Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Everything You Need to Know for NSD
The formation of Notre Dame's future will add another corps of weapons in less than a month's time.
With national signing day rapidly approaching, head coach Brian Kelly and his staff are hard at work putting the finishing touches on what may wind up being a top 10 2014 recruiting class.
The current haul, which stands at 22 commitments, is ranked seventh nationally in 247Sports.com's 2014 team rankings, behind only Alabama, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Florida State, LSU and Tennessee. And with the Irish still in hot pursuit of a few remaining targets, that ranking could certainly jump between now and national signing day.
For now, Bleacher Report has everything you need to know regarding Notre Dame's recruiting efforts leading up to Feb. 5.
Top Remaining Targets
Isaiah McKenzie, WR
Notre Dame would have had a commitment from McKenzie a few months ago had the 5'9", 172-pound receiver's SAT scores been up to the university's standards, but, unfortunately, they weren't.
However, the Plantation, Fla., native is awaiting test scores that, if up to par, would result in a commitment from the speedy athlete.
Things took an interesting turn in McKenzie's commitment in the last week, though, as he was extended an offer from Oregon. He will also be taking an official visit to Florida on Jan. 17.
John "JuJu" Smith, S/WR/ATH
After a successful official visit to Notre Dame for the Irish's victory against USC in October, Smith appeared to be a Notre Dame lean, though things have changed since.
Despite the transition in coaching staff during the past month and a half, USC is in the driver's seat for a commitment from the Long Beach, Calif., native. The Trojans' first-year head coach, Steve Sarkisian, appears to have made significant strides with the 6'1", 200-pound athlete during his short tenure in Los Angeles, which isn't a positive sign for the Irish.
Michiah Quick, ATH
After recent failures with prospects from Central East High School (Fresno, Calif.), Notre Dame is hoping to find success with Quick. The 6'0", 170-pound athlete projects as a receiver for the Irish.
Unfortunately for Kelly and Co., it appears that Oklahoma has gained quite a bit of traction with Quick, particularly with the Sooners boasting an impressive 45-31 Sugar Bowl victory against Alabama earlier this month.
If there's any hope for the Irish, it's that Quick is deciding between them and the Sooners.
Alex Bars: OL 6'6", 309, Nashville, Tenn.
Grant Blankenship: DE 6'6", 252, The Colony, Texas
Jonathan Bonner: DE 6'3", 253, Chesterfield, Mo.
Justin Brent: WR 6'1", 196, Indianapolis
Jimmy Byrne: OL 6'4", 295, Cleveland
Jay Hayes: DT 6'4", 265, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Kolin Hill: LB 6'2", 222, Schertz, Texas
Corey Holmes: WR 6'2", 174, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DeShone Kizer: QB 6'4", 205, Toledo, Ohio
Tyler Luatua: TE 6'4", 230, La Mirada, Calif.
Greer Martini: LB 6'3", 230, Woodberry Forest, Va.
Nyles Morgan: LB 6'1", 222, Crete, Ill.
Sam Mustipher: OL 6'4", 292, Olney, Md.
Quenton Nelson: OL 6'5", 301, Red Bank, N.J.
Tyler Newsome: K 6'3", 190, Carrollton, Ga.
Nile Sykes: LB 6'1", 219, Lombard, Ill.
Drue Tranquill: DB 6'2", 205, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Andrew Trumbetti: DE 6'5", 249, Demarest, N.J.
Nick Watkins: DB 6'1", 189, Dallas
Nic Weishar: TE 6'5", 230, Midlothian, Ill.
Jhonathon Williams: DE 6'6", 230, Berrien Springs, Mich.
Richard Yeargin III: LB 6'3", 216, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Players Who Could Contribute as Freshmen
Jay Hayes, DT
Notre Dame will be sorely lacking along the interior of the defensive line next season in the wake of Louis Nix III's decision to forgo his final season of eligibility to enter this spring's NFL draft.
With Jarron Jones being the Irish's lone proven player at the position, Hayes could step in and provide immediate depth. The question being asked regarding the Brooklyn, N.Y., native is whether he can add some bulk onto his frame, which currently measures out at around 270 pounds.
Justin Brent, WR
Brent being included in this conversation has been aided by rising senior DaVaris Daniels having been suspended from Notre Dame for the spring semester. With Brent being an early-enrolling freshman, he has the opportunity to immediately step in and contribute.
Brent will battle the likes of Chris Brown, Will Fuller, Corey Robinson and James Onwualu during spring ball.
The 6'1", 196-pound receiver is rated as the top prospect in the state of Indiana and the sixth-best receiver in the 2014 class.
Nyles Morgan, LB
Of any of Notre Dame's 2014 commitments, Morgan is the only surefire contributor as a freshman.
With depth sorely lacking at the middle linebacker position, Morgan will be counted on to step in and play immediately. In fact, it wouldn't arrive as a surprise to see the Crete, Ill., native earn a starting spot alongside Jarrett Grace by the time the Irish kick off the 2014 season against Rice at Notre Dame Stadium.
Storylines to Watch
An On-Field, Off-Field Rivalry
USC is, without question, Notre Dame's fiercest rival.
The Irish and Trojans have now taken that rivalry to the recruiting trail, where both programs are battling for the services of John "JuJu" Smith, a 5-star athlete (per 247sports.com)
With Smith appearing to be a USC lean, it would be a major coup for Notre Dame to pull off the upset and secure a commitment from the Long Beach, Calif., native on national signing day. After the Irish plucked Max Redfield and Eddie Vanderdoes from the Trojans late in the cycle last year, this traditional rivalry is clearly gaining heat in the recruiting trenches.
Avenging a Loss to the Sooners
Notre Dame has lost two home games in the past three seasons, the most recent of which was a 35-21 defeat to Oklahoma in September.
While the loss won't be avenged on the field anytime soon, the Irish could gain a small amount of revenge by securing a commitment from Fresno, Calif., athlete Michiah Quick. The electric athlete is deciding between Oklahoma and Notre Dame, though the Sooners are poised to sign Quick after a Sugar Bowl victory against Alabama.
It'd certainly be a surprise to see Quick commit to the Irish, especially given that two of his former high school teammates—Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore—play for the Sooners.