Notre Dame Football Recruiting: The Good and Bad from National Signing Day

John PattonContributor IFebruary 2, 2012

Notre Dame Football Recruiting: The Good and Bad from National Signing Day

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    Gone, at least for now, is Notre Dame football's annual lock on a top-10 ranking.

    One can point to unsuccessful hires and can create all sorts of excuses (some questionable, some reasonable) for why the Fighting Irish no longer are among the nation's elite each and every year.

    But the facts about Notre Dame are the same as they are everywhere.

    If you don't have the talent, you won't win the games. And lately, there have been no Joe Montanas, Rocket Ismails, Jerome Bettises or Tim Browns playing football on Saturdays in the fall under the shadow of Touchdown Jesus.

    The truth is, of the 28 former Golden Domers on current NFL rosters, only New York Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck would be considered a star.

    It isn't all gloom and doom for Brian Kelly and Co., however. Yes, in great part because of stricter academic requirements, Notre Dame often isn't in it for the elite prospects.

    But the Fighting Irish also aren't exactly signing athletes who would be nothing more than preferred walk-ons at Alabama, Louisiana State, Florida, Michigan and Ohio State. No, they get their share of big names.

    Here is a look at the good and the bad that came out of 2012's national signing day for Notre Dame.

Good: Gunner Kiel Is Enrolled

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    After a lengthy journey that began with a verbal commitment to Indiana and was followed by a brief pledge to LSU, 5-star quarterback prospect Gunner Kiel wound up at Notre Dame.

    And he's not changing his mind this time.

    Rivals' No. 1 pro-style quarterback and 20th-ranked overall prospect, Kiel has enrolled in classes in South Bend.

    Fighting Irish fans hope he be more decisive on the field than he was in choosing schools, trusting he will become more like the next Joe Theismann, Joe Montana, Steve Beuerlein or Tony Rice, instead of the next Dayne Crist.

    Shoot, they'd love it if he turned out to be much like his uncle, Blair Kiel, who amassed an 18-9-2 record as Notre Dame's part-time starting quarterback from 1980-83.

Bad: Deontay Greenberry Signs with Houston

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    An Irish commitment, Greenberry provided the biggest negative for the Fighting Irish on national signing day, stunning Notre Dame by spurning the Fighting Irish for Houston.

    A 4-star prospect, Greenberry has good size (6'2") and 40-yard speed (4.4), and could have ended up as Kiel's favorite target. Now, Notre Dame will have to make do without.

Good: The DT Haul

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    The Irish were able to ink a pair of 4-star defensive tackles in 6'7", 308-pound Jarron Jones of Rochester (N.Y.) Aquinas Institute and 6'2", 286-pound Sheldon Day of Indianapolis Warren Central.

    Both players have talent and athleticism with Jones having been clocked at 4.9 in the 40-yard dash, which is remarkable for a person of his size.

    One or both of these players could contribute as freshmen.

Good: Secondary Support

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    The Irish inked two 4-star (Tee Shepard and Elijah Shumate) and two 3-star (John Turner and C.J. Prosise) defensive backs to national letters of intent.

    Each is talented, and the belief is Shepard and Shumate could be immediate contributors.

    Shepard could end up one of college football's great human interest stories, as he is partially deaf.

Good: Where the Signings Came from

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    Of the 16 signees that made up Notre Dame's 22nd-ranked class as ranked by Rivals.com, 13 came from different states, from Washington to New York to Florida.

    The Irish also got into some major high schools like East Orange (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman and Spring Hill (Texas) Klein Oak, as well as signing two players from Charlotte, which could bode well for future recruiting.