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Notre Dame gets the letter: Ja’Mion Franklin, consensus three-star defensive tackle

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JA’MION FRANKLIN

North Caroline High School; Ridgely, Md.

Measurements: 6’2”, 300 lbs.

Accolades: Consensus three-star; No. 11 prospect in Maryland per rivals.com and No. 34 defensive tackle in the class.

Other Notable Offers: More than half the ACC offered Franklin, including Boston College, Pittsburgh and Virginia, as well as Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s previous home, Wake Forest.

Projected Position: Defensive tackle.

Quick Take: Franklin’s abilities may shine through more in stopping the run than in pursuing the quarterback. His frame carries his 300 pounds without trouble, a prototypical mound in the middle.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: Franklin will provide depth at a position very recently lacking any and all such options. If current junior Jerry Tillery heads to the NFL, then that need will increase exponentially. Either way, Franklin could be in line for some action in 2018, but a Tillery departure would all but assure some situation-specific duties.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Along with freshman Darnell Ewell, Franklin is one of few true defensive tackles on the Irish roster. That is not the case just because he breaks 300 pounds. Rather, Franklin’s ability to consume blocks is only rivaled by his hands’ ability to shed individual offensive linemen. Before long, that is likely to move him up the depth chart to a consistent role.

Notre Dame gets the letter: Bo Bauer, four-star linebacker

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MATTHEW ‘BO’ BAUER

Cathedral Prep; Erie, Pa.

Measurements: 6’3”, 220 lbs.

Accolades: Rivals.com four-star; No. 5 inside linebacker per rivals.com, No. 5 prospect in Pennsylvania and No. 142 in the country.

Other Notable Offers: Bauer committed to Notre Dame the August before his junior year, stymying any version of an elaborate recruitment. Michigan State, Penn State and Vanderbilt also offered.

Projected Position: Inside linebacker.

Quick Take: Bauer already has much of the physicality necessary for the collegiate level, though he may not be as readily-athletic as fellow commit Shayne Simon, for example. Simon, however, will line up at rover where that speed and agility will be more necessary. Bauer will be counted on to fill holes and routinely embrace opposing offensive guards.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: If current sophomores Jonathan Jones and Jamir Jones (no relation) do not prove themselves worthy of an influx of playing time, Bauer could quickly establish himself as a second-stringer seeing competitive action. That cause will only be immediately furthered if junior Te’von Coney jumps to the NFL.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko made sure to fill up on linebackers in this class, and highly-touted ones, at that. Reading between the lines, that does not speak well of current freshmen David White and Drew Adams. With that in mind, Bauer should move his way steadily up the depth chart in the first half of his career before breaking through in 2019 or 2020.

Notre Dame gets the letter: Derrik Allen, consensus four-star safety

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DERRIK ALLEN

Lassiter High School; Marietta, Ga.

Measurements: 6’1”, 204 lbs.

Accolades: Consensus four-star; No. 7 safety per rivals.com, No. 8 prospect in Georgia and No. 66 in country; U.S. Army All-American.

Other Notable Offers: Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State.

Projected Position: Safety.

Quick Take: Strong and confident when moving forward, Allen is already a physical safety not afraid to make an aggressive play on the ball. In time, his overall coverage will need to improve.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: Notre Dame needs an influx of performance at the safety position. Whoever can provide it will immediately see playing time. Allen may not be as likely a candidate for that as fellow commit Houston Griffith, but a surprise in preseason practice could make Allen that option from day one.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: As should be the case with many athletic, young defenders, Allen will be counted on for special teams contributions from the outset. Aside from that, he will have a quick chance to move up the safety depth chart. There could also be a foreseeable day — with just a touch of speculation here — when he fills the rover (linebacker) role against a pass-happy defense. He is physical enough to play in the box but would then provide a safety’s coverage on a slot receiver or multi-faceted tight end, perhaps.

