Class of 2015: Defense
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, February 5, 2015
Ranked as the top player in Indiana and the No. 137 player overall in 247 Sports’ composite rankings, Josh Barajas chose Notre Dame over a host of top schools, including national championship game participants Oregon and Ohio State. Originally committed to Penn State, he decommitted from the Nittany Lions and committed to Notre Dame on May 30.
Barajas has been listed as both an inside and outside linebacker, depending on the recruiting service. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, his frame is a little small for that of a linebacker, but it permits him to use his speed and get out in coverage.
Barajas doesn’t figure to be a great pass rusher, but he pursues and tackles well, which should give him a shot at quick playing time in a position where the Irish are still inexperienced.
Bilal, who projects as an inside linebacker at the next level, chose the Irish in October over offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Michigan State, among others. Bilal was selected as a U.S. Army All-American and is seen by some analysts to be an instant impact player for the Irish, especially if he were to move outside. He is coming off a strong senior season in which he racked up a team-leading 155 tackles, 104 of them solo. He also helped guide his team to the Indiana Class 6A state championship. Bilal has a great motor to go along with even better instincts to the ball, seemingly always knowing which direction the play is headed. He is a heavy hitter who doesn’t give up on plays.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Coleman showed some speed at both running back and corner during his high school career. He has twitchy speed, which is great for reacting as a corner. He shows great closing speed, also good for any defender, and he displays some impeccable acceleration and separation speed. As a nationally unranked, three-star recruit, Coleman may be just the steal Notre Dame needs for its secondary. Coleman committed as a cornerback to Notre Dame, but he has potential to be a running back for the Irish. Look for the Kettering, Ohio, native to possibly be a dark horse in the near-future for the Irish, whether on offense or defense.
Palm Beach Gardens
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Weighing 221 pounds and measuring in at six feet tall, inside linebacker Tevon Coney verbally committed to Notre Dame in October and enrolled early at the University in January. Coney was an Under Armour All-American and made the Florida All-State second team during his high school career, and he totaled 308 tackles and 17 sacks in his junior and senior years combined. Coney’s main attribute is his ability to shut down the opposing team’s running game and his ability to blitz. In that respect, he will be very useful to Notre Dame’s developing linebackers corps. Coney was also recruited by Florida, Alabama and Auburn.
5’9″ • 170
Shaun Crawford is a four-star recruit from St. Edward High School, one of the premier high school football programs in Ohio. Crawford gave a verbal commitment to Michigan in August 2013 but later decommitted and verbally committed to Notre Dame in June 2014. At St. Edward’s, Crawford lined up at cornerback, receiver and kick/punt returner. During his senior year, Crawford registered 91 tackles, seven interceptions and 17 pass breakups on defense. He also accumulated 824 receiving yards on 54 receptions, nine of them for touchdowns, on the offensive side of the ball. Crawford is a versatile athlete who shows great playmaking ability. He doesn’t have ideal size or measurables, but his knack for the game and athleticism make him an elite recruit in this year’s class.
6’5″ • 280
A raw and athletic defensive lineman, Micah Dew-Treadway has all of the physical skills to be a key player for the Irish in the future.
Although Dew-Treadway is still relatively inexperienced, having only recently transitioned to football from basketball, he has already shown signs that he can be a disruptive player with a habit of shedding blockers and getting into the backfield.
Dew-Treadway played both inside and as an edge-rusher for Bolingbrook High School, but he is likely to continue to add size to his 6-foot-5, 280-pound frame and play defensive tackle for the Irish.
As an early enrollee, he should have an early opportunity to gain more experience in football and at defensive tackle.
5’9″ • 175
Joining the Irish from Bishop Gorman High School, Nicco Fertitta fits the mold of past scrappy players to suit up in the gold and blue.
Somewhat undersized for an FBS recruit at his position, the 5-foot-9, 172-pound defensive back shows strong closing speed and hitting intensity, despite not looking like the prototypical safety.
