2019 Recruiting Grades: Defense
One of the primary goals for the defensive staff when it was overhauled after the 2016 season was restocking its depth chart. Adding the 13 signees in the 2019 class to go with the 13 signees from the 2018 class has done just that for Notre Dame.
A big year along the defensive line was a must, and the secondary needed another infusion of talent. Notre Dame hit its marks in both areas, and it added more length and athleticism to the linebacker depth chart.
The 2019 defensive haul is impressively balanced, with the Irish staff landing five defensive linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs.
Eleven of the 13 defensive signees earned four-star grades on my board, and every single defensive signee was graded as a four-star recruit by at least one service. Eleven of the 13 signees were graded as four-star recruits by at least two services. I gave a five-star upside grade to four defensive signees.
Twelve of the 13 signees were ranked among the Top 300 players in the country by at least one service, and seven were ranked among the Top 300 players by at least two services.
Blue & Gold Illustrated graded the group of signees under the following criteria:
A – College Football Playoff Contention
B– Top-10 Viability
C– Top-25 Viability
D– Trying To Be Bowl Eligible
Signed: Howard Cross III (DE), Isaiah Foskey (DE), Jacob Lacey (DT), NaNa Osafo-Mensah (DE), Hunter Spears (DT)
Meeting Needs: Defensive tackle recruiting was wildly erratic for Notre Dame during the first six seasons of Brian Kelly’s tenure. In 2016, the Irish failed to land a single defensive tackle recruit. A solid three-man haul in 2017 was followed by a strong two-man class in 2018. Landing a third straight strong class was needed to finally get the depth chart where it needed to be.
Notre Dame has just two ends on its roster from the 2017 and 2018 classes combined, and neither of those two players are sure-fire starters and neither stands taller than 6-2. Notre Dame needed to add quality depth at end, it needed impact talent and it needed to add length to the class.
All needs were met in impression fashion.
Overview: For the first time since the 2008 class, Notre Dame landed four defensive linemen that earned four-star grades from Rivals. All five signees were named a four-star recruit by at least two services, and all five were named composite four-star recruits according to 247Sports.
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