Notre Dame Football Recruiting Big Board: Cornerback

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01: Julian Love
ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01: Julian Love /

After a very good 2018 cornerback recruiting class, Notre Dame football will look to continue that trend in the classes ahead.

Notre Dame football didn’t sign a corner in the 2017 class and followed that up with a five-man class (depending how Houston Griffith is viewed) in 2018. Landing zero athletes at a single position is unacceptable, therefore, the coaching staff will need to have similar success in 2019 if corner is to become a strength of the program.

So far the Irish staff is off to a great start.

2018 Roster Outlook 

The Irish lose Nick Watkins to a grad transfer, but return the rest of the cornerback room for the 2018 season.

Junior All-American Julian Love is the leader in the clubhouse after a stellar sophomore campaign, while fellow juniors Troy Pride Jr. and Dante Vaughn are poised to make major strides. Red-shirt junior Shaun Crawford is also in the mix at several positions, while senior Nick Coleman will help out at nickel.

With these five in place as contributors, Notre Dame will likely only need one freshman corner to play on defense in 2018. At one point, Houston Griffith seemed like that guy.  A switch to safety during his first semester, however, changes things.

The four freshman coming in this summer (Noah Boykin, Tariq Bracy, D.J. Brown and Joe Wilkins Jr.) will fight for early playing time. At the very least, Bracy and Wilkins Jr. could see time on kick and punt return coverage.

2019 Numbers Outlook 

Notre Dame should return most of their corners next season barring an early NFL jump or transfer. Another All-American season out of Julian Love could cause some NFL executives to come calling. With that said, his testing numbers will not jump off the screen, so he should be back for his senior season.

Troy Pride Jr. could also make that NFL leap with a terrific season. Unlike Love, his testing numbers will only help his case. Pride is one of the fastest players in college football. If he turns in a dominant junior season, bolting early isn’t out of the question.

No matter what happens, the coaching staff will not need to overcompensate again and take more than a few players. Notre Dame wants to take two corners in 2019 and leave the possibility of a stud recruit if someone wants in. Projection: 2-3 prospects.

Name to Know/Top Targets

K.J. Wallace committed to the Irish coaching staff in late January over offers from in-state school Georgia as well as Auburn, Penn State, Stanford and Wisconsin. Since his pledge, he has seen his stock rise even more, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he receives an invite to the Opening Finals.

With one corner commit already in the fold, the Notre Dame staff can set its sites high on a few elite targets. The Irish have offered nearly 20 corners in the 2019 class and expect to land at least one more before turning the page to 2020.

Max Williams from California and Woodi Washington from Tennessee are the two top targets on the board. Williams recently set up his official plans for the November 10th weekend vs. Florida State while Washington visited back in April. The hope is to get Washington back for a fall game or during the summer. Washington has stated that he will take an official visit to Notre Dame at some point.

If Notre Dame can land one or both of these elite recruits, it will be considered a huge recruiting win at the corner position

Names to Monitor 

Outside of the aforementioned top targets, Notre Dame is monitoring a few other athletes at the position.

Two Georgia corners stick out as possible priority targets down the road. DJ Turner II already has a summer official visit set up for June 15th (a big weekend in South Bend) and is likely down to Michigan and Notre Dame. The smart money is on the Wolverines right now, but official visits can be game changers. We will find out how hard the staff is pursuing Turner in the coming weeks.

The other Georgia corner is Warren Burrell.  The staff seems higher on Burrell than Turner, but a visit to campus will need to be made if the Irish want any shot.

Next: What Are The Preseason Magazines Saying About The Irish?

Notre Dame can be pretty choosy with their corners in the 2019 class after signing a stellar 2018 class and already pulling in one commit in 2019. The staff would love to land one more elite target, but should be fine if nothing comes to fruition. There is no need to force the issue. Notre Dame should be past the days of adding players simply to add them.