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Notre Dame Football 2014 Recruiting – Quarterback, Wide Receiver and Tight End Review

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Coach Brian Kelly and his staff brought in five talented offensive skill position prospects for 2014.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


Welcome to the second of what will be a six part, in-depth series on the 2014 Notre Dame football recruiting class. Following signing day, we unveiled the OFD average grades for the newest members of the Fighting Irish family.

The second installment will focus on the offensive skill positions: QB DeShone Kizer, WR Justin Brent, WR Corey Holmes, TE Nic Weishar and TE Tyler Luatua.

For reference, here is the previous positional piece:

Offensive Line

The transcript from Coach Brian Kelly's press conference on national signing day can be found here.


Irish Offense Signees
Score Player City/State Ht/Wt. Position 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.907 DeShone Kizer Toledo, OH 6-5/207 Quarterback
.953 Justin Brent Speedway, IN 6-3/190 Wideout
.923 Corey Holmes Ft. Lauderdale, FL 6-2/175 Wideout
.903 Nic Weishar Chicago, IL 6-5/223 Tight End
.894 Tyler Luatua La Mirada, CA 6-4/230 Tight End

Official OFD Recruit Grading Scale:

95-100: Elite impact freshman with All-American potential

90-94: Multi-year starter with All-conference potential

85-89: Eventual starter with chance to play as underclassman

80-84: Raw prospect with decent potential but a couple years away from impact

75-79: Likely a backup

70-74: Reach by the coaching staff

Note: All Height/Weight/40 times as listed on


QB DeShone Kizer

(Toledo, OH - Central Catholic) - 6'5"/207

OFD Average: 85

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

DeShone Kizer out of Central Catholic High School in Toledo. I was talking about DeShone earlier on one of the shows, and there's so many things to love about DeShone. He's 6'5". I love that. He's 212 pounds. I love that. So you can see you've got a tall, athletic quarterback who's got good size. He's going to be able to do the multidimensional things that we love. Now we've got three quarterbacks on campus that all do the same things. You don't have to adjust your offense. All three of the quarterbacks, we finally -- all do the same things.

But the one thing that I loved about him, and it's similar to the other two guys that we have: This kid loves to have the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. Now we have similar quarterbacks in terms of run-pass threats. Different sizes, right, but they all love the opportunity to have the ball in their hands, and I love that competitiveness of DeShone Kizer. He led his team the last couple years, came up a little short, but extremely competitive and confident, confident, confident kid. That's what you've got to be. That's what I told all these guys. If you come to Notre Dame as the quarterback, you'd better be really confident in your ability because they are going to knock you down five pegs every day, so you'd better be above that.

We put them through a pretty strong vetting process before they even say I'm interested in Notre Dame because they've got to get through me first, which is not easy, and then they've got to deal with all you folks, and then they've got to deal with everything else that comes with the position. If you make it through that, Notre Dame is the place for you, and he's a great young man, great kid, then it's a great fit. It's exciting to have him with us. So he'll be here as one of our three scholarship quarterbacks.

Eric: 83

I'm heartened by his senior stats because I think they show that Kizer is a smart quarterback and a lot better than his senior film might indicate. I really like his touch and like many freshman quarterbacks I'm interested to see how accurate he is at the next level. I'm not real crazy about his footwork, though. Unless he gets rid of the ball quickly he seems to be flat-footed quite often, but he's able to use his athleticism to get out of trouble when a pass rusher gets near him. His arm strength is decent and should get better with a quicker and more powerful delivery. I love his combination of size and athleticism and I think it's where he offers a ton of potential. I'm not sure he's got the pedigree to be an elite passer but with his height and running ability Kizer could be a big weapon in college. It's as a runner where I think he'll have to be a difference maker in order to compete with the upcoming stocked depth chart.

alstein: 90

Looks the part at 6'4", throws a great deep ball, and frequently used legs as a weapon in high school. Needs some mechanical and accuracy work with new coach Matt LaFleur, but has a sky-high ceiling.

pburns2010: 83

Very solid dual-threat QB, but his mechanics and accuracy will leave something to be desired. If he is able to hone his mechanics and leverage his athleticism, I can see him competing for the backup role and being the next in line to EG.

4pointshooter: 86

Jim Miesle: 84

To me, Kizer is the most intriguing prospect on the offensive side of the ball. He really hasn't focused on football in his career, playing multiple sports throughout high school. He is still pretty raw in terms of skills, but was still an Elite 11 finalist. His development will be a very good assessment of new QB Coach Matt LaFleur's abilities to help Irish QBs develop into productive players.


