Early Enrollees: Kevin Stepherson


Jacksonville, Florida

Measurables: 5’11”, 171 lbs.

Accolades: 3-star prospect who dominated at Irish Invasion during summer. Florida All-State 7A honorable mention, All-Northeast Florida honorable mention.

Impressive Offers: Florida, LSU, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina

Projected Position: Wide Receiver

Quick Take: Blew the doors off staff when he visited in summer leading to an offer. Smooth receiver who has a little bit of Torii Hunter Jr. in him. Faster than you’d think and could be a contender to come in and play thanks to a natural set of hands and good understanding of game.

What he means to the Irish: With Will Fuller, Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle gone, Stepherson has 15 spring practices to make his mark in a depth chart that’s certainly experiencing some upheaval.

He’s not the biggest recruit (and has shrunk considerably from some early online evaluations) but Notre Dame’s staff got eyes on Stepherson early and trusted their evaluation. That should ease any concerns about star-ratings.

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Early Enrollees: Spencer Perry

Blue & Gold / Rivals

Newnan, Georgia

Measurables: 6’1.5″, 204 lbs.

Accolades: Three-star prospect who was a one-time Florida commitment. A top-50 player at his position as viewed by Scout, ESPN, 247 and Rivals. Missed majority of senior season at IMG Academy with shoulder injury.

Impressive Offers: Florida, Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State

Projected Position: Safety

Quick Take: Notre Dame lands a big-bodied defender who has the chance to be a jumbo player at a clear position of need. Perry impressed the staff when he came to campus in the summer and Irish won a recruiting battle with Florida and plenty of others. Basketball background and athletic skill-set could add some positional flexibility.

What he means to the Irish: As Irish reload in secondary, bringing in Perry early and adding another SEC-level talent to the mix is a very good thing. At a shade below 6’2″, Perry’s length means he has the ability to grow into a Sam linebacker if his body allows it. Otherwise he’s a good enough athlete to cover ground on the backend and find a fit in Notre Dame’s defensive scheme.

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Early Enrollees: Khalid Kareem

Rivals / Yahoo Sports

Pontiac, Michigan

Measurables: 6’4″, 245 lbs.

Accolades: Semper Fidelis All-American, consensus Top 250 recruit, 2015 MLive Detroit Defensive Player of the Year, first-team All-State.

Impressive Offers: Alabama, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford

Projected Position: Strongside defensive end

Quick Take: Another one of the Midwest’s top recruits, Kareem is another potential solution at defensive end. Physically impressive with room to grow, if Hayes projects as a future weakside pass rusher, Kareem looks like an anchor on the strong side.

Once committed to Alabama, Kareem decided to play his college football closer to home and chose the Irish over a slew of impressive options. With the Irish looking for a next generation of defensive linemen to replace standouts like Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones, Romeo Okwara and Isaac Rochell, Kareem is an easy candidate to put at the front of the line.

What he means to the Irish: Kareem could be the heir apparent to Isaac Rochell, a big athletic kid who could be an immediate performer for the Irish defensive front. Capable of developing as a pass rusher with good length, an extra semester in the weight room could be a huge advantage for Kareem, a natural athlete who is just starting to understand his physical potential.

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Notre Dame confirms Luatua’s transfer to BYU


Notre Dame made official the news that Tyler Luatua was transferring from the university. He’ll leave school at the end of the spring semester.

Luatua visited BYU last weekend, confirming his plans to spend the rest of his football career in Provo. He’ll sit out the 2016 season but have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

In two seasons in South Bend, Luatua served mostly as a blocker. He made three career starts and played in 20 games the past two seasons. The Irish return senior Durham Smythe, junior Nic Weishar and sophomore Alizé Jones.


Early Enrollees: Daelin Hayes


Ann Arbor, Michigan

Measurables: 6’3″, 254 lbs.

Accolades: U.S. Army All-American, 5-star ranking (Rivals), No. 4 in The Detroit News Blue Chip list.

Impressive Offers: Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC

Projected Position: Outside Linebacker / Defensive End

Quick Take: Maybe the biggest upside of any recruit signing with the Irish. Hayes looks the part of an NFL specimen right now, capable of coming off the edge, playing linebacker or doing anything on the field—if he can stay healthy.

He may be a 5-star talent, but Hayes hasn’t played a lot of football. He suffered a shoulder injury as a sophomore in the season opener. A custody battle between parents yo-yo’d him between California and Michigan as a junior, his season cut short after just three games. His senior season at Ann Arbor Skyline ended with another shoulder injury and surgery in November.

Getting Hayes on campus early is huge, but getting him healthy is even more important. He told the Detroit News that he’ll be ready for spring ball though that remains to be seen.  There’s a great football player here—or people seem to believe. But he’ll also deal with the burden of great expectations. That’s often times tougher than it sounds, especially when he’s had limited opportunities to play the game.

What he means to the Irish: A possible solution for a missing pass rush, Hayes could be the perfect situational weapon as a freshman. While there’s a need to be patient with both injuries and development, there’s no question that landing Hayes is a huge “get,” with Rivals Josh Helmholdt saying the following about his potential:

“I think he can be the best linebacker in college football. He has that ability,” Helmholdt said. “He unquestionably has a five-star skill set — No. 1, he’s on the plus side from a size standpoint. No. 2, he’s on the plus side from an athleticism standpoint, and No. 3 he’s on the plus side from a work ethic. All three of those factors come at a premium when projecting talent, and he checks all the boxes.”

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