Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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44 MAY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY DAVID MCKINNEY Notre Dame added another piece to its 2019 class April 21 when Ri- vals100 safety Litchfield Ajavon of Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal an- nounced his commitment to the Irish. Ajavon, the No. 5 safety and No. 79 overall player in the nation per Rivals, said the opportunities Notre Dame presented to him were too good to pass up. "It was about development," Aja- von said. "I feel like Notre Dame gave me the best option to continue my development, not just as an ath- lete but as a student and as a person." One of Notre Dame's main pitches to prospects is the "Four For 40" motto, emphasizing to recruits that spending four years in South Bend will set them up for the rest of their lives. Ajavon, a second-team all-state se- lection by the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association in 2017, said he's fully on board with that approach. "I really bought into that 'Four For 40' mantra that they have," Ajavon explained. "I believe in it, and I can't wait to get started." During his Irish recruitment, Aja- von built strong relationships with several members of the coaching staff, including defensive coordina- tor Clark Lea, safeties coach Terry Joseph and cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght. The Virginia talent said Lea was the coach that was communicat- ing with him the most leading up to his decision. "Coach Lea recruited me when he was just the linebackers coach, and we really developed a close relation- ship," Ajavon said. "We talked about everything and anything — football, family and all of that." There's a long way to go before Ajavon officially becomes part of the Irish — either December 2018 or Feb- ruary 2019, but he is already eager to begin learning from Lea. "He's a coach and a best friend," Ajavon said. "He's a great recruiter, and I can't wait to start working with him." Ajavon is the first safety commit for Notre Dame in the class of 2019, and the first safety to commit to Jo- seph since he was hired to coach the position. The Irish pledge and Joseph hit it off immediately. "When Coach Joseph came on board, we started talking, and our relationship has been growing steadily," Ajavon stated. "I really appreciate him for how he's helped me." Ajavon will soon be a defensive back at Notre Dame — following in the footsteps of Lyght, who won a national championship with the Irish before winning a Super Bowl with the then-St. Louis Rams. Ajavon's discussions with Lyght about life at Notre Dame were another big factor in his decision. "I've been talking with Coach Lyght as well, and he's another good guy," Ajavon said. "He's a Notre Dame graduate, and we've talked about his experience as an athlete there and how that prepared him for the world outside college football." According to Ajavon's former high school head coach Panos Voulgaris, the four-star will fit right in on a col- lege football field. "Litchfield is an excellent leader who brings great energy on a daily basis," Voulgaris told Blue & Gold Il- lustrated. "His teammates look up to him and embrace the example that he sets." Going forward, Ajavon will be re- cruiting hard for Notre Dame, and will no doubt be in the ear of his teammate and Notre Dame corner- back target Salim Turner-Muham- mad. Prior to his announcement, Ajavon said he will only be taking an official visit to the school he is committed to. ✦ FILM ANALYSIS Strengths Litchfield Ajavon is at his best when he's coming downhill and defending the run game … Takes good angles to the football, shows an impressive burst and is a physical tackler … Displays excellent instincts when playing in zone coverage, makes quick reads, jumps routes and gets his hands on a lot of passes … Strong all-around athlete that shows impres- sive agility, good lateral quickness and the closing speed needed to be a playmaker … Does a good job deciphering between run and pass, and plays under control on the back end. Areas For Improvement Although a big hitter, has a tendency to go for big hits and doesn't always wrap up … His footwork in man coverage can get him in trouble, causing him to lose a step when he transitions … Will need to continue adding to his frame and enhancing his upper body strength. — Bryan Driskell COMMITMENT PROFILE LITCHFIELD AJAVON Rivals100 Safety Finds Notre Dame Too Good To Pass Up Ajavon, Rivals' No. 79 overall player in the country, chose Notre Dame over offers from Michigan, Clemson, Penn State and several others. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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