When the Fighting Irish took the field against Alabama in the BCS National Championship game it became evident early that Notre Dame lacked the depth of the Tide’s roster.
These are five players that Kelly needs to land in the 2014 class to ensure that the talent gap is removed sooner than later.
Charlie Weis was known as a good recruiter, but Brian Kelly has stepped up the efforts since arriving in South Bend as he tries to get his program back to the top of the national spotlight.
Tyler Luatua is the No. 1 tight end and No. 58 overall player in the 2014 class. The Irish lose star tight end Tyler Eifert this fall and will look fill in the position with another rising star in 2014.
Notre Dame has shown its reliance on tight end talent over the past few seasons, and bringing in a player the level of Luatua would be huge for the offense. A November visit listed by 247Sports from Brian Kelly this past fall shows the emphasis that the program is putting on this star.
He currently lists the Irish in his top three and should return to the Notre Dame campus sometime this summer.
*All info obtained via Tyler Luatua's profile page on 247Sports
The Fighting Irish have a lot of experience in the secondary for 2013, but there is a need for playmakers in the defensive backfield for the 2014 class.
Jabrill Peppers is a top target for the Irish, and the No.1 athlete would be a huge addition to the class.
He was visited by head coach Brian Kelly on January 15 and lists the Irish in his top five, but he is very high on Michigan at the moment.
His recruitment appears far from over, and as long as the Irish bring the full-court press they will be in the discussion.
*All info obtained via Jabrill Peppers' profile page on 247Sports
Notre Dame faces some losses on the offensive line heading into 2013, but there is a lot of talented experience that returns. Most of it will depart before 2014, making the offensive line a huge need in the 2014 class.
Braden Smith is a huge prospect listed as the No. 1 offensive guard, and the No. 14 overall player in the country for 2014.
The Irish would love to land this huge Kansas talent, and they are currently listed in the top three for the lineman. Bringing in a talent that could contribute from day one would be a major pickup for the Kelly led Irish.
He took an unofficial visit to South Bend on March 22, according to 247Sports, further solidifying that Notre Dame is very much in the picture for his signature.
*All info obtained via Braden Smith's profile page on 247Sports
The Fighting Irish are very reliant on big bodied receivers for the offense to work, and as of late the tight end has been the fall back position that has produced a lot of yards.
Mark Andrews is a 6’6” receiver that reminds me a lot of Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. He has the speed and quickness to fill the receiver role, but the body of a tight end that makes it impossible to stop him in possession situations.
He is the No. 5 receiver in the country for 2014 and has a number of top programs in his sights.
He has an unofficial visit set for Notre Dame’s spring game, according to 247Sports, and a solid day in South Bend could go a long way to securing his talents for the Irish on signing day.
*All info obtained via Mark Andrews' profile page on 247Sports
Sony Michel is a star running back out of Florida that is listed as the No. 2 running back, and the No. 11 overall player (via 247Sports Composite) in the country for 2014.
The Irish just landed a star-filled running back class in 2013, but the reliance on the ground game by Brian Kelly always ensures playing time for top talents in the backfield.
Michel lists Georgia and Notre Dame (via 247Sports) as his top two schools, but in-state programs Florida and Florida State are making a major push for his signature.
Landing Michel would prove that Notre Dame is back on the national stage under Kelly.
*All info obtained via Sony Michel's profile page on 247Sports