Notre Dame Football: Ranking Irish's Top Recruits Before National Signing Day
Notre Dame is one of the few teams in the country that has been blessed with a terrific recruiting class before national signing day has popped up on the calendar. With a total of 19 recruits who are rated above 3-stars, the Irish have put together a Top 5 recruiting class according to 247Sports.
But too often we get caught up in this big day and few take the time to appreciate the players who have already given their commitment to the school they want to play for.
Forget the hoopla of national signing day for a second and let's take a look at the top recruits of the 2013 recruiting class that the Notre Dame coaching staff was able to reel in early.
5. Isaac Rochell, 4-Star DE
It's nice when you are able to find highly rated players who have a bunch of upside. If Isaac Rochell is already considered a 4-star player, just wait and see what he will be capable of once he adds to his frame and becomes more comfortable on the defensive side of the ball.
Rochell gives the coaching staff options, as he played offensive tackle and defense in high school. However, he will likely play the defensive end spot for the Irish. At 6'5", 260 pounds, the 4-star recruit is an athletic player who can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt. He reacts to the ball well, is about as sure of a tackler as you will find and he is a force in helping stop the run.
He also has shown flashes of being a disruptive pass-rusher and being able to rattle the quarterback.
You could put a lot of people in this spot, including offensive linemen Hunter Bivin and Steven Elmer, but due to the versatility and overwhelming upside, Rochell deserves a lot more credit than what he has been given.
4. Cole Luke, 4-Star CB
Is Cole Luke that shutdown cornerback that the Irish could have used last year? He will certainly have a chance to prove it and will likely see many reps next year as a true-freshman.
Luke is an aggressive corner who thrives at getting in the receivers face and jamming him at the line of scrimmage. He has good awareness and plays the underneath pass extremely well. He is more like a receiver with the ball in the air and usually comes up with the big play when the quarterback makes a bad decision.
The 4-star corner displays terrific body control and has more than enough recovery speed to get back in on the action. Luke is also a solid tackler and could eventually make the transition to the safety position once he bulks up his 6'0", 170-pound frame.
Luke is somebody who can play either side of the ball and also help improve in the special teams department. He may not receive as much love as some of the other guys, but will quickly develop into a productive player.
3. Greg Bryant, 4-Star RB
Greg Bryant is going to likely receive a lot of touches next season and could be the starting running back in his first year if everything goes well.
He isn't the fastest running back you have ever seen, but he has great vision and is more than capable of carrying the load with his 5'11", 196-pound frame. More of a power runner, Bryant breaks arm tackles with ease and usually always picks up extra yards after initial contact. Despite his bulky frame, he is also slightly elusive enough in the open field to make defenders miss and break off a couple of chunk yardage plays.
It has been a while since Notre Dame has had that one workhorse running back that can receive a large amount of touches and be effective for an entire season. Bryant provides Notre Dame with exactly that and should help add a different look to a unit that struggled to move the ball a season ago.
2. Max Redfield, 5-Star S
Due to question marks at the safety position, Max Redfield will be given every opportunity to start day one as a true freshman in the defensive backfield. Of course, a lot of it has to do with his talent level, but it is still impressive that he could immediately be thrown into the starting lineup.
Redfield is the complete package at safety. The first thing you notice about him are his instincts. He reads and reacts well to the ball, and his ability to sniff plays out allows him to also be a big factor in run support. With him playing offense in high school, he has also developed great ball skills and is a playmaker once he gets his hands on the pigskin.
The 5-star recruit is a smart football player who is just as good in coverage as he is at laying the wood on an opposing ball carrier or wide receiver.
Redfield will instantly improve the Notre Dame secondary and help keep the defense in the elite category.
1. Jaylon Smith, 5-Star LB
Jaylon Smith is the prized pickup for the Irish in the 2013 recruiting class. No matter who this team is able to add on national signing day or what happens, the 5-star linebacker will remain at the top for Notre Dame.
This is somebody who can do it all on the defensive side of the ball. He can play inside or outside at the linebacker position, but he could also develop into a defensive end and become that ferocious pass-rusher coming off the edge. His athleticism and speed is off the charts, and just as good as he is at making plays in the backfield, he is also just as comfortable at dropping back into coverage.
Smith covers a lot of ground from sideline-to-sideline and is really that elite prospect with freakish athletic ability that only a few prospects actually have.
This is someone who can do it all on the defensive end and will make folks soon forget about Manti Te'o.