Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame still stuck in cornerback drought

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Every sign of respite in Notre Dame’s cornerback recruiting drought has eventually proven to be a mirage. Each glimmer of success has quickly evaporated.

All the worry could be wiped away with a pair of commitments at any point in the cycle, but the state of cornerback recruiting can only be described as troublesome until then.

As noted ad nauseam, Notre Dame failed to sign any cornerbacks in the 2017 class after losing verbal commitments from Paulson Adebo and Elijah Hicks. The start of the 2018 class appeared to be positive when four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin committed to the Irish in February, but he ditched that pledge three months later.

On Sunday, three-star recruit Donte Burton became the latest cornerback target to look elsewhere with a commitment to Wisconsin. The Irish still have several candidates who could fill their cornerback void. But the longer those recruitments play out, the more precarious Notre Dame’s situation becomes.

Remaining targets

• Kyler Gordon, 5-11, 180; Everett (Wash.) Archbishop Murphy: Notre Dame hosted Gordon on his first official visit for the Irish season opener against Temple. It was Gordon’s first trip to South Bend after he received an offer in February. The Irish impressed Gordon as he said he enjoyed the visit “very much.”

The list of true contenders for Gordon alongside Notre Dame is relatively short but formidable. Gordon has made only one other visit this season to see Washington host Montana. The home-state Huskies will be tough to beat.

Stanford and USC will also receive consideration, but Gordon said this week he has yet to schedule any more visits. The Trojans extended Gordon an offer after he had attended games at Notre Dame and Washington.

Convincing Gordon to commit to Notre Dame will only get harder as his official visit to South Bend slips further into the past. A return trip to see the Irish would have to be on his own dime.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 16 CB. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 27 CB.

• Kalon Gervin, 5-10, 180; Detroit Cass Tech: The former Irish commit started to show interest in Notre Dame again in August. Three months after dropping his pledge to Notre Dame, he started to line up plans to visit South Bend. After a discussion with defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, Gervin said he wanted to make an unofficial visit for the Georgia game in September and an official visit for the USC game in October.

Gervin followed through with the first part of his plan last month. But the chance of him returning for the USC game appears to be fading. Gervin has instead been working on an official visit to Virginia Tech that same weekend.

A return trip to South Bend could still end up happening. Notre Dame has three more home games on the schedule after USC. But any thought that winning Gervin back would be easy have been dispelled.

Gervin has kept a pretty busy visit schedule this season. After visiting Notre Dame, he made an official visit to Oklahoma a week later. The following week, Gervin took an unofficial visit to Michigan State and saw the Irish beat the Spartans.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 14 CB. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 19 CB.

• Tariq Bracy, 5-11, 170; Milpitas (Calif.) High: Most of the attention for Bracy has come from the West Coast. The undersized, versatile athlete has only a few Power Five offers: California, Utah and Washington State. But Notre Dame saw something it liked it Bracy. Recruiting coordinator Brian Polian extended an offer back in May.

Not long after the offer, Bracy started to eye an official visit to Notre Dame. Since August, Bracy has been looking to make that visit for Notre Dame’s home game against USC later this month.

Based on the competition, Notre Dame should be able to win Bracy's recruitment with a strong push. Being able to overcome the distance from home may be the only obstacle.

Notre Dame’s coaching staff should use Bracy’s visit as an opportunity to make certain he’s the caliber of cornerback that fits the program.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 16 ATH. | Rivals: Three stars, 37 ATH.

• Joe Wilkins Jr., 6-2, 175; North Fort Myers (Fla.) High: Wilkins named Notre Dame as one of his top 14 schools in July, but the Irish are part of a much smaller group expected to receive an official visit. The two-way player has scheduled a visit to South Bend in November for Notre Dame’s game against Wake Forest.

Wilkins could play either side of the ball. The Irish prefer him at cornerback rather than wide receiver. With Lyght and running backs coach Autry Denson leading his recruitment, Notre Dame has positioned itself in a good spot for the next couple of months.

Competition for Wilkins includes South Florida, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Kentucky and Iowa State.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 145 WR. | Rivals: Three stars.

Missed targets

• Donte Burton, 5-11, 173; Loganville (Ga.) High: As Notre Dame’s recruitment of Burton ran hot and cold, he decided to find a home at Wisconsin. Burton had indicated the Irish were waiting on an ACT score from him. Not long after he received his score, Burton picked the Badgers. If Notre Dame felt it couldn’t take Burton, the months spent recruiting him were for naught. The Irish were at the top of Burton’s list after he made an unofficial visit in July.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 49 CB. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 68 CB.

• D.J. Johnson, 6-0, 170; Indianapolis North Central: Notre Dame decided to offer Johnson in May instead of waiting for him to perform at the Irish Invasion. He still made it to the camp in June, but he was sidelined for much of it with an ankle injury. Then the positive momentum between the two started to fade. A week later, Johnson visited Iowa, where he eventually committed last week.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 27 CB. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 55 CB.

• Telly Plummer, 6-0, 185; Fairburn (Ga.) Langston Hughes: Plummer insisted Notre Dame was one of his top schools, though he didn’t make a visit to campus. He committed to Louisville in July shortly after a visit. Notre Dame finished as the ceremonial runner-up.

Rivals: Three stars, No. 66 CB. | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 82 ATH.

• Marcus Johnson, 5-10, 165; Villa Park (Calif.) High: The Irish started recruiting Johnson, and his older brother Greg, back in 2015. Both made campus visits with their seven-on-seven team from California. But Marcus made up his mind before Greg. While Greg was on his official visit at Notre Dame in December, Marcus committed to USC. Greg eventually signed with the Trojans in February.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 25 CB. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 24 ATH. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Cornerback Kyler Gordon (1), a 2018 recruit, reported a Notre Dame offer on Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In the coming days, the ND Insider Recruiting Reset series will take a position-by-position look at Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts in the 2018 class. This is the ninth story of the series.

Quarterback: Early work paying off at QB

Running backs: Irish packing a powerful punch

Wide receivers: With size in hand, ND left looking for speed

Tight ends: Irish not settling for less

Offensive line: ND still looking for star power

Defensive tackle: Irish quickly turning DT into a strength

Defensive end: Pass rush still a priority for ND

Linebacker: Irish loaded at LB in 2018 class