The Notre Dame recruiting really took off in 2013 and there are enough stars and talented players to really be excited about the future as an Irish fan. Depth was addressed in the trenches, at quarterback and there are guys on both sides of the ball who could have an immediate impact in their freshman year in South Bend.
But with the 2013 class now in the books, it is time to throw out predictions. Not just any predictions, we have to make them bold.
We know players such as Jaylon Smith and Eddie Vanderdoes are going to develop into studs, but what if I told you that one of them is going to steal the spotlight as a first-year player? One of the recruits from this class will end up winning a Heisman, and another talented prospect will soon draw comparisons to an Irish great.
While everybody is just trying to decide what type of impact these young kids will have, here are some bold predictions for the Notre Dame 2013 recruiting class.
Comparisons for high school players are really unfair. The kid has yet to take a snap for Notre Dame and we are already mentioning him in the same breath as the most productive Irish receiver of all-time.
Relax, before you jump off the ledge, take a look at some of Will Fuller's film and tell me he doesn't remind you of Michael Floyd.
Fuller isn't nearly as big as Floyd; as he measures in at 6'0". But the way he high points the ball, makes plays after the catch and his willingness to go across the middle are all flashes of the former Notre Dame receiver. In fact, Fuller may be even quicker than Floyd was, and he looks smoother in and out of his cuts.
The 4-star wide receiver is a natural pass catcher and has some of the better hands of anybody in the 2013 recruiting class. With his ability to go up and get the football, and make plays in the open field, the Irish will soon once again have one of the best receivers in all of college football.
The Notre Dame secondary will look better than it did last year, but there is always room for improvement, especially at the safety position. With Zeke Motta planning a future for the NFL and a few inexperienced safeties on the roster, Max Redfield will earn a starting spot from day one.
It is rare to see a kid fresh out of high school start immediately for a powerhouse program such as Notre Dame. However, it isn't that often that you see somebody this talented and disciplined at such a young age. Redfield is somebody who covers a lot of ground, has terrific ball skills and while his coverage skills could improve, he is good enough to get the job done in pass defense.
The thing that really separates Redfield from the rest of the pack is his ability to step up in run defense. He reacts well to the play and displays remarkable instincts that allow him to get in on the action in run support.
He will have his work cut out for him this fall, but expect Redfield to make a strong impact on the coaching staff and begin to turn heads immediately.
The Irish are deeper at the running back position than they have ever been under head coach Brian Kelly. And while this is certainly a good thing, all of the candidates for playing time have question marks surrounding them entering camp.
George Atkinson has yet to really hit his potential and produce enough to be an every-down back. Amir Carlisle is coming off of an injury and has yet to see significant playing time in his college career. William Mahone is also an unproven player who has yet to even play for the Irish, as he was a redshirt freshman last year.
This opens the door for Greg Bryant, a well-built running back at 5'11", nearly 200 pounds, and he has more than enough size to become that cowbell style runner. Bryant is a power back with quick feet, and he also has solid hands that can help out in the receiving department. Not much of a flashy player, he's somebody who can carry the load and play on any down.
Bryant will certainly have to earn his reps in a crowded backfield, but due to his college-ready size, he should receive a large amount of carries and be one of the more productive runners for the Irish in 2013.
The defensive line is looking mighty sharp for Notre Dame with a combination of Louis Nix, Sheldon Day and Stephon Tuitt up front. Easily one of the better lines in the country, the Irish should once again have an elite defense because of the relentless pressure generated.
But while those guys are going to receive a lot of the snaps, Eddie Vanderdoes is going to see the field quite often his freshman year. Somebody who can play the defensive tackle or defensive end position, this kid is a versatile player and already has the overwhelming size to contribute at 6'3", 310 pounds. He absolutely flies off the football, uses his hands well and has a variety of different moves that he can put on a defender.
Vanderdoes is a man-child and somebody who could start right away for most teams at the college level. Due to the established players already on the roster for Notre Dame, he will take on a reserve role early, but should end up having a freshman year similar to Aaron Lynch back in 2011.
Right now, the quarterbacks of the town are Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel. Give it a year or two and it will all be about Malik Zaire.
The 4-star quarterback is a terrific athlete, but also possesses a strong arm and is able to scan the field well. He has a solid throwing motion for a left-handed quarterback and he throws the ball with above-average accuracy, while also displaying great touch. Then of course, this is somebody who can absolutely kill defenses with his legs, as his quick feet and elusiveness makes him so dangerous in the open field.
Yogi Roth, an Elite 11 coach who has worked with both Kiel and Golson, has said that he thinks Zaire is the best quarterback of them all. With the possibility of Kiel either transferring or things not completely working out with Golson, you have to expect Zaire will be given every opportunity to see playing time as early as 2014.
Zaire has the playmaking ability and the big name school working in his favor. He will soon become the eighth Notre Dame player to win the Heisman Trophy.