Skip to content

Recruiting efforts slowly take focus

Apr 23, 2013, 6:43 AM EDT

Sony Michel

With the Irish coming off a second consecutive 8-5 season, and a late season recruiting fade that saw elite recruits like Ronald Darby and Deontay Greenberry leave at the eleventh hour, Notre Dame’s recruiting philosophy changed.

The 2013 recruiting class that became one of the most decorated groups in the modern era wasn’t always that. It started modestly — with a collection of players that came straight from the profile Brian Kelly and company was looking for.

If the 2012 class tried to cherry pick players from across the country, the 2013 class decided to build a steady base before reaching wide. Anchored by the early commitment of Steve Elmer, the Irish plucked lower-profile names that fulfilled both needs and provided a great cultural fit. Jacob Matuska was a positional profile recruit, but a nice fit out of Bishop Hartley in Ohio. James Onwualu came from the familiar confines of Cretin-Derham Hall, but lacked the prestige of previous CDH recruits.

Hunter Bivin, Colin McGovern, Mike McGlinchey — all three linemen that fit the mold and continued to build a foundation for the class. Adding Malik Zaire, another profile player from a Catholic school in Ohio gave the class its quarterback. Adding Rashad Kinlaw and Corey Robinson, who had his lone offer from Notre Dame, continued building momentum and a lot of comfort. It was only after a dozen recruits, that the Irish landed Jaylon Smith, a true five-star, elite prospect.

And from there the floodgates opened.

Of course, helping matters was an undefeated regular season. That type of momentum can’t be discounted when you look at the names the Irish landed down the stretch. Cole Luke turned down Texas and Oklahoma to come to South Bend. Greg Bryant turned down everybody. Tarean Folston was one of the earliest targets on ND’s board. Max Redfield was the elite safety the Irish never landed. Durham Smythe walked away from a Texas commitment because he liked the way the Irish offense featured athletes like him. And Eddie Vanderdoes was the perfect recruit. An elite defense player that also stood up USC and chose Notre Dame on Signing Day.

There are some that look at the current Irish recruiting class and see a group that’s behind schedule. But that’s almost missing the point. Every group is built with a different footprint, necessitated by different circumstances. Coming off a national championship appearance and carrying more momentum into next season than any since Lou Holtz, the Irish coaching staff finds itself in a very envious position where patience is truly a virtue.

With the six commitments, you can still get an idea of what needs are pressing. Linebacker Greer Martini fills a hole that’ll come when Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese depart after the season. Wide receiver Justin Brent adds another intriguing skill possibility, and gets the Irish another elite talent out of Indianapolis. Jimmy Byrne and Sam Mustipher continue to build the depth on the interior of the offensive line. Andrew Trumbetti is the type of defender that Bob Diaco and Kelly seem to love — a long, strong big power/edge player.

The foundation of this class seems to be growing in a similar fashion. Meanwhile, we can only watch as the Irish take dead aim at elite recruits, building a case that’s far more persuasive than it’s ever been.

Recruits like running back Sony Michel spent time on campus, no doubt influenced by former teammate Michael Deeb. Blue-chip backs like Nathan Starks, at an elite feeder program (Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas), took in practice with his high school coach. Another big time prospect, Elijah Hood, has been hounded by the Irish staff. Freak athlete/jumbo tight-end/wide receiver Mark Andrews saw campus this weekend, and sees a perfect fit in Tyler Eifert. Josh Malone of Tennessee provides the Irish coaching staff with another opportunity to bag their white whale — an elite receiver that’s somehow evaded this group.

While previous coaching staffs turned the Blue-Gold weekend into a recruiting extravaganza, it’s worth noting that the Irish made their mark this year at the annual coaching clinic, where invited speakers often times had an elite recruiting joining them. Seeing guys like Bill Belichick, Marvin Lewis, and Marc Trestman is a lot more impressive than an intrasquad scrimmage.

