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Notre Dame Recruiting Signing Day Recap

By · February 5th, 2010 · 0 Comments · 1,659 views
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Notre Dame Recruiting Signing Day Recap

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and his staff notched 23 commitments on National Signing Day. The Irish garnered the 21st ranked class by ESPN and the 19th ranked class by Scout, while Rivals was a bit more generous and placed Notre Dame at number 14.

Considering the underwhelming on-field product of the three previous seasons and a late-year coaching change, the results were about as good as one could hope for. The Irish lost a couple of recruits late in the cycle, but still managed a very solid haul. So who are the future superstars, hidden gems, and probable busts?

Offense

Cameron Roberson

RB, 6’1″, 220 lbs
2nd ranked FB by Scout (3 stars)
17th ranked RB by Rivals (4 stars, #231 overall)

Jon: Cameron will be a bigger back, similar to current running back Robert Hughes. However, I see him putting on a few pounds and playing as a fullback for the Irish. He has good hands for a running back and has decent speed overall. However, if he does move to the fullback position, he will need to learn not to bounce so many runs outside of the tackles and run behind his guards. Fullbacks don’t play a major role in Brian Kelly’s offense, however, so there is a chance that Cameron will stay at the running back position and with that position already loaded with running backs, I’m not sure how much of a chance he will get to see the field before his junior or maybe his senior season.

Anthony: Roberson is a bigger back with very good feet and vision to accompany a decisive running style. He accelerates well, hits the hole hard, and is a determined runner, albeit without a bruising, tackle-shedding style. Additionally, he has soft hands and catches the ball well out of the backfield. From the press conference it sounds as though Kelly is very high on Cameron and excited to have him on board. In former head coach Charlie Weis’ offense, he would have been a good change of pace back. But in Kelly’s offense I’m not sure he is a great fit and may struggle running from the shotgun and behind a large dose of zone blocking.

Matt James

OT, 6’6″, 291 lbs
11th ranked OT by Scout (4 stars)
14th ranked OT by Rivals (4 stars, #86 overall)

Jon: If he puts on a bit of bulk, James could turn into a player in the same mold as Sam Young. He has nice size and could develop nicely into a solid contributor in the years to come. However, most lineman Matt’s size struggle with pad level and he is no exception. Furthermore, he is prone to injury and the right injury will bring down any football player’s chances of contributing in the way they are expected (see: James Aldridge).

Anthony: James is a very solid offensive line prospect with great upside that could play either tackle position. He finishes plays, has a good first move off the ball, and has very good size with the frame to grow even bigger. Linemen with James’ combination of footwork and size aren’t extremely common. It will, however, probably take a while for him to contribute. While his footwork is good, he tends to play tall and will need to learn to utilize a pad level that maximizes leverage. Additionally, he doesn’t have great length and tends to over-reach when blocking in space, something that could limit his pass blocking performance.

Bennett Jackson

WR, 6’1″, 170 lbs
51st ranked WR by Scout (3 stars)
61st ranked WR by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Bennett Jackson will definitely need to hit the weights hard before his body will be big enough to stand taking hits at the next level. While not particularly tall, Bennett Jackson could turn into a great all-around player (flanker). He is very elusive and hard to tackle with just one defender. If Jackson’s size keeps him from making a contribution at wide receiver, look for him to make a splash as either a punt or kickoff returner.

Anthony: While Jackson’s strength and size will likely limit him from making an early contribution, there is a lot to like about his future. He is very good after the catch, displaying good speed and acceleration. But his biggest assets are elusiveness and body control. He has the ability to adjust to the ball on the move and is a very fluid runner. His route running isn’t excellent, but his natural abilities should help his progress in this area.

Christian Lombard

OL, 6’5″, 293 lbs
2nd ranked OG by Scout (4 stars)
5th ranked OG by Rivals (4 stars, #221 overall)

Jon: Christian already possess the size needed to play at the guard position on the offensive line. He is a very explosive lineman who gets to the second level of the opposing defense quickly. However, Lombard will need to work on his blocking and footwork technique. He comes off the ball too high and has lazy hand technique. Being an interior lineman is all about leverage, and right now, Lombard is not going to win that match. If he shores up his technique difficulties, he has the ability to be a solid contributor on the offensive line when his time comes.