WR Justin Brent

(Speedway, IN - Speedway) - 6'3"/190

OFD Average: 93

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

One of the guys that's here as an early enrollee in Justin Brent. Justin Brent, when I got a chance to see him work out this morning, the first thing that stood out to me is that he does not look like a freshman. He had his shirt off this morning and he was running around, and he looks like a senior. He is a physically gifted young man. You can see a lot of the accolades that are out there with him in terms of where he was ranked.

But what we were looking for specifically, and there were some really good players at this position, we were looking for a physical player at this position, somebody that could impose their physicality, could run after the catch. His ability to run after the catch was very impressive for us and had, for us, some of the things, the traits that we were looking for at that particular time and that position. Really pleased about having Justin Brent as an early enrollee, so he'll get a chance to play in the spring for us, as well.

Eric: 93

What's not to like? First off I love Brent's physical development. He already looks a rock solid 220 and if he's legitimately close to 6'3" he's bringing about as good of a size profile as you're going to find out of high school. I'm not sure he has amazing top end speed and that's probably what is keeping him from being a bona fide 5-star prospect. He's quick off the line and has good foot speed and change of direction, though. Since he switched to running back as a senior in high school I know he's got toughness. Just an all-around high quality and very polished receiver. He high points the ball, has good hands, and doesn't waste time getting up-field. Brent's future is super bright.

alstein: 93

Legitimate gamebreaker potential and might be the best WR recruit brought in under Kelly. Apparently not as tall as listed, and played terrible competition in high school, but he should be a major contributor early.

pburns2010: 93

Great raw talent, and looks to be physically ready to contribute. I think he will be a TJ Jones-type talent, who constantly surprises us with just how effective he is, despite not having freak athletic ability.

4pointshooter: 93

Jim Miesle: 92

It would appear that I was the only one not willing to give Brent a 93 grade-shame on me. Really though, there is nothing fans shouldn't like about what Brent brings to the table-size, good speed, physical, great hands. He really is the whole package for a college receiver. I expect him to see the field as a freshman.

Plenty of people were scratching their heads a few summers ago when Notre Dame took his verbal commitment as an unheralded 3 star, but shot up the rankings thanks in large to a great performance at The Opening last summer. Playing in a low tier division in Indiana probably hurt his rankings early, so a big hats off to the staff for identifying his talent and recruiting him early.


WR Corey Holmes

(Ft. Lauderdale, FL - St. Thomas Aquinas)

OFD Average: 88

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Corey Holmes out of Pembroke Pines, St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the premier programs in the country, not just Florida. Really a precise route runner. Really like his game. He is a mature player. Very mature in the way he handles himself in the classroom. Off the field, really like everything about Corey Holmes. I can't tell you anything I don't like about this young man. His family is just a great fit for Notre Dame. Very mature kid, one that's wanting to take on all the challenges of Notre Dame.

He reminded me a lot, and I don't like to make the comparisons, but he has a lot of the same feelings in terms of where TJ Jones developed, but he's 6'2". This kid is longer. He's a bigger kid than TJ. But he's got a lot of those mannerisms and characteristics. This is a great fit for us from that high school. He's played great competition, and he's a great fit for our program. We're really pleased to have Corey Holmes in our program.

Eric: 85

Holmes looks like a lanky possession receiver to me. He doesn't look like someone who is going to come in and battle for playing time right away but I thought that about a couple freshmen last year too and was proven wrong. He's a smooth runner. Almost seems to glide across the field with his long legs. I like the way he works in traffic but he'll have to improve his speed and quickness if he's going to excel in the screen game like he did in high school. I'm not sure what his potential is and I'd like to see him put on some weight. He looks awfully thin for someone 6'3" and after re-shaping his body I think we might see a completely different player a year or two down the road. Holmes is a nice compliment to Brent in this class.

alstein: 89

Tall, fluid athlete with outstanding hands. Inconsistent production in a run-centric high school offense and lacks breakaway speed, but a taller replacement for TJ Jones.

pburns2010: 87

Holmes has great hands, and good size for a receiver. He will need to work on his route running, as well as put some muscle onto his frame before he will see the field at ND. I expect a redshirt, but an immediate impact when he hits the field in 2015.

4pointshooter: 89

Jim Miesle: 90

Holmes had a pretty quiet recruitment, which is pretty crazy considering he had around 30 offers. The thing that will likely keep him off the field as a freshman is his bulk (and depth at receiver)-he needs to add 20-30 lbs before getting consistent reps on the offense. The comparisons to TJ Jones are understandable, as he has a fluid look to his game at times. He has all the tools to be a very good receiver for the Irish.