Some wonder what effect the departure of Tim McDonnell will have on the Irish’s recruiting efforts. Behind the scenes, McDonnell served a critical role in coordinating the recruiting efforts for Kelly and coordinator Tony Alford. Yet it’s clear that Kelly is confident that there’ll be dozens of names lining up for a shot to join his staff. And he’s right.

Whatever changes take place behind the scenes, it’s clear that there’s truly a rhyme to the reasoning here, just as there has been for everything this staff has done.

Now everyone will have to simply show some patience as they pursue it.



  1. mediocrebob - Apr 23, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    If you win, they will come. And by win I mean consistently.

  2. ndnapa - Apr 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    This year, ND has to slow-play many of the recruits since they figure to have only about 20 spots. That’s a potentially volatile situation and it takes deft handling. Even if you play it almost perfectly, there are some kids who will feel like they’re not getting enough love. I think that’s what happened with recruits Gibbons (OT) and Smith (DT), who both loved ND. Almost half of the signees will be OL (5) and DL (4), and they are frankly in good shape with more talented recruits-some of whom will wait until near signing day. The Irish are already halfway there on the DL-and one of those spots will be reserved for a huge, talented NT to replace Nix If they can get Holley, they can then concentrate on the NT.

    Byrne and Mustipher are already on board and the Irish are in on Smith, Jones, Bars, Piersbacher and Tucker among others, and really shouldn’t settle for lesser prospects. ND will turn away very good prospects this year, which just shows what a tremendous job Kelly and his staff continue to do.

  3. dudeacow - Apr 23, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    I am continually amazed at how last year’s class turned out. If we hadn’t had a perfect regular season, there would be a good chance that we wouldn’t have picked up Smith, Vanderdoes, Redfield, Smythe, Bryant, Luke, and Folston. Success breeds success.
    And then I look at how crazy good the class was. A five star at each level on the defense, a five star at a very key position on the offense, the No. 2 player in the nation, and two guys who were atop their position group. And only three 3 stars in the 24 man group. That would mean we got 4 elite recruits, 17 blue-chip recruits, and 3 under the radar guys who will play key roles (Robinson, Deeb, Matuska). I’m excited for this class.

  4. 1historian - Apr 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    These guys obviously know what they’re doing and we are basically just the peanut gallery watching out here in cyberland, with the occasional comment.

    Suits me.

    129 and a wakeup!!

  5. 1historian - Apr 23, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    IMO we are two classes away (maybe one) from being where Alabama is now – they don’t rebuild, they reload.

    Mr. Saban – we will meet again.

    • dickasman - Apr 23, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      But it will all be for naught if we don’t stay ahead of the recruiting curve and develop a secretive recruiting hysterectomy program.

      • dickasman - Apr 23, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        They have the laser now so if I were bk, I’d obtain one of these lasers from the doc and have one of the assistants zap them while they re not looking. Hey Elijah, thanks for visiting us. See that over there, that’s touchdown Jesus(secret ZAP!). Oh hey you ok? Must be the jet lag kid, let me get you a room at the knights inn.

      • 1historian - Apr 23, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        with all due respect – WTF are you talking about?

      • bernhtp - Apr 23, 2013 at 2:47 PM

        Historian: Dick is subject to the occasional malapropism (among other things). I’m pretty sure he meant vasectomy in reference to some prominent transfers.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 23, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        At least he didn’t say sizzurp.

      • andy44teg - Apr 23, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        C’mon guys..he’s talking about getting all the players’ girlfriends a hysterectomy so we don’t lose any more players to unplanned pregnancy…i feel ya, assman

  6. padomer - Apr 23, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    watch elijah hood’s video on youtube….he should be priority 1. straight up freak…

    • dickasman - Apr 23, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      Hollah!!! Nd needs more freaks like me!!! Good call

  7. dickasman - Apr 23, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Hey any of you guys going on summer vacation this year? If so where?

  8. paulhargis53 - Apr 23, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    ND is never going to be in Bamas class!
    You ND fans are as delusional as Lakers fans and Packers fans.

    You would think that a kick in the teeth blowout in National Title game would temper your enthusiasm a bit…..

