Football Recruiting: Class of 2014 Defense
Bill Brink | Thursday, February 4, 2010
And the defensive help has arrived.
Notre Dame brought in 11 defensive recruits Wednesday, some highly rated and others lightly recruited. But each one, Irish coach Brian Kelly said, fills a role on the team.
“Again, they fit what we’re looking for here at the University of Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “They’re going to be able to come in and represent us in the manner that we want them to do that.”
Here’s hoping they can tackle.
DB Chris Badger, 6-1, 192, Timpview H.S., Provo, Utah
Badger enrolled early to Notre Dame and is already on campus working out. He was a first-team all-state defensive back and led his team to four straight state titles. He made 77 tackles and had three interceptions in his senior season.
“I love his contact skills,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he likes how he can play off the hash mark and attack the ball in the air.
DB Spencer Boyd, 5-10, 175, Cape Coral H.S., Cape Coral, Fla.
Boyd also enrolled early. He played running back as well as defensive back in high school and rushed for 516 yards and five touchdowns his senior season. He was an all-district cornerback in 2009, when Cape Coral won the state title, but he missed the playoff games due to injury.
“What we liked again about the ability to tackle in the open field which is absolutely crucial in the cornerback position,” Kelly said.
DB Lo Wood, 5-11, 176, Apopka H.S., Apopka, Fla.
Wood had one interception and eight pass deflections as a senior as well as 58 tackles and five blocked kicks. His defense allowed only 86 points through the first 11 games of the season.
“What we liked about Lo again is a very physical player, good size, and he will compete with every ball thrown,” Kelly said.
LB Kendall Moore, 6-3, 235, Southeast Raleigh H.S., Cary, N.C.
Moore was an All-American and first-team all-state linebacker his senior season at Southeast Raleigh, when he had 120 tackles and 10 sacks. The Charlotte Observer named him the eighth-best player in the state.
“[He’s] a guy who will complement our defensive structure,” Kelly said. “Loves to play the game, great family and someone that I really enjoyed spending time with.”
LB Justin Utupo, 6-3, 250, Lakewood H.S., Lakewood, Calif.
“He arrives at the ball with a bad attitude,” Kelly said. “He plays with a great passion.”
Utupo was named Lineman of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and was a first-team all-state lineman on the Times’ all-star team. He also played tight end.
“He tells coach [defensive coordinator Bob] Diaco that he’s still angry after his loss, the last game of the year,” Kelly said. “Somebody that will breathe a lot of energy and passion into the defense.”
LB Prince Shembo, 6-2, 232, Ardrey Kell H.S., Charlotte, N.C.
“He can come off the ball,” Kelly said. “I really like the way he explodes.”
Shembo was an All-America team selection and rated as the 11th-best linebacker nationally by SuperPrep.
An injured ankle kept him out of all but five games as a senior. As a junior, he made 86 tackles and had nine sacks and two interceptions.
“Prince was another young man that we had to re-recruit and spend a lot of time with him,” Kelly said. “[He’s] another guy that can play a few different positions for us.”
DL Louis Nix, 6-3, 315, Raines H.S., Jacksonville, Fla.
Nix, an All-American, played in the Under Armour All-America game. He ranked No. 59 on The Sporting News top-100 list of recruits and was ESPN’s sixth-best defensive tackle. He had 50 tackles and 10 sacks in his senior year at Raines.
“Great character kid. I think he’ll be a real asset, somebody that can come in and compete right away,” Kelly said. “Like his explosiveness.”
DL Kona Schwenke, 6-4, 227, Kahuku H.S., Hauula, Hawaii
Schwenke waited to sign with the Irish until Wednesday. Notre Dame recruiters were in the state looking at other players when they noticed him, Kelly said.
“He’s a young man who came on us late. We will say that we were out in Hawaii looking at another young man and well, it’s one of those things,” he said. “Your attention now is focused on somebody else. We had such a need … for that outside guy who can come off the edge.”
Schwenke was a first-team all-state selection and helped Kahuku to the state championship game in his senior season. Rivals.com rated him as the fourth-best defensive player in Hawaii.
DL Bruce Heggie, 6-6, 240, Mount Dora H.S., Sorrento, Fla.
Heggie played tight end as well as defensive line and caught 16 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns in his senior season. He had four sacks as a defensive end and ranked 10th in his class academically with a 4.2 GPA. His dad, Bruce Sr., played at Florida State.
“He’s someone we had our eye on at Cincinnati and when it worked out that the numbers were in our favor on the defensive line we felt like he could do a number of things for us,” Kelly said.
ATH Daniel Spond, 6-3, 232, Columbine H.S., Littleton, Colo.
Spond was a first-team all-state selection and played different positions for Columbine. He played quarterback, cornerback, kicker and punter. The Denver Post tabbed him as the “best athlete” in the state.
“He’s a guy that again has shown the ability to do a lot of jobs for us at the University of Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “Big kid, can play safety, outside backer.”