2014 Notre Dame Commits with Best Chance to Make Immediate Impact
Notre Dame annually extends its recruiting reach across the country to acquire top-tier talent. Head coach Brian Kelly's approach to the 2014 cycle has followed suit.
He currently holds 16 commitments from 13 states in a class that ranks ninth in the nation, according to 247Sports. The Fighting Irish are far from done with this latest haul of talented prospects, but the team is already anticipating several polished players.
Notre Dame will welcome a bevy of athletes capable of contributing early in South Bend. Here's a glimpse at five 2014 commits who will arrive on campus with high expectations for immediate success.
4-Star WR Justin Brent (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Notre Dame is predominately young at wide receiver but that doesn't mean an incoming freshman can't challenge for playing time. Justin Brent is an intriguing playmaker who has all the tools to flourish with the Fighting Irish.
The 6'3", 190-pound Speedway High School star has breakaway speed and excellent awareness. He suits up primarily at running back right now, but will blossom on the outside edge as a receiving threat.
Through his first five games of the season, Brent has rushed for 774 yards and nine touchdowns, per 247Sports. He's also a dangerous special teams weapon, as evidenced by two kickoff return touchdowns this year.
Brent is listed as the nation's ninth-best receiver prospect in 247Spors composite rankings. Kelly was able to keep Indiana's top-ranked senior in state early, as he landed the commitment in July 2012.
4-Star OT Quenton Nelson (Red Bank, N.J.)
Offensive tackle Quenton Nelson is already sharp from a technical standpoint, which is ultimately a large determining factor of how long it takes young collegiate lineman to earn a starting role. The 6'5", 295-pound prospect serves up pancakes on a regular basis and is an excellent pass blocker.
Nelson, who plays for Red Bank Catholic, committed to Notre Dame in May. He is the nation's No. 5 offensive tackle prospect in 247Sports composite rankings.
The Fighting Irish will lose Zack Martin, a four-year starter at left tackle, after this season. Expect Nelson to challenge for a spot on the two-deep at the position as a freshman and potentially seize the starting spot by season's end.
4-Star LB Richard Yeargin III (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Florida product Richard Yeargin immediately gives Brian Kelly a legitimate option at outside linebacker, although his quickest path to playing will be as a special teams contributor. The University School senior is a rangy defender with excellent open-field tackling skills.
Yeargin, a 6'4", 225-pound prospect, is capable of providing a pass rush off the edge. Although he must make strides in drop back pass coverage, he's a thumper against the run.
Yeargin is listed as the nation's No. 21 outside linebacker in 247Sports composite rankings. The Fighting Irish lose veteran linebackers Carlo Calabrese, Prince Shembo and Dan Fox after this season, so the door is open for Yeargin to make moves up the depth chart as a freshman.
4-Star DT Jay Hayes (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Notre Dame pinpointed defensive tackle Jay Hayes as a top target early in the process of this 2014 recruiting cycle. The 6'5", 260-pound Poly Prep star is a powerful run-stuffer and has incredible raw strength.
Hayes, listed at No. 20 among national defensive tackles in 247Sports composite rankings, is a ferocious force who plays with confidence and can anchor a defense's interior attack with consistency. He spurned offers from Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, Michigan and Miami to commit to Notre Dame last November.
The Fighting Irish currently feature several seniors on the defensive front, headlined by Louis Nix and Kona Schwenke. With a strong freshman training camp, Hayes has the ability to claim a spot in the rotation next fall.
4-Star OG Sam Mustipher (Olney, Md.)
Good Counsel standout Sam Mustipher has the makings of a dominant staple on the inside of a collegiate offensive line. The 6'3", 285-pound guard is extremely athletic, giving an offensive coordinator plenty of options in blocking schemes.
Mustipher is clocked at 5.10 in the 40-yard dash, according to 247Sports. He'll be utilized often as a pulling guard, quick and savvy enough to routinely free up space for rushers.
Notre Dame relies heavily on senior guards Chris Watt and Christian Lombard. Mustipher, who chose Notre Dame in April over offers from Florida, Ohio State, Alabama and Penn State, is physically ready to snag a spot on the two-deep.