Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Stars That Give Irish the Top Class in Nation

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

The recruiting game always leaves space for debate. However, Notre Dame has successfully followed a great season by securing what is now the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

Brian Kelly has done an excellent job at getting commitments from the top players in the nation who now see that the Fighting Irish can be successful on the field.

While the class is smaller than some of the competition, the thing that keeps it ranked high is the amount of elite prospects that are certain to be future stars at Notre Dame.

Here are the top players of the 2013 recruiting class.

Note: All photos courtesy of 247Sports.

Jaylon Smith, OLB

As one of the best athletes in the nation, the ceiling for Jaylon Smith is incredible after committing to the Irish over the summer (via ESPN).

The 5-star linebacker is already well ahead of his competition in his skill against both the run and the pass. He is great in coverage and has the size to defend even the biggest wide receivers and tight ends in football.

While he can be great as a pass-rusher, he does not need to get to the quarterback to make an impact.

Smith is a very well-rounded prospect and it will not be long until he is one of the top players in the country leading what should be a great defense for years to come.

Max Redfield, ATH

While many Notre Dame fans were focused on the national championship, Max Redfield turned some heads during the Under Armour All-American Game by committing to Notre Dame (via ESPN).

Redfield is listed as an athlete, but can play either wide receiver or safety at the next level. Either way, his versatility will come in hand.

If he does choose to play on the defensive side of the ball as expected, he has the hands to truly be a difference-maker in the secondary. He has great instincts and should be able to force a lot of turnovers at Notre Dame.

He still needs to improve in his tackling, but this is a very good long-term prospect for the Irish.

Tarean Folston, ATH

Like Redfield, Tarean Folston showed off his athleticism at the Under Armour All-American Game. 

He committed to Notre Dame during the week prior to the game over Oregon and South Florida, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.

Even though most project that he will be a running back in college, he started the game at cornerback. He was able to show his speed and agility that will be on display at any position.

This type of versatility is very important at college, as coaches can make roster adjustments to fill the greatest area of need. The only thing you can count on with Folston is that you will hear his name mentioned very often throughout his career at Notre Dame.

Greg Bryant, RB

Greg Byant is not a man without a position. He knows he is a running back and is almost certain to be successful at that spot.

He took a visit to Notre Dame during Decemeber and enjoyed it so much he committed on the spot (via ESPN).

The Florida native has a great deal of strength and can burst through the line whether there is a gap or not. He also has great vision that allows him to get big gains once he gets to the second level.

Although he does not have great speed, he makes up for it with his ability to break tackles and extend plays.

Bryant is one of the top running backs in the country and is certain to make an immediate impact for the Irish next season.

Alex Anzalone, OLB

Although he is listed as an outside linebacker, do not be surprised to see Alex Anzalone leading the defense from the middle linebacker position in a few years.

The talented player was an early commitment for the Irish, choosing the school back in July (via CBS Sports).

He has great range that can help him stop the run from sideline to sideline, and he is also solid in pass coverage. While he has a long way to go to reach that point, he has a similar game to Manti Te'o.

Anzalone still needs to put on more size at the next level, but the Pennsylvania native has loads of potential that will help give the Irish one of the best groups of linebackers in the country.


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