Notebook: Focus narrowing in Notre Dame's cornerback pursuit

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Ten days ago, Notre Dame’s coaching staff felt the need to expand the cornerback target list.

Now the focus appears to be narrowing as the Irish try to close on commitments at the position.

Three-star recruit DJ Brown, a 6-foot-1, 183-pound product of Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College High, received the latest 2018 cornerback offer from the Irish on Nov. 29. Brown quickly started to consider scheduling an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend. On Thursday, that visit was no longer happening.

Why the change in plans?

“I’m not going to disclose it,” Brown said in a text message. “But it’s nothing that I did. It’s involving something else.”

Could that mean the Irish are confident in good news coming from another cornerback?

Stops on the recruiting trail show that Notre Dame has continued to pursue Kyler Gordon, Tariq Bracy and Noah Boykin.

After receiving visits from head coach Brian Kelly, defensive coordinator Mike Elko, defensive backs coach Todd Lyght and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian in the last two weeks, Gordon returned the favor with an unofficial visit to Notre Dame this weekend.

The Irish would likely make room for the 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior at Everett (Wash.) Archbishop Murphy regardless of who else wants to join the class. 247Sports slates Gordon as the No. 12 cornerback in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him No. 25. Both rate him as a four-star recruit.

But would the Irish have room for both Bracy and Boykin? The information Bracy relayed would indicate they may not.

Bracy, a 5-11, 170-pound cornerback at Milpitas (Calif.) High, received a visit from Lyght and Polian last week. When Polian returned on Wednesday, Bracy said the visit went well and that they discussed the final cornerback spot left in Notre Dame’s class.

Bracy made his only trip to Notre Dame on an official visit for the USC game in October. 247Sports slates Bracy as a four-star recruit and the No. 20 athlete in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 39 athlete and a three-star recruit.

The Irish have been trying to flip Boykin’s commitment to Maryland since extending an offer in September. The 6-foot-2, 168-pound product of Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson, made an official visit in October for the win over N.C. State. Lyght visited with Boykin, a four-star recruit, each of the last two weeks, but he’s publicly maintained his commitment to the Terrapins.

Rivals ranks Boykin as the No. 20 cornerback in the class. 247Sports pegs him at No. 26.

Notre Dame has also continued to recruit defensive backs Houston Griffith and Julius Irvin. Both may be best-suited as safeties, which could allow the Irish to find room for either player.

If the recent events play out in Notre Dame’s favor, three-star commit Joe Wilkins Jr. could soon have company at cornerback in the Irish recruiting class.

Targets taking visits

Some of Notre Dame’s top remaining targets in the 2018 class are busy visiting other schools this weekend.

Five-star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and three-star tight end Tommy Tremble are checking out UCLA under new head coach Chip Kelly. Meanwhile, three-star wide receiver Lawrence Keys is visiting Houston.

Wide receiver Tommy Bush, a four-star recruit according to Rivals, had planned to visit Georgia this weekend, but he tweeted on Saturday that the visit was cancelled. He intends to reschedule the visit.

Tracking the trail

Notre Dame’s coaching staff continued to visit with recruits during the contact period this week. Only visits to see 2018 recruits are allowed to include in-person contact, according to NCAA recruiting rules. All recruits listed below are in the 2018 class unless noted otherwise.


LB commit Ovie Oghoufo, Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison - linebackers coach Clark Lea


DT commit Jayson Ademilola, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep - head coach Brian Kelly and defensive line coach Mike Elston

DE commit Justin Ademilola, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep - Kelly and Elston

ROV commit Shayne Simon, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep - Kelly and Elston

WR target Tommy Bush, Schertz (Texas) Clemens - offensive coordinator Chip Long and wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander

2019 S target Lewis Cine, Everett (Mass.) High - defensive backs coach Todd Lyght


LB commit Jack Lamb, Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak - defensive coordinator Mike Elko and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian

LB prospect Amari Gainer, Tallahasee (Fla.) Lawton Chiles - Lea and Elston

TE target Tommy Tremble, Norcross (Ga.) Wesleyan - Long

CB target Noah Boykin, Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson - Lyght


WR commit Kevin Austin, Pompano Beach (Fla.) North Broward Prep - Kelly, Alexander and running backs coach Autry Denson

S commit Derrik Allen, Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter - Lyght

WR target Braden Lenzy, Portland (Ore.) Tigard - Long

DT commit Ja’mion Franklin, Ridgely (Md.) North Caroline - Elko

CB target Tariq Bracy, Milpitas (Calif.) High - Polian

2019 CB target Cam’Ron Kelly, Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith - Lea


DB target Houston Griffith, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy - Kelly, Elko and Denson

2019 DT target Jowon Briggs, Cincinnati Walnut Hills - Elston | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame defensive backs coach Todd Lyght (left) and cornerback Troy Pride Jr. talk on the sidelines during the Temple game at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)