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. At this time, it appears that Martin, Watt and Fox would all be locks to return for a 5th year, while Carlo Calabrese is a bit of a coin flip at this point.
Based on our collective wisdom, it appears that this class will probably end up at 24 players. There are currently 22 players verbally committed, which leaves 2-3 spots available (depending on Calabrese).
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.
For reference, here was the initial look at 2013 numbers that I published post-NSD, here is the update from after Junior Day, here is the pre-BG game view and here is the late-summer pre-camp edition.
Finally, don't forget to stop on by Recruiting Central for links to all of our up-to-date info and more.
Based on everything I have read, 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 was named an Elite 11 QB and apparently made Trent Dilfer into a closet ND fan.
RB - 2
I said early on that the staff can afford to skip the RB this cycle and now it appears that I was very, very wrong. Rumors continue to swirl around James and whether or not he actually makes it to South Bend in the Fall-until anything official comes out, he will still be counted as part of this class.
The staff did some great work in landing a verbal commitment from one of the top RBs in the class in Greg Bryant. He was a one time commitment to Oklahoma and is an ideal fit for the Irish offense.
WR - 4
The staff should be done at WR with a big haul in this class. Onwualu, Fuller and Hunter have all played DB in high school, so there is some positional flexibility if needed. Robinson may grow into a hybrid WR/TE in the future given his size. While the group is very impressive, the staff missed on a few of their top targets this cycle, so an elite WR may be a bigger focus for 2014.
The staff is also reportedly visiting Demarcus Robinson, who took an official visit this fall to South Bend. He was a verbal commitment to Clemson for some time, but just flipped to Florida this week.
TE - 1
Commit: Mike Heuerman
The staff has been set with one TE for the majority of this cycle, but there are some rumblings around them checking with Heuerman if he is okay with the staff talking with recent Texas decommitment Durham Smythe. Depending on how the class rounds out, DE commit Jacob Matuska could make the move to TE to help fill out the depth chart.
OL - 5
The staff is done at offensive line for this cycle, and this is probably the most impressive group of offensive line commits in the country.
DL - 3-4
In the beginning I 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 two DEs on board and are in good shape with 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-namely current USC commitment and elite DL Eddie Vanderdoes.
LB - 4
There really is no other way to say this than the Irish staff landed an elite LB class. They picked up a verbal from Doug Randolph (a one-time Stanford commitment) and recently lost OLB Danny Mattingly. Mattingly reportedly wanted to play TE at the college level and was looking into other options.
CB - 3
The staff appears to be done at corner with the commitment of Luke after the victory at Oklahoma. Kinlaw missed the first part of his season due to a broken leg, but came back strong in the latter part of the season and some of the experts like to describe him as a "man child." All three fit the bill to play corner in Bob Diaco's defense.
S - 0-1
Notre Dame has been pursuing Max Redfield for some time, and after an official visit to South Bend he did decommit from USC. He recently stated that he is 50/50 between the Irish and Trojans, and he appears to be the one real option for a safety in this class.
ST - 0
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. It now appears that the staff is content on skipping a special teamer in 2013 and focus on getting a kicker in 2014.
Wrapping It All Up
Based on the projected number of scholarships (24), the staff has one clear priority left-defensive line. They need at least one more, but could take two. Any other available scholarships should be used on the best player available, but preferably on the defensive side of the ball.
QB - 1 (done)
RB - 2 (probably some movement)
WR - 4 (done)
TE - 1 (done?)
OL - 5 (done)
DL - 3-4
LB - 4 (done)
CB - 3 (done)
S - 0-1
ST - 0