Notre Dame fills need with commitment from CB Joe Wilkins Jr.

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The first answer to Notre Dame’s cornerback recruiting dilemma came Monday night.

Joe Wilkins Jr., a senior from North Fort Myers (Fla) High, gave the Irish his verbal commitment following an official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend.

Wilkins, a three-star recruit, announced the news on Twitter. He did not respond to immediate request for comment from the Tribune.

☘️❗️C O M M I T T E D ❗️☘️ pic.twitter.com/hmJ8VnQpxT

— J₩J4⃣ (@joewilkinsjrrr) November 7, 2017

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound athlete becomes Notre Dame’s lone cornerback commitment in the 2018 class. The Irish have been in desperate need at the position since signing zero cornerbacks in the previous recruiting class and losing a commitment from four-star recruit Kalon Gervin in May.

The Irish have pursued a number of cornerbacks in the 2018 class with seven players who could play the position already making official visits to Notre Dame. Wilkins became the seventh to visit and the first to pick Notre Dame as his future home.

Rather than projecting Wilkins as a wide receiver, the Irish saw him as a potential cornerback when they extended a scholarship offer in May. Wilkins had been slated by 247Sports as the No. 148 wide receiver in the 2018 class. Now 247Sports pegs him as the No. 28 athlete, a designation given to recruits without a specific position, in the class.

“What I like about Wilkins is his height,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He has really good length and quick hands. But he’s not a dominating player yet.”

Rivals rates Wilkins as a three-star wide receiver, but did not include him in the top 100 wide receivers in the class.

In the first eight games of his senior season, Wilkins caught 20 passes for 443 yards and six touchdowns. He totaled 36 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions on defense. He’s also returned one punt and one kickoff for touchdowns.

Notre Dame will still need more cornerback in the 2018 class. The other top targets include Kyler Gordon, Alontae Taylor, Noah Boykin and Tariq Bracy. Defensive backs Julius Irvin and B.J. Crim have also been recruited at both safety and cornerback.

Lemming said all six of those recruits are as talented or more talented than Wilkins, who chose Notre Dame over offers from N.C. State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Iowa State and South Florida, among others.

The Irish have now added three commitments in the last three weeks to push the 2018 class to 19 recruits. 247Sports pegs Notre Dame’s class at No. 8 in the country. Rivals ranks the Irish at No. 11.

Below are highlights of Wilkins from his senior season via Hudl.

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Cornerback Joe Wilkins Jr., a three-star recruit, verbally committed to Notre Dame on Monday. He gives the Irish 19 commitments in the 2018 class. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)