Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD

2019 Recruiting Taking Off

March 6, 2017

Notre Dame coaching and recruiting staff were given a very tough task when having to finish up the remainder of the 2017 class. In a short amount of time with new coordinators and new schemes to think about, they did a better than admirable job of identifying prospects late in the game.

That focus on 2017 put them a bit behind in 2018 recruiting and they have done a tremendous job catching up in the last few weeks with a flurry of offers being sent out. You may have noticed that they weren't only targeting 2018s. They've been pushing hard with 2019 prospects too. Less than a handful of offers to that class were out at the beginning of February and now that number has risen to 15. (It jumped to 17 as I wrote this with a new offers out to linebacker Shammond Cooper and linebacker Shane Lee.)

If you're thinking that it is a lot for almost two years before these players will sign a letter of intent, then think again. This is how things are trending these days and Notre Dame knows it must keep up with the rest of power programs in college football. LSU already has over 50 offers out in the '19 recruiting cycle.

Everything is earlier than it was before and that makes evaluations trickier. There is even more projection with much less known about these players on and off the field. Being correct more often with these projections could make a significant difference in the Irish not only becoming even with others, but gaining an edge in the long term by starting some relationships sooner.

With them having to decide on offers sooner than before, ISD is grading players earlier than ever as well. I gave grades out to the 2019 offers out to this point and will continue to do so as new offers are delivered to recruits. Right now these are first impression grades. Things will change, sometimes drastically, for some as they progress over the next couple of years.

These are grades based on where they are currently as prospects. You can expect just about every one of these players to improve and many have 5 star potential. I haven't given any 5 star grades yet, but remember that none of them have started their junior year of high school.

QB1 (and only)

Notre Dame put all of their efforts into Phil Jurkovec as their 2018 quarterback commitment and it worked out really well. I'm sure they would love to do the same with their first offer at quarterback in the 2019 class, JT Daniels.

Daniels has held the offer for awhile and I assume that be won't be the lone offer for long. But if he commits, then I'm positive they would shut it down after landing an elite passer like him.

He was impressive in person at Irish Invasion last year and put up ridiculous numbers for Mater Dei (California) in 2016. He throws an accurate deep ball and has plenty of zip on the football when it comes to intermediate throws. I like his poise in the pocket, but he frequently has the benefit of a clean one. That's a good thing because he is not an elite athlete.

He isn't going to escape the rush and make plays with his legs often. He also is a bit shorter ("6'2') than you'd like for a pure pocket guy. Considering he is also older than the typical high school sophomore, it's probably an indication that he is likely done growing.

He has the benefit of awesome talent around him and that also shapes my views on him a bit. I think he is a great prospect and if he was in the 2018 class, I would likely put him as the fifth or sixth best quarterback in the class. With two more years to get better, it's going to be fun to watch him develop.

I gave him a grade of 93 and feel he has a great chance of being a 5 star quarterback in the 2019 class.

Two receivers that are very different

The two players they have offered at receiver are talented, but are very different. The Irish already jumped in the pool for Warren Central (Indiana) receiver David Bell. He is a good sized target that plays big. A tough player to bring down after the catch, he constantly fights for maximum yardage. He's also shown great ball skills to make contested catches and go up and high point the football.

I don't see a dynamic speed player currently, but that could very well change as he physically develops. He is not a burner and will need to continue to work on his footwork to be better in a short area. I graded him out at 90.

The other receiver is from the state of Texas and goes to Bishop Dunne. We have him listed as an athlete because he has the potential to play corner too. I like him better at receiver and love his speed. He can hit another gear and for someone that isn't particularly tall, he eats up ground with his strides.

Marquez Beason can do some big time things when he touches the football in just about any capacity. He is very slippery and outstanding in the open field. He also does a phenomenal job of tracking the football over his shoulder. His offense doesn't ask him to do too much as a route runner, he has some work to do there, but the tools are in place for him to be very good.

I gave Beason a grade of 91.

Early with the edge defenders

It might sound weird to say, but Notre Dame went in and offered a receiver last year that may end up as Drop in Mike Elko's defense. At least that's how I see it with Bru McCoy, who is also out of Mater Dei.

I think he certainly could be a receiver at the next level and actually reminds me a bit of 2016 linebacker target Curtis Robinson out of the same school. Robinson is an outside linebacker for Stanford and he showed that he could have been a pretty darn good receiver at the next level too. McCoy could be a linebacker, but he flashes some special traits rushing the passer off the edge.

