A few weeks back I broke down how the roster will likely look in 2012 based on returning players, likely 5th years, and recruiting (as it stands today). For reference, the article can be found here.
Last week I covered four positions (QB, OL, DE, OLB) that I feel are a priority for the remaining open scholarships in the 2012 recruiting class, and that can be found here.
In this week's segment, I will cover the remaining positions (RB, WR, TE, DT, ILB, DB) and who are targets high on the coaching staff's wish list.
Official offers and targets after the jump.
Since last week's article was missing some of the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball, I will start there.
Notre Dame already has one RB verbal commitment for the 2012 class, William Mahone (Youngstown, OH). In my opinion, there isn't a big need for a second RB unless the staff was able to land a top flight recruit (aka Keith Marshall). Since they missed out on Marshall, there is only one remaining target for RB in the 2012 class--Keivarae Russell (Everett, WA).
Russell appears to be down to Cal, Washington and ND as finalists. He is a similar athlete to Mahone, and given the distance, it could be difficult for the staff to pry him from the northwest to compete in a crowded backfield for playing time.
Wide receiver appears to be the favorite recruiting topic for Irish fans everywhere this year. Clearly there are some big shoes to fill for the staff, seeing as how they lose Michael Floyd to graduation and likely Theo Riddick to a position change (moving back to RB).
So far the staff has three verbal commitments from WRs--Deontay Greenberry (Fresno, CA), Justin Ferguson (Hollywood, FL), and Chris Brown (Charleston, SC). Each of these guys brings something a little different to the table, but all will be excellent fits for the offensive scheme and at least one should contribute right away.
All that being said, the staff appears intent on taking one more WR in this cycle, and there are several players who are being targeted for that final spot. This list includes Nelson Agholor (Tampa, FL), Jordan Payton (Thousand Oaks, CA), Ralph Andrades (Tallahassee, FL), Davonte Neal (Paradise Valley, AZ), and Jordan Westerkamp (Lombard, IL).
Of the list, Agholor is probably at the top of everyone's wish list. Neal visited last weekend for the awards show and left with a great impression of Notre Dame (and would be a phenomenal fit at the slot position). Payton visited for the USC game, while Andrades and Westerkamp have upcoming visits.
After initially missing on the top TEs of the 2012 class, it appeared that the staff would pass on the position for the class. Then Arizona decided to fire Mike Stoops, which essentially put Taylor McNamara (San Diego, CA) back on the market.
McNamara visited for the BC game in November and was very impressed. He wants to play right away, so his decision could hinge on whether or not Tyler Eifert comes back next year. Notre Dame's chief competition includes Michigan, Oklahoma, California and Colorado.
The Irish already have a commitment from Sheldon Day (Indianapolis, IN) and are not looking for another DT for 2012.
With the recent announcement that Manti Te'o is coming back for his senior season, the ILB depth chart appears to be very crowded. There is one target left on the board in Schyler Miles (Tampa, FL). Miles does not yet have an offer, but visited last weekend for the banquet. An offer may be on the way once the numbers are firmed up for the 2012 season, and don't be surprised to see one go out in the next few weeks (Florida and Kansas have already offered). Miles also happens to be teammates and very good friends with one Nelson Agholor.
Next to WR, DB seems to be the position with the most interest/remaining targets on board for the staff. There are already five commits at DB for 2012 (six if you count Chris Badger coming back following his Mormon mission). The current list includes two of the top CBs of the class in Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, MD) and Tee Shepard (Fresno, CA) along with safeties Nicky Baratti (Spring, TX), CJ Prosise (Woodberry Forest, VA) and John Turner (Indianapolis, IN).
The targets remaining on board include Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, CA), teammates Yuri Wright and Elijah Shumate (Ramsey, NJ), Ishmael Adams (Thousand Oaks, CA), Donaldven Manning (Miami, FL), Demetrius Cox (Jeannette, PA) and Marcus Rios (Elk Grove, CA). A current Penn State recruit (Armani Reeves - West Roxbury, MA) is keeping the Irish on his short list of back-up schools depending on the coaching situation in State College.
Of the group, most of these players visited for the USC game (Thompson, Adams, and Manning). Wright, Schumate, and Rios are all planning on a visit this weekend.
At this point, Thompson would be a long-shot as it appears he will likely head to Cal (but ND is still in his top 5). Wright and Schumate would be a phenomenal safety tandem to go along with Shepard and Darby (think Sapp-Earl-Walton-Duff). Manning is a current Virigina Tech commit and early entry candidate. Cox and Rios are late comers and I have no idea where either end up going.
Wrapping It All Up:
With limited numbers left in the 2012 recruiting cycle, the staff has the luxury to pursue top-flight talent to fill the remaining scholarships. Of the positions covered, WR and DB seem to be locks to add another playmaker or two for the fall.