Notre Dame Football: Irish's Top Priority on National Signing Day

Connor Killoren@@Connor_KillorenSenior Analyst IJanuary 29, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish speaks to media during Media Day ahead of the Discover BCS National Championship at Sun Life Stadium on January 5, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Much like a prototypical "ladies' man," the Notre Dame coaching staff is tasked with courting the best prospects available on the recruiting market between now and National Signing Day (Feb. 6).

When that day arrives, Brian Kelly and Co. will kick their efforts into fourth gear in an attempt to put the finishing touches on what very well may be the nation's top recruiting class—the Irish's 2013 class currently ranks second behind Florida's, per 

With 23 current commits in its class, Notre Dame can afford to be choosy on National Signing Day, much like a ladies' man.

In the Irish's case, their top priority on National Signing Day must be the never-ending pursuit of establishing depth among the defensive front seven.

Championships are won with defense (see Alabama 2009, 2011 and 2012), and elite defenses begin with the structuring and formation of a monstrous front seven.

Notre Dame has established a formidable group up front, with players such as defensive end Stephon Tuitt, nose guard Louis Nix and hybrid linebacker/defensive end Prince Shembo. But it's a unit that now needs to develop quality depth .

The initial step in that process is the acquisition of elite prep talent, which the Irish are in the process of accomplishing. 

Notre Dame is currently targeting four available defenders who would be ideal fits within defensive coordinator Bob Diaco's 3-4 scheme.


Eddie Vanderdoes, DT

Notre Dame will only have the services of Louis "Irish Chocolate" Nix for one more season, meaning that the search for his replacement should begin now.

The Irish would have a few feasible options with their current roster, including sliding Jarron Jones from defensive end to nose guard, but the more sensible option would be to secure a commitment from Vanderdoes.

The Placer, Calif., native would be a perfect fit as a nose guard in Diaco's 3-4 scheme, checking in at 6'3" and 310 pounds, which is only a few weeks in the weight room with Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo away from matching Nix's 326-pound frame.

And with limited depth at nose guard, Vanderdoes would likely receive playing time as a freshman.

Vanderdoes, a former USC commit, visited Notre Dame last weekend and has an official visit to Alabama—the Crimson Tide is likely the Irish's stiffest competition for Vanderdoes—scheduled for Feb. 1.


Kylie Fitts, DE

If I was a member of the Notre Dame coaching staff recruiting Fitts, a 6'4", 260-pound defensive end, I would be hammering away at the point that the Irish's 2013 class currently only has one true defensive endIsaac Rochell.

And with former defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore's vacant starting spot up for grabs, Fitts would likely be able to compete for that spot right away. Either way, Fitts would more than likely be in the rotation for playing time at defensive end.

Fitts visited Notre Dame last weekend with Vanderdoes and has an official visit to Utah scheduled for Feb. 1.


Deon Hollins Jr., LB

Despite Notre Dame having perhaps the deepest linebacker class in the country, current UCLA commit Deon Hollins Jr. is showing serious interest in the Irish.

In fact, the Missouri City, Texas native visited Notre Dame last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed that visit, leaving the 6'2", 225-pound linebacker with a lot to think about before National Signing Day, per Steve Hare of

Having been committed to UCLA for nearly one year, it's a tad surprising that Hollins Jr. is showing this type of uncertainty this late in the recruiting process—he visited Utah on Jan. 11 and UCLA the following week.

I would be shocked if Hollins Jr. chooses Notre Dame on National Signing Day because of the number of linebackers already committed to the Irish.


Torrodney Prevot, DE

While he currently considers himself a "soft verbal" to USC, Torrodney Prevot seems like a prime candidate to be yet another Trojans' decommit. lists Prevot as a weak-side defensive end, though it's a certainty that he will play linebacker at the collegiate level, as he has only 201 pounds packed onto his 6'3" frame.

Because he projects as a linebacker, I would be surprised if he signed with Notre Dame due to the Irish's high number of current linebacker commits in the 2013 class.

However, his wavering commitment has only appeared weaker in recent weeks, as the Houston native visited Texas A&M last weekend and has an official visit to Notre Dame scheduled for Feb. 1.  


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