Notre Dame gets the letter: Shayne Simon, consensus four-star linebacker

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SHAYNE SIMON

St. Peter’s Prep; Jersey City, N.J.

Measurements: 6’3”, 210 lbs.

Accolades: Consensus four-star; No. 12 outside linebacker per rivals.com, No. 4 prospect in New Jersey and No. 159 in the country; U.S. Army All-American.

Other Notable Offers: Simon held eight Big Ten offers, including from Michigan and Ohio State, as well as six from the ACC, led by North Carolina State and Boston College.

Projected Position: Rover; outside linebacker.

Quick Take: Simon might already be prepared for the game in front of him. He charges to the line of scrimmage and fills holes ably. Diagnosing plays and providing appropriate coverage may take some time, but that is to be expected of any high schooler.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: With current senior Drue Tranquill’s return for a fifth year, the majority of rover snaps will go his way, allowing Simon time to develop those coverage skills and likely take his turn on special teams units.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko brought in Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah last season with the intent of developing him at rover. Simon may fit the position even better, Elko having had a full cycle to chase him down.

An Early Signing Period Preview: Notre Dame’s 8 offensive expectations

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If the Notre Dame class of 2018 tilts toward the defense to date, the eight offensive commitments should still not be given short shrift. Of the 20 prospects overall, it is an offensive playmaker who receives the most hype and is so-often pointed to as the coming redemption of Irish football.

That is internet-fueled hyperbole, but consensus four-star quarterback Phil Jurkovec (Pine-Richland High School; Gibsonia, Pa.) was one of the country’s most sought-after passers before making his Notre Dame intentions quite clear. He likely will not see the field in 2018, and anything after that will need to be earned, but he certainly has the highest future ceiling of the current offensive commitments.

RECEIVERS

Kevin Austin (rivals.com)

— Consensus four-star Kevin Austin (North Broward Prep; Pompano Beach, Fla.): Austin’s speed could get him onto the field quickly. Even if that does not come to fruition, the possibilities he presents for future Irish offenses are enticing.

— Rivals.com four-star Micah Jones (Warren Township; Gurnee, Ill.): No collegiate offense can ever have enough receivers, so in that respect, Jones fills a positional need and likely won’t see the field for at least a season. (Think of current freshman Jafar Armstrong.)

TIGHT ENDS
— Rivals.com four-star George Takacs (Gulf Coast H.S.; Naples, Fla.): Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long prefers multiple tight end sets. In order to maintain that, simply enough, he needs a number of tight ends. With only four on the roster at the moment, Takacs would need to surpass a total of one in order to be in line for steady playing time.

— Consensus three-star Tommy Tremble (Wesleyan School; Norcross, Ga.): Tremble, meanwhile, will provide depth both in 2018 and in years to come at Long’s favorite offensive position. Even if Tremble moves up the depth chart past some of the current players, that only means the position is well-stocked.

RUNNING BACK
Consensus three-star Jahmir Smith (Lee County; Sanford, N.C.): Running back is not often included in the conversation of “sign at least one per year” like quarterback is, but the thought holds just as much merit deeper in the backfield.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Cole Mabry (rivals.com)

— Consensus three-star John Dirksen (Marion Local; Maria Stein, Ohio): Dirksen was a long-time target of offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, and Hiestand has great latitude when it comes to filling out his positional group.

— Consensus three-star Cole Mabry (Brentwood; Tenn.): No recruiting class should have fewer than two offensive linemen. A proper two-deep depth chart needs 10, after all.

STILL TO COME
— Playmakers are the greatest premium in the modern era of football. Another receiver or two could aid that cause.

— The departures of two sophomore offensive linemen in the summer of 2017 (guard Parker Boudreaux; center Tristen Hoge) created a gap in the offensive line progression that Hiestand prefers. Compensating for that could mean signing another couple offensive linemen in this class.

An Early Signing Day Preview: Notre Dame’s 12 defensive expectations1