Class of 2018: Defense
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, February 8, 2018
6’3” • 288
St. Peter’s Prep
In this year’s class, Notre Dame has snagged one of the nation’s top defensive lineman in Jayson Ademilola from Jackson, New Jersey. A student at St. Peter’s Prep, the four-star recruit is the 13th-ranked defensive tackle nationally, according to Rivals.com, and has received looks from many top programs across the nation, including the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Michigan.
Originally considered a likely signee to Rutgers, Ademilola signed with Notre Dame in December of 2017 after being recruited by Mike Elston. Throughout his high school career, Ademilola has shown his greatest strength to be his quickness. He is able to come off the ball with huge speed, and combined with his ability to change direction, he has proven to be a powerful force on the defensive line. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle has received a number of accolades thus far, among them being an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the Polynesian Bowl.
6’3” • 240
St. Peter’s Prep
Ademilola, a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, is a product of the same high school as current Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound strong-side pass rusher is known for his athletic abilities that propelled him to 182 total tackles and 18.5 sacks over the course of his high school career.
Ademilola boasts a significant number of offers and chose the Irish over the likes of Auburn, Clemson and Georgia. Ademilola was one of the first commits to the class of 2018, when he committed the summer prior to his junior year.
Justin will join Notre Dame alongside his twin brother Jayson Ademilola and fellow high school teammate safety, Shayne Simon.
6’2” • 215
Notre Dame has gained an elite defensive back in Derrik Allen. Allen hails from Marietta, Georgia, and played at Lassiter High School. He is one of the highest rated recruits in his class due to his physicality and ability to play the run, coming in at No. 11 safety in the class of 2018, per Rivals. In addition to his speed, his ball skills will allow him to play the pass and read the offense. Allen was highly sought after by those in SEC territory, including Alabama and Auburn. Although his senior season was cut short due to a hand injury, Allen will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
6’3” • 225
Bauer is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound inside linebacker from Erie, Pennsylvania. He attended Cathedral Prep, and has been committed to Notre Dame since August 2016. According to Rivals, the four-star recruit is the No. 4 recruit in Pennsylvania and No. 5 player at his position. A complete linebacker, Bauer mostly plays the strong side of the field, skilled in both dropping back into coverage and stopping the run. Bauer committed to Notre Dame despite offers from Michigan State, Penn State, Vanderbilt and a variety of others.
5’11” • 170
Milpitas High School
Bracy committed to Notre Dame in the early signing period. Bracy, standing at 5-foot-11 tall and weighing in 170 pounds, saw time as a defensive back, wide receiver, running back and punt returner for Milpitas High School in Milpitas, California. During his senior season, he rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 26 times, catching 13 passes for 251 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, he tallied 28 tackles and three pick-sixes. He helped lead his team to a state championship on a 14-1 record. Bracy is rated as the No. 52 athlete from California and No. 36 player at his position by Rivals.com. His athleticism could help contribute to Notre Dame’s offense, defense and special teams units depending on where the coaching staff wants to use him.
6’1” • 180
St. John’s College
Under Armour All-American DJ Brown decommitted from Virginia, and new defensive coordinator Clark Lea sparked renewed interest in Brown, who went on to sign with Notre Dame. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound, three-star cornerback played at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., before committing to the Irish.
He is the No. 67 corner in the country, per Rivals. He attended the same high school that produced Irish freshman defensive end Kofi Wardlow. Brown is one more cornerback the Irish can use to build defense and depth, after not signing any in 2017. With his defensive vision and ability to read the pass, Brown will aid Notre Dame in building up a future defense. His speed and coverage along with other promising defensive players will pose as a threat to Notre Dame’s opponents.
6’2” • 170
Howard D. Woodson
Notre Dame came out on top on national signing day in a fierce recruiting battle for four-star cornerback Noah Boykin, who had previously committed to Maryland and decommitted from the Terrapins following a visit to Florida.
At 6-foot-2, 170 lbs, Boykin’s length gives him the ability to match up with taller pass-catchers, and his success playing receiver for Howard D. Woodson High School could help provide the ball skills to make Boykin a turnover threat. After a cornerback-free Class of 2017, Boykin joins Houston Griffith as a much-needed piece for Notre Dame’s future at the position. Boykin is rated by Rivals as the No. 21 cornerback in his class and the No. 2 player in Washington, D.C.
