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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 23 Litchfield Ajavon, four-star safety, freshman


Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 185 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: A freshman, Ajavon has all four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.Depth chart: The Irish safety situation is top-heavy, which puts Ajavon immediately into the two-deep conversation along with classmate Kyle Hamilton and sophomores Derrik Allen and D.J. Brown, the latter of which is a converted cornerback.
Recruiting: The four-star and No. 9 safety in the country chose Notre Dame instead of Clemson, Georgia and Michigan, to name a few.

The most-applicable thought to date regarding Ajavon came from Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea at the end of spring practice. Throughout most of the spring, the lack of depth at safety was hardly discussed, simply because senior starters Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott provide such peace of mind for Notre Dame. Eventually and understandably so, though, Lea was asked if Hamilton might come in and immediately be ready to play. Lea did not focus simply on the higher-profile safety recruit.

“I’m interested to see what Litchfield does,” Lea said. “What he can come in and do.”

It should often be assumed the assistant coach will be inclusive when discussing prospects not yet even on campus, but at safety, the need for able bodies is so stark, Lea’s point held a bit more weight than it usually might.

“Ajavon will need to improve on his coverage skills, but that is somewhat typical of high school players accustomed to being the best athlete on the field in just about every game, and that seemed to be the case for Ajavon. He can already deliver a wallop, if nothing else.

“... Notre Dame’s back line of defense has done a 180 since Ajavon’s initial recruitment, now returning two established starters in Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott. Thus, do not expect to see much of Ajavon on defense in 2019, though his playing style screams special teams ace.”

If Ajavon is to prove Lea right and crack the two-deep this season, he will need to show improved coverage abilities in the preseason. Lacking those along the defensive backline is too severe a liability, and one Irish fans are still familiar with from not-so-distant history.

Ajavon’s high school film showed a physical player with the wont to deliver a hit. That alone could earn him a spot on special teams coverage units, although burning a year of eligibility on just those would be a bit of a surprise.

Elliott’s collegiate career will end after this season and there is a good chance Gilman jumps to the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining. That will leave an unproven and still-shallow grouping of safeties, one in which any of the four underclassmen could earn a starting role in 2020 based on reserve moments in 2019.

If Ajavon plays in more than four games this coming season, it may be as a test run for a more prominent gig next fall. The Irish will need someone to step forward, and it may as well be the Ghanan immigrant.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Isaiah Foskey, freshman defensive end, consensus four-star
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle
No. 40: Drew White, junior inside linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, junior kicker
No. 35: TaRiq Bracy, sophomore cornerback
No. 35: Marist Liufau, Hawaiian freshman linebacker
No. 34: Jahmir Smith, sophomore running back
No. 34: Osita Ekwonu, inside linebacker, consensus four-star
No. 33: Shayne Simon, sophomore linebacker
No. 31: Jack Lamb, sophomore linebacker
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, junior linebacker
No. 29: Ovie Oghoufo, sophomore linebacker-turned-defensive end
No. 27: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 25: Braden Lenzy, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 24: Tommy Tremble, sophomore tight end
No. 24: Jack Kiser, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Mr. Indiana Football