The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are fresh off an epic undefeated season, but the national championship game embarrassment will not easily be forgotten.
It’s coach Brian Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff’s job to get inside the heads of potential recruits and regal them with tales of opportunity and tradition, while pushing out memories of the school’s recent failure against Alabama.
Fortunately, Kelly and his crew are some of the best in the business and they have already received commitments from 23 prospects, including some of the best young talent in the nation (h/t 247Sports).
With national signing day rapidly approaching (Feb. 6), let’s take a look at a few more finishing touches that could very well be on their way to South Bend.
Eddie Vanderdoes, DT
If Notre Dame can get a letter of intent from Vanerdoes, it would strike a major blow to the Trojans and his presence would have an immediate impact on the defensive line.
He’s a 6’3”, 310-pound machine that already has prototypical size for the position—despite having plenty of room to add muscle and strength to his frame. He has a low center of gravity and can shed blockers with ease, getting into the backfield to sack the QB and record tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
When Vanderdoes is taking on more than one offensive lineman, he can hold his ground and free up his teammates to make plays.
This kid is one of the top DT prospects in the entire country for those reasons and happens to be still considering the Irish, so keep an eye on what could be another feather in Kelly’s cap.
Kylie Fitts, DE
Speaking of poaching former Southern California commits, Fitts is another defensive lineman that the South Bend recruiters have their eyes on.
The 4-star pass-rusher has an insane motor and a lot of heart, two qualities that the Irish love their defensive ends to possess. He still has plenty of learning to do for the position and has to become a better tackler—a large reason why he’s not a 5-star recruit.
At 6’4”, 260 pounds, the sky is the limit for the Redlands, Calif., native. He would be an ideal fit on the Notre Dame campus, as Kapron Lewis-Moore is entering the draft and there’s a chance star pass-rusher Stephon Tuitt elects to turn pro next year as well.
Coach Kelly needs to ensure his defensive line remains dominant if the Irish are going to continue their run atop the college football world, and adding Fitts will go a long way towards accomplishing this goal.
Deon Hollins, LB
There’s an outside shot that Hollins could wind up with the Fighting Irish, even though he had a solid verbal with UCLA.
According to Jason Sapp of 247Sports, the OLB/DE prospect was “blown away” by his visit to the university and is now struggling to decide where to take his talents.
He’s a nice fit with what Notre Dame is trying to accomplish and it would be a huge coup for the program to snag him away from the Bruins.
Hollins is athletic as they come and has the build (6’2”, 220 pounds) to play OLB after high school. He’s extremely raw and may benefit from a redshirt, but eventually he’s going to make an impact.
With senior Manti Te’o going to the draft and leaving a gaping hole in the team’s linebacking corps, there is a need to bring in fresh blood. While Hollins doesn’t play inside LB and needs some time to develop, he will provide more depth and youth to a unit that needs exactly that.