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  • Irish Celebrate Recruiting Success

    by John Vannie

    Notre Dame closed out its recruiting efforts for the Class of 2017 on Wednesday with the signing of highly regarded defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes from Placer, California. The 24th and final member of the group added an exclamation point to what is projected to be the best collection of Irish immigrants since 1990. This balanced and talented class gives rise to the belief that Notre Dame’s 2012 team won’t be regarded as merely a one-hit wonder, but rather as the starting point for a long run of football excellence.

    The core of every successful football team is its offensive line, and the Irish have five promising players whose average height and weight is 6’6” and 290 pounds. All were highly recruited, while early enrollee Steve Elmer from Midland, Michigan may challenge right away for a starting position at right tackle. Coach Brian Kelly is also thrilled to have Hunter Bivin, Mike McGlinchy, Colin McGovern and John Montelus on board.

    Quarterback Malik Zaire from Kettering, Ohio, committed early to Notre Dame and has already established himself as a leader. The 6’1” left-hander combines quick feet and accurate passing skills, which make him an excellent fit for Kelly’s offense. Zaire will be joined by four capable targets at wide receiver. James Onwualu has an outgoing personality and desire to break the Notre Dame receiving records set by fellow Minnesotan Michael Floyd. Will Fuller is a fluid athlete who reminds folks of T.J. Jones. Torii Hunter, Jr. and Corey Robinson are the talented sons of professional athletes Torii Hunter (baseball all-star) and NBA great David Robinson.

    The Irish also welcome two outstanding running backs in Greg Bryant and Taurean Folston, who will be counted upon to replace and ultimately surpass the production of outgoing seniors Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. Both Bryant and Folston are from Florida, where they excelled against stiff competition. Bryant in particular is deemed to be physically ready to compete for significant playing time.

    Notre Dame addressed the loss of tight end Tyler Eifert and a depleted depth chart at this position by signing a pair of outstanding athletes. Mike Heuerman from Florida and Durham Smythe from Texas are very much in the mold of recent Irish players that have been very successful in college and the NFL.

    Defensively, Vanderdoes filled out the needs along the line, where the highly coveted Isaac Rochell and Ohio’s versatile Jacob Matuska were already on board. Five star athlete Jaylon Smith leads the linebacking corps. He is joined by Michael Deeb, a hard-nosed inside player from Florida, and Doug Randolph, a talented athlete from Virginia who had committed to Stanford early in the recruiting cycle before switching to Notre Dame.

    The best news for Irish fans may be in the secondary, where Max Redfield became a member of the class after de-committing from USC. The Californian is ranked as one of the best athletes in the country and is projected to play safety in Bob Diaco’s defense. Cole Luke from Hamilton, Arizona is projected to be the cover corner the team needs. Luke and Redfield will be joined by Devin Butler and Rashad Kinlaw to bring good size, speed and athleticism to the program.

    Not to be ignored are special teams, where the Irish had pressing needs at punter and place kicker. These have now been filled by a pair of preferred walk-ons in punter Andrew Antognoli and kicker John Chereson. Both had successful high school careers and are potential candidates for a full scholarship down the road.

    The level of talent and the fact that this group covers all positions on the field have resulted in a top five rating by a collection of national recruiting services. If there are any areas that might be deficient, those might be the lack of a proven outside pass rusher for the defensive line and a player with truly exceptional speed at wide receiver. That seems like nitpicking, though, and the staff is already busy recruiting the next class with over 100 offers extended and four verbal commitments to date.

    There is no doubt that the future looks brighter for Notre Dame football than it has in many years. Despite the loss to Alabama in the BCS championship, the Irish are now measuring themselves in all ways against the likes of the Crimson Tide instead of the Purdues of the world. It’s also significant that Kelly swayed two stellar recruits (Vanderdoes and Redfield) away from arch-rival USC, who appears to be on a downward trajectory after a successful decade under Pete Carroll. The school’s national recruiting base is certainly evident in this class, with nine players from key states such as Texas, California and Florida and six from the MidWest.

    21 Responses to “Irish Celebrate Recruiting Success”

    1. Rontdtarchala says:

      Iam completely satisfied with the group that has come on board and looking forward to not only seeing them on the field but what we will get in the next recruiting class.

    2. Amazing job by Kelly and staff!!


    3. Just about any team in the top 10 recruiting is interchangeable as far as raw talent. And Kelly certainly held his own against the Myers and Sabans. It’s comforting to know that these recruits are all the RKGs for Notre Dame. GO IRISH!!

    4. “If there are any areas that might be deficient, those might be the lack of a proven outside pass rusher for the defensive line and a player with truly exceptional speed at wide receiver.”

