Notre Dame Recruiting: Two Up and Two Down for Coach Brian Kelly

Marc HalstedCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2009

Notre Dame recruitniks went to bed Friday night with the chill of another decommitment but awoke to the warmth of a new, and intriguing, verbal guarantee.

Tony Hurd, Jr., a prize of the 2010 Charlie Weis class simply because he represented an in-road to Texas recruiting following the Washington State game in San Antonio on Halloween night, decided to bolt from the Irish on Friday.

That news was tempered by the announcement of Austin Collinsworth.

The son of former NFL wide receiver and current NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth spent his Friday afternoon telling anyone who would listen that he was pure Irish.

The tough Kentuckian brings an engaging resume as a running back, defensive back, potential receiver, and state champion as coach Brian Kelly's first official verbal. 

With the recent news of five-star decommit Chris Martin moving to the University of California and the addition of Louis Nix during the dead period between the Weis firing and the Kelly hiring, Notre Dame recruiting has been both newsworthy and voluble.

Rivals, Scout, and ESPN have shown little movement in the consensus top-20 ND class of ’10 but that could change.

With the Weis era in the rear-view mirror, the new energy and enthusiasm of Kelly coming to light, the rehiring of Tony Alford, and more coaching staff stability to come over the next few weeks, Irish recruiting will improve markedly.

Hurd, Jr., the No. 48-ranked defensive back in the nation and the No. 97-ranked player in the Lone Star State, is not a loss.

Notre Dame has long recruited talented Texans from Kapron Lewis-Moore to Carlyle Holiday, and Irish fans should not worry that they've lost ground in the land of Longhorns and Aggies. 

With personality and performance, a successful Notre Dame program under coach Kelly will have no problem pulling a few legitimate athletes from such an important talent pool.

As coach Weis proved early in his ND tenure, winning makes recruiting in any state possible.

Collinsworth is a viable answer to the Hurd, Jr., loss.

Considered a three-star safety by Scout, Rivals, and two-star player by ESPN , he represents an early Kelly win over Stanford, Oregon, and Kentucky and an intriguing figure for a number of reasons.

The 6'2", 185-pounder has an exceptional pedigree with his University of Florida and NFL father.

He’s also seen as a "pure gamer” by analysts because of his play at Highlands High School.

His 176-yard rushing performance in the 5A state championship win two weeks ago included 25 carries, three touchdowns, and the type of gritty play that Kelly loves.

The ups and downs of Friday supplanted the news from last week that former Irish-man Chris Martin had settled on the Cal.

Although not as highly valued in the ESPN 150, the Colorado defensive end was still considered a top talent by other recruiting services.

The Martin loss was a blow to Notre Dame in the first hours of the post-Weis era, but the news cycle quickly filled with the positive, if not bizarre, reports of Louis Nix.

The 6'3", 315-pound down lineman from Jacksonville, Fla., gave his verbal to the then-in-limbo assistant coach Alford despite the fact that ND had no head coach.

Nix will play in the Under Armour All-American game and is highly regarded (No. 99 overall, No. 8 defensive lineman) by CBS’s Tom Lemming.

Nix is a superior talent ripped from the heart of talent-rich Florida and the University of Miami. He helped quiet the news of the Martin loss while proving that the lure of Notre Dame extends far beyond the aura of the current head coach.

Tony Hurd, Jr., was a minor loss. 

Austin Collinsworth is a gritty, gutty, and intriguing win. 

Chris Martin was an early steal who never felt right. 

Louis Nix is a huge victory in every sense of the word.

Brian Kelly is making up lost recruiting ground very quickly at Notre Dame.

With coaching stability to come, the continued efforts of the talented Tony Alford, and an entire bowl season to venture around the country, the best is yet to come.

The Class of 2010 may not be Notre Dame’s best, but it certainly won’t be a bust. It’s currently a top-20 group, but the potential for a top-15 is there.

Five-star stud offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson is still a possibility. The Irish are battling UCLA for the freakish talents of Anthony Barr.

Arizona athlete Marquis Flowers still has ND in his top five. California DB Dietrich Riley is strongly considering South Bend.

Hope is alive and well in the recruiting world of Notre Dame football.

Brian Kelly’s five-minute plan is in action.

Photo courtesy of Highland High School


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