College football is a results-based enterprise and fans don't have a long memory span. Even though Notre Dame reached the national title game, it's just as important they make another strong run next season. That's why recruiting is so vital.
Brian Kelly has done a terrific job of getting the program back on the right track after an extended run of lackluster results, but all it takes is one or two down seasons before the fans in South Bend start getting restless. Luckily for him, his 2013 class should ensure that's not an issue.
The reason Alabama has become so dominant in recent years is Nick Saban's ability to capitalize on success. Having short-term success is easy. A couple of lucky bounces can turn a good season into a great one. Building a powerhouse, however, is a challenge.
Notre Dame hasn't been on that level since the early 1990s, but Kelly is putting it back on the right path. The success of 2012 is obvious, even if they weren't able to parlay it into a championship against a more explosive Alabama squad.
While the loss stung the Fighting Irish and their fans, it was simply a sign that they aren't all the way back to the top quite yet. The upcoming class should move them another step closer.
The Irish secured commitments from 22 players and three have already enrolled early, according to 247 Sports. It's enough to earn them a top-five ranking and there's still time for more additions leading up to national signing day.
Jaylon Smith headlines the list of committed prospects. The outside linebacker possesses a star quality that few in the entire class around college football can match. He won't play the same role as Manti Te'o, but figures to eventually have the same type of impactful career.
He's far from alone in the category of future stars. Safety Max Redfield and defensive end Isaac Rochell are expected to join him on a defense that's clearly being built with Alabama's vaunted defense in mind. Defense still wins championships, at least at the college level.
The offense won't feel left out. Greg Bryant is the type of versatile running back that should really thrive once he gains experience in the Notre Dame system, giving him a good chance to outplay what will likely be lofty expectations.
Offensive tackle Hunter Bivin and tight end Mike Heuerman are among the other big names who will eventually make their presence felt inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Overall, it's a deep, well-rounded class that continues to lay the foundation for long-term success. The Irish were able to capitalize on their terrific season, and that's the sign of an elite program.
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