Notre Dame football currently has 12 verbal commitments in their 2018 recruiting class; a fairly large number in April. Needless to say, Notre Dame is off to hot start and has some recruiting momentum with the new coaching hires. However, there are still several top of the board Irish targets that can make this class special come February 2018. I want to take this time to run down a list of the top five targets that should be on every Notre Dame fan’s wish list.
Number 5: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Florida
Petit-Frere is one of the top rated offensive lineman in the 2018 class, and true left tackle prospect; something the staff has been looking for since Ronnie Stanley departed. Notre Dame has no trouble attracting elite offensive line prospects, and OL Coach Harry Hiestand is a big reason why. He is one of the best in the business and players love him. Petit-Frere has offers from most of the top schools in the country including Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma, and many, many others, but this will most likely come to down to Notre Dame, Florida, and Ohio State. He fits the “Notre Dame type of kid” description very well, which has kept Notre Dame in the race since they offered. In the end, it could be hard to lure him away from other top programs, but Notre Dame is in as much as anyone.
Number 4: Thomas Booker, DE, Maryland
Booker is another kid that fits the Notre Dame mold. He received his Notre Dame offer on February 1st, and they instantly joined his top group. I would be surprised if he ends up anywhere but Notre Dame or Stanford, but without a reported Stanford offer Notre Dame holds the advantage. Booker is a versatile athlete, that can set the edge on outside runs or kick inside and provide an interior rushing presence. He can also pin his ears back on passing downs beat offensive tackles with speed and power. He reminds me a lot of Issac Rochell coming out of high school, and hopefully with better coaching reach levels that Rochell did not. If he commits to Notre Dame, fans will be reminded of the Paulson Adebo situation last year if Stanford offers. Regardless, his Notre Dame interest in real and I believe they lead for him at the moment.
Number 3: Houston Griffith, CB, Illinois (IMG Academy in Florida)
Griffith has been a top Notre Dame target for over a year now, and the interest from both sides has never wavered. He has been on campus many times, and has a great relationship with the old staff as well as the new. He is another prospect that holds offers from most of the top programs in the country. The recruiting industry sees this coming down to Ohio State and Notre Dame, and could be whether or not he is a take at Ohio State. Ohio State has done very well sending defensive backs into the league of late, and it hard to blame a kid for choosing that path. However, I believe his relationships with the Notre Dame staff and players is stronger. There is also the position question. Is he a corner or safety? Depending on who you ask, the answer will change. Both schools feel confident, and it will be a tight battle all the way to the finish line.
Number 2: Dallas Gant, OLB, Ohio
Another Notre Dame, Ohio State battle that has had its many twists and turns the last several months. Gant will be deciding on his birthday, May 16th, between these two, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. Gant has developed a great relationship with Linebackers Coach Clark Lea since his arrival at Notre Dame and is drawn to the Catholic tradition. Gant’s recruitment has reminded some of former five-star linebacker out of Ohio, Justin Hilliard. If you remember, he unintentionally drug Notre Dame along for months and months only to pick his dream school Ohio State late in the process. Gant could still very well do that in the end, but lately his recruitment has somewhat of a different vibe. Some in the industry believe Notre Dame holds the advantage, while others still think Ohio State is a lock. Regardless, we will know on May 16th of his intentions.
Number 1: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, California
A name that will sound familiar to any Notre Dame fan. Amon-Ra is the brother of current Irish star wideout Equanimeous St. Brown and Stanford signee Osiris St. Brown. At one point, Notre Dame was seen as a foregone conclusion for the youngest brother, but whether that was wrong information or things have changed, this is simply not the case. There have been rumors the family was upset with Notre Dame’s strength and conditioning program, and Amon-Ra has not made it to campus since the changes to the coaching staff. Right now, Michigan, USC, and Alabama are all strong threats for the possible number one wide receiver in the class of 2018, and it is hard to tell where each school stands. Notre Dame has a ton of ground to make up, and they might be his fourth option currently. If Notre Dame wants a shot, getting him back on campus is imperative. Notre Dame will continue to recruit him heavily, but backup options are and should be in place.