Anthony: Lombard doesn’t possess the same the footwork as James, but he doesn’t necessarily have to as an interior lineman. He moves well getting to the second level and getting position, and finishes blocks with authority. Christian excels as a straight-line blocker, but often struggles to engage in space. His biggest challenge appears to be developing his technique, as size, strength and attitude were all he needed to be successful at the high school level. Improved footwork and hand placement will go a long way to seeing meaningful minutes on the field.

Alex Welch

TE, 6’5″, 225 lbs
4th ranked TE by Scout (4 stars)
12th ranked TE by Rivals (4 stars)

Jon: When it all is said and done, Alex Welch could be similar to John Carlson. Welch should put on a few pounds in the weight room, but he already has some good blocking ability. What Welch will need to work on is his speed and route running. He has decent hands for a tight end but after the catch, he lacks that little extra speed to elude some linebackers in pursuit. Whether or not Alex contributes to the team the way John Carlson did his junior and senior season will depend on his development in size and speed.

Anthony: While Welch doesn’t have the same speed and at athleticism as current Irish tight end Kyle Rudolph, he is a very similar prospect. Hailing from the same high school as Rudolph, Welch has good hands and is very fluid for a player his size. At this point in his career, he is a better blocker than Rudolph, mostly due to better hand placement, strength and tenacity. From a receiving standpoint he doesn’t match the current tight end, as his speed and route running need time to develop.

Daniel Smith

WR, 6’4″, 215 lbs
53rd ranked WR by Scout (3 stars)
89th ranked WR by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: While Smith will not likely need to add a ton of weight, getting into the weight room and adding a bit of muscle for strength wouldn’t hurt. He posses great leaping ability and will be a force to be reckoned with in the red zone. However, Smith will definitely need to refine his route running skills as he sometimes makes lazy cuts. Regardless, in Brian Kelly’s spread system, look for Smith to be a solid contributor, at least in the red zone, once he adds a bit of muscle.

Anthony: Smith is a possession receiver that has the size and length to be a threat in the red zone. He elevates well, has good body control in the air, and possesses very soft hands. Smith will, however, need to develop his strength, speed and quickness to be more effective. Even at 6’4″ and 215 pounds, he struggles off the line against more physical corners and isn’t going to beat most opposing defensive backs down the field in one-on-one situations.

Andrew Hendrix

QB, 6’3″, 226 lbs
29th ranked QB by Scout (3 stars)
13th ranked QB by Rivals (4 stars, #235 overall)

Jon: Of the three quarterbacks in this year’s recruiting class, Andrew Hendrix is probably the most physically ready to play right now. He has good arm strength, even when throwing on the run, which could prove valuable in Kelly’s offense. However, Hendrix has a tendency to turn the ball over, and in an offensive system that stresses scoring fast, turning the ball over could prove very disastrous as the Irish defense will already be on the field much more than they were last year. If there’s one area that Hendrix needs to improve on, it’s his decision-making with the football.

Anthony: Hendrix is a solid quarterback prospect from Cincinnati with good measurables and raw talent. He throws with good velocity and has surprising mobility for his size. The primary drawback for Hendrix is his experience. He didn’t play in an offense that stressed reading progressions and his decision-making skills and ability to identify coverages are lacking as a result. From a pure talent perspective, he has good upside. However, he is raw and will need time to develop.

Austin Collinsworth

WR, 6’1″, 195 lb
99th ranked S by Scout (3 stars)
Unranked by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Collinsworth is your typical project. While he already posses some intangibles like toughness, he will definitely need to work on other qualities, such as speed, strength, and route running, that make a sub par wide receiver great. If he does this, he could definitely be projected as a solid slot receiver. If he can’t seem to refine these qualities, however, look for Collinsworth to make a switch to the other side of the ball and play as a free safety.

Anthony: Collinsworth is a tough, determined football player with good pedigree and production in high school on both sides of the ball. He is agile and quick for his size, and displays very good change of direction, acceleration in and out of breaks, and body control. He lacks elite athleticism, speed, size and strength but, like many other prospects in this class, his attitude and intangibles may be able to make up for those deficiencies. He should be a very good fit at the slot receiver position in Kelly’s offense and figures to make a splash on special teams as well.

Tate Nichols

OL, 6’7″, 291 lbs
70th ranked OT by Scout (3 stars)
62nd ranked OT by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Even though most people project Nichols as a project, tabbing him as an outside lineman, I don’t necessarily see him playing that role for the Irish. He could bulk up a bit and make a solid contribution as a prototypical blocking tight end. He has excellent blocking ability and he already has experience at that position. If there’s anything that keeps Nichols from that role, it’s that blocking tight ends don’t have a big role in the spread offense. If this is the case, Nichols may not make much of an impact on Saturdays, but more during the week on the scout team.

