Notre Dame earns first defensive back commitment in three-star CB Clarence Lewis

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Clarence Lewis put an end to Notre Dame's recruiting drought. 

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder became the first 2020 defensive back to verbally commit to the Irish. The Middletown (N.J.) Mater Dei cornerback announced the news via Twitter on Monday after his June 7-9 official visit to South Bend.

247Sports and Rivals both peg Notre Dame's 2020 class of 12 commits No. 6 nationally.


— prince_slvmm (@lewisclarence11) June 11, 2019

The Irish whiffed on their share of cornerbacks in particular over the past few months. Top cornerback targets Jalen Kimber, Dontae Manning and Ryan Watts committed elsewhere in April.

Top safety target Jordan Morant excluded Notre Dame from his list of top five schools, which he released on Friday. A few other safety targets reneged on their June official visit plans to Notre Dame — Kristian Story, Chris Thompson Jr. and Jerrin Thompson. 

Notre Dame responded by offering seven 2020 cornerbacks across 36 days, spanning from mid-April to May. Lewis was one of them, garnering his ND offer on May 4. Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston visited Lewis' school during the evaluation period on May 1.

Three of ND's four secondary signees last recruiting cycle verbally committed to the Irish by April of 2018. 

"Obviously they have been missing out on a few people, so they are circling the wagons on a few guys," said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network.

Some schools recruited Lewis as a receiver. The three-star recruit plays both sides for Mater Dei, but the Irish envision him as a cornerback. 247Sports ranks Lewis as its No. 106 receiver and No. 585 overall player. Rivals lists Lewis as a cornerback. Lewis garnered offers from Boston College, Purdue, Kentucky, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and more.

Four-star safety target Lathan Ransom joined Lewis for his official visit, as did four-star receiver A.J. Henning and three-star drop defensive end Mitchell Melton. Cornerbacks Caleb Offord and Jordan Addison also took unofficial visits over the weekend.

Lovie Jenkins, Clark Phillips III, Jahari Rogers, Jerrin Thompson, Landen Bartleson, Makari Paige, Offord, Addison and Ransom are among defensive backs still holding high interest in the Irish.

Lewis possesses the size and athleticism that could make a solid collegiate cornerback. It might require a few years for him to develop, though. 

"As a wide receiver, he would have been just OK," Lemming said. "As a cornerback, he needs more coaching. Perhaps with Clarence they can develop him. He's not a ready-made guy that can step in immediately."

Middletown (N.J.) Mater Dei's Clarence Lewis (No. 3), a 2020 cornerback, verbally committed to Notre Dame on June 10, 2019.