; Detroit Martin Luther King: Thomas made multiple trips to South Bend with fellow Notre Dame target Jaylen Kelly-Powell. When Kelly-Powell committed to Michigan earlier this month, it only increased the likelihood that Thomas won’t leave the state.

(UPDATE: Thomas committed to Michigan on Dec. 7)

247Sports: Four stars, No. 3 CB. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 17 CB.

• Salvon Ahmed, 6-0, 185; Kirkland (Wash.) Juanita: Ahmed’s curiosity for Notre Dame led to an official visit, but he had already set a commitment date before making the trip to South Bend. He committed to Washington a week after attending Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan State.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 1 ATH. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 9 ATH.

Notre Dame cornerback commit Paulson Adebo has been selected to play in the 2017 Under Armour All-America Game. (Photo courtesy of Intersport/Under Armour All-America Game)

In previous weeks, the ND Insider Recruiting Reset has taken a position-by-position look at Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts in the 2017 class. This story is the ninth in the series.

QB: Streamlined QB recruiting process pays dividends

RB: ND can be picky at running back

WR: Irish have work left to do at wide receiver

TE: ND has nation's best tight end class for 2017

OL: Irish still waiting to wrap up offensive line class

DT: Ewell, Hinish answered ND's defensive tackle needs

DE: Outlook remains bleak at defensive end for Irish

LB: Linebacker class should help solidify ND defense