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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame Addresses Front, Back End Of Defense With 2020 Group

December 17, 2019

Notre Dame placed an emphasis on recruiting cornerbacks in the Class of 2020 and while potential addition remains out there, the Irish addressed that need with a trio of corners, who are all expected to sign on Wednesday, National Signing Day.

Within a four-week span in June and July, the Irish landed commitments from New Jersey’s Clarence Lewis‍, Kentucky’s Landen Bartleson‍ and Caleb Offord‍ of Mississippi.

A two-way high school player, Lewis didn’t need much time to realize Notre Dame was the spot for him, committing to the Irish over offers from schools like Virginia Tech, Duke and Kentucky barely a month after receiving his offer. He took just one official visit, to Notre Dame, and committed shortly after returning home.

Another two-way standout, Bartleson had to figure out if he wanted to play defense in college, which is where the Irish were recruiting him. Once he did, he’d already taken multiple trips to South Bend and felt comfortable enough to pull the trigger for the Irish over offers from schools like Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt among many others.

Similarly, Offord didn’t need very long to come to the same conclusion. In less than two months, Offord was offered by the Irish, took an unofficial visit to South Bend, an official visit to South Bend and committed to Notre Dame. A long cornerback, Offord could be a matchup weapon for the Irish after choosing Notre Dame over offers from schools like Duke, Vanderbilt and Kansas. He also stuck with the Irish after a late chase from Oklahoma.

Ramon Henderson‍ is the one defensive prospect remaining on the board for the Irish. The California cornerback is set to announce his commitment and signing on Wednesday and all signs point toward Notre Dame. Henderson is yet another two-way high school player who would bring athleticism to the secondary in South Bend. In addition to Notre Dame, Henderson also took officials to Oklahoma and Utah, but it would be a surprise if he didn’t choose the Irish.

Looking to the front seven, Notre Dame is set to sign four defensive linemen, including the top ranked defensive prospect in the class, according to ISD, Hawaii Jordan Botelho‍, who will play Drop.

Botelho is the latest Hawaiian player to sign with Notre Dame and like the others, distance wasn’t a huge factor in his choice. Some of the Pac-12 schools like USC, Oregon and Washington tried to get involved, but he was set on the Irish. ISD expert Jamie Uyeyama says Botelho has the potential to be a “special pass rusher” for Notre Dame.

The Irish went international for their first defensive pledge of the class, snagging Alexander Ehrensberger‍ from Germany. Ehrensberger was one of several European prospects who came over to tour some college football programs in November of 2018. Irish defensive line coach was impressed with him in person and extended a scholarship. A couple months later, Ehrensberger brought the process to a close by announcing his commitment at the end of January. He’s raw, but he has a high ceiling.

Illinois’ Rylie Mills‍ (pictured above with Aidan Keanaaina) could end up being a hybrid defensive end type, where he could be a force. Mills looked hard at Ohio State and Wisconsin during the process, but settled on Notre Dame and announced his commitment in early-May. Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston played a huge role in Mills’ recruitment.

Elston went to Colorado to get an interior prospect in Aidan Keanaaina‍, who was committed for a couple months before announcing his commitment publicly in February.  The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder has improved dramatically over the last couple of years and he appears to have a frame that could add another 15 or so pounds.

The Irish are also set to add Washington, D.C. long snapper Alex Peitsch‍, who should be ready to fill longtime snapper John Shannon’s shoes right away. Peitsch comes from the same St. John’s College High School that Notre Dame has recruited heavily in recent years. After a campus visit late in 2018, Peitsch picked up an offer in April and committed last than a week later.

Jordan Botelho drew Brian Kelly and his staff back to Hawaii.


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