On National Signing Day, we posted an overview of the 2019 Notre Dame recruiting class with recruit grades and some thoughts on the class. Then we went into more detail on the offensive skill position guys, because you know they’d be primadonnas if we didn’t do them first, then the guys who clear the road for them, then the other manliest men on the team. Yesterday we looked at the group that has to do a little bit of everything defensively. Today we’re going to close out the exercise with the chirpiest group, the defensive backs, plus the punter because we couldn’t figure out where else to put him. Specialists always get the shaft.
As a reminder, here’s our standard grading scale for this exercise:
95-100: Truly elite prospect with All-American potential
90-94: Multi-year starter with All-conference level potential
85-89: Eventual starter with chance to play as underclassman
80-84: Raw prospect with decent potential but a couple years away from impact
75-79: Likely a backup
70-74: Reach by the coaching staff
|247C Score||18S Grade||Player||City/State||Ht/Wt||Pos||Stars|
|.9700||96||Kyle Hamilton||Atlanta, GA||6-3/190||S||*||*||*||*||*|
|.9171||82||Isaiah Rutherford||Carmichael, CA||6-0/192||CB||*||*||*||*||*|
|.9126||81||Litchfield Ajavon||Alexandria, VA||6-0/189||S||*||*||*||*||*|
|.9017||86||KJ Wallace||Atlanta, GA||5-10/187||CB||*||*||*||*||*|
|.8338||89||Jay Bramblett||Tuscaloosa, AL||6-2/175||P||*||*||*||*||*|
S Kyle Hamilton
18S Average: 96.3
In their final update, 247 moved Hamilton up to #15 overall and the #1 safety in the 2019 class. Both rankings are very well deserved. I know it’s an old cliche, but Hamilton really is so athletic it’s unfair – the kids he played against shouldn’t have had to face someone like that. He runs like an elite wide receiver and hits like an elite linebacker, and matches those physical skills with elite recognition and anticipation. I think he’ll push to be in the two deep immediately and might even be a meaningful rotation player by the end of the year. If he stays healthy, there’s every reason to think he’s a future All-American candidate. Phenomenal talent.
It’s Max Redfield if Max Redfield was a seasoned safety and not just an athlete. Looks like a prototypical, rangy free safety. Smart and willing tackler when coming down hill. Hamilton looks pretty skinny but plays more physical than his frame. His lack of size probably dampens his freshman year a bit but should be an impact player right away and 3-year starter.
Hamilton, is long, athletic, and carries himself with a quiet swagger. Genetics had him primed to be a basketball star, but he simply loves the contact of football too much. He attacks the run with force and good form. He needs to play in some capacity, even with a loaded safety room returning. Once Alohi leaves, the safety position will be Kyle Hamilton’s for years to come.
Notre Dame has done pretty well recruiting the safety position over the past couple of years, but Kyle Hamilton is by far the best prospect Notre Dame has landed at the position in years. At 6’3″+ and with elite athleticism to boot, Hamilton is already drawing comparisons to Kam Chancellor. He should see this field plenty next fall, and he’ll likely take over as a starter in 2020.
CB Isaiah Rutherford
18S Average: 82.3
Another kid who’s tough to project; this time there’s plenty of film of his junior and senior years, but a lot of it is on offense. He does show some stuff to work on – mainly that he gives up an inside release way too easily – but there’s a lot to like. He has plus speed and agility and does a pretty good job mirroring receivers. He shows good hands and physicality too. I’m going to break from the pack a bit and say he enters the two deep after a year or two to develop.
A good athlete while wearing #34 looks much more like a fit on offense. Good size for a corner but a little concerned about his fundamentals and footwork transitioning to the college game. If he gets it early I can see him being a rotation corner early. If not, he’s more of a project to me.
A confident, vocal kid that is on campus as an early enrollee. He has really good length if he stays at CB and looks like a fluid athlete. I wouldn’t suspect him to play early, especially with the quantity of corners in the class ahead of him, but we saw an unlikely guy step up this past season in Tariq Bracy.
I don’t like that the vast majority of his highlights are at running back, it makes it difficult to give a proper evaluation. From what I’ve heard about Rutherford, he’s more raw as a corner but the size and athleticism are definitely there. He will likely need some polish before he becomes a regular contributor in the secondary.
S Litchfield Ajavon
18S Average: 80.5
An enforcer, plain and simple. He might end up as a bit of a tweener – I don’t know if he’s athletic enough to break through at safety, or if can fill out enough to break through at rover/linebacker. The top end speed and agility aren’t there, but what he can do is hit people hard, and he seems to enjoy it immensely. He’s also a shoo-in for the All-Time All-Name Team and the All-Time Looks-Like-He’s-35-Already Team.
Not a huge safety by any means but likes to come down and hit people. Plays a lot of deep safety and doesn’t exhibit the type of athleticism to make plays across the field on passes. Probably someone who will have to play closer to the line of scrimmage. Determining his position and working on his size will be really important to his future.
A physical young man who hits harder than his size would indicate. He plays almost entirely high safety, but I would expect that job to be Kyle Hamilton’s to lose in college. Litchfield is likely more of a project and will need to do a lot of work in the weight room. If Terry Joseph and Clark Lea can find good situational football for him to play in, he could come up in run support effectively.
He plays like Nicco Fertitta, except he’s more athletic and bigger. Still currently a bit undersized to be running around trying to rip heads off, though. He doesn’t possess elite athleticism, and he’s got better athletes ahead of him, so how he fills out will be critical to him seeing the field in any significant capacity.
CB KJ Wallace
18S Average: 85.8
Wallace is fast, physical, and smart – several times on his senior tape I was struck by how fast he closes on runs to the perimeter, how willing he is to hit when he gets there, and how well he recognizes what’s happening in the run and pass games. The only think that’s a slight concern for me is size, as he’s listed at 5-10/187. That’s not a deal breaker, of course, but it might limit how many ways he can fit into the defense unless his coverage skills are truly exceptional.
I place a premium on corners in high school actually playing that position a lot and having experience before coming to college. Wallace is that type of corner. He’s already well drilled and has good fundamentals. His footwork is pretty solid which is always key for me. Overall, a really solid prospect who should be a quality starter.
A longtime commit, Wallace comes in as a well-respected recruit with a lot of potential. He has just decent size but displays really good athleticism, instincts, and ball skills (as evidenced by his offensive film). After a large CB class last cycle, Wallace is a huge get. Coming in with good experience, it wouldn’t be impossible for Wallace to supplant Bracy or others and play meaningful snaps this season.
Wallace would probably be much more highly regarded by the recruiting services if he were a couple of inches taller. He’s more polished than a lot of recruits typically are coming out of high school. Good athlete who displays good footwork and seems to understand proper pursuit angles (which is an extremely underrated quality to have at this stage).
P Jay Bramblett
18S Average: 89.3
Hunts deer. Meh, right? With a bow. Less meh. Also scored seven TDs in one game as a senior. Enrolled early. Shows solid potential in matching Tyler Newsome’s colorfulness. Also really good at punting a football.
He kicks the ball quite high.
If he can grow a mullet and/or run some successful fake punt passes I will be happy.
It’s like landing Justin Yoon again but at punter this time.