    But Noooooooo. Ugh!! You people are ridiculous.
    9 wins- tops. Kelly is going to wish he bailed when he had the chance…

    • bernhtp - Apr 23, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      Truer words were never written. No, we will never be in Bama’s class.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 23, 2013 at 9:08 PM

        Happily, I might add.

    • nudeman - Apr 23, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      Paulhargis Troll Rating:

      Clever Factor: 2.11 was never tempted to laugh, even for a nanosecond
      English: 8.9 no obvious typos or bad punctuation, so good job there
      Overall: 2.96 he exhibits very little game here

      If he was a woman, he’d be a two bagger
      If he was a beer, he’d be Rolling Rock
      If he was a bicycle, he’d be an old beat up Schwinn with a flat.

      He’s ho harvupdyke, may God take care of his soul in the state pen.
      Still though … gave him a thumbs up for visiting us

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 23, 2013 at 9:10 PM

        Hey, I like Rolling Rock. “33”.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 23, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        Come to think of it, I’ve also had a couple of two baggers. Never a Schwinn though, never.

    • bearcatirishfan - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Paul Hargis O&A fan?

  9. 1historian - Apr 23, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    andy44teg – thanks for the explanation.

    Your statement ” i feel ya, assman” – pretty much says all that need be said, perhaps more than needs be said

    • papadec - Apr 23, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      1hist – take your pick – I am: a) surprised, b) disappointed, c) delighted that dick didn’t respond to andy 44 with a sexual gratification response. dickas may be losing his edge.

      • 1historian - Apr 24, 2013 at 6:29 AM

        I’ve been saying that – he may be losing his edge for a few months now.

    • andy44teg - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      Yeah..i kinda put that one on a tee for him…maybe he’s passed out…

  10. elwaysmilehighdenver - Apr 23, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    4 star TE Ian Bunting commits to Michigan over Nd and USC.

  11. borromini - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    On a day that saw TEs Bunting to Michigan, Blazevich to Georgia and Helms to Tennessee, ND just picked up a commitment from Chicago’s Nic Weishar.

    Wow…this was 4 of the top TEs all commit on the same day.

  12. paulhargis53 - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Nude, the post wasn’t meant to be funny at all. It was meant to try and open some eyes. You and your fellow ND fans are to far into your delusions and over the top homerism to have an unbiased opinion of your team.
    If that title game proved anything, it proved ND doesn’t belong in the same stadium as SEC football.

    What an embarassing loss that was! Yet here you all are chirping about how great this team is.
    A dose of humility should be the order of the day for you people, but yet you continue with your smug, we’re better than you attitudes. Its no wonder ND football fans and the university are detested.
    9 wins tops.

    • dmac4real - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Ill just say this:

      Alabama was clearly better than Notre Dame. But, they were also clearly better than LSU in 2012 when they beat them 21-0 and did not let them cross the the 50. Essentially, what all the SEC fans brag is how good ALABAMA is, and not how good the SEC is.

      Also, the FEI rankings rated the efficiency of very game in the past 10 years, and Alabama’s 2012 and 2013 title games were the two most efficient out of some 10000 games. Moral of the story: Give Nick Saban 6 weeks to prepare with an already loaded team, you have no shot of winning.

      This doesent make Notre Dame a bad team (We were 12-0 at one point last year), it just makes us not as good as Alabama, which no one should realistically expect at this point.

    • dudeacow - May 20, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Yeah, we’re chirping about how great our team is. Better than 124 (two new additions) teams in the country. For a program that’s wallowed in mediocrity, that’s pretty dang good. You’re right about it being an embarrassing loss. Alabama is cleary better. You guys have probably the best coach in history, after all. But we do cling to some tidbits as hope:

      a) NO ONE beat Alabama after Saban has had 6 weeks to prepare.
      b) We went score-for-score with you guys in the second half, 14-14, when you guys were clearly playing for the shutout. If only the first half didn’t exist…
      c) TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels had the best night any duo of receivers had against Alabama’s secondary THE ENTIRE YEAR.
      b) Just when you’d expect your freshman QB to fold at 35-0, he didn’t, and put up a sneaky good performance (21-37, 217 yds, 1-1 td/int, 1 td rushing).

