You all are familiar with our eligibility chart so I will get right to it. Players in Blue are expected to be jockeying for position in the two deep heading into spring football. Players in Red were injured in some capacity heading into the off-season. We will update them as appropriate once spring football gets going later this month.
As you know we treat this as a living document and will continue to update it throughout the year. If you have any questions about that or anything else don't hesitate to bring them up in the comments.
Before we dive into the 2014 recruiting cycle numbers I want to point out that with the loss of Kiel and Nichols Notre Dame is heading into spring football with a total of 83 players on scholarship. That obviously leaves the staff 2 additional scholarships that can be utilized for the 2013 season.
I had not included Nick Tausch in our original forecast for 5th year players but if the staff would like to keep him for depth a scholarship is now available. Other potential candidates for those two schollies include any of the new preferred walk-on specialists or Notre Dame basketball player Joey Brooks.
Now back to the 2014 recruiting cycle.
The current math is below.
10 Seniors that will be eligible to apply for a 5th year
4 Verbal Commitments
There are 13 Total scholarships available for new recruits if all 10 of the 5th year options are utilized. Of those 13 scholarships 4 have already been claimed by verbal commitments which leaves 9 available.
In addition there are a maximum of 10 additional spots available as a 1 for 1 replacement for 5th year options.
I expect that the staff will only utilize 3-4 of those 5th year options which will put the total number in the 2014 signing class at 19 or 20. Any further attrition will obviously free up additional scholarships for this cycle. For the time being we expect 20 to be the magic number for the signing class of 14'.
Now let's take a quick look the 10 players with a 5th year option. Several things will factor into whether or not each of these guys individually get an opportunity to stick around for the 2014 season but for the time being my brief thoughts are below.
Louis Nix III- Big Lou will graduate and enter the NFL draft.
Christian Lombard- With Nix going to the draft I have to think that Lombard will be priority #1 to keep for a 5th year. That is assuming of course that he doesn't play himself into the draft.
Kendall Moore- The roster is thin at inside linebacker. Even if the staff signs a couple of high quality recruits in this cycle I think it would make sense to keep Moore for a 5th.
Justin Utopo- This one most likely depends on whether or not he finds a place to contribute this fall.
Austin Collinsworth- I think Collinsworth is a likely 5th year candidate. He's a solid safety and a great special teams contributor. He just falls into that "good guy to have around" category.
Lo Wood- Suddenly we have a lot of young depth in the secondary but I still think Wood will also be a likely candidate to return for a 5th year.
Andrew Hendrix- With Kiel leaving signing a quarterback in the 2014 class is now critical. Would it make sense to keep a guy like Hendrix around for depth? We could argue that but I have to think that Hendrix will opt to go start med school instead.
Alex Welch- Welch's health could come into play but he also might be largely contingent on how quickly Heuerman and Smythe come along this fall.
Bruce Heggie- I expect that Heggie will be moving on.
Luke Massa- See Heggie.
What do you all think?
Later this week Miesle will take a look at the numbers in terms of priorities by position.