It is increasingly unfair to look at each Notre Dame cornerback commitment and think back on the 2017 mistake of not signing any. Since then, the Irish have pulled in a pair of current part-time starting cornerbacks, another contributing cornerback, a pair of contributing safety reserves and a generational talent at safety.
That collection can now expect an infusion of five defensive backs next year, with consensus three-star cornerback JoJo Johnson (Merrillville High School; Ind.) the latest addition to Notre Dame’s class of 2021, committing Tuesday afternoon.
A former Cincinnati commit, Johnson follows Irish cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens, though he held off from de-committing from the Bearcats until mid-October. Mickens joined Notre Dame’s coaching staff in February, brought to South Bend in part to avoid another recruiting mishap like 2017’s.
Johnson also considered Michigan State, Purdue and Iowa, not uncoincidentally all Midwestern schools.
He spent much of his high school career at receiver, which showcased his speed and displayed worthwhile hands and ball-tracking skills, but every expectation is his first forays in college will come on defense.
The aforementioned previous crops of cornerbacks, namely current junior Tariq Bracy, about-to-start-his-fourth-game freshman Clarence Lewis and reserve sophomore Cam Hart, should relieve any pressure on Johnson to contribute right away, allowing Mickens’ to develop the former receiver a bit.
Johnson joins consensus four-star cornerback Philip Riley as the late additions to the incoming secondary, along with three-stars Chance Tucker, Ryan Barnes and Justin Walters. The Irish now have 24 commits in the class of 2021, all expected to sign on Dec. 16, the beginning of the annual early signing period.