This recruiting coordinator has a few pairs of shoes to fill. - Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Here is an initial dive into the anticipated number for the 2014 recruiting cycle. As always, things can change--and frequently do.
Last week, Eric broke down all the offers to uncommitted 2014 prospects with the March Big Board.
Taking into account Whiskey's latest positional number crunching, it appears that there are 62 scholarships accounted for 2014, with the remaining 23 to be split between 5th year seniors and incoming freshman. Outside of Christian Lombard, I don't think there are any locks for a 5th year, but Austin Collinsworth and Kendall Moore are likely at the top of the list due to depth and contribution.
Based on those numbers, I think the 2014 class ends up at the magic number of 20. There is always some wiggle room in that number with injuries, transfers and potential departures for the NFL.
In order to arrive at the numbers needed at each position, let's first review how many I think the staff needs at each position and who is already accounted for.
Offensive Line (15 Needed - 6 OT/6 OG/ 3 OC):
Tackle (4): Lombard, Stanley, Elmer, McGlinchey
Guard (5): Hanratty, N. Martin, Montelus, Bivin, McGovern
Commits (1): Byrne
Center (2): Hegarty, Harrell
Coach Brian Kelly already stated that Power was the focus for the 2014 class, and the offensive line numbers certainly support that. Bivin can probably play anywhere, so positional numbers are a bit flexible. The staff will take at least two tackles and four overall is the target here.
Top targets here are likely Jamarco Jones (IL), KC McDermott (FL) and Braden Smith (KS).
Offensive Skill (23 Needed - 4 QB/5 RB/4 TE/10 WR):
Quarterback (2): Golson, Zaire
Running Back (6): McDaniel, G. Atkinson, Carlisle, Mahone, Bryant, Folston
Tight End (4): Koyack, Niklas, Heuerman, Smythe
Wide Receiver (8): Daniels, Ferguson, Brown, Neal, Onwualu, Robinson, Hunter, Fuller
Commits (1): Brent
Needless to say, the impending transfer of Gunner Kiel really puts the staff in a bind for depth at the QB position. Eric broke down the potential targets earlier in the week, but the staff has only put one offer out so far (Brandon Dawkins--CA). Fans shouldn't worry (yet) as there are plenty of options for the staff. I am guessing they will wait on Dawkins to make a decision before extending any other offers.
At running back, the staff is primed to take one, with probably a second athlete as more of a slot/RB combo guy. The two at the top of the list right now are Sony Michel (FL) and Elijah Hood (NC), both of whom have the Irish on top. The nation's #1 RB prospect Leonard Fournette (LA) has some interest in Notre Dame, but it is unlikely he goes anywhere outside of LSU or Alabama.
The staff could afford to pass on tight end, but it appears that they are primed to take one per year. Top targets here include Nic Weishar (IL), Jeb Blazevich (NC), Tyler Luatua (CA) and Ian Bunting (IL).
At wide receiver, the CBK and company can afford to be patient. They already have in-state prospect Justin Brent as a commitment and will likely only take one additional WR. Some have speculated that they will look at taking a speedy inside receiver, but I would guess they are after the best available. One name that fans could hear more of in the coming months is Drake Harris (MI), a recent decommitment from Michigan State.
Defensive Line (11 Needed - 7 DE/4 NG):
Defensive End (6): Tuitt, Hounshell, Day, Jones, Rochelle, Matuska
Commits (1): Hayes
Nose Guard (2): Springmann, Vanderdoes
Some of the players listed could potentially rotate to other spots, so I will focus on overall numbers. There are 8 accounted for plus one commitment, with the potential that Stephon Tuitt decides to leave early for the NFL. The staff will likely take 4 total, so with three players to go the will focus on one true NG (a.k.a. War Daddy) and the remainder as DEs. Top targets here appear to be Enoch Smith (IL), Malik McDowell (MI) and Andrew Trumbetti (NJ).
Linebackers (13 - 7 OLB, 6 ILB):
Inside LB (3): Grace, Rabasa, Deeb
Commitment (1); Martini
Outside LB (5): Williams, Councell, Okwara, Smith, Randolph
Clearly, there are depth issues at inside linebacker. This will likely result in Kendall Moore earning a 5th year and Doug Randolph potentially seeing practice reps inside. The staff already has one verbal commitment from Greer Martini (VA). CBK will look to add one Cat LB, with the top target there being Andrew Williams (GA), former teammate of signee Isaac Rochelle. Other top linebacker targets include Nyles Morgan (IL), Clifton Garrett (IL), and Dillon Bates (FL).
Secondary (13 Needed - 6 CB, 6 S, 1 DB):
Cornerbacks (6): Brown, J. Atkinson, Russell, Luke, Butler, Kinlaw
Safeties (7): Hardy, Farley, Badger, Baratti, Prosise, Shumate, Redfield
Defensive Backs (1): Turner
First, I put Turner at DB because I think he can play either position. It is actually amazing to see how well the staff has addressed depth issues at DB over the past two classes. There will likely be some movement here with players changing positions, but it looks like the staff should only take two DBs in this class. Top targets include Jabrill Peppers (NJ), Tony Brown (TX), John Smith (CA), Jalen Tabor (DC) and Kyle Gibson (FL).
Special Teams (5 - 2 K, 2 P,1 LS):
Kicker (1): Brindza
Long Snapper (1): Daly
It appears that the staff is taking a slightly different approach on special teams. They are bringing in former Wake Forest P Alex Wulfeck for 2013 in addition to two freshman preferred walk-on kickers. I think the staff will likely look at scholarship kicker options during this recruiting cycle, but those offers generally come over the summer during the camp circuit.
As a recap, here are the numbers needed at each position for the 2014 recruiting class:
Offensive Line: 4
Running Back: 2
Tight End: 1
Wide Receiver: 2
Defensive End: 3
Nose Guard: 1
Inside Linebacker: 2-3
Outside Linebacker: 2