Clearly how big he gets will tell the story with his long term future. He is listed at 205 currently and that will have to change quite a bit. But his explosiveness, ability to dip and bend, and to convert speed to power are exceptional. Even if he only got to the 230 range, he still could end up being a fantastic situational pass rusher. McCoy was given a grade of 92 as an athlete.

Another super talented athlete from the west coast is Hawkins (Calfornia) running back/linebacker DeGabriel Floyd. He's bigger than McCoy and could be a rare big back with great feet if that is what a program wants from him.

His best future position is outside linebacker/end in my opinion. He is sudden as an athlete with an extremely high ceiling as a pass rusher. He appears to have the kind of speed to play sideline to sideline as well if he plays off the ball. Floyd has a grade of 93 on ISD.

The other two edges are Kayvon Thibodeaux and Zach Harrison. Thibodeaux plays for Dorsey in Los Angeles and may end up as the top player in the entire '19 class. I gave him a grade of 95, which basically would make him a top 30 player in the 2018 class today. He is already 6'5" 235 and is going to fill out to be much bigger.

Even at that size, He is long, explosive, and has great lateral quickness. He needs to develop his hands and not just rely on winning with athleticism, but that should come in time.

Harrison is someone that I see at end, but he could end up at tight end on offense too. He can dominate smaller players with his size and ball skills. He is not strong at the point of attack and must improve his snap anticipation, but I believe some tweaks to his stance and get off could be huge for him eventually. I gave him a grade of 90.

More D-linemen

Thibodeaux and Harrison are both skill players on offense. It's a recurring theme with Notre Dame defensive end targets and Joseph Anderson is another one. This kid looks like he is going to be a monster and a coordinated one. He could end up as Jarron Jones type.

He can play a bit high with his pad level at times, but when he is low and uses that length, he shows elite ability versus the run. He needs to be more violent with his hands and has a long way to go as a pass rusher. I think he may grow into a defensive tackle one day. Based on his size potential alone, he is an intriguing prospect. I gave him a grade of 91.

Jacob Lacey is a defensive tackle that earned an offer with strong camp performance at Irish Invasion. He plays like he is much smaller than 290 in terms of his athleticism. I saw him run the hoop at Sound Mind Sound Body in Detroit better than guys who weighed 70 pounds less than him. He has pretty sweet feet.

If he learns to be a bully, then he is going to be a big time interior disurptor at the next level. I gave him a grade of 92.

Big Lloyd Murray is a Florida State commit and he may not be as athletic as Lacey, but boy does he collapse the interior with power. He may end up similar to 5 star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who also signed with Florida State. Both are dominant nose guards out of Texas.

Jowon Briggs out of Cincinnati is one that I am gong to be very interested to watch over the next year or two. I only gave him a grade of 88 because he has much to improve on including his snap anticipation and overall use of hands versus the run and pass. He moves really well and could end up carrying 300 pounds quite easily, though.

He has the right tools to develop into a good three technique.

Can't stop, won't stop at DB

If you're offering this early at defensive back, then the prospects better stand out. All four of the defensive backs they have offered most certainly do, each in their own way.

Starting off with safety Litchfield Avajon, I don't think I've seen as violent of a hitter as he is over the last couple of classes. And that was only his sophomore season.

He is a knock back tackler that has a knack for putting his facemask on the football. The impact he brings often forces fumbles. He needs to improve his run recognition and his technique with his footwork to transition quicker, but hitters like him are rare. I see him as a box safety or possibly a Rover. I gave him a grade of 90.

Both Wesley Walker and Maxx Williams are elite corners in my opinion. I could see them becoming 5 star players eventually.

Things looks so easy for Walker. He is smooth in his pedal and so quick with his change of direction and transitions. I love how he finishes through the catch point and he shows very good awareness. He checks quite a few boxes for me including being physical in press and being extremely twitchy in a short area. I gave him a grade of 92.

I gave Williams the same grade. My question with him is if he has elite long speed, but he mirrors incredibly well and has big time ball skills. I like his feet and he will come up and lay a lick in the run game.

I saved the prospect who I feel is the best for last. Safety Brian Williams out of Bishop Dunne is a 96 for me. He is simply awesome in coverage as a deep safety with superior instincts, big time ball skills, and he can blanket receivers in man coverage if matched up on a slot.

He has good size, is a strong tackler, and does not have many things about his game that aren't at an elite level including his overall athleticism. I would put him at the top of the board for Notre Dame.

You can find the rest of the 2019 offers here. It is constantly update with new offers and the grades will be updated all the time as well.

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