College football recruiting is a never-ending job, but with national signing day approaching, every school in the country, including Notre Dame, is out there giving its final pitch and trying to hit a home run with these elite recruits.
These young kids have offers on the table from every school imaginable—what makes Notre Dame so special? Why should these players leave the comfort of their own home and pack up for South Bend? There has to be something about head coach Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame program that stands out more than anything else these other schools have to offer.
The clock is ticking for the Irish; it is time to put together the best plan to add to an already impressive group of players.
Here are the best selling points that coach Kelly and his staff are drilling into the top players in the country.
Playing for an SEC Team Outside the SEC
The national championship beatdown by Alabama earlier in the year gave everybody a chuckle and bragging rights during the offseason. Those that said Notre Dame was lucky throughout the year and didn't deserve to be playing in the big game finally had a point. However, if you think that this team won't be able to compete with the big boys down south within a year or two, you have another thing coming.
Despite what Alabama was able to do in the big game, Notre Dame is being built exactly how SEC teams have been designed to takeover college football. The defensive line is getting larger and more athletic, and it has become a priority to bring in massive offensive linemen so that the ground game can get going. Kelly gets it as a head coach and has realized that in order to beat the contenders, you have to build your team the way they are built.
Building your team from the inside and winning in the trenches is how you are going to win a national championship. This is why guys such as Stephon Tuitt, Aaron Lynch and Nick Martin were all made a top priority in the 2011 class. They were all dominant linemen that were recruited by several SEC schools, but decided to accept the offer from Notre Dame. In 2012, Sheldon Day and offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley were the next two big pickups.
Even in this recruiting class, you can see Kelly has stuck to the blueprint of winning football. He has brought in many talented linemen and even a physical running back in Greg Bryant. The pass-happy days of Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen are over with and a new era of smashmouth football is being installed in South Bend. You can also expect this to remain the focal point even more after the way the Irish lost to Alabama.
Recruits no longer have to go to an SEC school to play tough-nosed football and win national championships. In the few years Kelly has been on the job, he has planted the seeds for this program to begin winning at a high level. It starts in the trenches and prospects must know that they will be able to succeed with Notre Dame because of this formula.
More Quarterbacks Than You Can Count
Along with a stingy defense and a controlling offensive line, every great football team needs a reliable quarterback to get the job done. We have seen many times over the years how a great overall team can be held back due to the lack of performance by a starting signal-caller. Shoot, Notre Dame experienced this back in 2011 when Tommy Rees decided he was going to throw 78 (it was really 14) interceptions on the year.
This is no longer an issue for the Irish. In fact, this may be the program with the most depth at arguably the most important position in the game.
It is really only a matter of time before Everett Golson develops into a star. I think he has the goods to become a Heisman candidate as early as next year and once the coaching staff decides to take the training wheels off, he will be able to make many more plays with his feet.
But if that whole situation doesn't pan out for the best, the Irish also have a former 5-star recruit in Gunner Kiel just waiting to drop the clipboard and show why scouts were drooling over him. If this team manages to swing and miss twice, there is a 2013 recruit that goes by the name of Malik Zaire. He is an exciting quarterback with a similar skill set to Golson, but some believe he is better than all of the options on the roster.
No matter who ends up being the next great Notre Dame quarterback, this team has many reliable options and at least one of them is bound to turn out well.
If you are a receiver that is looking for consistency or a defensive player that doesn't want to be on the field when your team is trailing by four touchdowns, Notre Dame is the school for you.
Tradition and Academics
Time to get some of the obvious stuff out of the way that Notre Dame has to offer. A simple thing like a world-class education should be enough for kids to sign with Notre Dame. I really can't explain it any better than the Notre Dame website can, as the university is highly regarded by many different news sources and magazines.
If you would like to hear how great the classrooms are in South Bend, just check out what Louis Nix told Rick Reilly of ESPN:
I don't listen to the SEC hype. I could've been an SEC player. All those schools recruited me. I've got friends who play in the SEC. They tell me it's about like it is here, except they say they don't do much school stuff at all. I tell him, 'Man, this [expletive] at Notre Dame ain't no joke.'
So sure, Alabama, LSU and Florida may offer a better chance at the moment to reach a national championship, but there aren't many schools like Notre Dame where you are getting the best of both worlds. Remember, football only lasts so long as a career and that is if you even make it at the next level, which is never a guarantee no matter how great you were in college.
There is also a feeling of when you play for Notre Dame that you were a part of something. You helped carry on the tradition of this program that just drips with history. Whether it is the iconic golden helmets, the seven Heisman trophies or the 11 claimed national championships. Whether it is slapping the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign when leaving the locker room, or just knowing that you play for a program that has produced the most guys in the college football Hall of Fame, it is a special feeling that you would never forget.
When you think of college football, you think of Notre Dame and everything else that comes with it. Regardless of the direction the program may be heading, the academics and tradition alone is good enough to become the next top Irish player.
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