5-Star LB Jaylon Smith Picks Notre Dame; Are Irish Poised for Monster Class?
While Malik Zaire and the big offensive line recruits that have committed to Notre Dame are awesome for the future of the program, the most telling sign of Kelly's success is going to come on the defensive side of the ball.
Manti Te'o is a big-time player for the Irish, but he is not Kelly's recruit. Aaron Lynch, the crown jewel of the 2011 class, is now headed to South Florida. Although the Irish have some solid depth recruited by Kelly, they are lacking that centerpiece thanks to the Lynch transfer.
That's where Jaylon Smith comes into play. The big, athletic, physical linebacker has pledged allegiance to the Fighting Irish and gives Kelly that big defensive commit he's been pursuing.
For Notre Dame to have its on-field success match its program's prestige, it will need to continue to land talented defenders. Offense is great, but the hallmark of championship-caliber programs is the way they spread their talent to both sides of the football.
In addition to Smith, Kelly has a couple of other defenders on his map. Max Redfield, a safety prospect, is one of the "must gets" for the Fighting Irish, as he could help replace the talents of Harrison Smith, a first-round draft pick this past April.
Cole Luke is another kid who could help in the back end of the Irish defense. Notre Dame has a true "cornerback conundrum" right now, and if it does not get better in 2012, a player like Luke could step in and contribute quite early.
There are still plenty of days left between now and February, and with guys like Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer trolling the waters, Brian Kelly will have to not only reach to get players like Redfield and Luke, he will also have to make sure he can keep his committed players on board.
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