6’1” • 296
North Caroline High School
Notre Dame will add depth to its already young defensive line led by junior Jerry Tillery with the addition of Ja-Mion Franklin, a product of North Caroline High School. A three-star commit, according to Rivals.com, Franklin chose the Irish over several perennial rivals including Navy and Northwestern, as well as ACC opponents. A transfer to North Caroline, he totaled 108 tackles, nine sacks, five forced fumbles and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in his final two seasons. He also continued to garner more national attention this past year as a participant in Nike Football The Opening. Franklin serves primarily as a nose tackle.
6’1” • 192
IMG Academy cornerback Houston Griffith has enrolled at Notre Dame this semester after decommitting from Florida State and signing with the Irish in December. At 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Griffith presents strong size to the defensive backfield. He originally attended Mount Carmel until transferring to IMG before his junior year where he excelled as an Under Armour All-American. Griffith comes in at the No. 43 recruit overall and No. 4 safety in the country. His earlier commitment and eventual enrollment at Notre Dame this semester come despite a multitude of offers from elite programs including Alabama and Michigan. The Irish could work with Griffith at cornerback or even potentially transition him into a role as safety given his versatility.
6’4” • 224
Great Oak High School
Linebacker Jack Lamb from Great Oak High School in Temecula, California, may be among the class of 2018 recruits best suited to make an immediate impact as a freshman for Notre Dame. The graduations of middle linebacker Nyles Morgan and outside linebacker Greer Martini have created room for a new face in the rotation and Lamb — a four-star recruit and the No. 2 inside linebacker in the nation, per Rivals — may have the combination of talent and polish to contribute early on. At 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, the rangy linebacker has the physical tools to succeed in coverage but has proven adept against the run too, recording 117 tackles and 18 tackles for loss as a junior before a senior season limited by injuries but highlighted by a 23-tackle homecoming game.
Lamb committed to Notre Dame in July, choosing the Irish over UCLA. As an early enrollee, Lamb will have the opportunity to impress defensive coordinator Clark Lea during the spring season.
6’0” • 196
Penn High School
Paul Moala, a 6-foot safety out of Penn High School in Mishawaka decided to stay close to home to continue his football career. Moala, a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, is known for being a great defender with quick instincts and ball speed. Moala style of play earned him all-state honors his junior year, Northern Indiana Conference MVP his senior year, and an invitation to Polynesian Bowl, where he scored on a 57-yard pick-six. Notre Dame beat out a number of Big Ten schools, including Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan in signing Moala.
6’2” • 207
Farmington Hills, Mich.
Harrison High School
Oghoufo is a 6-foot-2, 207-pound outside linebacker from Farmington Hills, Michigan, out of Harrison High School. His 4.85 40-yard dash is quick compared to players at his position, and his relatively small size allows him to have a quick first step at the snap of the ball. The three-star recruit had numerous offers before committing to Notre Dame in July of 2016. Oghoufo did it all at Harrison, playing tight end and linebacker and making appearances on punt and punt coverage teams. His knack for special teams could make him an asset right away.
6’3” • 212
Jersey City, N.J.
St. Peter’s Prep
Linebacker Shayne Simon will join the Irish after attending the same high school as Brandon Wimbush, St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a four-star recruit and the No. 4 player in his home state and No. 14 linebacker in the nation, Simon will be an essential part in the signing class. Whether he is played at outside linebacker or safety, Simon will be an asset to the defense. Simon is highly touted for his ability to move laterally, tackle and break to defend a pass. He is a hybrid defense player who has the size and athleticism to perform well in a collegiate setting.
JOE WILKINS JR.
6’2” • 180
North Forth Myers, Fla.
North Fort Myers High School
Wilkins, a three-star athlete, according to Rivals.com, he was a threat on both sides of the ball by catching 20 passes for 443 yards and six touchdowns as a wide receiver. On the defensive end, he contributed 36 tackles, five passes broken up, two interceptions and one punt and one kickoff returned for touchdowns. He has been targeted as a cornerback by the coaching staff due to Notre Dame’s recent shortage of commits at that position. His height and length have been noted throughout the recruitment as huge assets to Notre Dame’s defensive efforts.