With fall camp right around the corner, it is time to review the remaining positional priorities for the ever-expanding 2013 recruiting class. The summer is generally a time when prospective student athletes list their top schools and narrowing down lists for official visits in the fall.
Bear in mind that the numbers I show are based on a few key assumptions, mainly the returning 5th years for 2013 and that the current commitments stay at the position that I project them.
For reference, Whiskey just updated the scholarship numbers last week. Based on our collective wisdom, it appears that this class will probably end up at 21 players, but has the flexibility to grow based on attrition.
Eric has been hard at work keeping tabs on all the offers out there from the staff. As always, stop on by and share your two cents on the prospects and prognosticate on the next verbal commitment.
Finally, don't forget to stop on by Recruiting Central for links to all of our up-to-date info and more.
We will jump into the numbers after, well...the jump.
Based on everything I have read (including between the lines), it appears that the staff is looking for the following distribution of talent:
QB - 1
Commit: Malik Zaire
The staff is done here after landing Zaire. He participated in the Elite 11 camp over the weekend and earned a spot in the Top 11.
RB - 1
I said early on that the staff can afford to skip the RB this cycle and now it appears to be trending in that direction. They lost out on their top two targets (Ryan Green - FSU, Ty Isaac - USC). Two names that are left on the big board are intriguing--Khalfani Muhammad (Sherman Oaks, CA) and David Williams (Philadelphia, PA). Muhammad just got back from competing in the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Spain (for Puerto Rico) and was named California Boys' Athlete of the Year by the LA Daily News. Williams is one that the staff hasn't paid much attention to as of yet, but with his leader (Penn State) receiving significant sanctions from the NCAA, there is room for the Irish to make up some ground.
WR - 2-3
There are still a ton of outstanding offers to this group, but the dust appears to be settling on a few names for what appears to be the remaining spot at WR. The top name on the board right now is probably Laquon Treadwell (Crete, IL), who is considered a Michigan lean as of right now. ND is probably a long shot for his services. Juwann Williams (Tucker, GA) is a name moving up the board and already has an official visit scheduled for the Michigan game. Devin Allen (Phoenix, AZ) is set to visit soon on his Midwest tour. Torii Hunter Jr (Prosper, TX) also just set an official visit to South Bend for the fall.
TE - 1
Commit: Mike Heuerman
There have been some questions about whether the Irish will see if the overall #1 TE Adam Brenemen is still interested following the Penn State sanctions announced on Monday. I don't think that is likely, especially with his knee injury over the summer. Regardless, the staff is in good shape to replace the replace the likely departure of Tyler Eifert and Jake Golic.
OL - 5
The staff is done at offensive line for this cycle. The commits have been making the rounds this summer and have impressed several talent evaluators along the way, including at The Opening earlier this month and last weekend's Top Gun camp in Virgina.
DL - 3-4
I previously thought that the staff was certain to take a DT/NG type along with three DEs this cycle. Now I am not so sure. They already have DEs on board and are in good shape with Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL) thanks in part to Jaylon Smith and the rest of the class working to recruit him. Another name to keep an eye on at DE is Alquadin Mohammad (Ramsey, NJ), who was a high school teammate of freshman safety Elijah Shumate.
While the staff may not land a Louis Nix-type space eater this class, they could land a hybrid player who could drop inside if needed. A few names to look at there include Josh Augusta (Peoria, IL), Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights, OH) and Scott Pagano (Honolulu, HI)
LB - 4-5
Mixed-sport metaphors aside, the staff has already hit a home run here and could continue to add to the group. The LB recruiting was kicked off by a verbal commitment from the likely #1 overall target on the staff's board in OLB Jaylon Smith. Within a month, the other three linebackers followed suit.
The staff still has the potential to take one (or even two) more this cycle and can focus on the elite left uncommitted. Demetrius Cooper (Chicago, IL) visited earlier this year and fits the hybrid OLB/DE mold. There was some mutual interest between Ebenezer Ogundeko (Brooklyn, NY) and the Irish after his visit, but that seems to have cooled off. The biggest name left on the ND board is likely recent Stanford de-commit Isacc Savaiinaea (Honolulu, HI), who will likely schedule an official visit to South Bend. A few other names to keep in mind are current Stanford commitment Doug Randolph (Richmond, VA), DE/OLB Alec James (Brookfield, WI) and athlete Marcus Ball (Westerville, OH).
CB - 3
Three is the magic number for cornerbacks in this class, and the staff has landed verbals from two already. Names to keep in mind for the final spot include Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL), L.J. Moore (Fresno, CA) and Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, FL). Of that group, Hargreaves has ND in his Top 5 and will likely schedule an official visit, while Moore will make his official visit for the Michigan game.
S - 0-1
After taking several safeties in the 2012 class, the staff may elect to skip the position this cycle if they miss on the elite talent. Other names to keep an eye on are Leon McQuay III (Seffner, FL), Max Redfield (current USC commit -- Mission Viejo, CA), Jayron Kearse (Fort Meyers, FL) and Priest Willis (Tempe, AZ). All of those players have already booked an official visit (Willis) or have publicly stated that they intend to take one.
ST - 1
I originally thought that the staff would look for a kicker this cycle (specifically a punter), but have started to waiver from that a bit. Ideally, they could sign a combo punter/place kicker (similar to Kyle Brindza) to save on the overall scholarship numbers. The only name I have heard anything about is Matt Haack (West Des Moines, IA), who was at camp in June and kicked in front of the coaches. There aren't any offers out yet, and it doesn't look like any are coming soon. If the staff passes on kickers, look for Nick Tausch to return for a 5th year in 2013.
Wrapping It All Up
Based on the projected number of scholarships (21), the staff has two clear priorities left-defensive line and cornerback. They need at least one more at each spot. I also think a third WR is necessary, but options are slowly diminishing. The one final scholarship (outside of any additional that may come from attrition) should be used on the best player available, but preferably on the defensive side of the ball.
QB - 1 (done)
RB - 1
WR - 2-3
TE - 1 (done)
OL - 5 (done)
DL - 3-4
LB - 4 (done)
CB - 3
S - 0-1
ST - 1