Jan 22, 2013, 2:58 PM EDT
It’s a dead sprint for Brian Kelly and his staff. Two years of hard work identifying, evaluating and developing relationships with recruits hits the home stretch, with the Notre Dame staff doing its best to finalize a recruiting class that’s expected to be one of the best in the nation.
Finishing off that class is the first key part of roster management for the 2013 season. With 22 commitments in the ’13 class, including five student-athletes already enrolled, any additional recruits joining the 2013 class will likely determine how many fifth-year players the Irish welcome back for next season.
Some early answers will likely come this weekend, when the Irish host one of their biggest late season recruiting weekends of recent memory. Difference makers like defensive end Kyle Fitts, linebacker Deon Hollins, wide receiver Sebastian LaRue, tight end Durham Smythe, and five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes will all be on campus. So will five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith, who reportedly is coming to down to help with the sales pitch. Add in an impending visit from linebacker Torrodney Prevot the weekend before Signing Day, and how the Irish fill their 25 man allotment will be incredibly interesting.
Reading the tea leaves, we can start to get a handle on the fifth-year candidates that might return. Let’s roll through the roster and look at all the options:
Cierre Wood, RB — Declared for NFL Draft.
Tyler Eifert, TE — Declared for NFL Draft.
Jake Golic, TE — Not expected to return.
Chris Watt, LG — Expected to return.
Zack Martin, LT — Announced return for fifth year.
Tyler Stockton, DT — Not expected to return.
Dan Fox, LB — Expected to return.
Carlo Calabrese, LB — Expected to return.
Nick Tausch, K — Not expected to return.
Jamoris Slaughter, S — Appealing NCAA for a sixth year.
It’s worth noting that last year, surprising defections like Ronald Darby and Deontay Greenberry likely effected the decision making on the fifth year candidates, with a guy like Dan McCarthy the recipient of a bonus season of football because of it, and Chris Salvi earning a scholarship as well. The official announcement for fifth years came in late March, when the Irish were set to kickoff spring practice.
While some wonder if the Irish can afford to bring back five players — with Slaughter’s appeal seeming less than likely after news that his original request was denied — any decision will be made after the faxes are in on Signing Day. There are log jams at positions (quarterback, safety) that might create a transfer situation. There are lingering health concerns (Tate Nichols, Matt Hegarty) that contributed to some roster uncertainty as well.
It’s all part of the high wire act elite programs walk as they maximize their 85 scholarships, something Notre Dame is finally in a position to do after replenishing a roster that had holes and deficiencies dating back to the Willingham era. The Irish will never be a program that oversigns, a strategy that’s led to dominance by the SEC over the past few years. But Notre Dame has until fall camp to get down to the number, so it’ll be worth watching as the roster numbers take shape.
Jul 11, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT
Watch List week continues with more Irish veterans recognized for their potential 2014 season. In addition to Everett Golson, KeiVarae Russell and Jaylon Smith, four more Irish players found their names on awards lists, with Kyle Brindza, Sheldon Day, Ben Koyack and Nick Martin being tabbed.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT
A new time-lapse video released by Fighting Irish Digital Media and UND.com gives us an update on the FieldTurf installation going inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:26 AM EDT
Notre Dame scoured the country for recruits as they prepared for life after Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt. Our next A-to-Z installment looks at Jay Hayes, the incoming freshman defensive lineman looking to replace them.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:17 AM EDT
Entering his junior season, offensive lineman Mark Harrell has yet to make his way onto the field for the Irish. Our next installment in Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the Charlotte native and what he needs to do to see the field.
Jul 9, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Our Irish A-to-Z tour continues with safety Eilar Hardy. A knee injury derailed his freshman season. A suspension before the Stanford game did the same after earning two late-season starts in 2013. What does 2014 have in store for the veteran?
Jul 9, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT
With some of the top recruits in the country at The Opening, Notre Dame commitment C.J. Sanders put on a show. Making the SPARQ testing finals, Sanders dazzled as he showed elite speed and explosiveness.
Jul 8, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
When Notre Dame offered legacy lineman Conor Hanratty, many raised an eyebrow. With sons of former stars like Tregg Duerson and Jake Golic doing little with the full ride many perceived as a nod to their famous predecessors, Hanratty had the profile of a player whose best attribute was his father, former Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty.
Jul 8, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
A career-threatening leg injury has put Jarrett Grace’s status up in the air. Our latest Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the future of Notre Dame’s middle linebacker.
Jul 8, 2014, 8:39 AM EDT
A trio of Notre Dame football players find themselves on the watch list for some very impressive postseason awards. Quarterback Everett Golson is on the Maxwell Award’s watch list while junior cornerback KeiVarae Russell and sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith were both selected to the Bednarik’s watch list.
Jul 7, 2014, 11:11 PM EDT
A few weeks after being suspended indefinitely from the football team, Irish wide receiver Will Mahone is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.
Jul 7, 2014, 1:17 PM EDT
No game means more to Notre Dame fans than the annual battle with USC. As we finish our post-spring viewing of the Irish’s 2014 opponents, let’s take a closer look at college football’s greatest intersectional rivalry.
Jul 4, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
For all the thousands of words dedicated to Everett Golson’s comeback, few have talked about the fact that he’s still very much a quarterback in progress. Our next stop on Irish A-to-Z looks at the most important player in the program.
Jul 2, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT
Notre Dame may have missed out on Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard on Wednesday, but they won the commitment of jumbo receiver Miles Boykin. The Illinois native chose Notre Dame over Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida and a slew of other offers.
Jul 2, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Will Fuller served as Notre Dame’s human go route during his freshman season. As we continue our Irish A-to-Z, expect Fuller’s duties — and production — to expand greatly in 2014.
Jul 2, 2014, 10:20 AM EDT
Notre Dame ended up bridesmaids in their recruitment of Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard, two elite defensive prospects in the Midwest. The defensive end and linebacker made joint announcements, both deciding to attend Ohio State and play for Urban Meyer.
Jul 2, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
While most people expected a freshman running back to burst onto the scene in 2013, few thought it’d be Tarean Folston. Our next installment of Irish A-to-Z takes a look at a potential star-in-the-making.
Jul 1, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT
The recruiting train continues for Notre Dame, with Washington D.C. area defensive back Ashton White pledging his commitment to the Irish on Tuesday evening.
Jul 1, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT
As the calendar turns to July, Notre Dame athletics has officially become the flagship program for Under Armour apparel. Twitter gave us our first look at the new gear.
Jul 1, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
After stepping into a key role during 2012, many expected Matthias Farley to be the next big thing at safety for the Irish. But an up-and-down season in 2013 has Farley changing positions again, heading to cornerback. Our latest in the Irish A-to-Z.
Jun 30, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Notre Dame’s coaching staff got a good look at Pennsylvania running back Josh Adams at the Irish Invasion camp a little over a week ago. They’ll see him for four more years, as Adams committed to the Irish on Monday, adding a much needed running back to the 2015 recruiting class.