Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Looking Ahead to 2016 Class

Mike Monaco@@MikeMonaco_Contributor IFebruary 9, 2015

Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Looking Ahead to 2016 Class

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    Brian Kelly
    Brian KellyJoe Raymond/Associated Press

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. — While the Notre Dame football staff was busy securing its class of 2015 on national signing day last week, the groundwork for the class of 2016 was continually being laid too.

    Irish head coach Brian Kelly is set to begin his sixth season in South Bend, and Notre Dame has inked highly rated recruiting classes during his tenure.

    Can Kelly and the Irish continue that in 2016, especially with the recent staff turnover? Let’s take a look ahead to next year’s recruiting cycle. For more on the names to watch in 2016, Irish247’s Tom Loy provides an in-depth primer.

Tommy Kraemer

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    Tommy Kraemer
    Tommy KraemerCredit: 247Sports

    Offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer is Notre Dame’s lone commitment in the class of 2016. The Cincinnati native pledged to the Irish in October, hours before Notre Dame’s thrilling 17-14 win over Stanford.

    A 6’5”, 305-punder, Kraemer is slated as a 5-star prospect and the No. 28 overall player in the class of 2016. After a few strong hauls of offensive linemen in recent years, Notre Dame was in a position to only add two linemen—Tristen Hoge and Trevor Ruhland—in the class of 2015. Kraemer is thus the first key piece in what could be a bigger crop of Notre Dame offensive linemen in 2016.

    According to Loy, “Ohio State has tried to make a run at him, but Kraemer maintains that he will be an elite recruiter for the Irish and he will sign with them when his time comes.”

Offensive Linemen

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    Parker Boudreaux
    Parker BoudreauxCredit: 247Sports

    While we’re on the topic of offensive lineman, Parker Boudreaux figures to be a top target for Notre Dame.

    The 4-star prospect from Orlando, Florida, is the No. 215 overall player in his class. Per Loy, Boudreaux has already visited Clemson and is expected visit Notre Dame in the spring.

    Meanwhile, offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg is a 4-star prospect and the No. 10 tackle in the class. Eichenberg camped at Notre Dame in the summer and took an unofficial visit to South Bend in November. The Cleveland native has also taken an unofficial visit to Ohio State and attended junior day for the Buckeyes last month.

    Loy expects Eichenberg to end up at Ohio State or Notre Dame.

Defensive Linemen

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    Josh King
    Josh KingCredit: 247Sports

    Notre Dame added another five defensive linemen in the class of 2015 last week, but the Irish remain in search of an elite defensive end with strong pass-rushing skills.

    The Irish have already offered 18 defensive ends in the class of 2016, and Josh King and Auston Robertson are two names to watch.

    King checks in as the No. 3 strong-side defensive end and No. 50 overall player in the country. The Darien, Illinois, product visited Notre Dame (twice), Michigan, Michigan State (twice), Ohio State (twice) and Iowa during the summer and regular season. Loy believes it’s “likely” King ends up at either Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State but said the 6’6”, 250-pounder is “a long way” from making a final choice.”

    Robertson, a fellow Midwest prospect, is the No. 102 player and is ranked as the No. 7 weak-side defensive end. After camping at Notre Dame in June, Robertson landed an offer from the Irish three days later. He returned to South Bend on an official visit for the Michigan game. The Fort Wayne, Indiana, prospect would be a strong addition for the Irish.

Quarterback

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    Shea Patterson
    Shea PattersonCredit: 247Sports

    A class of 2016 quarterback becomes less important for the Irish after they inked Brandon Wimbush for 2015, but Notre Dame still has a strong group of targets.

    Eight quarterbacks in the class of 2016 hold Irish offers. The Irish were in pursuit of No. 9 overall prospect Malik Henry, who ended up pledging to Florida State in November.

    Some of the big names to watch at the position moving forward include Shea Patterson (No. 18 overall), Dwayne Haskins (No. 66), Jawon Pass (No. 48) and Ervin Barrett (No. 206).

Safety

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    Devin Studstill
    Devin StudstillCredit: 247Sports

    Notre Dame failed to land a last-second safety commitment in the class of 2015, so that figures to be an area of emphasis moving forward, whether that’s by way of transfers and/or class of 2016 commitments.

    The Irish have offered eight safeties in the class, and Loy has tabbed Devin Studstill and Craig Watts as names to watch in his class prediction.

    Expect change at this position in one form or another in the coming months, as Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate are currently the only fully healthy returning scholarship safeties.

    Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports composite rankings.

    Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.