The Big Board: Defense

DL prospect Grant Blankenship

Part II of Hickey's Big Board update focuses on Notre Dame's top defensive targets.

Note: You can find the entire offer list for the 2014 class pinned at the top of our Football Forum Message Board

The Big Board focuses on Notre Dame's targets at each position, including those that have reciprocated Irish interest. Today's review is of the program's top targets on defense:

Hickey's Top Safety Targets

-- Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas): Recently cut his list to six – Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Texas and Texas A&M. Many are projecting either Florida or Texas to land him, but he plans on taking all five official visits, and the chips have potential to turn in Irish favor in the fall.

-- Budda Baker (Belleuve, Washington): Recently named a top three of Oregon, UCLA and Washington, with Arizona State and Notre Dame rounding out his top five. Baker plans on taking officials in the fall, and like Adams, the Irish could gain some momentum with his recruitment during the fall season.

--Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Florida): Has a top two of Louisville and Vanderbilt, with Notre Dame and South Florida rounding out his top four. He visited Vanderbilt this spring, after which he named Vanderbilt his leader. He is being recruited hard by the Irish, and you can expect an official visit in the fall. He doesn't plan on deciding until after his season.

-- Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, Louisiana): Added Notre Dame to his list of nine shortly after the Irish offered. He's being recruited for both safety and corner by the Irish. No visit plans for the summer, so most likely the Irish will need to secure an official in the fall if they want to remain in contention. The rest of his top nine includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona State, Florida State, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA and USC.

-- Juju Smith (Long Beach, California): Has a top five of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, and USC. Has two official visits planned – Notre Dame on Oct. 18 and Michigan on Sept. 7. Smith is more open to leaving than West Coast now than in recent months. He'll be one to see how teams on the west perform in the fall and use that as criteria for decision.

--Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): Could project as a corner or safety in college. Hasn't named any favorites and will wait to narrow his list until after he takes visits this summer, which will have included Notre Dame, Ohio State, Georgia, Tennessee, USC, UCLA, LSU, and Alabama. Irish improved their chances with Wilson during his June visit, but he is still going to be a tough one to land considering the number of schools making him a priority.

Hickey's Top Cornerback Targets

-- Adoree Jackson (Gardena, California): Plans to narrow his list after he takes visits this summer. Hearing primarily from Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA, and USC. Originally from the Midwest and distance is not a factor for Jackson, though he wants to run track, and he's considering caliber of a track program in his decision. USC, UCLA, Florida considered early favorites right now.

-- Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, California): Plans to visit Notre Dame in late July, if he hasn't already committed by The Opening in early July. He will have visited the other three schools in his top four – Oregon, UCLA and Washington, in days leading up to The Opening.

-- Nick Watkins (Dallas, Texas): Won't name favorites, though Notre Dame is a favorite to land him, and he almost committed during his visit this spring. Alabama, Baylor, Ole Miss, SMU and Texas are also contenders. He has pushed back his decision date to next January and plans on taking all five officials after narrowing his list officially this summer. Still potential that he could visit Michigan and Notre Dame this summer.

Hickey's Top Inside Linebacker Targets

-- Nyles Morgan (Crete, Illinois): Hasn't officially trimmed his list, but he's looking at Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt. Ole Miss may be the team to beat right now, and he didn't visit Notre Dame this spring, so the Irish could be on the outside looking in if he doesn't visit this summer. Plans on taking all of his official visits, so there's still a lot to play out in his recruitment.

-- Kevin Mouhon (Norcross, Georgia): Considered a rather heavy Tennessee lean, but he's visiting Notre Dame with teammate Lorenzo Carter this weekend. Plans to also visit Florida, Florida State and Georgia Tech this summer and will wait to decide on Signing Day.

Hickey's Top Outside Linebacker Targets

-- Melvin Keihn (Baltimore, Maryland): Plans to narrow his list soon, and the Irish could be left off since he has yet to visit. Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech are all recruiting him harder than Notre Dame right now.

-- Andrew Williams (McDonough, Georgia): Says he will come out with an official top 10 any day now, a list that will include Notre Dame. He's been high on the Irish since visiting in January. Notre Dame is still in contention, but Clemson could be emerging as the team to beat, with other schools possibly pulling ahead of Notre Dame. No visit plans set to see the Irish (yet) for the summer, but he does want to see Michigan before deciding by summer's end. Florida and Ole Miss are also schools to watch. Since he has taken so long to put out a top 10, I wouldn't be completely surprised to see him take his recruitment into fall.

-- Richard Yeargin (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): Has a top 12 that includes Notre Dame, and the Irish have always been among his very top, especially after his June visit. He will also visit USC and Clemson this summer. He doesn't plan on deciding until Signing Day. Notre Dame and Florida have the inside track.

Hickey's Top Defensive Line Targets

-- Grant Blankenship (The Colony, Texas): Grew up as a Notre Dame fan and is camping with the Irish this weekend. He is on commit watch. Was hindered by an injury in the fall, so he's starting to receive more attention from schools this spring. Also considering Oklahoma.

-- Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Georgia): Will be on Notre Dame's campus this weekend for the first time. Carter may be favoring Alabama and Georgia right now, but he's also considering Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State and USC. Doesn't plan to decide until Signing Day.

-- Khairi Clark (Hollywood, Florida): His leader is Miami, but he's also interested in Clemson, Georgia, Florida, and Nebraska. No visit plans yet for the summer, but a visit to Notre Dame could happen in the fall during an official if he hasn't yet committed.

-- Natrell Curtis (Phoenix, Arizona): Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC are in better position to land him than Notre Dame right now, but he does plan on visiting. Irish are recruiting him as a nose guard, though he can also play offense. Plans to take all of his officials.

-- Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, California): Late bloomer in recruiting and went from 0 to 16 offers this spring. He has no favorites right now, but he has said he'd like visit Notre Dame this summer. Irish have a great shot to land Dickerson in the fall.

-- Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Kentucky): Has a top five of Alabama, Kentucky, Louisville, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Has a visit set to Notre Dame for June 24. He doesn't plan on announcing until Jan., and the Irish could make a run for his top spot when he visits.

-- Josh Frazier (Springdale, Arkansas): His top two are Alabama and Arkansas, with Auburn, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and USC making up his top six. Opted to sign up for a foreign language in the fall in order to keep Notre Dame in contention.

-- Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, New York): Visiting Notre Dame on Thursday and Ohio State Friday. Also visited Florida, Florida State and Miami this summer, and is considering Penn State and Rutgers as well. He's expected to take official visits.

-- Matt  Nelson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa): Has a top three of Iowa, Notre Dame and Stanford. Plans to decide any day now, and Stanford seems to be the favorite to land him.

-- Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas): Visited Notre Dame earlier in June and has the Irish on his radar. Will be a tough steal from the South, and is also considering Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but he's saying he's open right now, and Irish could continue to make moves with him.

Top Irish Interests

CB: Nick Watkins or Adoree' Jackson, then Jonathan Lockett

S: Juju Smith then Quincy Wilson

MLB: Nyles Morgan

OLB: Andrew Williams, Richard Yeargin

DL: Josh Frazier, Lorenzo Carter, Khairi Clark, then Natrell Curtis, Solomon Thomas, Grant Blakenship, Matt Elam, Matt Nelson or Matt Dickerson

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