JaDon Blair commits to Notre Dame: What does 4-star safety bring to Irish?


Notre Dame stood alone during college football’s recruiting frenzy of June. Just not in the way Marcus Freeman would have expected.

The Irish were the only Power 4 program not to land a verbal commitment in the 2025 class last month, a byproduct of the work already done in assembling a class that had been ranked No. 1 for much of the offseason. For whatever that cold spell was worth, it ended on Friday when four-star safety JaDon Blair committed to Notre Dame over finalists Penn State, Michigan, Florida State and South Carolina.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound athlete from Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., is the 22nd commitment in Notre Dame’s class, which moved up one spot in the 247Sports Composite rankings to third, passing Georgia (17 commitments) while still trailing No. 1 Ohio State (22 commitments) and No. 2 Alabama (21 commitments).

Landing the North Carolina prospect gives Notre Dame six commitments at defensive back from five states, as Blair joins Ivan Taylor (Florida), Dallas Golden (Florida), Mark Zackery IV (Indiana), Cree Thomas (Arizona) and Ethan Long (Connecticut).

Blair’s commitment also means the Irish have four defensive backs ranked as top-200 prospects in the 247Sports Composite. That’s the same number of top-200 defensive backs the Irish signed in the 2019-24 classes combined: Kyle Hamilton, Isaiah Rutherford, Christian Gray and Brauntae Johnson. The top-rated defensive backs in this cycle are Taylor (No. 50), Golden (No. 92), Zackery (No. 131) and Blair (No. 161).

How does Blair fit into Notre Dame’s class?

Blair’s longer build stands out for a defensive back and compares to Hamilton’s commitment six cycles earlier. While this is hardly a projection that Blair will grow into a first-round pick and potential Pro Bowl safety, range at the back of the defense is never a bad thing. Hamilton’s reach let Notre Dame’s defense operate with him playing more centerfield than one of the classic boundary or field positions, essentially letting former defensive coordinator Clark Lea gamble with coverages, something Freeman got to do in his only season running the Irish defense.

As much as safety has felt like an Irish strength lately, going from Hamilton to unanimous All-American Xavier Watts, there’s a reason Notre Dame added Rod Heard II from the transfer portal this winter. Safety recruiting needed an influx of talent after taking more of a developmental path in recent cycles.

When Watts and Heard depart after this season, Notre Dame will be left with its sophomore class of Adon Shuler, Ben Minich and Luke Talich and its incoming freshman class of Brauntae Johnson, Taebron Bennie-Powell and Kennedy Urlacher. Other than Shuler, all were more developmental prospects coming to Notre Dame. Talich was a preferred walk-on who earned a scholarship after his freshman season.

It’s not that Notre Dame can’t develop the talent on hand; it’s just that there are no Hamiltons in the group who feel like sure things. The smart play is to throw numbers at the problem, which is what it means to sign nine safeties over a three-cycle run.

What’s next for the Irish this cycle?

The most important summer recruiting development for Notre Dame to keep safety Ivan Taylor committed after he took an official visit to Alabama last month, before getting back to South Bend. Taylor also visited Michigan.

Freeman has had a loose policy that committed prospects aren’t supposed to take other visits if they want to remain in the class. But Notre Dame won’t find a comparable talent to Taylor on the market. Plus, there’s the fact that his father, Ike Taylor, has two former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates with sons in the Irish class: Elijah Burress and Jerome Bettis Jr.

Notre Dame hosted five still uncommitted prospects in June and remains in serious contention for all five: receivers Derek Meadows (Las Vegas), Tanook Hines (Houston) and Dylan Robinson (LaVerne, Calif.), plus linebackers Madden Faraimo (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and Nathaniel Owusu-Boateng (Bradenton, Fla.).

Meadows, Robinson and Hines are expected to come off the board in July, which will clear the board at wideout. The Irish would ideally take two, just as long as one is Meadows, the fringe five-star prospect from Bishop Gorman. Notre Dame will have room for Faraimo and Owusu-Boateng as long as they want their recruitments to run. Faraimo also took officials to Washington and Texas. Owusu-Boateng took visits to Ohio State, Michigan and USC.

If the Irish landed Meadows, Hines, Faraimo and Owusu-Boateng, it would push the Irish to 289.21 points in the 247Sports Composite, which would have finished No. 5 last cycle. The points total would also be Notre Dame’s highest in the 247Sports era.

Required reading

(Photo: Sam Wasson / Getty Images)



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