Top 2018 Georgia safety Derrik Allen adds to Monday's Notre Dame DB haul
Todd Lyght is probably not a prophet.
Still, there’s no denying the defensive backs coach is a recruiter on a roll.
On Feb. 1, Notre Dame’s third-year assistant stood behind a podium on National Signing Day and offered zero excuses. He conceded that, yes, the Irish signed zero cornerbacks in their 2017 class. They added three safeties — Isaiah Robertson, Jordan Genmark Heath and rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — but still, even to Lyght, the haul seemed a little, well, light.
Still, he was positive. He was enthusiastic. The former Irish All-American cornerback’s confidence bordered on guarantees.
“I think that, my first year here, we pretty much got 90 percent of the guys that we wanted,” Lyght said. “This year it didn’t work out that way, but next year it will.”
On Monday, fewer than two weeks later, “next year” arrived.
Cornerback Kalon Gervin and safety Derrik Allen – both consensus four-star recruits – verbally committed to Notre Dame, adding to an eight-man class that Rivals and 247Sports each rank as the second-best in the country, behind only Penn State.
"I am honored to say that I have committed to the University of Notre Dame!" Gervin posted on Twitter on Monday morning, a day after concluding his junior day visit in South Bend. "I wanna say thanks to everybody that helped me throughout my process & Thanks to all the coaches that recruited me. God bless. God. Country. Notre Dame."
On Monday night, Allen added: "After this long journey my family and I have decided that for the next four years I will be attending the University of Notre Dame #GoIrish".
A 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback from Detroit, Gervin is ranked as the No. 11 cornerback in the country and the No. 90 overall prospect in the 2018 class by Rivals, as well as the No. 16 athlete and the No. 158 overall player by 247Sports.
Not to be outdone, Allen — a 6-foot-1, 204-pound safety from Marietta, Ga. — is regarded as the No. 3 safety and the No. 36 overall player in the 2018 class by Rivals, as well as the No. 8 safety and the No. 93 overall recruit by 247Sports.
“He’s a four-plus (star) guy, almost a five-star. He’s a major talent,” CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said of Allen. “He’s got very good coverage skills. He’s physical. He’s got football smarts. This is a major catch for Notre Dame.”
Together, Allen and Gervin form perhaps the premier defensive back duo in any Irish recruiting cycle under head coach Brian Kelly.
All in a day’s work.
"Getting players like this sends a sign that Notre Dame is definitely going after A-list guys and they’re not going to settle for anything less,” Lemming said on Monday. “They’re going to bring in impact ball players, especially on defense where they’ve struggled.”
Notre Dame has struggled, too, to acquire talent in the areas they successfully mined on Monday. Gervin — who also had offers from in-state powers Michigan and Michigan State, along with many others — hails from Detroit’s Cass Technical School, where elite wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell attended before spurning the Irish in favor of Michigan in the 2017 cycle.
Now, it appears Gervin could be the one covering Peoples-Jones when Notre Dame hosts Michigan on Sept. 1, 2018.
"I’ve been following him since he was a freshman,” Lemming said of Gervin, who visited Notre Dame for the program’s junior day last weekend. “He’s got really good cover skills. He was practicing against Donovan Peoples-Jones, one of the best receivers in the country, all last year.
“I just think it’s a great sign that Notre Dame can beat some big schools on a defensive player.”
It doesn’t get much bigger than the programs Allen turned away in favor of Notre Dame. The Lassiter High School standout chose the Irish over offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State and more.
And if Allen indeed sticks to his pledge, he’d be the first player from the state of Georgia to sign with Notre Dame since punter Tyler Newsome in 2014.
“Georgia is absolutely loaded for this coming year, so it would be absolutely fantastic if they could get it going there,” Lemming said. “They’ve got it going right now. They just have to keep it going, and it looks like it’s been a combination of (first-year Irish defensive coordinator Mike) Elko and Lyght that have really been doing things.”
All things considered, with nearly a year until National Signing Day, six of Notre Dame’s eight verbal commits reside on the defensive side of the football.
And if anyone was more satisfied than Lyght on Monday, it may have been Elko.
“Man them Irish D-Boys are on a roll,” Elko tweeted on Monday night. “Coming from all over the country to join something special. #IrishBouND18.”
Just as Lyght predicted.
COMMITTED ‼️‼️‼️‼️☘️ pic.twitter.com/15cX4wJnIE
— Derrik Allen (@DsmoothAllen) February 14, 2017
Man them Irish D-Boys are on a roll. Coming from all over the country to join something special. #IrishBouND18
— Coach Mike Elko (@CoachMikeElko) February 14, 2017
We up to something! @DsmoothAllen congrats my g! ☘️☘️
— Kalon Gervin (@KalonGervin) February 14, 2017
— JonathonMacCollister (@bigbird__54) February 14, 2017
— Markese Stepp (@markese_stepp) February 14, 2017
another one ✔️ https://t.co/tRj1C8QqYu
— Jafar Armstrong (@jafararmstrong3) February 14, 2017
Let's go! Welcome to family bro ☘️ https://t.co/JqohKtbVCB
— JUSTIN ADEMILOLA (@JustinAdemilola) February 14, 2017
join greatness.. ☘ #IrishBouND18
— Ovie Oghoufo (@OvieOghoufo) February 14, 2017
BUSINESS IS BOOMING ☘️☘️ ♂️
— ㅤ (@CjHo1mes) February 14, 2017
— JUSTIN ADEMILOLA (@JustinAdemilola) February 14, 2017
— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) February 14, 2017