very awfully extremely successful Junior Day last weekend, I figured it was time to update our loyal readers on recruiting target numbers at each position. Bear in mind that this operates 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.
For reference, Whiskey just updated the scholarship numbers this week. Based on our collective wisdom, it appears that this class will probably end up at 20 players.
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.
Here is the initial look at 2013 numbers that I published post-NSD. That seems like such a long time ago now, right?
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, 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 a (somewhat surprising) verbal from one of the top QBs on their board. Irish fans should be pretty pumped up about Zaire-he is a special talent.
RB - 1
The staff has reportedly told several RB prospects that they are only taking one this cycle. While I think they stick to that, I wouldn't completely rule out two at the position-one would just be considered more of a slot receiver first.
Ryan Green (St Petersburg, FL) is listed as the #1 RB on the board right now and has the Irish at the top of his list following his second visit to campus last weekend. He could commit at any point over the next few weeks and has said that once he does, he is done with the recruiting process. Notre Dame is still in good shape with Ty Isaac and Ezekiel Elliott, both of whom could be considered at the WR/Slot position.
WR - 2-3
There are over 20 offers to WRs alone in this class, which makes me wonder if the staff is looking at a few of them as DBs or potentially even TEs. The top name on the board right now is probably Laquon Treadwell, who will be attending the Blue-Gold Game in April. Keeon Johnson visited earlier in the month and is very much in play. The staff is working hard to get some of the other top receivers on campus (including Ahmad Fulwood and Robert Foster.)
TE - 1
After missing on the consensus #1 TE in the class (Adam Breneman), the staff has turned its focus to Mike Heuerman, who will be visiting over the weekend. Heuerman has the Irish high on his list, but with a brother that plays at Ohio State, a connection to the Michigan staff and all the in-state Florida schools after him, he will be a tough get.
If the Irish miss on the remaining targets on board (which is possible), look for current commit Jacob Matuska to move to the TE position.
OL - 4
The staff appears to be done here, but still has several offers out to prospective offensive linemen. I don't think that they would take five (that would be a bit ridiculous), but there is the potential for one or two of the current commits could also move to the defensive side of the ball. A few of the names still out there include Dorian Johnson (cousin of assistant coach Scott Booker), Ethan Pocic (a longshot), and a pair of OL/DL combo players in Donovan Munger and Darius Latham.
DL - 3
Commit: Jacob Matuska (DE)
I firmly believe that the staff will take a DT/NG and two DEs in this class. They potentially have one DE on board (Matuska, who may end up at TE). The aforementioned Donovan Munger (who was at Junior Day) really projects as a defensive tackle in college while Latham has said that he wants to play DE at the next level. Dajaun Drennon also came to South Bend for Junior day, but may be a better fit as an OLB in the 3-4 scheme. The staff would love to get DT Henry Poggi on campus as well as DEs Isaac Rochelle, Tashawn Bower, and Jordan Sherit.
LB - 3-4
The staff really needs to land two top ILBs and probably a pair of OLBs in 2013. At ILB, the staff just hosted Alex Anzalone and Justin Mastrogiovanni for Junior Day. Both were impressed (a common theme) and ND could be in great shape with Anzalone. A few other names of players they need to get on campus at ILB are Chans Cox and Ben Boulware.
Outside LB features a player who is likely the #1 overall target for the staff in Jaylon Smith. He has been on campus several times (including the mini Junior Day in early March) and is set to return for the Blue-Gold Game. The Irish are thought to be leaders right now. A few other names to keep in mind are the previously discussed Drennon and current Stanford commitment Doug Randolph.
CB - 3
Commit: Rashad Kinlaw
With the departure of Tee Shepard, the cornerback position became a huge priority for this class. There are about a dozen offers out to true CBs, but there are another dozen or so out to ATH on top of all the WR offers. Top prospects on the board appear to be Tre Bell (another Junior Day visitor), Kendall Fuller (a long shot), Cole Luke, Devin Butler and Mackensie Alexander. One other note is that Ezekiel Elliott was told that he was 50/50 between RB/Slot and CB by the staff-he didn't seem to have a preference.
S - 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. Su'a Cravens is probably the top name on the list, but will probably stay in California for school. A few other names to keep an eye on include Priest Willis, Hatari Byrd, Leon McQuay III and L.J. Moore.
ST - 1
I think the staff will have to look at taking a punter to replace Ben Turk. Ideally, they could sign a combo punter/place kicker (similar to Kyle Brindza) to save on the overall scholarship numbers. There aren't any offers out yet, and I don't expect any until the summer camp circuit.
Wrapping It All Up
QB - 1 (done)
RB - 1
WR - 2-3
TE - 1
OL - 4 (done)
DL - 3
LB - 3-4
CB - 3
S - 1
ST - 1
*** I will keep the overall numbers flexible for now, but maintain that the staff is looking at 20-21 players.