Anthony: Nichols is more of a “project” recruit. Due to his height and frame, he projects as an exterior offensive linemen but will need time to grow into his body and transition from the tight end position he played in high school. He displays good intensity and physicality when he blocks, particularly when he drives opposing players. But it may take some time for him to learn to play in space and master pass blocking.

Luke Massa

QB, 6’5″, 205 lbs
75th ranked QB by Scout (3 stars)
28th ranked QB by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: On Scout.com, Massa is listed as 175 pounds. Massa will definitely need to hit the weights in order to add some size and strength. He is a good pro-style quarterback and obviously Brian Kelly sees something he likes in Massa, as Luke was previously committed to Cincinnati, giving Brian Kelly is verbal this past summer. The one thing that Massa will need to improve is his arm strength. Sometimes, rather than getting the ball to his receiver in a tight window, he puts too much air under the ball. Massa will need to learn to make quick decisions and quick throws in Brian Kelly’s offense.

Anthony: Massa does not have the physical skill set of Hendrix, but he does have plenty of upside in his own right. In high school Luke played in a more traditional offensive system and as a result has better footwork and good play-action ability. He is not as raw as Hendrix, but he will need to improve physically to compete. The good news is that Massa has plenty of room to add size and strength to his 6’5″ frame. Increasing this measureables will also improve his arm strength.

Tommy Rees

QB, 6’3″, 192 lbs
65th ranked QB by Scout (3 stars)
31st ranked QB by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: If Rees has a leg up on any of the other quarterbacks in this class, it’s with his decision-making. He is very proficient at making reads at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, his body size may overshadow that and make it hard for him to contribute right away, even though he is needed badly. Enrolling early to work with Strength and Conditioning Coach Paul Longo can only help Rees as he, alongside current wide receiver John Goodman, will be taking the majority of the reps this Spring if Dayne Crist is still not healthy enough to do so.

Anthony: Rees is perhaps the least physically ready to play of the three quarterback recruits in this class, but what he lacks in arm strength he makes up for in accuracy. He isn’t as polished in fundamentals as Massa, and will have to improve his technique going forward. Enrolling early will greatly benefit him as he prepares to become a viable option behind projected starter Dayne Crist. But it may be too much to expect for him to be ready to contribute meaningful minutes by the fall.

Tai-ler Jones

WR, 6’0″, 183 lbs
21st ranked WR by Scout (4 stars)
19th ranked WR by Rivals (4 stars, #141 overall)

Jon: Jones doesn’t have the greatest size for a wide receiver, but his ball-catching abilities and speed definitely make up for that. While I hesitate to compare him to Golden Tate, he could very well play a similar role in Brian Kelly’s offense. Jones did play in a spread offense in high school and has experience being highly productive running the ball on reverses as well. Even though the wide receiver position is very full right now, Jones could very well work his way into the mix by his sophomore year at the slot receiver position.

Anthony: While he does lack some size and strength, Jones is an elite wide receiver prospect for a host of reasons. He is a polished route runner, has excellent ball skills, and is very quick and agile. Jones is also one of the more dangerous wide receiver prospects in the country with the ball in his hands. He will need to develop physically before he is ready to consistently compete, but he is certainly one of the more exciting prospects in this class.

Danny Spond

ATH, 6’3″, 232 lbs
14th ranked MLB by Scout (3 stars)
27th ranked ATH by Rivals (4 stars)

Jon: Danny Spond is probably the most versatile recruit in this class. He has played a whole host of positions in high school, but I see him in a similar position that Bobby Burger is playing now. He could line up as a second receiving or blocking tight end, but he is also a bruiser running the ball. The other position I can see him at is the hybrid Defensive End/Linebacker position. The only worries I would have with that is his vulnerability defending passing situations. Out of all of the recruits in this class, Spond definitely has the most upside.

Anthony: There is a lot to like about Danny Spond. He is very athletic for his size, displaying good speed and quickness. Spond is also tough, runs with determination and authority, and doesn’t shy away from contact on either side of the ball. His versatility is nearly unmatched as he could play a host of positions. It is most likely that he bulks up and lines up at tight end/H-back or at a linebacker spot, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities for him to see some time in other, more niche roles as a situational player on defense.

