ND Offense Recruiting Big Board- 12.10.13

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Two months until National Signing Day and Notre Dame is trying to close the 2014 class with a bang.

STILL WAITING ON A TIGHT END FROM CALIFORNIA

Welcome to the newest update to the Big Board for the offensive side of the ball.

The update has been the same at the quarterback position for months now. The Irish have DeShone Kizer in the fold for 2014, recently added a rising star in Blake Barnett for 2015, and have no more quarterbacks offered for this cycle who are not a current verbal to another school.

I would like to point out that in Kelly's recent media session he mentioned that he's fine with 3 scholarship quarterbacks with a preferred walk-on adding some depth. If you can pull this off--and Kelly has done a very good job improving the preferred walk-on program--I really like this approach for the near future. Just looking at it from a perspective for next season there has to be some reasonably athletic, tall, and smart quarterback who is willing to be a member of the Red Hat Army and who would be able to do better than what we saw from Hendrix against USC this past year if God forbid Golson and Zaire get hurt.

Running Back
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.999 Leonard Fournette LA 6-1.5/226 Cold
.989 Joe Mixon CA 6-2/195 Cold
.945 Derrell Scott NC 5-11/180 Cold
.911 Donte Thomas-Williams NC 6-0/220 Cold

I won't say the Irish are done recruiting at running back but it's been trending that way for quite some time now. Fournette is now the Composite top player in the country and is coming off an official visit to LSU this past weekend while taking another official to Alabama this upcoming weekend. Whichever team wins that battle is going to get one bad mofo at running back.

A lot of teams are still after Mixon but he's in no hurry to pare down his list of top teams. I have a feeling UCLA strikes late in the process and signs him but we'll see. Elsewhere, Scott remains a South Carolina lean and Thomas-Williams a West Virginia lean.

Tony Alford remains in constant contact with (CO) ATH Kalen Ballage .890 but they've still not offered. He might be someone who sneaks into the class in late January as a targeted running back but the coaches are obviously playing a waiting game with very few spots left to work with.

Wide Receiver
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.948 Johnnie Dixon FL 5-10/187 Cold
.990 Malachi Dupre LA 6-2/187 Cold
.992 Speedy Noil LA 5-10/176 Cold
.938 Trevion Thompson NC 6-3/188 Cold

Our lone verbal on offense since our last update was (TN) WR Josh Malone .979 who stayed in-state and picked the Tennessee Volunteers 6 days ago.

Dixon to Miami, Dupre to LSU, Noil to LSU, and Thompson to Clemson are the consensus picks by the recruiting experts.

In a (somewhat) curious decision it seems the Notre Dame staff is very intent on signing 3 receivers for this class. With the numbers crunch I'd be more interested in finding some more defenders but I don't get paid to make these decisions. Kind of sort of verbal Isaiah McKenzie re-took his SAT this past Saturday and if his score improves he should officially become a real verbal at which point I think the staff will sit tight at receiver.

But until that score is improved Notre Dame is still looking around. They are still in contact with (CA) WR Erik Brown .933 who switched from Washington to California last month as well as (FL) WR Ryan Sousa .868 who recently flipped from Florida State to Florida. Sousa was supposed to take an official visit to Notre Dame so we'll see if that still happens. Notre Dame has also been out to visit (CA) WR Donovan Walker .790 who is a very under the radar prospect with zero offers right now. The definitely are not slacking off on receiver recruiting this cycle.

Athlete
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.971 Budda Baker WA 5-9/174 Cold
.870 Charles Nelson FL 5-8/170 Mild
.976 Michiah Quick CA 6-0/170 Mild
.991 Ju Ju Smith CA 6-1/200 Mild
.930 Nathan Starks CO 5-11/200 Cold

Baker is trending hard toward Oregon but he will officially visit his hometown Washington Huskies this weekend and UCLA in January.

Nelson was offered by Notre Dame in mid-November and will be coming to South Bend for the awards banquet. He could very well be the third receiver of this class if things don't work out with McKenzie.

The Irish still remain in decent shape with Quick who visited Alabama and USC last month but it's still looking like a battle between Oklahoma and Notre Dame.

The Irish are also still hanging in there with John "JuJu" Smith but the hometown USC Trojans are slowly grabbing some momentum. Smith has an official visit to USC planned for mid-January.

Starks remains a long-shot, unless a miracle from Admissions occurs over the next two months.

Bo Scarborough, a verbal to Alabama who visited and the Irish were hard after, has officially eliminated the Irish.

Tight End
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.933 Tyler Luatua CA 6-4/230 Hot
.950 Dalton Schultz UT 6-5/215 Mild

Luatua is deciding at the UnderArmour Game and is expected to pick Notre Dame. He's been down to the Irish and Alabama for quite a while.

Schultz is coming off a visit to campus and he absolutely loved it. Notre Dame probably won't have room for him---especially if Luatua verbals later this month---but he remains a great option waiting in the wings if the Irish need to really turn up the pressure.

Offensive Line
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.985 Damien Mama CA 6-4/370 Cold
.989 Damian Prince MD 6-5/295 Cold
.968 Braden Smith KS 6-6/290 Cold
.960 Casey Tucker AZ 6-6/270 Cold

O-line recruiting looks to be finished for the cycle, especially with 2 linemen already in the fold for 2015.

Mama has set an official visit to USC and is expected to sign with the Trojans. Prince visited Florida State last month and has the Seminoles coming on strong but has set officials to South Carolina, Florida, and Miami.

Curiously, Braden Smith has set an official visit to Notre Dame for January 17th. He visited South Bend way back in March but things went ice cold from the summer until now. That's the Irish just doing diligent work, I suppose.

Irish Commits
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Position 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.909 DeShone Kizer OH 6-5/207 Quarterback
.954 Justin Brent IN 6-3/190 Wideout
.921 Corey Holmes FL 6-2/175 Wideout
.873 Isaiah McKenzie FL 5-9/172 Wideout
.886 Nic Weishar IL 6-5/223 Tight End
.900 Jimmy Byrne OH 6-4/290 Offensive Line
.913 Sam Mustipher MD 6-3/285 Offensive Line
.968 Quenton Nelson NJ 6-5/295 Offensive Line
.954 Alex Bars TN 6-6/309 Offensive Line

The strategy on this side of the ball a couple months from NSD seems to be: Grab another tight end and then secure a third receiver for the class. As such, I doubt we'll be signing more than 11 offensive recruits.

In my opinion, everyone on this list will redshirt except Brent. Well, I guess you could count McKenzie too if he ends up part of the class because he'll be the punt returner. That says a lot about the depth on the team right now---especially on the line---but also that this class is missing a few studs. In total, I love the depth of this class and that counts for a lot yet I'll be surprised if we see anything close to the impact the 2013 freshmen are making this year.

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