TE Nic Weishar

(Midlothian, IL - Marist) - 6'5"/215

OFD Average: 91

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Nic Weishar out of Midlothian and Marist High School. We could argue about this all day. He's the finest pass catching tight end that we saw. You could argue about who it is, but we think he is. We love his ball skills, we love his ability to use his body to control defenders, has a knack of catching the football in the air and taking it away from people. He's a guy that will have a great career here at Notre Dame. He'll be that -- he's got that model and size that we've had here at Notre Dame.

He's not where Luatua is in terms of size right now. He's going to have to get stronger. He's 215 pounds. But he will. But he is a terrific pass catcher, and he's going to be another one in the line of very, very good tight ends here at Notre Dame.

Eric: 88

As a receiving tight end he looks to have great ball skills. He makes a lot of catches by simply being bigger than everyone else in high school but it's great to see a tall kid with that much hand-eye coordination. I like his speed but I'm not blown away by it. He might be sneaky fast with a long stride, though. That's something to keep in mind. His frame seems perfect for what Notre Dame is looking for out of a tight end: tall but still skinny with plenty of room to add muscle. We'll see how his strength holds up early in his career. That'll be his biggest knock but that's not any different than 99% of high school tight ends. He has the look of someone who is going to be a factor on the field in his second year.

alstein: 95

Potentially dominant force in the passing game, the next in the Rudolph-Eifert-Koyack(?) line of detachable tight ends at Notre Dame.

pburns2010: 92

Extremely fluid athlete who will fill the move TE role for the Irish. His playing time will hinge on how well he can block, as he has the receiving skills necessary to make an impact.

4pointshooter: 90

Jim Miesle: 91

Consensus among the OFD staff appears to be that Weishar has some work to do before seeing the field, but should be a great fit at the flex TE spot. He is a great natural pass catcher but his development as a blocker will dictate his ceiling. I really like the potential here and as alstein pointed out, he fits right in line with previous stars at Tight End U.


TE Tyler Luatua

(La Mirada, CA - La Mirada) - 6'4"/230

OFD Average: 88

Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:

Tyler Luatua out of Paramount, California, La Mirada High School. Tyler, one of the things that stood out to me on his visit is that people said, well, he didn't talk enough. He wasn't engaging enough. I didn't hear enough from him. I said, well, you just don't know him well enough because when you get to know Tyler Luatua, he's just like Justin Utupo; you can't shut him up. So it was clear to me that we just needed to spend a little bit more time with him, and Mike Denbrock did a great job recruiting him, said, listen, just spend more time with him. We got him on the phone, he spent more time with people on campus, and he blew them all away. He's just got that kind of personality. We really love his personality and who he is.

As a tight end he's a pass catching tight end. No, he's not the 6'5", 6'6" tight ends that we've had, but he is a really good tight end. He can catch the football. He can block for us. He's going to be able to do all the jobs that we have at the tight end position for us.

And again, we think we got one of the best tight ends in the country in Tyler Luatua.

Eric: 87

Luatua is a curious case. Some of his film you can see why he was a top tight end nationally at one point. He's aggressive, has a physical edge, and shows quick feet and good speed for his size. Other times, he's not really doing much to stand out. I do think there's a bunch of potential that can be harnessed by the Irish coaches. Luatua looks a little bigger than Weishar and is pretty fluid. He doesn't look like quite the playmaker in terms of ball skills but his open field speed is pretty solid and looks to have an extra gear that Weishar may not. I hope he's dialed in from day one because Luatua could be a very productive traditional tight end for Notre Dame.

alstein: 87

Seems to be a perfect H-back, making an ideal complement to Weishar. Willing and aggressive blocker and fluid catching the ball and turning upfield over the middle and in the flat. Lingering knee problems are a worry.

pburns2010: 90

I expect Luatua to play earlier than fellow TE commit Nic Weishar, if only because he appears to fit the mold of the in-line TE. His blocking ability will give him a chance to get on the field, but his receiving ability will have to keep him there.

4pointshooter: 88

Jim Miesle: 90

It looks like pburns2010 and I have some very similar thoughts here. I wouldn't be surprised to see Luatua get some playing time this fall, as he is the full package at TE and physically ready. He is more athletic than what you typically see from a guy his size. I will be intrigued to see how they use him on the offense, as I can see him lining up all over the field.