Derek Roback

ATH, 6’3″, 225 lbs
103th ranked QB by Scout (2 stars)
Unranked ATH by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Technically, Derek Roback is Notre Dame’s fifth quarterback in this recruiting class, however, I don’t think that’s where he’ll end up. I’m sure that he may take a few snaps there this summer, but I think it is much more likely that Roback heads to the weight room and comes back as a linebacker. He is a very similar prospect to Danny Spond, but he doesn’t have a general direction that he’s headed. If heavily competing for the job at quarterback doesn’t pan out for Roback, I expect him to be Zeke Motta’s replacement as the nickle linebacker/safety position once Zeke graduates or moves to safety.

Anthony: Roback is a rather intriguing prospect in that he may suffer from not projecting at a specific position at the college level. Early in the recruiting process he seemed to generate good measurables and accolades, but the recruiting services never matched this with good evaluations. Like Spond, Roback is versatile, but has more quickness and is position-limited by his smaller size. He is certainly athletic, but hasn’t played any position long enough to fully develop into a polished player. Because of this it will likely take him some time before he can contribute for the Irish.

Defense

Kona Schwenke

DL, 6’4″, 227 lbs
33th ranked DE by Scout (4 stars)
34th ranked DE by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Schwenke is an interesting prospect. He shows plenty of potential at his position, but he currently lacks the technique to be truly productive. He is truly explosive off the ball, but sometimes that speed hurts him as he tends to over-pursue his targets. He either needs to add about 40 or 50 pounds and become a true defensive end in Brian Kelly’s 3-4 defense or add 25 to 30 pounds and fit in at the outside linebacker/defensive end position. Luckily with his 6’4 frame, he has the ability to do this without really affecting his speed.

Anthony: Similar to many of the recruits in this class, Schwenke is a prospect that needs grow into his projected position. He is a fearless pass rusher who has excellent speed and quickness upfield, but he will need to add size and get stronger to consistently contribute at the college level. Fortunately, he has the frame to do it. Schwenke will also need to become a more complete player. Raw ability and determination made him a potent force in high school, but better fundamentals will be needed to be productive at Notre Dame.

Justin Utupo

DE, 6’3″, 250 lbs
50th ranked DE by Scout (3 stars)
62nd ranked DT by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: I’m very excited with landing Justin Utupo. He doesn’t rank very high on Scout or Rivals, but he is a solid prospect nonetheless. He has great speed and strength, often times, allowing him to chase down running backs or quarterbacks from behind. And at 250 pounds, he won’t have to add much size to his frame to fit in at defensive end in the 3-4 defense. If there’s one thing Utupo could improve, it’s his tackling technique. Many times, he tries to take down ball carriers with arm tackles. That may have worked in high school, but he will need to learn the importance of putting a body on the opposition to bring them down. If anything else, expect him to make an impact on special teams while he waits his turn to make an impact on the defense.

Anthony: Utupo is a team player with a motor that is second to none. He has decent size, strength and speed, but what he lacks in natural athletic ability he makes up for with determination. He relentlessly pursues the ball and plays much bigger and faster than his measurables indicate. It is somewhat unclear where he will line up in the 3-4, but his attitude and approach to the game can be contagious and elevate the work ethic of those around him.

Kendall Moore

LB, 6’3″, 235 lb
18th ranked MLB by Scout (3 stars)
22nd ranked OLB by Rivals (4 stars)

Jon: Kendall Moore will be a punishing linebacker–against the run. Right now, he lacks the speed and agility to be a force in pass coverage, even if only keeping up with bigger running backs and tight ends. Look for Moore to either bulk up and move to defensive end, or continue to hone his ball hawking skills and remain as an inside linebacker, stuffing the run.

Anthony: Moore reminds me a lot of Irish linebacker Toryan Smith. He is a punishing tackler with good size, strength and instincts, but lacks the requisite athleticism to play well in space. Moore does produce in the interior, particularly against the run, but struggles in coverage due to limited lateral movement. It is difficult to imagine him being an every down defender with his coverage limitations, but he could be productive as a run-stuffing linebacker. He could also bulk up and move to the defensive line.

Louis Nix

DL, 6’3″, 315 lbs
9th ranked DT by Scout (4 stars)
7th ranked DT by Rivals (4 stars, #85 overall)

Jon: Louis Nix is a solid defensive lineman. He comes off the ball with great explosion and forward lean to gain leverage against opposing offensive lineman. He is also a very powerful tackler who can usually take down ball carriers by himself and at 315 pounds, he already has the size to fit in at nose tackle at the next level. He will, however, need to work on his technique. Some of the pass rushing moves he put on opposing lineman in high school will not work in college, as lineman are much stronger at the next level.

