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Kelly on the recruits: Skill Players

Feb 8, 2014, 6:12 PM EDT

Orlando Sentinel Orlando Sentinel

After looking at both the offensive line and front seven hauls, let’s take a look at the skill players Brian Kelly brought in. After bolstering the offensive line class with four additional recruits and bringing in 11 players that will restock the front seven, here are the remaining members of the 2014 recruiting class.

(I’ve included specialist Tyler Newsome in this write-up, even if he isn’t technically a skill player.)

BK on wide receiver Justin Brent:

“When I got a chance to see him work out this morning, the first thing that stood out to me is that he does not look like a freshman.  He had his shirt off this morning and he was running around, and he looks like a senior.He is a physically gifted young man.”

“You can see a lot of the accolades that are out there with him in terms of where he was ranked. But what we were looking for specifically, and there were some really good players at this position, we were looking for a physical player at this position, somebody that could impose their physicality, could run after the catch. His ability to run after the catch was very impressive for us and had, for us, some of the things, the traits that we were looking for at that particular time and that position.”



BK on wide receiver Corey Holmes:

“Really a precise route runner.  Really like his game.  He is a mature player.  Very mature in the way he handles himself in the classroom.  Off the field, really like everything about Corey Holmes.  I can’t tell you anything I don’t like about this young man.  His family is just a great fit for Notre Dame.  Very mature kid, one that’s wanting to take on all the challenges of Notre Dame.

“He reminded me a lot, and I don’t like to make the comparisons, but he has a lot of the same feelings in terms of where TJ Jones developed, but he’s 6’2″.  This kid is longer.  He’s a bigger kid than TJ.  But he’s got a lot of those mannerisms and characteristics.  This is a great fit for us from that high school.  He’s played great competition, and he’s a great fit for our program.  We’re really pleased to have Corey Holmes in our program.”



BK on quarterback Deshone Kizer

“There’s so many things to love about DeShone.  He’s 6’5”.  I love that.  He’s 212 pounds.  I love that.  So you can see you’ve got a tall, athletic quarterback who’s got good size.  He’s going to be able to do the multidimensional things that we love.  Now we’ve got three quarterbacks on campus that all do the same things.  You don’t have to adjust your offense.  All three of the quarterbacks, we finally‑‑ all do the same things.

“He led his team the last couple years, came up a little short, but extremely competitive and confident, confident, confident kid.  That’s what you’ve got to be.  That’s what I told all these guys.  If you come to Notre Dame as the quarterback, you’d better be really confident in your ability because they are going to knock you down five pegs every day, so you’d better be above that.”



BK on tight end Tyler Luatua

“One of the things that stood out to me on his visit is that people said, well, he didn’t talk enough.  He wasn’t engaging enough.  I didn’t hear enough from him.  I said, well, you just don’t know him well enough because when you get to know Tyler Luatua, he’s just like Justin Utupo; you can’t shut him up.  So it was clear to me that we just needed to spend a little bit more time with him, and Mike Denbrock did a great job recruiting him, said, listen, just spend more time with him.  We got him on the phone, he spent more time with people on campus, and he blew them all away.  He’s just got that kind of personality.  We really love his personality and who he is.

“As a tight end he’s a pass catching tight end.  No, he’s not the 6’5″, 6’6″ tight ends that we’ve had, but he is a really good tight end.  He can catch the football.  He can block for us.  He’s going to be able to do all the jobs that we have at the tight end position for us. We think we got one of the best tight ends in the country in Tyler Luatua.”



BK on punter Tyler Newsome

“We had Tyler up here this summer.  We had the kicking camp here, and we got a chance to see him work out.  Just was really impressed with his versatility.  Long lever punter, which in terms of his abilities really transcend the normal punting.

“He’s a guy that doesn’t come along very often.  He’s 6’3″, 190 pounds right now, and he is skinny.  He’s going to be a really big kid.  We loved the pop that he had as a kicker, but we were most intrigued by his punting, and that’s an area that he’s going to continue to work on and continue to develop, but he was such an intriguing young man in all the kids that we saw that when we saw him punting, there was nobody that was even close to with the potential upside that he has.”



BK on safety Drue Tranquill

“He kept jumping out at us.  This kid was making plays, and Coach Hiestand kept banging me about hey, listen, watch this kid, and we kept looking at him, and he’d keep making plays during camp.  And so he was always on our radar, but we were not ready to offer a scholarship at that particular position. It got to the point where I watched more film, we watched more film.  I loved his attitude.  I loved the way he played the game.  I said, we’re going to offer him as a head coach’s offer.  Head coach can offer anybody, right?  Coach, we don’t have a scholarship.  I said, well, we’ve got a scholarship now.

“So I offered him a scholarship, and we really didn’t have a position for him because we just loved the way he played the game, and so that’s kind of how the recruiting process went on Drue.  People have asked does he play safety, does he play running back?  I don’t know where he plays, but he’s going to play somewhere here at Notre Dame because he’s a darned good football player, he’s athletic, he’s competitive, and we’ll find a place for him somewhere.  He’s one of those guys if he’s going to play at Notre Dame he’s going to play somewhere because he’s a really good football player.”



