Five-star challenge: Irish take aim at Bryant, Redfield

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Being No. 1 in the country has its privileges.

Right now, those perks include chasing down some of the top talent in the country, something Notre Dame’s coaching staff is doing as they try and put the finishing touches on a stellar 2013 recruiting class.

There isn’t a lot of room in a class that already has 22 commitments, but that hasn’t stopped Notre Dame from chasing two elite prospects: Florida running back Greg Bryant and Southern California safety Max Redfield. Redfield received an in-home visit from Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly last night, who also caught the 6-foot-3, 200-pound safety’s basketball game. The one-time USC commit looks like he’s down to Notre Dame and Oregon, with the Irish looking in a great place.

BlueandGold.com’s Jason Sapp caught up with Redfield, who said the Irish definitely are his leader. “Notre Dame helped its chances,” Redfield told Sapp. “My parents trust my judgment and after I visited Notre Dame I told them how I felt about them, and it pretty much validated it with them getting to meet the coaches themselves.”

Meanwhile, Bryant’s name has come out of nowhere, but makes a ton of sense considering Cierre Wood looks like he’s leaning towards heading to the NFL instead of returning for a fifth season. In Bryant, the Irish are chasing one of the country’s top playmakers, as the five-star recruit is one of the top 15 players in the country, according to Rivals.com’s rankings. With Irish assistants dispatched all around the country, Tony Alford will reportedly make his sales pitch in person, before Bryant visits South Bend the weekend of December 7th, when the Irish will have their annual awards show.

From a numbers perspective, how this all works out will be interesting. Notre Dame is said to be in great shape with Al-Quadin Muhammad of Don Bosco Prep, a former teammate of freshman DB Elijah Shumate, and Notre Dame would accept the commitment of the edge player, one of their top pass rush targets. With other recruits still in play like Tarean Folston, how Notre Dame closes this class will be fun to watch.

After rebuilding the health of the program, the Irish will have to decide how to use their 85 scholarships, with some tough decisions likely coming down the bend. Tight roster numbers are another good sign for a program that spent a lot of time playing closer to 75 than 85, and Notre Dame coaches will likely do their best to bring in elite players if they can do it, worrying about the usual attrition that comes with recruiting and roster moves each offseason.

With coaches at several high profile schools out of jobs and recruits reconsidering some schools that have fallen on hard times (like USC), there’s going to be quite a few players worth watching before February. And for the first time in a long time, Notre Dame has the ability to play closer, one of the perks of being in the national championship game.