Saturday, February 8, 2014

2014 Notre Dame Recruiting Class

Earlier this week, twenty-three recruits faxed in their Letter of Intents to become members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program next fall. Two of the new members have already joined the team by enrolling early for the 2014 spring semester at Notre Dame, but the rest will join the Irish for summer practices. Amongst the 23 recruits, there was one five-star player, 10 four-star players, and 12 three-star players. While this class might not be considered elite, it does check-in as a very respectable 11th best class according to

Here’s a quick breakdown of the recruits by position.

Four-star dual-threat quarterback DeShone Kizer will join the Irish this summer and has a ton of upside. The 6-foot-4, 205 pound QB will likely be slotted third on the depth chart behind Everett Golson and Malik Zaire, meaning a redshirt season is all but a guarantee. Kizer was the ninth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation, continuing the recruiting trend by Brian Kelly. With Golson, Zaire, and Kizer all being dual-threat quarterbacks, it is apparent that Brian Kelly is trying to solidify that position with the type of skills desired to run his offense. Despite Kizer’s potential, don’t expect him to compete for playing time until 2016 at the earliest.
Wide Receiver

The Irish added a pair of four-star receivers in Corey Holmes and Justin Brent, improving the depth they already have at the position. Brent, who is an early-enrollee, is a 6-foot-1, 196 pound receiver that runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. Brian Kelly has already stated that Brent is one of the most physically developed players he has ever recruited. Considering his early-enrollee status, Brent could have a chance to make a major impact next season. Holmes is another big receiver at 6-foot-2 and also runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, but his slight frame (174 pounds) makes me think a redshirt season is a distinct possibility. Either way, Brent and Holmes give the Irish a pair of playmakers for the future.
Tight End

Notre Dame has adopted the moniker of “Tight End U” over the past decade, and two newcomers will be looking to join the list of successful players at the position. Four-star Nic Weishar and three-star Tyler Luatua give the Irish two tight ends in the top 12 of this year’s class. Both players have good height with Weishar listed at 6-foot-5 and Luatua at 6-foot-4, but both check-in at an under-sized weight of 230 pounds. Obviously both players will have a chance to put on the weight during the summer, but they both have some work to do in order to play immediately. Although Troy Niklas is gone, Ben Koyack, Durham Smythe, and Mike Heuerman will all be ahead of them on the depth chart. Given that, it wouldn’t surprise me to see both Weishar and Luatua redshirted.

Offensive Line
Addressing offensive line depth has been a calling card for Brian Kelly the past few seasons, and this year’s class in no different. Notre Dame added four top-30 linemen to join their already stacked depth chart. Five-star beast Quenton Nelson and four-star recruits Sam Mustipher, Jimmy Byrne, and Alex Bars will join the Irish this summer. Out of the group, Nelson probably has the best chance of seeing the field next season. He has been described as a lineman that carries a “mean-streak” and is considered a “nasty” player. Probably the most impressive stat amongst this group is their size. As seniors in high school, this group averages a height of 6-foot-5 and nearly 300 pounds. With the talent that is already on the roster, most of these guys will redshirt which gives the Irish a bright future up front.

Defensive Line
In addition to offensive line, Brian Kelly has also focused heavily on adding depth to his defensive front-seven over the past few years. This class was a perfect example, as the Irish added seven players to their depth chart. Defensive tackles Jay Hayes, Pete Mokwuah and Daniel Cage will join defensive ends Jhonathon Williams, Andrew Trumbetti, Jonthan Bonner and Grant Blankenship in what Notre Dame believes is a talent bunch. However, Hayes is the only four-star player, with the other six being three-star recruits. Obviously star rankings don’t determine the success of a player, but it does mean that they will have to be developed into better players. Since Brian Kelly arrived at South Bend, he has preached player development, so this group will be a good bar to judge Notre Dame’s player development program in the next two or three years. Outside of Hayes and Trumbetti who enrolled-early, the other linemen will likely be redshirted.

The Irish lost three starters at linebacker, so adding depth at the position was a major goal of the recruiting class. Four linebackers will be new members of the Fighting Irish this summer, with four-star stud Nyles Morgan leading the pack. Morgan is listed as an inside linebacker and will likely compete for a starting spot. The other three recruits are all three-star players, and will have to impress to see the field this season. Despite needing three new starters next fall, Niles Sykes, Greer Martini, and Kolin Hill will be hard pressed to see the field early in the season.

Defensive Backs
The defensive backfield has been an area of concern for the Irish the past few seasons, but the future looks bright after a solid recruiting class last season. To add to that talent, Brian Kelly picked up two additions in four-star cornerback Nick Watkins and three-star safety Drue Tranquill. Watkins will have a chance to crack the corner rotation with a unique combination of size and speed. Watkins is listed a 6-foot-1, 189 pounds and was clocked at a 4.5 40-yard dash. Unlike Watkins, Tranquill might be more of a project. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound safety has decent size, but he has a slew of talent safeties ahead of him on the depth chart. I would be shocked to see him on the field this season.

Special Teams
The 2014 class ends with the addition of three-star kicker Tyler Newsome. Newsome is rated as the 6th best kicker in the country, and his three-star ranking speaks volumes to his leg as most kickers are two-star recruits. With Kyle Brindza securely entrenched as kicker and punter, Newsome will have to greatly impress the coaching staff to bump Brindza from one of his jobs.

-Eric Tichelbaut
Follow me on Twitter @etichel07


Anonymous said...

Everyone is really excited about the 2014 class as Coach Kelly is starting to demonstrate his recruiting abilities and display his high powered offense. in reference to the WR's that were recruited, no disrespect to Justin Brent but the caliber of competition he played against in Indiana would not allow him on the field at a School like St. Thomas Aquinas. Fans and Sports writers don't have a clue as to what you're getting in Corey Holmes. If you talk privately with any of the Offensive Coaches they'll reveal to you that his skill set is unmatched by any other recruited WR this year. Don't look at the numbers because they don't tell the truth because he only played more that two quarters in 7 games due to blowouts and when he did play he only averaged three passes a game due to the talent level and style of offense. When he gets on campus and Wows everyone only then will many learn what they have. I wish the program nothing but the best as its the classiest program in the nation with the best fan base in the nation. Go Irish!!!

Eric Tichelbaut said...

Very valid point with the talent each player played against. I was just stating that Brian Kelly was impressed with Brent's size and physical maturity for a freshman. As an early-enrollee, Brent will have a leg-up on Holmes, but Holmes can play if he wows the coaches in camp. Actually, it might be tough for either player to get playing time next year. The Irish have a bunch of talented receivers on the depth chart. We saw a glimpse of what they can all do last season. Both players certainly have bright futures. However, in the end, it is anyone's guess how a recruit will turn out.