Gulf Coast High School; Naples, Fla.
Measurements: 6’6”, 235 lbs.
Accolades: Rivals.com four-star; No. 15 tight end in the class and No. 49 prospect in Florida; U.S. Army All-American.
Other Notable Offers: Committing this past June, Takacs racked up quite an offer list during his recruitment, including pitches from Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Oregon.
Projected Position: Tight end.
Quick Take: The target Takacs presents to his quarterback makes him an intriguing possibility all on its own. With reach to match his 6-foot-6 frame, Takacs can get to nearly any ball in his vicinity, making up for a lack of top-end speed.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: Notre Dame has tight ends, but it also needs them. As long as Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long prefers multiple tight end sets, then at least four need to be ready for action at a given time. Three will be in the rotation, making the fourth the top backup. At the moment, Takacs appears to be No. 5, meaning he has just a short path between him and meaningful time as a freshman.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Even if Takacs spends 2018 preserving eligibility, he may be as high as tight end No. 3 exiting the season. Current senior Nic Weishar will be finished with his fifth year and junior Alizé Mack could jump to the NFL with a strong season.
It may seem Takacs is a luxury in the tight end room, but the bodies are needed in all of reality.
Penn High School; Mishawaka, Ind.
Measurements: 6’0”, 200 lbs.
Accolades: Local consensus three-star; No. 20 prospect in Indiana, per rivals.com.
Other Notable Offers: Iowa, Nebraska and Vanderbilt all showed at least modest interest in Moala, but once Notre Dame offered at the summer’s “Irish Invasion,” there was little question what decision Moala would come to.
Projected Position: Safety.
Quick Take: An offer after an in-person camp often points to one skill standing out so clearly the coaching staff could not ignore it. In Moala’s case, that would be his speed.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: The local product can turn some heads utilizing that speed in some coverage units, perhaps.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Irish coach Brian Kelly has often found ways to make the most of under-the-radar prospects. Not meant as a direct comparison, but rather as a name that pops to mind when making that claim: Former Notre Dame defensive back Matthias Farley became a reliable defender during his time with the Irish and now has an NFL career to speak of. Moala most likely will not reach such heights, but his slim recruiting profile should not rule it out by any means.
Lee County High School; Sanford, N.C.
Measurements: 6’0”, 199 lbs.
Accolades: Consensus three-star; No. 16 prospect in North Carolina per rivals.com and the No. 20 running back in the class.
Other Notable Offers: Smith’s lengthy offer list included considerations from North Carolina, USC and Wisconsin.
Projected Position: Running Back.
Quick Take: Smith breaks tackles rather than avoiding them. A low center of gravity and eagerness for contact will knock defenders backward more often than not, in many respects offering a skillset currently lacking from Notre Dame’s backfield.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: The Irish have capable running backs floating around aplenty, but as 2017 showed, there can never be enough of those. Smith might as well expect to see some action his freshman season, especially if current junior Josh Adams heads to the NFL as is expected and logical.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Smith’s long-term viability in offensive coordinator Chip Long’s system will depend on skills other than the ability to run over opponents. Long requires a back be able to pass catch and pass block to be featured in the offense. If presenting those abilities, Smith will likely rocket up the depth chart given his physical running style already at hand.
Harrison High School; Farmington, Mich.
Measurements: 6’2”, 207 lbs.
Accolades: Consensus three-star; No. 9 prospect in Michigan per rivals.com and No. 36 at outside linebacker.
Other Notable Offers: Both Michigan and Michigan State pursued the in-state product, as did Boston College and Iowa State.
Projected Position: Outside linebacker.
Quick Take: Oghoufo may be the best coverage linebacker Notre Dame has in this class. Some time in a collegiate strength and conditioning program will help develop him into more of an all-around defender, improving his physicality and tackling in the running game.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: Having a specific niche of a skillset can help set a freshman apart, such as excelling as a coverage linebacker. Oghoufo applies what he gleaned from playing offense in high school to the other side of the ball. This may not be enough to get him playing time right away, but it is the type of dynamic that could lend itself to a breakthrough sooner than expected.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Notre Dame defensive coordinator lucked into an ideal rover candidate in current senior Drue Tranquill, who will man the position again next year. Such ready-made athletes to fill Elko’s preferred defensive wrinkle will not always be available, but it is worth considering whether a lean linebacker with strong coverage skills will fit into that positional grouping more than among traditional linebackers.
If Oghoufo fills out, however, a move inside could be within the realm of possibility.
JOE WILKINS, Jr.
North Fort Myers High School; Fla.
Measurements: 6’2”, 175 lbs.
Accolades: Consensus three-star.
Other Notable Offers: Wilkins’ recruitment was slow-developing but seemingly long-focused on Notre Dame. South Carolina, South Florida and Louisville lead a number of southeastern offers, while Washington State, Arizona and Michigan State provided other non-regional options.
Projected Position: Cornerback.
Quick Take: Notre Dame desperately needs defensive backs. By no means is that the only reasons Wilkins was sought, but it explains why a quiet recruitment results with a November commitment. That need was an exact part of his commitment, then telling Blue & Gold Illustrated, “They don’t have any freshman corners right now. I’m definitely going to get a chance to play early and to compete for a spot.”
Short-Term Roster Outlook: Even if Wilkins does not initially break into the rotation as a freshman, the Irish have only five cornerbacks at the moment, often needing as many as four frequently in one game. If one (such as current sophomore Julian Love) were to move to safety, suddenly an incoming freshman could be one play away from notable playing time.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Current senior Nick Watkins will be in his final season of eligibility in 2018. Love will have two remaining — as will his classmates Troy Pride and Donte Vaughn and junior Shaun Crawford — but another starring season could prompt NFL talk. The chances will be there for Wilkins, as he suggested. Last year’s recruiting failure is very much Wilkins’ gain.