      From what I’ve read, Hunter (when healthy) and Fuller are burners, though Fuller is noted particularly for his ball skills and may be more similar to TJ Jones. Hunter was known for his burst, and anyway neither has great size, so presumably the speed was good.

      As for the outside pass rusher, to my untrained eye both Rochell and Vanderdoes fit the bill.

    5. John Cochtoastin says:

      Stellar recruiting class. Outstanding job by Kelly, Alford et al…if any of the coach’s wives are reading this they should consider spending Valentines Night in the living room cause thats where these men close the deal. Heyyooo!!!

    6. Larry Delaney '60 says:

      Great recruiting job; can’t wait for next season!

      GO IRISH!

    7. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      Phenomenal job by Kelly and his staff. Vanderdoes was a huge last second get. Hopefully, the discussion of the recruiting class means the Te’o story finally has jumped the shark.

    8. ND Chicago says:

      Great job by the coaching staff, particularly Tony Alford and Mike Denbrock, putting (and keeping) this class together. Great players make great programs and help put them in a position to compete for NC’s. Recruiting these guys is the first step; the next is developing them. Go Irish!!!

    9. Outstanding work by the staff – especially now that I have confidence in their development at ND.
      Just a nit – Cole Luke is from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona (oddly, the Longhorns board made the same mistake).

    10. chrisnd93 says:

      What impresses me most about this recruiting class was the fact that not one of the 23 that were on this websites “Recruiting” page decided at the last minute to sign elsewhere. These 23, along with the NSD arrival of Vanderdoes, made a committment and STUCK TO IT! They committed to Kelly, and when it came to signing on the dotted line, they signed. Nothing like the crazy stuff that has happened over the past few years, where players seemed like pure locks, only to change their mind at the last moment and sign elsewhere.

      This is our team filled with our recruits. 2013 is going to be another stellar year.

      GO IRISH!!!

    11. ElkhartIrish says:

      All Irish fans have been waiting a long time for this wonderful year and this wonderful recruiting class. Thanks to all the players and coaches who made it a wonderful year and hopefully there are many more like it and better. Go Irish!!!!

    12. 203 days to go until the Temple game

      just saying …..

    13. Great class! Spring practice! Temple in August! Maybe NC in January!

    14. Thank God for Coach Kelly! Vanderdoes is a much bigger Chris Zorich. I wouldn’t trade this class for any other in the nation.

    15. Atlantadomer says:

      To quote a very dear friend of mine in a text message on signing day, “Ah I yearn for the good ol days of rationalizing the upside potential of Abdel Banda, Darrin Bragg, John Ryan….”

    16. Avon Domer says:

      Congratulations to Coaches Kelly, Alford, Diaco, Martin, Cooks, Booker, Denbrock, Elston and their ND football program support staff for doing a fabulous job of reeling in the 2013 class of RKGs!!! Congratulations also go to the “Irish Mob” who stuck it out when it appeared that Coach Kelly might leave the program. Your enthusiasm for “Our Lady’s School” is an inspiration to us all, and you’re exactly the type of student-athletes we want represening “Our Lady’s School.” I can’t wait to monitor your successes on and off the field. GO IRISH!!!!

    17. Well, it’s been 3 years now, and following our “3-Year Rule,” I haven’t commented about the Brian Kelly hire until NOW:

      Coach Kelly has proven to be a good hire and deserves our support. He seems to have corrected what had become a lost program with a pitiful recent history – relatively speaking – and little, i.e., NOTHING get excited about. SO . . .

      Is Kelly the next “Great Notre Dame Head Coach?” Hell, I DON’T KNOW! Is he the best since Lou? YES HE IS! (But, hold your breath, let’s not get too excited, yet.)

      Coach Kelly has done a nice job. He gets a B+ from me. That grade goes up with a “W” in the NC game, with recruits from this 2013 class making a measurable contribution.

      Good luck, BK. Welcome new recruits, and GO IRISH!

    18. It’s a lot easier to keep a recruiting class together when you’re 12-1 than when you’re 8-5. An 8-5 record would give the Greg Mattison’s, Urban Meyer’s and other poachers ammunition to use against ND and plant doubt in the minds of recruits. They may still lose 1-2 blue chip verbal commits every year, but not the 4-5 we’d been accustomed to these last several years.

    19. Last year’s team was good and lucky. Perhaps too lucky – IMO they played in the NC game a year too early.

      That is history.

      Let’s remember the 1988 recruiting haul, and let’s also remember that in the 1988 Cotton Bowl they got their butts handed to them by Texas A&M. We know what happened the next season.

      We are BACK.

    20. 25 kids in the UA class, 24 in ours – 49.

      For how many of them did the choice come down to one of the 2 teams and how many chose ND, how many chose UA? I think UA made a big last minute push for Vanderdoes, but I don’t know how many – if any – had it down to either UA or ND.

      Anybody know?