Notre Dame is on track for another strong recruiting class. Whether the Fighting Irish finish inside the top five for the second straight year depends on national signing day. A couple of key signings and an overall successful day would push them up the rankings.
One year ago, Notre Dame finished fifth in 247Sports.com's final rankings. Those are the type of classes a program with the Irish's rich history has come to expect.
A few notable additions to the 2014 class will be necessary to end up in the top five once again.
With that in mind, let's check out some of the key uncommitted targets still on the radar for Notre Dame. If they end up heading to South Bend, there's a good chance the Irish will emerge as one of national signing day's biggest winners.
Smith is as intriguing a prospect as anybody in the 2014 class. He's a ridiculously gifted athlete with a terrific burst, great athleticism and a boatload of playmaking ability. He illustrated that on both sides of the ball in high school, playing both safety and wide receiver.
Exactly what his future holds in terms of which position he will excel at is unclear, but that hasn't stopped the hype train. 247Sports' composite rankings list him as the No. 20 overall prospect.
RecruitingNation also passed along some high praise from ESPN National Recruiting Director Tom Luginbill:
If there's one thing Notre Dame has lacked over the past few years, it's a player capable of making game-changing plays against elite opponents. Smith will definitely be that type of player once he settles into a role at the next level, making him an ideal target for the Irish.
Quick, like Smith, is a dynamic athlete. While his upside might not match Smith's, he's illustrated the same type of explosiveness and big-play ability. Likely bound for the receiver position—at least to start his college career—he also has experience as a defensive back.
Knowing the roster could use another player or two in the mold of Smith or Quick, the Irish coaching staff has put on the full-court press late in the process.
Irish Sports Daily shared comments from Brian Kelly, who was encouraged by a recent meeting with the talented wideout:
How did #NotreDame HC Brian Kelly's visit w/ Michiah Quick go today? "It went good. It went really, really good." More coming.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) January 30, 2014
Quick checks in at No. 56 in 247Sports' composite rankings. The recruiting outlet lists a close competition between Notre Dame and Oklahoma for his signing, with a few other programs also in the mix. It's a battle the Irish need to win.
Even though Alexander isn't receiving nearly as much hype heading into national signing day as the other two players on the list, he's still important to the Irish. He's a raw talent that would bring some serious potential to South Bend.
Which of these prospects is most important to Notre Dame?
The recruiting outlook is nothing special. 247Sports' composite rankings have the corner outside the top 500 with a 3-star rating.
However, there are two main factors contributing to that middling initial grade and one of them can definitely be improved pretty quickly.
Size and tackling ability are holding Alexander back. Whether he'll grow a couple of inches to become more of a prototypical corner for today's game is unclear. Nevertheless, he can certainly become a better tackler to help in run support. It would be a major step toward outplaying his conservative initial ranking.