Saturday is a big day for Notre Dame not only because USC is coming to town and the game will be played in primetime on campus for the first time since 1990.
Yes, the clash with the Trojans will be the main event, but this is also shaping up to be a recruiting weekend for the ages at Notre Dame.
While you could make a case that there have been more important weekends in Irish recruiting, this is possibly the biggest and most daunting task any Notre Dame coach has ever put together.
The current 2012 class sits at a snug 16 verbals---meaning Notre Dame is almost fully in "court the elite players" mode and can afford to sit back and focus on some blue-chippers.
And the blue-chippers are on their way this Saturday.
Will two or three join the blue and gold after this weekend?
It's possible, but it's clear the coaches are going all out this weekend for some elite 2012 prospects and making some serious inroads with a bunch of athletes from the 2013 class as well.
Let's take a closer look at this momentous recruiting weekend.
Matt Alviti--Park Ridge, Illinois (2013)*
With Rees having two years left after this season, and Hendrix having a superb debut for the Irish and a bright future of his own, it appears the Irish have moved on to the 2013 quarterbacks and will skip a signal caller for this cycle.
Even if Dayne Crist doesn't come back for a 5th year there is still Everett Golson waiting in the wings, lifting weights, perfecting his game and slowly becoming each part Donovan McNabb, Charlie Ward, and Tony Rice. Just call him Chanovny McRard.
Notre Dame has its eye on several 2013 QB prospects, but Alviti is the top target right now and he is getting a lot of attention from the staff. As the only signal caller in attendance this weekend, he's bound to feel the love. Recruitniks say he's a good bet to be Irish sometime in the future, but don't expect it this weekend.
Byron Marshall--San Jose, California #6 RB
Keith Marshall--Raleigh, North Carolina #1 RB
KeiVarae Russell--Everett, Washington #4 RB
Will Mahone--Austintown, Ohio #11 RB (Notre Dame verbal)*
Ty Isaac--Joliet, Illinois (2013)*
The big Ty Isaac was just added for an unofficial, but a large focus of this weekend will be on the three running backs currently without verbals.
Obviously we know about Keith Marshall---get him to verbal and you can just shut down this recruiting class I'd be that happy. However, he's going to be a tough pull and someone who is likely to take his time committing even if he is blown away by his visit. We will continue to pray.
Realistically, a verbal from either Byron Marshall or Russell would be utterly fantastic. That might mean Keith Marshall looks elsewhere, but that's part of the game. It won't hurt having Mahone in these players ears either.
As much as I'd like to hope otherwise, I think we make a great impression on all of the running backs, but will have to wait longer to see anything come of it.
John Theus--Jacksonville, Florida #2 OT (Georgia verbal)
Zach Banner--Lakewood, Washington #7 OT
Mark Harrell--Charlotte, North Carolina #51 OT (Notre Dame verbal)*
Steve Elmer--Midland, Michigan (2013-Notre Dame verbal)*
Jordan Diamond--Chicago, Illinois #25 OT
Taylor Decker--Vandalia, Ohio #35 OT (Notre Dame verbal)*
Ethan Pocic--Lemont, Illinois (2013)*
Notre Dame is looking to add another linemen here (possibly two) and it will be important to make serious progress on Theus, and most especially Banner and Diamond.
Flipping Theus isn't likely, but also isn't altogether impossible as he has shown interest and excitement in Notre Dame and coming to visit. Banner and Diamond are the safer bets at this point, but both have been quiet and looking at a lot of schools---I wouldn't hold my breath on either guy this weekend.
I would imagine Kelly & Co. are making this position a big priority this weekend---one more linemen in the fold right now would be crucial.
Bryce Treggs--Bellflower, California #14 WR (California verbal)
Deontay Greenberry--Fresno, California #10 WR (Notre Dame verbal)
Justin Ferguson--Pembroke Pines, Florida #56 WR (Notre Dame verbal)
Laquon Treadwell--Crete, Illinois (2013)*
Jordan Peyton--Westlake Village, California #18 WR
Chris Brown--Hanahan, South Carolina #83 WR (Notre Dame verbal)*
Treggs has been flirting with Notre Dame for quite a while, is friends with a handful of current Irish commits, and is likely a pretty soft California verbal at this point (or so we would like to think). I wouldn't be shocked if Greenberry, Ferguson and others were able to convince Treggs to flip, but keep in mind the Irish are in a good position with a few other receivers as well.