Without a big build, Fertitta was left unranked on virtually every major recruiting list and was ranked a three-star recruit. However, it seems that Notre Dame has found a steal with a recruit who went largely unnoticed on the national stage.
Just before he competed in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last month, Fertitta’s high school team was recognized as the best team in the nation by USA Today’s Super 25 rankings.
6’3″ • 285
Elijah Taylor is a 6-foot-3, 285 pound defensive tackle from Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to 247Sports, he is the 14th best prospect in Ohio and 21st best defensive tackle in the country. He verbally committed this past summer and chose Notre Dame over Ohio State, Florida State and Michigan State, among others. During his senior season, he recorded 88 tackles, 15 of them for loss, and 12 sacks while leading the Fighting Crusaders to the Ohio state semifinals. He profiles as a one-technique tackle, provided he can add a few pounds to his big frame. His presence is very much needed after last season’s injuries along the defensive line exposed major depth problems at the position.
Park Tudor School
Defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum had a dominant senior season for Park Tudor in 2014, leading the team’s defense with 91 tackles, 18 of them for loss, and five sacks. He also forced four fumbles in his senior season. For his efforts, Tiassum earned all-county, all-conference and all-state honors during his time at Park Tudor. Tiassum has been praised for his size and ability to move toward the ball. He also displays a quick first step and had a talent for pressuring and reaching the quarterback during his high school career — a habit that could be useful on the Irish defensive line in upcoming seasons.
6’6″ • 310
At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, early enrollee Jerry Tillery is a big recruit in more ways than one. An offensive lineman at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana, Tillery committed to Notre Dame on June 22, 2013 as a defensive tackle. Using his massive frame and strength to his advantage, Tillery displays an ability to drive opposing players with ease, which should translate to him being an effective, disruptive defensive tackle. What truly sets him apart in the minds of recruiters, however, is his athleticism. Despite his size, Tillery runs a 5.05 40-yard dash and displays impressive lateral quickness and first-step explosiveness, which should enable him to make the transition to defensive line with relative ease.
6’4″ • 215
At 6-foot-4, Bo Wallace has the frame of a defensive end, but his listed weight of 215 pounds makes him leaner and rangier than a typical lineman. Wallace himself has admitted that he needs to bulk up in order to make an impact at the collegiate level, and he is considered by many a likely candidate to switch to outside linebacker.
But what Wallace, a three-star recruit, lacks in size, he makes up for with blazing speed. He runs a 4.68 40-yard dash and can easily sprint by larger offensive linemen. On the high school level, opposing quarterbacks had trouble outrunning him. When he is blocked, however, he sometimes struggles to fight through the block and make tackles.
Wallace racked up 52 tackles and nine sacks and earned Louisiana all-state honors his senior season.
5’11” • 182
A three-star defensive back from Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, Ashton White possesses solid ball-tracking skills, especially given his occasional snaps at receiver — he recorded 10 receptions for 112 yards in his senior season. White also showed good turnover instincts, creating two interceptions and two forced fumbles in his last 10 games. His listed position in high school was cornerback, but his size and speed gives him some versatility in the defensive backfield. White also will not shy away from making tackles in run support or taking down receivers downfield, as he finished his senior season with 58 tackles, 38 of which were solo.
6′ • 185
A six-foot safety who verbally committed to the Irish on Dec. 19, four-star recruit Mykelti Williams is another Hoosier who chose to stay in-state for school. The 185-pound Indianapolis native flies in from his safety position in run support and often played close to the line of scrimmage in high school. Not afraid to throw his frame around, Williams uses his speed to blow up screens, end-arounds and swing routes. The runner up for the Indianapolis Star’s Mr. Football 2014 also does a solid job of open-field tackling at full speed, demonstrating a knack for being able to take the feet out from under shifty running backs and receivers. This is not to say he is a one-dimensional player; Williams also recorded seven interceptions as a senior.