After going undefeated in the regular season and then losing the BCS Championship game to the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish proved they are one of the best teams in the nation heading into 2013.
While a heavy senior class departing will hurt head coach Brian Kelly’s attempts to rebuild, the Irish recruiting class is very strong in 2013 and the arriving freshman will make an instant impact on the team.
There is no question that the loss of players like Manti Te'o, Cierre Wood and Tyler Eifert will hurt the team moving into next season, but this where the recruiting process pays off. When these senior stars move on, there are a plethora of young players ready to fill in at those spots.
The best part of the rebuilding process for Kelly has to be the sheer excitement these freshman stars show by finishing up their high school classes early to attend the school as soon as possible.
Kelly’s 2013 freshman class is ready to win and win now.
Irish wide receiver recruit James Onwualu told Tyler James of the South Bend Tribune about finishing classes to enrolling early to Notre Dame and leaving his friends and family behind to attend the school:
"It was definitely still hard. It's something that I've had some time to think about. I feel more prepared than I did a couple months ago. There are definitely times like that where I'm with family and good friends and I'm not sure why I'm doing it just because I'll miss them so much. I'm 100-percent confident that I'll be totally comfortable there and that I'll be successful and fit in with everybody once I get there."
The feelings shared by Onwualu are the sentiment of the entire incoming Notre Dame freshmen class. After watching the 2012 season’s roster make it to a BCS National Championship, only to fall short, these young men want to be the difference makers.
These students all have the right attitude to make an instant impact, but how they translate it to the football field is the most important factor.
Look for other true freshmen like quarterback Malik Zaire, tight end Mike Heuerman and offensive lineman Steve Elmer to all follow Onwualu's lead and get to the university as soon as possible with hard work on the mind.
If the Fighting Irish want to make another run at a national title, they will need several of the 2013 recruits to step up huge and make an immediate impact on the team.
Freshmen like Onwualu who enrolled early understand that point, and what to ensure they’re ready for the challenges.
Kelly has to be happy about what he sees from his incoming class.