Following a mediocre season in South Bend, Ind., in which the Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished 9-4, the offseason has already been a great one.
With hard commits from 16 4-star players already, the Irish currently rank eighth in the 247 Sports Composite Team Rankings. But on national signing day Notre Dame is hoping to receive faxes from several of the nation's best recruits.
And after finishing out the season with just one win over a Top 25 opponent, Brian Kelly could certainly use another great recruiting class to return to the national championship stage that he reached following the 2012 season.
With Kelly and his coaching staff still in hot pursuit of a multiple remaining targets, the Irish could still rise in the rankings between now and national signing day.
Will JuJu Join Irish Class?
John "JuJu" Smith is rated as the best remaining uncommitted athlete on the board, according to 247 Sports. Whether he decides to play wide receiver or safety—his two natural positions—both could serve as a great asset to the Irish.
Smith has been heavily recruited by tight ends coach and passing-game coordinator Mike Denbrock, who has already signed a 4-star and 3-star commitment this offseason.
Though he hasn't stated whether or not he will announce his decision before national signing day, he appears to be looking seriously at both the Irish and USC Trojans, according to 247 Sports, which has them listed in the "warmer" category.
Unfortunately, Smith has already unofficially visited USC four times along with being in attendance for junior day and a camp in the past. Along with those unofficial visits, Smith plans to visit officially with the team on Jan. 24 to meet with the new coaching staff, as Greg Biggins of Fox Sports reports:
LB Poly (Calif.) ATH John 'Juju' Smith has pushed his #USC official visit back to (Jan. 24), was originally set for this weekend— Greg Biggins (@GregBiggins) January 14, 2014
With JuJu still having them on his list, it clearly means he is seriously considering the Irish. But Notre Dame fans certainly have to hope that he's not swayed on his official visit with the Trojans.
Irish Still High On Quick's List
Which team will land Michiah Quick?
Much like Smith, top recruit Michiah Quick is another athlete with the Irish still high on his list.
Unfortunately, another team high on Quick's list is an Oklahoma team that might have swayed his decision quite a bit with its impressive 45-31 Sugar Bowl victory against Alabama. Quick, who's ranked No. 57 in 247 Sports' list of top recruits, could go either way at this point.
But according to Notre Dame Illustrated, Quick's football coach said his list has been narrowed down to three teams:
The 6'0" athlete is most noted for his abilities at the wide receiver position and is known for his superior athleticism, explosiveness and play-making ability.
While Oklahoma fans should certainly feel optimistic about Quick signing on to be a Sooner, it still appears he could be leaning toward the Irish as well. Hopefully the Irish's nine wins this season were enough to keep the athlete away from Bob Stoops.