Safety Adon Shuler's commitment to Notre Dame football brightens recruiting big picture
The most tangible evidence of how emphatic Notre Dame football’s recruiting profile is ascending is how each recent verbal commitment ties into significant big-picture benchmarks and trends.
Seven days after top 30 national recruit C.J. Williams’ verbal pledge nudged the Irish 2022 class into the top spot nationally in the Rivals.com 2022 team recruiting rankings, Irvington, N.J., safety Adon Shuler on Sunday made a splash in ND’s 2023 class.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder became the third top 250 national recruit among the three players who have verbally committed to Notre Dame as rising juniors. He joins Mentor, Ohio, defensive end Brenan Vernon — the No. 8 player in the class regardless of position — and No. 106 Keon Keeley, a defensive end from Tampa, Fla.
Shuler chose ND over finalists Maryland and Penn State, the latter his dream school growing up.
“If Notre Dame is going to be able to challenge Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson in big games and win a national championship in the near future, this is what their recruiting needs to look like,” CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said.
“They’re trending toward a national title if they keep this up. They haven’t had sustained defensive recruiting like this since 1990. It’s an impressive big picture.”
Shuler’s own little-picture back story is impressive as well.
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The first cousin of Miami Heat forward and Olympian Bam Adebayo, Shuler honed his own game by competing in the long jump, triple jump and 4-by-100-meter relay this past spring and against cutthroat competition in football practice this summer and last fall.
“We have four Division I receivers on our roster,” Irvington coach Ashley “Smoke” Pierre said. “Adon is going to go against better competition in practice every day than a lot of players will see in their games week to week.
“Here’s another thing that makes him special. He’s only 15 (and doesn’t turn 16 until October). He’s one of the youngest rising juniors in the country. He should be in the 2024 class, but he’s always played up.
“With that being said, he’s always been able to hold his own at the level he’s been playing at.
"He’s aggressive as hell, comes downhill, makes plays. He’s fearless as a football player and then he’s a playmaker.
“His dad is 6-4 and Adon is already almost 6-1 and 190. He’s not even close to being done growing.”
During Irvington’s nine-game delayed season last fall (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Shuler recorded 28 tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. He had seven catches for 116 yards and a TD on offense.
Rivals ranks Shuler as the No. 213 prospect in the 2023 class overall and the No. 15 safety nationally. He’s No. 200 in the 247Sports rankings and the No. 18 athlete, a designation for multi-positional prospects. Both services and Lemming rank him a four-star prospect.
“Great football IQ,” Lemming said. “The kid studies film a lot. He’s got tremendous ball skills and speed. He’s a quick-twitch athlete, very quick in transition, very loose hips and a natural as a DB.”
Who has dabbled at wide receiver and at kickoff returns and punt returns.
Shuler took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame on July 27, the date of ND’s big barbecue recruiting event.
“When the NCAA opened the floodgates and started allowing recruiting visits in June after 15 months of none of them because of the pandemic, Notre Dame did a great job of getting the key 2022 kids in without ignoring the 2023s,” Lemming said.
“That’s one reason why you’ll likely see the 2023 class turn out to be even better than the 2022 class, which itself is very good.”
Notre Dame has offered scholarships to all seven prospects Rivals has designated as five-stars so far in the 2023 class and has gotten three of them to visit in either June, the one week in July when visits were allowed, or both.
Sixty-three of the 2023 Rivals Top 100 hold ND offers and 27 of those have visited the ND campus this summer. Both Rivals and 247Sports rank the Irish 2023 class third nationally in this very early stage.
Lemming credits new safeties coach Chris O’Leary and Chad Bowden, a staff analyst in charge of defensive recruiting, with doing the important legwork that landed Shuler.
“But (defensive coordinator) Marcus Freeman is in the middle of everything,” Lemming said. “His direction and Mike Elston’s experience as a recruiting coordinator has the whole staff doing all the right things.
“Alabama may always be more talented than Notre Dame, but the Irish are now recruiting the kind of players that will make them competitive in those big games. There’s better front-line talent and a better depth of talent.
“Look, you’ve got to have luck if you’re going to win a national title, but the way Notre Dame is recruiting is going to make the chances of that luck showing up a lot more likely.”
Follow ND Insider Eric Hansen on Twitter: @ehansenNDI