Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Incoming Players to Be Excited About
Here is a quick preview of some guys who could either get on the field early or have a promising future with the Irish.
Both sides of the ball are losing a number of starters next year, so the incoming freshmen could become valuable contributors to the team next season and beyond.
Ronald Darby and Tee Shepard, CBs
Notre Dame is in dire need of a few talented, young defensive backs.
Well, Ronald Darby and Tee Shepard are just the players to fill that need.
In fact, Darby and Shepard have the best shot to start of any incoming freshmen.
Current starters Gary Gray and Robert Blanton will be departing next season, so Shepard's and Darby's biggest competition will be Lo Wood and Bennett Jackson. Wood and Jackson have really been the only players to see playing time at cornerback, but their time on the field has been sporadic at best.
Jalen Brown and Josh Atkinson will also challenge for playing time, but right now the position is pretty much up for grabs.
Darby, who runs track, brings lighting speed to the table, and while Shepard and Darby could afford to bulk up a bit, their coverage skills are right where they need to be.
Jarron Jones, DT
The Notre Dame defensive line is just going to keep getting better with the addition of Jarron Jones.
The 4-star recruit by Rivals.com has a massive 6'7", 308-pound frame (6'5" and 290 pounds, according to to Scout.com), and Jones will be ready to come in immediately and contribute to the rotation on the defensive line. Sheldon Day is a great pickup for the Irish and could be an early contributor as well, but with his combination of size and speed, Jones could be a very special player.
While college is a whole new ballgame, Jones dominated his high school competition. He had 54 solo tackles, 17 assisted tackles, five sacks, nine passes deflected, a blocked kick and a fumble recovery during his senior season at The Aquinas Institute of Rochester.
Jones also played basketball in high school, and he is extremely agile for his size. With all that Jones brings to the table, Brian Kelly will have a hard time keeping Jones off the field for a redshirt year in his freshman season.
Taylor Decker and Ronnie Stanley, OTs
The competition for a starting spot on the offensive line next season will be fierce, but Taylor Decker and Ronnie Stanley are two important building blocks for the future.
Both players have the size and physicality to play early on in their careers with the Irish, and it is a testament to them that they came to a school where they will have to do a fair amount of climbing up the depth chart.
These guys had a ton of pancakes in high school—and no, I'm not talking about from the International House of Pancakes.
Both players are 4-star recruits by Rivals. Decker (6'8", 301 pounds) and Stanley (6'7", 285 pounds) already have the size to play offensive line in college (6'8", 288 pounds and 6'8" 285 pound by Scout.com, respectively). You can bet Paul Longo can't wait to get these two into his strength and conditioning program.
William Mahone, RB
Notre Dame doesn't have great depth at running back, so it's good that the Irish already have one rusher committed for next season.
Behind the cemented starter, Cierre Wood, the backup position is still up in the air, but there is a slight possibility that Theo Riddick will return to running back for good after this season.
Even if Riddick does return, there is a clear opening for a bruiser.
Current freshmen Cam McDaniel and George Atkinson III don't really have the frame to become that type of player. Their games have a dependency on agility and speed (more agility for McDaniel and speed for Atkinson III).
Incoming recruit William Mahone, on the other hand, is more stout. While he is just five pounds heavier than Atkinson III (and 2.5 inches shorter according to Rivals.com), his body seems to be more built for a brusier's role.
That doesn't mean that Mahone can't break long runs or lacks agility. In fact, his highlights show he is able to make a cut and take it to the house or run over players on the goal line.
Like the rest of the incoming freshmen, Mahone will undergo an intensive strength and conditioning program. It will be interesting to see how much weight he puts on before next season.
Cam Roberson is coming off ACL surgery, but Roberson could find himself competing against Mahone to become Notre Dame's bigger running back.
If everything falls into place, Mahone could see the field quite a bit next season.
Deontay Greenberry, WR
Deontay Greenberry could be the spark the Irish offense needs in 2012 with Notre Dame losing its most dynamic wide receiver, Michael Floyd.
Floyd's departure will leave Brian Kelly scouring the roster for a deep threat, and Greenberry certainly has the ability to be a downfield target.
Greenberry, rated a 4-star recruit by Rivals.com, finished his senior year at Washington Union with 105 receptions for 2,108 yards and 32 touchdowns.
What's even more impressive is that Greenberry averaged an amazing 20.8 yards per catch.
Now fans just need to hope he signs his letter of intent with the Irish.
With NBCsports.com reporting that Greenberry and his cousin, Irish commit Tee Shepard, took a trip to Notre Dame rival USC, fans should be a little nervous.Both players said they're fully committed to the Irish, but Notre Dame faithful will have to wait and see the outcome.
Daniel Smith, Luke Massa, John Goodman (if he stays), Matthias Farley, DaVaris Daniels and the other incoming freshmen all have a chance to play alongside Robby Toma, Theo Riddick and T.J. Jones next season.
But if Greenberry is the best of those aforementioned, then he will see plenty of action during his freshman campaign.