Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Why Irish Should Be Ecstatic with 2013 Class

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Why Irish Should Be Ecstatic with 2013 Class
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

UPDATE (2/6, 8:30): 5-Star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has signed his National Letter of Intent to Notre Dame, bringing the Irish's class to 24 members.

 

Roughly one year ago, luck wasn't on the side of the Irish.

During the course of a disappointing 8-5 campaign, Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly experienced decommitments from 4-star offensive tackle Taylor Decker and 4-star cornerback Ronald Darby—the highly sought-after prospect signed with Florida State following the Seminoles' 18-14 victory over the Irish in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl. 

The Irish's luck would take another southern turn on national signing day.

Deontay Greenberry, a 4-star receiver out of Washington Union High School in Fresno, Calif., flipped his commitment to the University of Houston after having been committed to Notre Dame for a number of months.

Greenberry's decision was perhaps the strangest flip in Notre Dame football recruiting history, at least in what I refer to as the "Twitter Age."

Roughly one year later, the luck of the Irish has made a prominent return.

Brian Kelly and Co. had a storybook-worthy regular season that ended with a perfect 12-0 regular season and a No. 1 ranking before being humbled by Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.

Despite the ugly ending to an otherwise remarkable season, the Irish continue to reap the rewards on the recruiting trail.

At the time of publication, the Irish boast the nation's fourth-ranked recruiting class, per Rivals.com, behind only Alabama, Ohio State and Florida.

I believe it's a waste of time to argue and bicker about team recruiting rankings and believe instead that fans should be more concerned with whether or not their teams addressed positions of need and accumulated quality depth.

Notre Dame's coaching staff accomplished that feat during the 2013 recruiting cycle, resulting in the positive, celebratory attention from the nation's major recruiting services, including Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and MaxPreps.com.

The staff began with the team's most pressing roster issue—the need for depth at linebacker.

Defensive line coach Mike Elston was able to reel in consensus top-five prospect and linebacker Jaylon Smith of nearby Fort Wayne, Ind.

Following Smith's commitment came a pledge from Plantation, Fla., linebacker Michael Deeb, who was recruited by Notre Dame running backs coach Tony Alford, the Irish's lead recruiter in the state of Florida.

Former Stanford commit and 4-star linebacker Doug Randolph pledged to Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2012, despite not having taken an official visit to the Irish's campus, though Randolph did take his official three months later. 

And even without former commit Alex Anzalone—the Wyomissing, Pa., native is currently enrolled at Florida—the Irish should still be content with the group they have now.

Notre Dame's next priority was stocking the proverbial cupboard with more speedy skill position players. 

That task was handled with ferocity by the coaching staff, as it reeled in receivers Torii Hunter Jr. (son of Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter), William Fuller and James Onwualu, each of which boasts the valued 4-star label.

Yet one group that this writer feels hasn't received the praise it deserves is the Irish's haul of offensive line commits, which features Steve Elmer, Hunter Bivin, Mike McGlinchey, Colin McGovern and John Montelus.

That group of beasts up front may be the most decorated haul of offensive linemen in the country that no one is talking about.

With the widespread quality and depth of this class, Irish eyes should be smiling.

And barring any Greenberry-esque shocks on national signing day, Irish fans should have no reason to complain about the class that Brian Kelly and his staff have assembled, for it's the best collection of prep prospects set to enroll at Notre Dame since the 2008 group.

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