Amara Darboh and Ian Thomas are probably still the leaders at reciever---while Nelson Agholor is coming on strong after a great visit at the Air Force game.
Peyton is coming in for an official but is rumored to be a heavy Michigan lean, while Chris Brown was a late addition to the party.
Would Kelly take Treggs now, and also another receiver down the road too? This is supposed to be the skill position recruiting cycle!
Adam Breneman--Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (2013)*
Much like Alviti at quarterback, Breneman is getting all the attention right now for tight ends in next year's class. He is clearly a high priority for the Irish coaching staff.
Unless Taylor McNamara opens up his recruitment and leaves Arizona (he has recently scheduled an official visit to Notre Dame), it looks like the Irish may skip tight end this year and put most of their eggs in the Breneman basket.
Recruitniks think Breneman is a likely early verbal to Notre Dame from the 2013 class.
David Perkins--South Bend, Indiana #9 ATH (Notre Dame verbal)
Richard Benjamin--Tampa, Florida (2013)*
Jalin Marshall--Middletown, Ohio (2013)*
Not much here besides taking in some recruits from next year's class and solidifying Boom Perkins.
Arik Armstead--Elk Grove, California #4 DE
Jarron Jones--Rochester, New York #8 DT (Notre Dame verbal)*
Sheldon Day--Indianapolis, Indiana #23 DT (Notre Dame verbal)*
Elijah Daniel--Avon, Indiana (2013)*
Billy Price--Austintown, Ohio (2013)*
Just a few days ago Armstead decommitted from USC and is planning on taking visits to Alabama and possibly elsewhere in addition to his official this weekend at Notre Dame. Armstead's older brother was medically redshirted this year---a decision that apparently ruffled some feathers with his family. It was no surprise that Arik is now back on the market.
Count me as believing Kelly is satisfied to keep Armstead away from USC---I think we're done on the line and Armstead is still a bit of a long shot.
Ifeadi Odenigbo--Centerville, Ohio #4 WDE
Romeo Okwara--Charlotte, North Carolina #35 WDE (Notre Dame verbal)
Jason Hatcher--Louisville, Kentucky (2013)*
Jaylon Smith--Fort Wayne, Indiana (2013)*
Tim Kimbrough--Indianapolis, Indiana (2013)*
Some nice 2013 prospects will be in town, in addition to Odenigbo and current Irish verbal Romeo Okwara.
Recruitniks think the odds are very high Odenigbo is eventually Irish---he could be one of the verbals we see after this weekend.
Ishmael Adams--Westlake Village, California #11 CB
Shaq Thompson--Sacremento, California #1 S
Donaldven Manning--Miami, Florida #24 CB (Virginia Tech verbal)
Brian Poole--Bradenton, Florida #8 CB (Florida verbal)
Tee Shepard--Fresno, California #5 CB (Notre Dame verbal)
Leon McQuay--Seffner, Florida (2013)*
Shaq Wiggins--Tyrone, Georgia (2013)*
Two young 2013 prospects were recently added for unofficial visits, while Adams still seems lukewarm at best and probably a longshot.
Manning and Poole are also unlikely to be flipped anytime soon, but you never know.
Obviously Shaq Thompson is the big dog here, and he will have fellow Californians' Tee Shepard and Deontay Greenberry in his ear the whole time about coming aboard the Irish Express.
Pull in Thompson and the secondary recruiting might be the best in the nation, and set up a truly scary defense for the Irish for the next 4 to 5 years.
So how does the coaching staff handle all of these players while trying to prepare the current players for USC?
It sure is a daunting task.
There will be a lot of distractions---the hype of a night game, over 200 former players coming to the game, and even some celebrities rumored to come and watch the show.
No doubt, a lot of these recruits will be very impressed.
Realistically we should expect a verbal or two---but who will it be?
Let your imagination run wild!
Are you ready for this weekend yet?