Notre Dame gets the letters: Cornerbacks Philip Riley and Ryan Barnes
Bloomingdale High School; Valrico, Fla.
Measurements: 6’, 190 lbs.Accolades: Rivals.com considers the consensus four-star recruit to be the No. 24 cornerback in the class and No. 44 prospect in Florida.
Other Notable Offers: Riley initially committed to Notre Dame in May, but the strenuously-distant recruiting cycle eventually led him to decommit and immediately flip to USC. Eventually, Riley made an unofficial visit to South Bend at the end of October, unable to have any contact with the Irish coaching staff but still able to get a general feel for the campus. Two weeks later, he returned his pledge to Notre Dame, also spurning Oregon and Washington.
“It was definitely welcoming and a friendly vibe,” Riley told Blue & Gold Illustrated. “It sucked that I couldn’t talk to the coaches or players, but seeing the students in their natural environment in their regular weekday definitely was amazing. …
“We saw how tight-knit the community is and how they support their athletes.”
Projected Position: Riley has the coverage skills wanted from a man corner, but he and the Irish coaching staff have also discussed moving him to safety as his frame fills out.
Quick Take: Riley’s slight frame does not stop him from showing an eagerness to tackle, but more to his position, his quick hips help him maintain contact with receivers downfield. Good route recognition, efficient use of his hands and technical footwork also bode well for Riley’s future.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: Notre Dame will need a starting corner in 2021. Franky, it could already use one. Either current junior TaRiq Bracy finds a comfort level in man coverage or one of the youngsters will usurp him as Clarence Lewis has this year. Riley’s chance will begin in February as an early enrollee.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: The Irish have made cornerback recruiting a priority the last few cycles to make up for a lapse in 2017 and some inconsistencies in 2018, but just because it has been a priority does not mean the depth chart is set and filled moving forward. Lewis looks like a four-year starter, but opposite him, Nick McCloud was brought in as a graduate transfer specifically because Notre Dame did not yet have an answer. It still doesn’t.
Quince Orchard High School; Gaithersburg, Md.
Measurements: 6’2”, 185 lbs.Accolades: A consensus three-star recruit, rivals.com rates Barnes as the No. 62 cornerback in the class and the No. 20 prospect in Maryland.
Other Notable Offers: A three-star ranking is one thing; holding offers from Clemson, LSU, Oregon and USC is another.
Projected Position: Barnes comes in as a cornerback, and his length would serve him well there, but it could also serve well at safety, where Notre Dame is more likely to be short-handed down the line.
Quick Take: In addition to length, Barnes brings speed. In other words, he has the tools of an ideal cornerback. As suggested above, the three-star ranking is misguided in this instance.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: Looking at safety, the Irish will have the best in the country next season with Kyle Hamilton, but his running buddy is unknown, and so are their understudies. Current juniors Houston Griffith and DJ Brown have played well when called upon (the second half at North Carolina), but neither has proven himself beyond a doubt. At the least, a freshman safety could crack the rotation next year, particularly one enrolling in February, as Barnes is.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Whether Barnes ends up at cornerback or safety, the recent years when Notre Dame missed at one of those positions (2017 at cornerback, 2020 at safety) mean large holes exist on the depth chart.
SIGNING DAY COVERAGE
— On Signing Day, remember Notre Dame’s surge has hinged on three-stars
— A Signing Day surprise: Four-star safety Khari Gee, flipped from LSU
— A Signing Day surprise: Consensus four-star RB Audric Estime, flipped from Michigan State
— Consensus four-star QB Tyler Buchner
— Trio of four-star WRs in Lorenzo Styles, Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas
— Five-star offensive tackle Blake Fisher and four-star guard Rocco Spindler
— Consensus four-star LB Prince Kollie, the day’s greatest worry
— Hawaiian LB Kahanu Kia
— Cornerbacks Philip Riley and Ryan Barnes
— Three-star cornerbacks JoJo Johnson and Chance Tucker
— Consensus three-star safety Justin Walters
— Tight ends Cane Berrong and Mitchell Evans— Consensus four-star defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio— Pair of California defensive ends, Will Schweitzer and Devin Aupiu
— Three more offensive linemen in Caleb Johnson, Pat Coogan & Joe Alt
— Inexperienced defensive end Jason Onye
— Kicker Joshua Bryan