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Restocking: Analyzing the position groups

Feb 13, 2013, 3:20 PM EDT

John Montelus

Each recruiting class has a purpose. For Brian Kelly and company, continuing to widen the base of the roster was a key for the 2013 recruiting class. It was far from coincidental that this group could literally line up and play against itself if it needed to do so. In fact, that balance — and that ability to infuse quality players at every position grouping on the roster — is one of the things that should have you so excited about this group of players.

On the offensive line, Kelly brought in a freshman starting five.  Steve Elmer locks down the left tackle position, while Mike McGlinchey fits in perfectly at right tackle. Colin McGovern and John Montelus both have the size, skill and disposition Harry Hiestand and company want at the guard spots. And Hunter Bivin looks very much like the type of athlete that could bring elite size to the center position.

“We had five offensive linemen from that period of the USC game until the Alabama game that could go out there and function with five offensive linemen,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “That impacts your program, I’m telling you.  It impacts the way you practice.  You don’t get a chance to tackle quite as much, and all those things begin to show themselves when you’re below the scholarship numbers.”

With quarterback Malik Zaire running the offense, tight ends Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe restocking their position group, and Corey Robinson, Will Fuller, James Onwualu and Torii Hunter each adding their own element to the wide receiving corps, the passing game added some key pieces. Throw into the mix Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston, two running backs that Notre Dame’s coaching staff thinks have elite ability both as runners and catchers, and the Irish offense continues to rebuild.

Defensively, Notre Dame put together an incredible trio of five-star prospects, with Eddie Vanderdoes anchoring the defensive line class, Jaylon Smith one of the nation’s most dynamic athletes at linebacker, and Max Redfield the No. 1 safety on the Irish board.

Filling in those position groups with high level prospects — Isaac Rochell and Jacob Matuska at defensive end, Michael Deeb and Doug Randolph at linebacker, Cole Luke, Devin Butler, and Rashad Kinlaw in the secondary, and it’s very clear that while the offensive line and skill positions were areas where the Irish needed an immediate depth infusion, this staff very much believed they needed to continue to build this roster at the very base level.

“With this class, it really addresses some of our depth needs across the board,” Kelly said. “We targeted in year one and two, we addressed comprehensively needs throughout the entire class in year three, and what I’m most excited about is that now we’ll have the depth in the certain areas that we felt like we did not have in 2012 and in this off‑season.”

We’ll be taking a closer look at each position group, and seeing how those incoming pieces help solve the roster puzzle.

 

  1. yogihilt - Feb 13, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Depth is so critical, and the 12 wins, and the ever present ND media coverage this season, allowed that this signing period. I’m sure the 10-12 (maybe 13) seasons will continue to follow, allowing the same recruiting hauls in the future. Line them up, roll them out, and fill in the gaps. IRISH

  2. mmcss690 - Feb 13, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Picked up an ND climalite polo with tags still on from eBay for $8.50 and an ND Starter 1/4 zip pullover fleece for $15! Ready to continue displaying my fanism through the winter/spring/summer. How many days til Temple?!?! This class has me itching for ND football… Worse than last year!

  3. kiopta1 - Feb 13, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    I can’t wait for next season and to see the 2014 class build. Elijah Hood 5*rb/ath looks dang good and said he has ND leading at the moment and will visit soon. Can you imagine the type of RB stable we are building?

  4. nudeman - Feb 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Now that he has (supposedly) solved the depth issue, his excuse for no punt return game is gone.
    I will believe it when I see it

    • bernhtp - Feb 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      While depth is not fully solved, this class takes us a long way. I do expect special teams to get way better with the additional athletes on the squad itching to get onto the field and make a difference.

    • gtizzo - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:55 PM

      They went 12-0 (regular season) without a punt return game…I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

  5. bernhtp - Feb 13, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    UHND has an excellent article showing how much top recruiting classes matter to the eventual success of a team. While we won’t see the full results of this class for several years, it should be significant if history is a guide.

    http://www.uhnd.com/articles/recruiting/recruiting-rankings-matter/

    • nudeman - Feb 13, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      That’s an interesting article, but – stating the obvious – if you can’t coach the kids up once they’re there, recruiting is meaningless. How many top five classes did Faust have?

      I’ve been hard on Kelly for a few things recently, but the guy can build and run a top flight program. And guys DO get better.
      Golson’s improvement was dramatic from the beginning to the end of last year.
      So was that of Golsen, Gholson and Gholston.

      • irish4006 - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        …and that of Goulson and Goulsen.

      • nudeman - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:32 PM

        Good point

      • bernhtp - Feb 14, 2013 at 7:19 AM

        The competition between Ghoulstone, Reece, Hendricks, Keel and Zimbabwe will be feerce this year.

  6. rdeal23 - Feb 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    BK has created a program that can compete and beat big 10 and big 12 teams however I would still cringe to see any sec team outside of Kentucky on our schedule. This class is a great foundation but I hope BK is around long enough to develop them.

  7. dapperdanirish - Feb 13, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Right on, Nude. Agree 100%. Great insight, Keith. Thank you.

  8. papadec - Feb 13, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    We can see now – based on how long it is taking ND to re-stock, and what has happened at usc with scholarship losses, just how damaging those ncaa scholarship punishments are. Penn State will suffer for quite some time.

    • nudeman - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      No more damaging than 5 years with an inferior coach who couldn’t build a complete roster, get a decent strength program in place or have an appreciation for the importance of the OL, DL or defense in general.

      Just sayin…

      • papadec - Feb 14, 2013 at 1:28 AM

        nude – that’s what I was referring to with the ND reference.

  9. ajw21 - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    nude: ND had a coach like that?
    Sorry I couldn’t resist.
    Go Irish!

    • nudeman - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      Speaking purely hypothetically there … ahem
      Roll damn Tide.
      Anyone got any sweet tea?

  10. ndirish10 - Feb 14, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    nude, I’m hearing lately that it’s been “Parole Damn Tide!!! Go Irish!!!

    • bernhtp - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:08 AM

      It’s just Alabama’s new technique for roster management. Instead of gray-shirting players not immediately needed, they orange-shirt them. From one state institution to another; little difference.

  11. yaketyyacc - Feb 14, 2013 at 6:28 AM

    ah, hypertheticals,and theory. yes, it is that time of the year that allows us to immerse ourselves in “what will be”. Let’s try to add a little reality. Last year, all we heard was “are the Irish for real, have they come back?” Those teams that found out the hard way are also coming back and much improved.
    Now, we can revel in the success of 2012, the recruiting class, and that we have the same coaches.
    As coach Kelly likes the word “process”. the 2013 Notre Dame Football team better process themselves into a much faster and agressive group, or as the 60 Yearbook descibed the football team ” From Rockne to Rock Bottom” could easily apply.

  12. fnc111 - Feb 14, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    2013 is going to be a long season. I can’t believe in three seasons Kelly couldn’t win one BCS game with all that talent. Looks to be a nice recruiting class but we won’t know that until three years from now. Why do people go all crazy about kids that won’t even play a big part in the coming season?

    • dmac4real - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:09 PM

      ^Is this guy serious?

  13. kozbee - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    Reuben Foster asleep in school at Auburn.

    http://network.yardbarker.com/college_football/article_external/lb_recruit_foster_sleeps_through_class/12918277

  14. ndnapa - Feb 18, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Love this class. Deepest and the best since Holtz/Cerrato days. Outstanding job by the coaches.

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