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Four-star safety joins class of 2016 for Irish

| Friday, October 2, 2015

For the first time in weeks, Notre Dame added a recruit Sunday when D.J. Morgan, a safety from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California, committed to the Irish, becoming the 15th commit of the class of 2016.

Recruiting analyst Andrew Ivins said Morgan, rated a four-star safety by Rivals.com, was a talent the Irish staff deliberated over before offering.

“D.J. Morgan is a guy that Notre Dame spent a long time evaluating,” said Ivins, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Blue and Gold Illustrated. “He visited in late March, and Notre Dame told him they wanted to see more of him in man coverage, so they sent out a coach to evaluate him and just held off a little bit.”

After the Irish didn’t offer in the spring, the safety committed to Arizona State, but it didn’t take long for him to back out, decommitting before two months had passed.

“He ended up committing to Arizona State, and then Notre Dame decided, ‘Hey this is a kid we like,’ and offered him,” Ivins said. “D.J. decommitted, and then it was kind of a lock he would end up at Notre Dame once he visited.”

Ivins said there’s a chance Morgan, the cousin of former Irish women’s basketball star Skylar Diggins, could see the field as a linebacker at Notre Dame.

“There’s been some talks about him maybe moving to a linebacker down the line — some analysts see it, others don’t,” Ivins said. “I can personally see it, and I know Notre Dame’s staff, they kind of see him in that role, but he’s a guy that you play in the box. He’s not going to be someone you leave on an island over the top.”

The commitment came a day after Notre Dame hosted one prospect for an official visit against Massachusetts: three-star linebacker Jonathan Jones, an Orlando, Florida, native.

Ivins said the visit went well but that Jones still wants to take other visits.

“All indications based on what he said is that visit went really good,” he said. “There were some rumors circulating that he might end his recruitment and commit to Notre Dame, but that wasn’t really the case. He came in with a top three of Notre Dame, Duke and Michigan, and he left with that; he still wants to take some visits.”

The visit was highlighted due to Notre Dame’s growing need for linebacker recruits in this class; if junior linebacker Jaylon Smith declares for the NFL draft after the season, the Irish would return just six scholarship linebackers from this year’s squad in 2016.

“He felt like a priority on campus, which I think is big, since Notre Dame needs a linebacker this cycle, and they basically rolled out the red carpet for him,” Ivins said. “ … Notre Dame really sold him on, ‘Hey, we need linebackers this cycle.’”

Aside from the linebacker position, Ivins said recent developments might mean Notre Dame looks toward snagging a second running back for this class. With Greg Bryant leaving the program, the Irish staff may want an insurance policy in the backfield, especially if senior C.J. Prosise were to head to the NFL at season’s end.

“It kind of leaves you in a situation where you need to take a second back,” Ivins said. You’ve got [three-star Bradenton, Florida, running back] Tony Jones committed to the class … but maybe you need to add another guy just for depth.

“They’ve been exploring that option for a while now, and it’s becoming more and more clear they need to maybe find some more options.”

Most of the top remaining recruits in the class will likely announce their commitments in January at various All-American games; however, four-star cornerback Donte’ Vaughn will announce his decision Oct. 12, with Notre Dame squarely in play.

Ivins said one player, five-star athlete Demetris Robertson, rated a top-10 prospect nationally by Rivals.com, may be trying to get back to Notre Dame’s campus after visiting last month for the Texas game.

Despite not having the opportunity to host recruits, No. 6 Notre Dame’s primetime game at No. 12 Clemson gives the Irish an opportunity to impress them, Ivins said, especially ones visiting Death Valley.

“Clemson is bringing in tons of guys that Notre Dame has kicked some tires on, or at least initially made contact with,” Ivins said. “ … If you’re a recruit in the stands, and you like what you see with Notre Dame, that can go a long way.”

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About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.” At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer. A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa. When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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