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Top defensive players on campus this weekend

Chris Allen | Friday, October 12, 2012

A trio of prized 2013 recruits with scholarship offers from Notre Dame will be on campus Saturday to take in the charged atmosphere surrounding the contest between the Irish and Stanford. The Irish recruiting staff’s focus will be on the defensive backfield, as two of the three recruits are projected to line up at either safety or cornerback. Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said cornerback Chris Hawkins, safety Max Redfield and linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea are all elite prep players on the national level.

“These are the elite-of-the-elite type of players. Top-150 type players,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily. “This is one of those funny situations where Notre Dame already has a lot of great commitments, but you’d love to add any of these three that are coming in for official visits.”

Hawkins, a 5-foot-11 cornerback from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has a verbal commitment to USC but will give Notre Dame a chance to offer its pitch this weekend. He is the No. 70-ranked player in the country according to ESPN.

“It seems to me Hawkins is open to listening to what Notre Dame has to say,” Frank said. “There’s certainly an opportunity for any corner to at least come in as a freshman and play right away. Notre Dame obviously has some guys playing now who will have some experience, but even the nickel spot, the dime spot, aren’t really nailed down. You’d like to have some corners playing those spots instead of safeties.”

Though the Irish roster is filled with young safeties, including current starter and sophomore Matthias Farley and freshman standout Elijah Shumate, Frank said Redfield is too good a player for Notre Dame not to want. The 6-foot-2 Redfield, the No. 2 safety in the country according to ESPN, has also committed to USC.

“Notre Dame isn’t in desperate need of safeties right now, but when you look at Redfield’s talent, it’s almost ridiculous,” Frank said. “He plays like his hair’s on fire. He’s an extremely physical player, with incredible speed and athleticism. Comparing him to guys Notre Dame has been recruiting at safety, and even guys on the team, I’d say he has more upside than nearly anybody.”

Rounding out the weekend’s top targets is a player from a familiar high school. Savaiinaea, from Honolulu, hails from the Punahou School – the same program that produced current Irish captain Manti Te’o and senior receiver Robby Toma. Savaiinaea committed to Stanford in March, and Frank said the same drive that pushed Manti Te’o to choose a different school than his idols may push Savaiinaea away from Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame has to at least take a look at the opportunity to sign [Savaiinaea], if he’s interested,” Frank said. “He might want to make his own way, and may not want to become the ‘next Manti’ but rather the ‘first Isaac.'”


For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com. Email Mike at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.

Contact Chris Allen at [email protected]