Here’s a quick breakdown of the recruits by position.Quarterback
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 LineAddressing 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 LineIn 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.
LinebackersThe 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 BacksThe 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 TeamsThe 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 TichelbautFollow me on Twitter @etichel07