      Notre Dame isn’t as good as Alabama…


  13. 4horsemenrideagain - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    ahh i see. the old “i wasn’t even trying to be funny, that’s why i wasn’t funny” response. you apparently weren’t trying to be insightful, interesting, accurate, witty or trying to add anything to the discussion either, but that’s neither here nor there. you are just trying to “open some eyes?” is that what you do? you troll some message boards of your team’s rivals, criticize the rivals, insult their fans, and describe it as just “trying to open some eyes.” whoa. you’re quite a guy. a genuine philanthropist.

    so you think ND is and has been overrated and that its fanbase is unrealistic and obnoxious? in efforts to be civil, your sentiments are noted. to be accurate, every team’s fanbase is unrealistic and can be obnoxious, so how does that make ND different from any other team? but then you also call for ND fans to humble themselves and cite a lack of humility as the reason ND fans and the university as a whole is detested! sure, sports fans have strong feelings, but to claim the entire university is “detested?” that sounds pretty creepy and like a disproportionate response to have about disliking a football team, no matter how intense the dislike.

    whatever is the cause, you should let go of your anger. it’s not good for you.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 24, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      Wish I could give this response 2 thumbs up.

  14. mediocrebob - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:55 PM


    New team. New year. And I haven’t read anywhere in this comment section or in the article stating “how great this team is”. This is about recruiting and believe it or not, there are teams on bama’s level.

    As for the fan base being “delusional”… Having live in Lower Alabama for a long time, I seem to remember a time(s) when the Tide were struggling quite a bit. However the fans were every bit as annoying as we Irish fans are. It’s called being a fan.

    And quit with the SEC stuff. Be a bama (lsu,Florida ect…) fan. Pick one. You’re not all on the same team.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 24, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      Also good.

    • dudeacow - May 20, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      I know, right!?! The whole year they’re like, “LSU rocks! Alabama stinks! Geaux Tigers!!” Then the title game, “Go Alabama! I was behind you the whole way! S-E-C! S-E-C!” Then comes fall… “I hate everyone in the SEC except LSU! Yeah!”

  15. paulhargis53 - Apr 24, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    bearcat: Ramooooooonnnne bring me a ND fan with an ounce of humility.
    Ramooooonnnne, Irish fans support pedophiles……..Ramooooooone….does that answer your question? :-)

  16. 4horsemenrideagain - Apr 24, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Getting called a pedophile lover by an Alabama fan is about the same as being called ugly by a frog. You try to give people the benefit of the doubt and they just go and remove all doubt for you.

  17. paulhargis53 - Apr 25, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    You assume I’m a Bama OR an SEC fan.
    I’m not.

    I just hate pompous ND fans.

    • dmac4real - Apr 25, 2013 at 7:06 PM



      This just took a sad, sad turn…

  18. paulhargis53 - Apr 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    You assume I’m a fan of ANY college football team…..

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Apr 25, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Even more strange. You’re not even a fan? Why on earth would you bother reading the comments of a college football blog, much less wading into the discussion by insulting people?

  19. paulhargis53 - Apr 26, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I detest arrogant fanbases. ND, L.A. Lakers, Green Bay Packers.

    Arrogant, loud mouthed know nothings.

    Completey biased and homeristic people irritate me.

    • ndonof07 - Apr 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      As an ND fan, I clearly know nothing (according to you), but you sure sound a lot like the people you describe. Biased, check. Loud mouthed, check. Arrogant, check. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on your “homerism” because you have yet to explain yourself.

      Yes, yes, I know, you claim to not be a fan of any team, but a fan of all teams not named ND (And I guess Green Bay, LA….should I throw in the Yankees and Dallas Cowboys for you?) You’re just a modern day Robin Hood. Thank you for gracing us “know nothings” with your presence. I am so much more informed now!

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!