Anthony: Nix reminds me of Omar Hunter as he is a terrific talent due to his blend of size and athleticism. He is very quick off the ball, especially for a player of his size, and uses his strength well to generate excellent inside push. Nix isn’t a pass rushing interior defensive lineman, but pursuit isn’t a strong requirement for the nose tackle in a 3-4. His primary concern may be keeping his weight down and playing with the appropriate pad level. At 6’3″ he has a tendency to come off the ball high, and a nose tackle must maintain leverage to hold his ground and control both A-gaps against frequent double teams. If he can maintain conditioning, he could contribute early and often.

Prince Shembo

LB, 6’2″, 232 lbs
42nd ranked OLB by Scout (3 stars)
7th ranked ILB by Rivals (4 stars, #238 overall)

Jon: I expect Prince Shembo to add a bit of weight and muscle to move to the outside linebacker position. He could play as a defensive end, but his body type isn’t ideal for that position. He certainly has the speed necessary to come off the corner and rush the passer, but he must work on his side-to-side mobility to truly be effective in that capacity.

Anthony: Shembo is a “tweener” who could play at the linebacker position or could grow into a defensive end. He has the frame to add more weight, but at only 6’2″ lacks ideal height to play on the defensive line. Shembo is athletic, with good straight-line speed and excellent pass rushing skills, but does have limited lateral movement and lacks good tackling technique. My bet is that he ends up as a pass rushing specialist from an outside linebacker spot in the 3-4, and he has the skills to do very well in that role.

Bruce Heggie

DL, 6’6″, 240 lbs
Unranked DE by Scout (2 stars)
Unranked TE by Rivals (2 stars)

Jon: The recruitment of Bruce Heggie is a bit of a mystery to me. Besides his offer from Notre Dame, the only other offer from a Division I school came from William and Mary. Because there is little information on Heggie, it’s hard to gain an accurate assessment of his build, natural abilities, and technique. All signs point to him making an impact on the scout teams in practice and nothing more. I guess in this case, we’ll have to trust that Kelly sees something in Heggie that the rest of us don’t.

Anthony: Heggie is a bit of an unknown. His lack of other offers and listless cohort make him a surprise recruit for the Irish. He has good size, with room to grow, and is athletic for his build. However, it is difficult to imagine him as anything but a utility player.

Lo Wood

DB, 5’11”, 176 lbs
46th ranked CB by Scout (3 stars)
44th ranked CB by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Wood, at best, is a very inconsistent player. He truly lacks, what some would call, the necessary attributes to be a good cornerback at the college level. He doesn’t have the greatest size or speed and sometimes lacks the toughness to keep with a determined wide receiver. He does, however, have good instincts. If he can work on his size and technique in college, he could turn out to be a decent backup option. If not, look for Wood to make his biggest impact on special teams coverage.

Anthony: Wood is primarily a cover corner. He lacks the size to compete right away, but has plenty of room for growth and decent height to play on the outside. Wood shows good anticipation and awareness in the secondary, but doesn’t have elite speed, lacks physicality, and frequently struggles to wrap up when tackling. Instincts are tough to teach, and Wood has them, but his athleticism and lack of physical play may limit his ability to contribute as a corner at the college level.

Chris Badger

DB, 6’1″, 192 lbs
28th ranked S by Scout (3 stars)
41st ranked S by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Say hello to your next Tom Zbikowski. If he adds a bit of muscle to his frame, Badger could turn out to be a very bruising hitter. He hits like a freight train and has decent closing speed, but could afford to increase that area with some training. However, the one thing keeping Badger from being a very good prospect is his coverage abilities. If he can improve his technique in coverage, Badger could turn out to be a solid contributor on the defensive side of the ball, especially as a strong safety focusing on screen passes and underneath crossing routes.

Anthony: In my opinion, Badger is one of the more underrated prospects in this class, and, if used correctly, could be a strong contributor for the Irish. He lacks the ideal speed to perform well as a coverage safety, but his change of direction is underrated and his instincts and anticipation are very sharp. Badger’s most impressive attributes are his toughness and tackling skills. He breaks extremely well, arrives at the point of attack with tenacity, and punishes opposing ball carriers. Once he reads the play, he closes on the ball like a torpedo. I can easily see Chris growing into a hybrid safety-linebacker and making strong contributions as a situational player on defense.

