It was apparent quite early that Justin Brent and Andrew Trumbetti weren't like most high school seniors. Both made early and unassuming decisions on colleges. Both saw their star rise as their recruitment went from regional to national. And both said goodbye to the comforts of their senior year and their hometown to start Notre Dame early.
While their classmates plan spring break or prom, Brent and Trumbetti decided to jump-start their college football careers. The two freshmen are the early enrollees on the Irish roster this spring, the first players in the 2014 recruiting class to start their four seasons with Brian Kelly and the Irish.
The early entrance comes at a perfect time for both talented recruits. For Trumbetti, it gives him a feel for new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder's system. For Brent, it gives the physically impressive freshman a shot at filling the void left by DaVaris Daniels, joining a depth chart packed with young but unestablished talent.
Both Brent and Trumbetti get their chance to establish a reputation with the coaching staff for 15 official practices, while beginning work with Paul Longo and the strength and conditioning team over the past week. While the transition to get up to speed in both the classroom and on the field will be steep, it's the kind of opportunity that helps a football player get an early advantage in his career.
Let's take a closer look at Brent and Trumbetti.
6'1", 197 pounds
No. 67 Overall
Brent will wear No. 11 for the Irish, per Brent's tweet, taking over for Tommy Rees. He's the type of big and physical receiver the Irish have struggled to sign under Brian Kelly, one of the few positions where Notre Dame hasn't snared elite playmakers.
Brent just might be that type of player, and his ascent is all the more impressive considering he was a somewhat lesser-known regional prospect when he committed to the Irish back in July 2012. But that all changed when Brent hit the summer circuit, and his performance at The Opening and Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge turned him into an elite recruit.
Brent didn't have the opportunity to rack up receiving stats during his senior season at Speedway in Indianapolis; he spent the majority of his time in the backfield, leading his team in rushing with 1,315 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground while chipping in five more touchdowns in the air.
But Brent's athleticism and ability to play in space is evident. He averaged 19 points a game, per Varvee.com, for the varsity basketball team as junior, too.
The first to graduate early from his high school, Brent has shown a maturity both on the field and off of it that leads people to believe he'll have a bright future in South Bend from the start. Part of that is because of the work he puts in developing his body, entering college football already physically looking the part.
Daniels might be gone for the spring, but Brent faces other significant challengers at his position. However, his skill set is unique compared to the rest of the receiving depth chart.
He's got the physique to be one of the team's most punishing blockers. His electronically timed 40-yard dash at The Opening was a blazing-fast 4.52, per studentssports.com. And the experience he had running the football in high school might open up some crossover work at slot receiver.
No. 86 Overall
It's foolish to think that Trumbetti will make Irish fans forget Stephon Tuitt. But the New Jersey native comes into South Bend trying his best to take dead-aim at his starting job. While physically Trumbetti can't live up to the size and stature of Tuitt, his motor will run nonstop, bringing VanGorder a player who could help rush the passer immediately.
Trumbetti may not be an elite athlete, but he's closer than most give him credit for. He excelled throwing the discus and shot put in high school and spent some time playing running back this season. Trumbetti's athleticism was on display at the Under Armour All-America Game, where he won the lineman challenge skills competition.
Trumbetti knows the opportunity in front of him and has no intention to wait his turn and develop in the Irish defense.
"I think it's the right decision for me," Trumbetti told NorthJersey.com, per J.C. Baumuller. "I want to play early and I want to get bigger and stronger. I am not going to redshirt."