Of the 21 signees in Notre Dame’s class of 2017, 10 are expected to listen to new offensive coordinator Chip Long’s play calls, and an 11th will serve as the kickoff specialist following any success that offense may have. During his National Signing Day press conference, Irish coach Brian Kelly showered each of those 11 with only glowing words.
Avery Davis: Cedar Hill; Cedar Hill, Texas
Measurements: 5’11”, 192 lbs.
Rankings: Rivals.com three-star recruit; No. 80 player in Texas; No. 39 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “What we love about Avery is that he’s played for championships. That’s what Cedar Hill does at the highest level in Texas. So he has that pedigree, that he’s used to playing in big games. He doesn’t shy away from the competition. He plays his best in the biggest of games. This year against DeSoto, he was outstanding in a shootout against the eventual state champ.
“Love his pedigree. Love the fact that he played in big games, and that he was always at his best when his best was needed. He’ll come in and obviously be counted on in our rotation immediately. An extremely athletic quarterback that can come in and do some things right away for us.”
C.J. Holmes: Cheshire Academy; Hamden, Conn.
Measurements: 6’0”, 200 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; No. 2 player in Conn., per rivals.com; No. 5 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “Versatility is what comes to mind. I look at him as a guy like [former Notre Dame and current NFL running backs] Theo Riddick and C.J. Prosise. He’s going to play both running back and wide receiver for us. We think we have a nice package for him right away. We’re going to ask him to compete right away. He’s going to be one of those guys that we’re going to force feed him a little bit and get him involved.”
Michael Young: Destrehan; Saint Rose, La.
Measurements: 5’11”, 175 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus three-star recruit; No. 20 player in Louisiana, per rivals.com; No. 71 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “As a slot receiver, somebody that can really do a number of things for us inside and out … We think he has the skills necessary to come in an dpush and compete at that position. We’re really pleased with the receivers.”
Jafar Armstrong: Bishop Miege; Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Measurements: 6’1”, 200 lbs.
Rankings: Rivals.com three-star recruit; No. 3 player in Missouri; No. 77 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “Jafar Armstrong … is somebody that now adds some size and speed to that position that makes it very intriguing for us. We think Jafar is somebody that could possibly be that X receiver that gives you that deep threat, a guy that can really push the field vertically for us. He was a nice addition to this class.”
Brock Wright: Cy-Fair; Cypress, Texas
Measurements: 6’5”, 240 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; No. 5 player in Texas, per rivals.com; No. 1 at position
Cole Kmet: Saint Viator; Lake Barrington, Ill.
Measurements: 6’6”, 240 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; No. 3 recruit in Illinois, per rivals.com; No. 3 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “When you have some of the finest players, you’re not going to pass up that opportunity. The tight end position is a great example. Brock Wright is arguably one of the best, if not the best, tight ends in the country. But you’re not going to pass up an opportunity at a young man like Cole Kmet, who thoroughly impressed us when we got a chance to see him in Irish Invasion.
“We think there can’t be a better tandem at the tight end position in a signing day today. We think we’ve got two tight ends coming in to obviously a very good situation already with [graduate student] Durham Smythe, [rising junior] Alizé Jones, [rising senior] Nic Weishar, [rising senior] Tyler Luatua. We have great depth at that tight end position, and thes two guys only add to it.
“I think you start and look at the depth at that position, it really jumps out at you.”
Aaron Banks: El Cerrito; Alameda, Calif.
Measurements: 6’7”, 315 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; No. 16 in Calif., per rivals.com; No. 13 at position
Joshua Lugg: North Allegheny; Wexford, Pa.
Measurements: 6’7”, 293 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; No. 6 player in Penn., per rivals.com; No. 22 at position
Robert Hainsey: IMG Academy; Pittsburgh
Measurements: 6’5”, 276 lbs.
Rankings: Consensus four-star recruit; No. 21 player in Fla., per rivals.com; No. 11 at position
Dillan Gibbons: Clearwater Central Catholic; Clearwater, Fla.
Measurements: 6’4”, 311 lbs.
Rankings: Rivals.com three-star recruit; No. 74 player in Fla.; No. 56 at position
Brian Kelly’s Take: “We return four out of five starters on the offensive line, and really five guys that have starting experience. If you take a look at the recruiting on the offensive line—Josh Lugg, Aaron Banks, Dillan Gibbons, Robert Hainsey—these are guys that are rated as high as any offensive linemen in the country.
“But they’re going to come into a situation where we have, for example, on our left side with [rising senior] Quenton Nelson and [graduate student] Mike McGlinchey two guys that are arguably the best at their positions in the country.
“We have very, very good offensive linemen coming in, but we’ve got talented players at that position with experience across the board. We feel great about the depth that we’ve developed at that position.”
Jonathan Doerer: South Mecklenburg; Charlotte, N.C.
Measurements: 6’3”, 188 lbs.
Rankings: Scout.com three-star recruit; No. 6 kicker in nation
Brian Kelly’s Take: “He just jumped out at us. Somebody with his numbers, his ability, his length, 6’3”, extremely-gifted athlete. We were looking for somebody that could take over the kickoff duties for us right away.
“The strength that he has, averaging 78-plus [yards] kicking the football with four-plus [seconds] hang time. Just crazy numbers. It was just too good to pass up for us. He was a great fit for us. We went into that with really no expectations to go after a kicker until we saw him and fell in love with his ability.”