Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 7 Derrik Allen, consensus four-star safety
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-1, 204 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Incoming freshman with four years of eligibility remaining, including the 2018 season.
Depth chart: Allen will have a chance to force himself into the safety rotation, most likely on the boundary half of the field, but he will need to surpass a few veterans in juniors Jalen Elliott and Devin Studstill.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, Allen could have gone anywhere he wanted. The No. 7 safety in the class and the No. 66 player in the country, per rivals.com, the U.S. Army All-American spurned offers from Florida State, Ohio State and his homestate Georgia, as well as most every other bigtime program across the nation.
If there was a must-have defensive recruit in the class of 2018 for Notre Dame, it was a high-profile safety who could make plays on the ball in the air. In other words, it was Allen.
“He was the first guy that we saw that had the ability to cover man-to-man, play the ball in the air and get the ball down on the ground with his size,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said during December’s early signing period. “That was the trait we had to have in this class. It was a must, must, must. It was underlined like five times. We have to find this player.”
Cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght found Allen when he was just a sophomore taking an unofficial visit to campus in the summer.
“He was still playing corner, his film was outstanding,” Lyght said in February. “I remember thinking, this guy is special. He is the type of player you could see in 10th grade, one day he is going to play on Sunday.”
Though Kelly’s staff does not usually extend scholarship offers to sophomores, Lyght took that leap without checking with his colleagues. At a staff meeting just a few days later, other coaches lamented not making the offer, only for Lyght to reveal he had indeed taken that initiative.
Allen committed a full year before he expected to sign, pushing away some other serious recruitments, including from North Carolina where now-Irish safeties coach Terry Joseph was then on staff.
“It kind of ended the recruiting, really, because you knew he was not going to de-commit,” Joseph said. “A guy who is long, can make plays all over the field. As a junior he played a little bit of corner so you like his cover skills. That kid, the sky is the limit for him, because he can do anything that he wants to do. Really a playmaker, played some wideout, likes to catch the fade.
“Just talking to him, he’s a kid who wants to compete and he wants to win at a high level.”
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN ALLEN’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
“Notre Dame needs an influx of performance at the safety position. Whoever can provide it will immediately see playing time. Allen may not be as likely a candidate for that as fellow commit (and early-enrollee) Houston Griffith, but a surprise in preseason practice could make Allen that option from day one.
“… As should be the case with many young, athletic defenders, Allen will be counted on for special teams contributions from the outset.”
Griffith’s impressive spring may have skewed Allen’s projections. The odds of both freshmen being counted on for meaningful defensive snaps are slim, but one of them will likely crack the rotation. Arriving six months early gives Griffith that edge, and he seems to have made the most of it.
Yet, Allen will likely still use up a year of eligibility as a freshman. His size and speed alone make him an obvious piece of kickoff coverage units.
DOWN THE ROAD
The freshmen safeties arrive on campus with only a year more eligibility available than junior Alohi Gilman has. He is a frontrunner to emerge as a starter this season, presumably removing an opening through 2020, as well. If he shows a bit of development, Elliott should also be safe in his role as a starter through next season.
Allen’s coverage abilities could give him a chance to flip those expectations. His recruiting background implies his time should come sooner than later, but that could begin as a complementary role, supporting the established starters next season before then taking over as a junior.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 98 Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 68 Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 60 Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically) Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 56 John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 52 Bo Bauer, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 47 Kofi Wardlow, defensive end, sophomore
No. 45 Jonathan Jones, linebacker, junior
No. 44 Jamir Jones, defensive end, junior
No. 42 Julian Okwara, defensive end, junior
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 40 Drew White, linebacker, sophomore
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, kickoff specialist, sophomore
No. 34 Jahmir Smith, running back, early-enrolled freshman
No. 33 Shayne Simon, linebacker, incoming freshman
No. 31 Jack Lamb, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 30 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, sophomore
No. 29 Ovie Oghoufo, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 28 Nicco Fertitta, safety, senior
No. 27 Julian Love, cornerback, junior, second-team All-American
No. 25 Braden Lenzy, receiver, incoming freshman
No. 24 Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 24 Nick Coleman, defensive back, senior
No. 23 Drue Tranquill, linebacker, two-time captain, fifth-year senior
No. 22 Asmar Bilal, rover, senior
No. 21 Jalen Elliott, safety, junior
No. 20 Shaun Crawford, nickelback, senior
No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, running back, incoming freshman
No. 19 Justin Yoon, placekicker, senior
No. 19 Justin Ademilola, defensive end, incoming freshman
No. 18 Joe Wilkins, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 17 Isaiah Robertson, safety-turned-rover, sophomore
No. 16 Noah Boykin, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 15 D.J. Morgan, safety-turned-linebacker, junior
No. 15 Phil Jurkovec, quarterback, consensus four-star incoming freshman
No. 14 Devin Studstill, safety, junior
No. 13 Lawrence Keys, receiver, incoming freshman
No. 13 Paul Moala, local safety, incoming freshman
No. 12 DJ Brown, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 12 Ian Book, quarterback, junior
No. 11 Alohi Gilman, safety, Navy transfer
No. 10 Tariq Bracy, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 10 Chris Finke, receiver, senior, former walk-on
No. 9 Daelin Hayes, defensive end, junior
No. 8 Jafar Armstrong, running back/receiver, sophomore
No. 8 Donte Vaughn, cornerback, junior
No. 7 Brandon Wimbush, quarterback, senior
No. 35 David Adams, linebacker, sophomore
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer
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