BK on cornerback Nick Watkins

“Nick Watkins, you talk about a talented football player, his dad played in the NFL, great pedigree, 6’1”.  This is a long corner.  This is draft day, you’re getting a No.1 draft pick.  This kid is an exceptional football player.

“We think we got one of the best corners around.  Long, athletic, can really do a lot of things for us.  He can play man, he can play zone.  I got a chance to see him play.  I didn’t see him play one game in person, but I saw a lot of his tape.

“I just think he’s an outstanding player that is going to develop here, and again, from my standpoint, love the ability that we can get a corner that has some size to him.”



BK on tight end Nic Weishar

“We could argue about this all day.  He’s the finest pass catching tight end that we saw.  You could argue about who it is, but we think he is.  We love his ball skills, we love his ability to use his body to control defenders, has a knack of catching the football in the air and taking it away from people.

“He’s a guy that will have a great career here at Notre Dame.  He’ll be that‑‑ he’s got that model and size that we’ve had here at Notre Dame. He’s not where Luatua is in terms of size right now.  He’s going to have to get stronger.  He’s 215 pounds.  But he will.  But he is a terrific pass catcher, and he’s going to be another one in the line of very, very good tight ends here at Notre Dame.”


  1. notredameirish1980 - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Tranquill may be the most interesting athlete of the lot. With his size and sub 4.5 speed he could play just about anywhere outside the line positions.

  2. irishpuma - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    Brent and Watkins, game changers!!!

  3. kcoral - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Actually, no game changers BUT a lot of potential with guys like Brent, Holmes and Weishar. Watkins is probably the most ready and will challenge for PT, though Tranquill will be on special teams from Day One.

    Like the potential here but chance for some busts. Luatua is either gonna shine or be a bust. Looked terribly slow and lethargic at UA game but there were rumors he was hurt so…

    • mediocrebob - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      Thanks Tom Lemming. What do you see in your crystal ball for the 2015 recruits? They gonna bust as well?

    • irishdog80 - Feb 9, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Luatua will shine as a blocking TE that occasionally catches a pass and looks good doing it. I agree that he does not seem fast, but in two tight end sets blocking is the priority and Luatua is very physical and looks to block on the second and third level. Bring him in on goal line situations and our red zone offense will be much more productive.

      • irishdog80 - Feb 9, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Too often coaches try to be too cute around the goal line. Bring in 4 tight ends with two of them as H-backs and blast your way into the end zone or have one of them block down and then leak out into the end zone for an easy TD after the defense has bunched up to stop the power set. Luatua is perfect for that type of role…and we need it.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        I love the idea of him as an H-back/fullback, though BK’s ideal offense isn’t heavy on plays utilizing a fullback.

  4. viktory2013 - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Some good looking athletic kids. Kizer reminds me of a taller Jarious Jackson

    • domerboyirish - Feb 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      And this would be good? How? I often find myself thinking, ” if only we could return to the glory days of ND QB’s and bring in kids like that Jarious Jackson.”


      • mediocrebob - Feb 9, 2014 at 12:42 PM

        JJ was a tough QB. He didn’t have a very good head coach.

      • irishdog80 - Feb 9, 2014 at 12:52 PM

        Jarious Jackson was good enough…respected enough as a QB by high quality NFL scouts…to play 4 years as a backup for the Denver Broncos.

      • viktory2013 - Feb 9, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Jackson was an excellent QB, mobile, good arm, tough as nails. His problem was getting stuck behind the Tommy Rees of his era, Ron Powlus.

      • danirish - Feb 9, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        Er, Jackson was pretty good. I can imagine him in an offense like today. Remember who he played for and yet still made a roster in the NFL and plays Canadian, eh!

      • domerboyirish - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        Sorry boys. I didn’t think he was anything special to aspire to.

  5. fnc111 - Feb 9, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Let’s get Cody Riggs in house. He’ll be the biggest addition for 2014.

  6. dudeacow - Feb 9, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    You thought Michael Floyd was ready to play as a freshman? He had a bench max of 250 and ran a 4.55. Justin Brent has (as of last month) a bench max of 365, a squat max of 460, and a dead lift max of 505. Oh, and he runs a sub 4.5. I don’t care if this kid is 6’1″ or 6’3″, he’s going to be special.

  7. davidosborne89 - Feb 9, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    This class isn’t getting the pub that some other classes of Coach Kellys. However,I feel like over all a very good class that is going to provide much needed depth. Justin Brent is a BEAST! The kid should see instant PT as a freshman.

    • danirish - Feb 9, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      Agree, this class will surprise us…

  8. yaketyyacc - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    de ja vu. again good players. again, going to be a good season. Notre Dame is “loaded”. now, can the coaches pull the trigger and hit the bulls eye, the National Championship. Kelly has been practicing his draw, so let’s see if he is any faster.

  9. paulhargis53 - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Get the NC out of your head. In the current set up, ND will never win another.

    The abberation season showed the world how outclassed they were by the football first schools.
    What an embarrassing defeat that was.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      groundhog day, again.

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