Notre Dame Football: Freshmen Sure to Start for Irish in 2013

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIDecember 25, 2012

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had an amazing season and are on their way to compete for a National Championship. 

Because of this, tons of star recruits are lining up to play for the Irish. According to 247 Football, Notre Dame pulled in the fifth-best recruiting class in the country. 

Coach Brian Kelly will have some tough decisions ahead of him as he has to decide which players will redshirt, which players will play on special teams and which players will take meaningful snaps.

We'll make Kelly's decision easier by telling you which stud freshman are sure to start in 2013.


Jaylon Smith, LB

Smith was ranked as the best linebacker prospect in the nation by At 6'3" and 218 pounds, Smith played all over the field in high school, from running back to safety to receiver.

Smith has been clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard-dash and projects as the next great linebacker in college football. 

The Irish have a bunch of players lined up at outside linebacker, but Smith's athleticism will get him on the field. He may end up replacing Manti Te'o at middle linebacker.

Smith will see time on the field at a number of positions. He'll play linebacker, he'll play defensive end and may even see time in the secondary. Smith is the best recruit for the Irish and is almost guaranteed to start this season and make a huge impact.


Greg Bryant, RB

Greg Bryant may end up as the Irish's starting running back on Opening Day. Current running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood might be in the NFL next season, and that leaves the door wide open for Bryant.

Bryant, from Plantation, Florida, is 5'11", 196 pounds and runs a 4.48 40-yard dash. He has fantastic athleticism and is equally comfortable running between the tackles and outside of the tackle box.

Bryant should combine with Everett Golson to provide a potent backfield, both of whom are capable of breaking off big runs. Look for Bryant to start and become of the better freshmen in the nation.


Hunter Bivin, OT

Hunter Bivin is a huge offensive lineman prospect. Standing at 6'7" and 290 pounds, Bivin has room to grow even more bulk.

He bullied opposing defensive linemen in high school and with an offseason in a college weight room, could do the same to collegiate defensive linemen. He's ranked as the sixth-best offensive lineman in the country, according to 

While it's rare to see freshmen linemen start, Bivin has the body to do so. While it may not be Week 1, look for Bivin to get significant playing time by year's end. 


Cole Luke, CB

Cole Luke was ranked as the 64th-best player in the country by His coach, Steve Belles, a former Irish quarterback, had high praise:

In 22 years of being a head coach, he's the best corner I've ever had, Belles said of the 6-0, 170-pound, four-star Notre Dame pledge. "He can cover someone all night and give you all he's got. He loves the challenge and he's a ball hawker. If there's a ball in the area he's going to knock it down or pick it off. And he can turn an interception into six points immediately. That's the kind of kid he is and how he plays. He wants to be the man.


That mentality will serve him well, especially because Luke could fill a valuable depth role for the Irish. At the very least, he will play meaningful snaps as a third-corner, but at the most he could end up replacing KeiVarae Russell as starter by season's end.