Feb 13, 2013, 3:20 PM EDT
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.
Aug 31, 2015, 4:12 PM EDT
Notre Dame’s wide receiving depth chart features talent at just about every level. Starting with All-American candidate and sophomore record-setter Will Fuller and working down to freshmen like Equanimeous St. Brown and C.J. Sanders, top to bottom this is the most exciting set of playmakers the Irish have had at the position in, maybe—ever?
Aug 31, 2015, 11:37 AM EDT
Let’s get the rest of the mailbag finished off so we can concentrate on game week. (Feels really good to type that sentence.) Thanks again for some great questions.
Aug 30, 2015, 3:34 PM EDT
There are a ton of good questions to get to so this will roll out in multiple parts. Many thanks for the thoughtful work. (And some nice examples of brevity.)
Aug 29, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
After a long line of starters with plenty of experience, Notre Dame’s tight ends all but start over in 2015. Scott Booker’s position group comes in with all sorts of intriguing traits. Unfortunately, none of those are experience.
Aug 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
Brian Kelly was on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and the Irish head coach got his last weekend without a game started by chatting it up with the popular radio host. While Kelly didn’t make any headlines in the interview, he did conduct it from his desk with a Showtime crew hanging a boom mic over his head, part of life with a documentary film crew following him around.
Aug 28, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT
Just about everybody expects Harry Hiestand’s offensive line to be a dominant unit. But after months of preseason hype, they now need to prove they can do it.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
Ishaq Williams’ college football career is over. Notre Dame’s exiled defensive end, who sat out last season as part of a two-semester suspension for his role in the “frozen five” academic dishonesty investigation, has lost his NCAA appeal for reinstatement. Brian Kelly shared the news on Thursday after practice
Aug 27, 2015, 8:25 PM EDT
The votes are in and Notre Dame’s football team will be captained by five players. Graduate students Matthias Farley, Nick Martin and Joe Schmidt will be joined by senior Sheldon Day and junior Jaylon Smith as the captains of the 2015 Irish.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
It appears that the Greg Bryant era at Notre Dame is over. The junior running back, who was declared academically ineligible to play for the Irish this fall, has enrolled at ASA Miami, a junior college with a new football program run by former Irish assistant Ernest Jones.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
After two seasons of trying to find carries for a handful of emerging running backs, Notre Dame has the opposite problem: Trying to spread out a growing workload among a smaller, highly-differentiated position group.
Aug 26, 2015, 1:56 PM EDT
With the season right around the corner and preseason camp finished, it’s time to get our final preparations done before the games start counting and the journey begins. We spent the summer pumping out tens of thousands of words on Notre Dame’s evolving roster, so if you’re looking for 50 hours of easy reading, check out the Irish A-to-Z series.
Aug 26, 2015, 12:42 PM EDT
Have a final question before we have actual football to talk about? Today’s the day. Drop them below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Aug 25, 2015, 5:06 PM EDT
Notre Dame announced a number of enhancements to Notre Dame Stadium on Tuesday. Most notable among them, a video board that’ll go atop the south end zone.
Aug 25, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Our final installment of the A-to-Z series is perhaps our most important one. Because Notre Dame’s fate is in the hands of quarterback Malik Zaire.
Aug 24, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
With the injury to freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford, an unlikely candidate has emerged as the frontrunner for the No. 3 cornerback job: Devin Butler. The junior, who struggled mightily at times last season after he was forced into action, looked to have lost his grip on that spot this spring after strong work by sophomore Nick Watkins.
Aug 24, 2015, 12:27 PM EDT
No freshman will be tossed into the deep end quicker than kicker Justin Yoon. Essentially Notre Dame’s sole option to kick field goals in 2015, Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff are putting a ton of the shoulders of a true freshman, who’ll be asked to fix a three-point operation that went haywire down the stretch after the Irish’s all-time field goal leader Kyle Brindza lost his mojo.
Aug 23, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
When Brandon Wimbush enrolled in school this summer, he became the latest blue-chip quarterback to join the Notre Dame football program with the burden of great expectations. The New Jersey state player of the year, Wimbush would be wise to forget about the prep accolades, instead focusing his efforts on learning the playbook, with the third-string quarterback closer to the field than you’d ideally want.
Aug 21, 2015, 12:12 PM EDT
Keith Gilmore’s move to Notre Dame reunites him with Brian VanGorder, two football lifers who have known each other since they shared a huddle as players. After a long coaching career, Gilmore also reunites with Brian Kelly, a coach he’s worked for at Grand Valley, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and now Notre Dame.
Aug 21, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Notre Dame landed another Indianapolis product when safety Mykelti Williams joined the Irish this summer, the freshman lending some much needed depth to the secondary. Hailing from Warren Central, the same program that brought Notre Dame Sheldon Day, Williams’ might not contribute as quickly as Day did, but he’ll have a chance to compete for a spot in the two deep behind Max Redfield at free safety.
Aug 20, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
With Notre Dame’s running back depth chart down Greg Bryant, freshman Dexter Williams has a clear line to the football field this fall. While wide receiver Justin Brent has converted to the backfield and Tarean Folston returns as a starter, Williams and fellow freshman Josh Adams couldn’t ask for a more advantageous situation, especially with C.J. Prosise taking time to heal an ailing hip flexor.