If you're the type of Notre Dame football fan that follows recruiting closely, you've known for months that offensive lineman Tristen Hoge, defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, defensive lineman Micah Dew-Treadway, and linebacker Tevon Coney were planning on enrolling early and starting classes in January in South Bend.
If you follow Notre Dame recruiting really closely, you probably were sweating out whether Tillery or Coney were actually going to follow through and end up coming. Fortunately, that's no longer a worry for anyone as it's now official that all four of these recruits are no longer Notre Dame recruits anymore. They are Notre Dame football players after showing up to campus and signing scholarship agreements.
Likes most recruits that end up signing with the Irish, all four of these players have plenty of accolades from their prep careers and all of them participated in All-American games. If they are headed to Notre Dame, chances are they are pretty talented individuals.
I'm not going to bore you with their high school stats though because I'm also pretty sure that most of you know those stats don't mean much now that they have graduated to the next level of football. Instead, I'm going to break down what each of them bring to the table in regards to their football future and what enrolling early could mean for them going into this season and beyond.
Offensive lineman - Tristen Hoge
Who did ND beat out to land him? Florida, but that was a long time ago earlier in the recruiting process. Hoge has been committed for quite awhile.
What position is he likely to play during his career? Hoge is an interior offensive lineman who plays center for his high school team. He's going to stay at center, but could possibly play guard during his career as well.
Is enrolling early going to help him get on the field this fall? Probably not. Hoge is not going to beat out any of three returning starters coming back for the Irish this spring/fall and he would be in tough to break the two deep with so many other former highly ranked recruits in the mix to play as well.
Him being in South Bend early should help in a lot of ways though with the two biggest things being him adjusting to the level of play and having added time in Paul Longo's strength and conditioning program. He was an absolutely dominant player for Highland High in Pocatello, Idaho, but you could tell that him participating at events like The Opening and the US Army All American Bowl were gigantic leaps for him in terms of the athlete he was facing. He's someone who got better and better with the experience he gained from it and I expect he'll do the same having to battle against players like Sheldon Day, Daniel Cage, and Jay Hayes all spring.
He'll take his lumps in practice now, but as he gains more of that grown man strength, he should be a very good player for the Irish in the future. Similar to former Irish great Jeff Faine, he's a center that plays mean. It will be exciting to watch him develop over the next few seasons.
Defensive lineman - Jerry Tillery
Who did ND beat out to land him? LSU seemed like a threat to steal him the entire time he was committed, but Tillery always said he would end up at Notre Dame and he was true to his word.
What position is he likely to play during his career? I know he's listed as a defensive lineman, but I still believe Tillery's long term future is at offensive tackle. He is likely to start out as a one technique in Brian Van Gorder's scheme, the same position that Jarron Jones currently plays and that's where he is likely going to get reps during spring ball.
Is enrolling early going to help him get on the field this fall? Simply based on the numbers at the position he is coming in at, I'm going to say it's not likely going to help him get on the field this season. He will get plenty of extra reps in the spring with Jones still likely recovering from surgery that ended his 2014 season, but he's going to have to compete against so many other interior defensive lineman returning that it's going to be extremely tough for him to win a job in the defensive tackle rotation when Jones comes back healthy for the season.
Him being here for the spring is great thing for Notre Dame though. The Irish coaching staff can get a glimpse of how he is at defensive tackle and will be able to assess whether they think he has a future at the position or not. Most importantly, Tillery is going to be getting stronger and is going to be able to add good weight over the next few months. He looks almost slim for a player who weighs over 300 pounds and it's going to be scary when he actually fills out his frame during his time in college.
Defensive lineman - Micah Dew-Treadway
Who did ND beat out to land him? When Dew-Treadway committed, the Irish were definitely his biggest offer. The next biggest schools to offer him were Mississippi State, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.
What position is he likely to play during his career? I imagine that Dew-Treadway may start out working with the defensive ends, but he is likely going to outgrow that position if he hasn't already. I see him inside as a three technique with very good potential as an interior pass rusher.
Is enrolling early going to help him get on the field this fall? I hate to say this again, but I don't see Dew-Treadway playing much this fall because of the numbers in front of him unless he flashes as an interior pass rusher that can play in sub-packages. Even then, he has to beat out players like Jay Hayes and Jonathan Bonner to do that.
Considering the injuries and suspensions Notre Dame had to deal with this past season, it may not be far-fetched to see him see some time in that scenario. If that doesn't happen though, I think he has too much development he needs to go through physically in terms of his strength. He's got a big body with ideal length for a defensive lineman. Him getting the chance to fill out a little earlier is only to help his career, just maybe not this season.
Linebacker - Tevon Coney
Who did ND beat out to land him? If Florida didn't fall apart this season, then Coney was likely going to be a Gator.
What position is he likely to play during his career? Coney is a true inside linebacker that I could see play the Mike or the Will in Brian Van Gorder's defense.
Is enrolling early going to help him get on the field his fall? Finally, I get to answer yes to this question. It's going to help Coney out a lot. Everyone saw the good and bad with freshman linebacker Nyles Morgan when Joe Schmidt went out for the season. Most of the bad had to do with Morgan making mental errors because he did not know what the heck he was doing most of the time. If Morgan had enrolled early, it could have made a significant difference for him and for Notre Dame's defense.
If Coney is able to pick up the defense during the spring and summer, then he should have a chance to compete in the fall to at least be in the two deep. And if he shows enough, he may even be good enough to compete for the Will linebacker job if the coaching staff is thinking about moving Jaylon Smith out to Sam.
Coney performed very well at the Under Armour All America game practices and is a very good blitzer with outstanding recognition skills. He has the potential to develop into a very good starter for the Irish.