Notre Dame Football Recruiting: News, Notes and Analysis
Do you smell that? It's the sweet smell of success on the recruiting trail for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
Brian Kelly and Co. have hit the recruiting trails with a relentless passion, and that passion has led to a 2013 class that is already 16 in number. The class is also highly esteemed by many of the major recruiting services.
For a further look into the recruiting efforts of Notre Dame, take a look through the slideshow.
Pressing Need: Cornerback
Not surprisingly, the most pressing need for the Fighting Irish is the cornerback position.
Notre Dame lost out on heralded cornerback prospect Ronald Darby in the 2012 class after the Maryland native ended a long-standing commitment to the Fighting Irish and signed with Florida State.
Following that snafu, more salt was poured into the wound when 4-star cornerback Tee Shepard left Notre Dame to return to his hometown of Fresno, California.
Each of those losses was devastating to the Irish secondary, as it now only has five scholarship cornerbacks on the roster, including former running back Cam McDaniel.
That issue was addressed hastily by the coaching staff, as it was able to reel in two high-caliber cornerbacks in the class of 2013: Rashad Kinlaw and Devin Butler. The Irish coaching staff would like to land one, if not, two more cornerbacks in this class.
Pressing Need: Linebacker
With depth at linebacker becoming an issue following the conclusion of last season, Brian Kelly and Co. were charged with reeling in a quality group of linebackers. They did just that.
The first linebacker commit in the 2013 class was 5-star prospect Jaylon Smith, a native of nearby Fort Wayne, Indiana. According to Rivals.com, Smith is the nation's best linebacker, and fourth-best prospect regardless of position.
Smith's commitment sparked a string of recruiting successes for the Fighting Irish, as linebackers Michael Deeb and Danny Mattingly, as well as defensive end Isaac Rochell, each committed to the Irish.
The Notre Dame coaching staff isn't done with what is shaping up to be the nation's premier group of linebacker commits. Alex Anzalone, a 4-star linebacker and former Ohio State commit, has whittled down his list of schools to Florida, Penn State and Notre Dame.
As for Anzalone's destination, nothing is for certain at the current moment. For what it's worth, Rivals.com recruiting director Mike Farrell recently tweeted that his gut feeling for Anzalone is Notre Dame or Florida.
Irish Whiff on Two-Sport Star Drake Harris
Drake Harris, a two-sport standout in the class of 2014, recently gave his pledge to the Michigan State Spartans after narrowing down his list of schools to Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native made his announcement at Grand Rapids Christian High School on Wednesday, theoretically ending his recruitment abnormally early.
Harris will be playing both basketball and football in East Lansing. Head basketball coach Tom Izzo and head football coach Mark Dantonio landed an incredible athlete in the 6'4", 180-pound Harris.
According to Rivals.com, Harris is rated as a 4-star prospect in basketball and may end up as the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the state of Michigan.
For a closer look at Harris's decision, take a look at my colleague Zach Dirlam's story from the week gone by.
2013 Fighting Irish Recruiting Rankings
Unlike former head coach Charlie Weis, Brian Kelly understands that the first step toward building a championship-caliber football team is assembling a strong defense, as well as solidity along the line of scrimmage.
Kelly has stayed true to that philosophy during the 2013 recruiting period, having reeled in a tremendous group of linebackers, two high-caliber cornerbacks and a stud defensive end.
The third-year head coach has also secured commitments from five offensive linemen, further proving his pursuit of dominating the battle in the trenches.
Now that summer is officially upon us, expect the recruiting news to slow down until the season begins on September 1st.