Periodically throughout the year, The News-Sentinel will take a look at the top priorities for the Notre Dame football program in this recruiting cycle with The Wish List. This will be an objective look based on position need, program fit, current commitments at the same position and overall talent level.
The top five will change as recruits commit to the Fighting Irish or other programs, team attrition due to injury or transfer and other factors.
Keep in mind that this is not simply a list of the five highest-ranked recruits on the board for Notre Dame, but rather who at this point in the cycle are realistic gets at key positions.
Nothing much has changed on the recruiting landscape for the Fighting Irish since our last Wish List in late July. Recruiting is placed on the backburner during preseason camp with college coaches focusing more on getting their current teams ready and high schoolers prepping for the start of their seasons.
Another reason for the lack of any commitments is that, with Notre Dame now sitting at 17 commitments, Coach Brian Kelly and his staff now is being more selective with their final half-dozen or so spots in the class.
The top five on this Wish List is similar to July's, with the exception of the deletion of defensive end Byron Cowart, who announced a final four of Florida, Alabama, Florida State and Oregon.
CLASS OF 2015
Current commitments: 17
Rivals.com rank: No. 13
Scout.com rank: No. 13
247sports rank: No. 14
1. DE Porter Gustin, Salem, Utah
The fact that Andrew Trumbetti is set to start this Saturday against Rice as a true freshman truly shows just how thin that Notre Dame is at the position. Not that Trumbetti is not a fine player, but you can bet Coach Brian Kelly would rather have three or four veteran defensive ends ahead of a freshman on the depth chart.
As it is, the Fighting Irish are desperate for some impact defensive linemen in this cycle, and the most realistic at this point is Gustin, the No. 6 defensive end in the country according to Scout.com and one of the more versatile prospects on the board.
Gustin finished his junior season at Salem Hills High School with 78 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and four sacks and has natural pass rush abilities. The 6-foot-4, 238-pounder could play at either linebacker of defensive end at the next level, but projects at defensive end if he ends up in South Bend.
Gustin's first official visit of the season will be to Notre Dame for the night game against Michigan on Sept. 6. USC appears to be the biggest competition for the Fighting Irish at this point for the defensive standout, so it's important the program and university impresses.
Sloppy Night on Friday!! But no question about it, football is still the greatest game on earth!!! pic.twitter.com/TzgHOVC0sC— Porter Gustin (@portgus15) August 26, 2014
2. LB Asmar Bilal, Indianapolis
It is somewhat a surprise that Bilal is still on the board after a decision between Notre Dame and Michigan appeared imminent for most of the summer. Yet the rising senior is still uncommitted entering the start of the season.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Ben Davis standout is a perfect fit at the Sam outside linebacker position for Notre Dame, who has long been considered the frontrunner for his services.
But the longer the recruiting drags on, the more uncertain things become.
Bilal notched 106 tackles and 4.5 sacks for Ben Davis as a junior and is rated the No. 9 outside linebacker in the country by Scout and a four-star recruit. He is at his best in the open field when he can track down ball carriers and has a burst of speed that is vital at linebacker.
It is unclear what the timetable is for Bilal, who could announce at any time.
At half, Ben Davis up on Cathedral 30-10. Asmar Bilal in double digits in tackles to go with his sack. Very impressive LB w/ good instincts— Kyle Bogenschutz (@KyleBogie) August 23, 2014
3. DT Neville Gallimore, St. Catherines, Ont.
The longer this recruitment lasts the better for Notre Dame, with Gallimore appearing to be a heavy Ohio State lean throughout the summer.
But the regular season begins with Gallimore still on the board and remains a top priority for the Fighting Irish despite a trio of defensive line commits in Micah Dew-Treadway, Elijah Taylor and Brandon Tiassum already on board as verbals.
But with the defensive front short on proven bodies, any chance to grab an elite pure defensive tackle is a no-brainer. Gallimore is a 6-foot-3, 300-plus pound prospect who is not a lumbering body but instead a DT with quick feet and long arms.
Under new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, interior linemen are asked to be more playmakers instead of space fillers, Gallimore can fill that role.
Gallimore has an official visit to Oklahoma scheduled for Sept. 13 as the Sooners host Tennessee.
4. DE Joseph Wicker, Long Beach, Calif.
A versatile prospect at the next level that can play either on the edge or inside, Wicker is another top Notre Dame target along the defensive front.
Wicker is exceptionally strong at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds who has a high motor and a propensity to get to the quarterback. He is rated as the No. 16 strongside defensive end in the country by Rivals.com and is a four-star prospect.
While his game needs to develop more than just being a pure pass rusher, VanGorder's aggressive style would fit Wicker well as he excels when pinning his ears back and going after the quarterback.
A one-time Washington commitment, Wicker has said he plans to wait until Signing Day in February to commit, giving Notre Dame plenty of time to work on one of the best defensive linemen on the West Coast.
5. RB Soso Jamabo, Plano, Texas
Even with one running back on board in Josh Adams out of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame would like to grab another back in this cycle.
Jamabo appears to be the best fit at this point, having visited South Bend once before and will be back for the Michigan weekend. He is rated as the No. 2 running back in the country by Scout.com and the No. 42 overall prospect.
Jamabo displays the ability to run between the tackles for tough yardage or get to the outside and make highlight reel runs. His 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame is a bit long for a running back, but his technique make him appear more of a compact runner.
Oklahoma, Baylor and Oregon are among those fighting with Notre Dame for Jamabo.
Man I love SoSo Jamabo's game lol, most entertaining high school football player right now to me— Victor L Dukes (@VictorDukes23) August 24, 2014