Spencer Boyd

DB, 5’10”, 175 lbs
59th ranked CB by Scout (3 stars)
39th ranked CB by Rivals (3 stars)

Jon: Boyd is another interesting recruit. He doesn’t have outstanding coverage abilities, but what he lacks in coverage technique, he makes up for with his speed and instincts. He has great closing speed and is very good at playing as a defensive receiver when the ball is in the air. If he could add a bit of muscle to his frame and retain his speed, he could be a solid coverage cornerback. If anything else, he could be an interesting special teams returner.

Anthony: Boyd is an interesting corner prospect and one that I feel is underrated by the recruiting services. He has the physicality and tackling ability to play strong against the run, but better speed, agility, and change of direction than Wood. Boyd is excellent with the ball in the air, and this is an asset that may make him more suited to play the field corner position. Like Badger, Boyd has good instincts, but he is a more gifted athlete with good quickness and a sharp ability to break on the ball. I think Boyd could be one of the sleepers in this class.

Biggest Commitment

Jon: Matt James would have to be my biggest contributor to this class. There is no mystery to the shortage of quality defensive lineman prospects and Louis Nix definitely fills that need, but it is imperative that, in Brian Kelly’s offense, that there is also no shortage of good offensive lineman to provide the protection necessary to run the offense effectively. With the right weight training and practice, James could step in and contribute very early.

Anthony: I’d have to say Nix. He is the type of interior defensive lineman the Irish have whiffed on in the past, an elite talent with the ability to contribute early and develop into a dominant force down the line. Outside of Nix I really like the ability of Jones to create with the ball in his hands and think he will be a very deadly receiver in the not too distant future.

Biggest Miss

Jon: The biggest prospect that got away from the Irish would have to be Chris Martin. Seantrel Henderson would have been a great acquisition for this class, but the pure lack of bodies along the defensive line makes losing Chris Martin an even tougher pill to swallow. However, I’m not sure there is much that Brian Kelly and his staff could have done to keep Martin with this class. I even think that Charlie Weis may have had difficulty keeping Martin. I believe Martin will be a solid professional prospect and I would rather him be wearing Blue and Gold in college.

Anthony: More of Nix. Losing Blake Lueders and Martin hurt at a position where the Irish are dangerously thin. Kelly will need to shore up this area with quantity and quality in next year’s class. Skill talent means little if the offensive and defensive lines can’t win the battle in the trenches. Some more athletic safeties would have also helped this class and will be another need for next year.

Rating The Class

Jon: This recruiting class was an interesting one. It started out being fairly solid, but as the wire drew closer, there were a lot of personnel changes. The Irish lost Chris Martin, but gained Louis Nix. They “lost” Seantrel Henderson, but gained Matt James. I think overall it’s a decent class, but it truly lacks the star power to push it over the top like some of Charlie Weis’ previous classes. Good coaching will do wonders for this class, but sometimes a program needs true impact players in order to be productive on Saturdays and I’m not sure this class has enough of those impact players.

Anthony: From top to bottom, this class appears similar to last year, albeit lacking the star power of a Manti Te’o-type recruit. There are several very solid commitments, but also a fair share of “project” players that will take time to develop and may lack the athleticism needed to compete at an elite level. Some needs were addressed but the defensive front and safety still loom as positions where quality and depth are a concern going forward. The versatility of some recruits will provide flexibility, which is an advantage for Kelly if he needs to fill holes from transfers or injury. If I had to assign a letter grade I’d probably go with a B.

On Rating Kelly’s Recruiting Approach…

Jon: It’s hard to gauge the type of recruiter that Brian Kelly is from this class. We will gain a more accurate depiction of his style next year when he has more than a month to recruit players. But the time he did have to recruit players, he signed players like Derek Roback, Kona Schwenke, and Bruce Heggie. His approach remains somewhat of a mystery to me. Judging by this class alone, he is either a great evaluator of potential or a horrible evaluator of talent. Only time will tell which one it is.

Anthony: Kelly did his job. He minimized defections, maintained most of the current commits, and even managed to pull in a few of his own prospects. As stated above, the class is heavy on players that will need time to develop before being able to contribute, but with current roster this isn’t a huge concern. Going forward, it will be more important to gain commitments from elite players, as well as avoid taking too many athletes and prospects that require substantial growth in order to contribute. Over-reliance on player development is not an option for Kelly at Notre Dame, the competition level is higher than anywhere he has been.

Furthermore

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