Posted: 7:00 a.m. Friday, June 14, 2013
By Jim Miesle
Early last week, Eric broke down all the offers to uncommitted 2014 prospects with the June Big Board.
Taking into account Whiskey's latest positional number crunching, it appears that there are 58 scholarships accounted for 2014, with the remaining 27 to be split between 5th year seniors and incoming freshman. Outside of Christian Lombard, I don't think there are any locks for a 5th year, but Austin Collinsworth and Kendall Moore are likely at the top of the list due to depth and contribution.
This has also been an offseason for the ages, which includes (to-date) the transfer of a former 5-star QB (Kiel), the suspension of the starting QB (Golson), and the defection of a top DL recruit (Vanderdoes). Things are always interesting when Notre Dame is the topic of discussion, right?
Based on those numbers, I think the 2014 class ends up at the magic number of 22. There is always some wiggle room in that number with injuries, transfers and potential departures for the NFL.
In order to arrive at the numbers needed at each position, let's first review how many I think the staff needs at each position and who is already accounted for.
Tackle (4): Lombard, Stanley, Elmer, McGlinchey
Guard (4): Hanratty, Montelus, Bivin, McGovern
Center (3): Hegarty, Harrell, N. Martin
Coach Brian Kelly already stated that Power was the focus for the 2014 class, and the offensive line numbers certainly support that. Bivin can probably play anywhere, so positional numbers are a bit flexible. Overall, they are right on target for total offensive linemen.
I originally said that I felt the staff would take at least two tackles and four overall-exactly where they are currently. There still appears to be room for one more elite prospect and there really are only two guys left who fit that bill: Jamarco Jones (IL) and Braden Smith (KS). Jones appears to be a heavy Ohio State lean with Michigan, Michigan State and ND still in the picture. Smith will likely wait until he takes all of his visits, but ND looks to be in great shape.
Quarterback (2): Golson, Zaire
Commits (1): Kizer
Running Back (6): McDaniel, G. Atkinson, Carlisle, Mahone, Bryant, Folston
Commits (1): Hood
Tight End (4): Koyack, Niklas, Heuerman, Smythe
Commits (1): Weishar
Wide Receiver (7): Daniels, Brown, Prosise, Onwualu, Robinson, Hunter, Fuller
Commits (1): Brent
With the commitment of Kizer earlier this week, the staff finally landed their QB for 2014. Some have speculated that they could take two, but it is more likely that fans see a 5th year for Hendrix (if he wants it) or possibly Massa (assuming he moves back to QB). I find it very unlikely that they would want to enter a season with just 3 scholarship QBs on the roster (and one being a freshman).
At running back, it also appears that the staff is done after taking Hood. If the depth chart changes at any point this fall, they would likely add another back. Joe Mixon (CA) or Donte Thomas-Williams (NC) would be two guys the staff could look at in the event they needed to add another back.
Based on planned attrition due to graduation, it would appear that the magic number on wide receivers and tight ends combined for this cycle is four. The staff already has one of each position, and Tyler Luatua (CA) is likely the only TE left that the staff would take. Top receiver targets are Josh Malone (TN), Alan Lazard (IA - current Iowa State commit), and Mark Andrews (AZ).
Defensive End (6): Tuitt, Hounshell, Day, Jones, Rochelle, Matuska
Nose Guard (1): Springmann
Some of the players listed at particular positions could potentially rotate to other spots, so I will focus on overall numbers. There are 7 accounted for plus two commitments, with the potential that Stephon Tuitt decides to leave early for the NFL. The staff will likely take 4 total, so with three players to go the will focus on one true NG (a.k.a. War Daddy) and the remainder as DEs. As stated previously, power has been the focus and will continue to be until the defensive line quota is met.
Top targets here appear to be Malik McDowell (DE -- MI), Khairi Clark (NG - FL), Josh Frazier (NG - AR), Matt Nelson (DE - IA), Thomas Holley (DE - NY), and Matt Elam (NG/DE - KY). The staff has a fair amount of work cut out for them here, as all the prospects listed are thought to be leaning towards other programs currently. Another potential prospect for a NG is Damien Mama (CA), who most programs are recruiting as an offensive lineman. Solomon Thomas (TX) is one other name to watch. He comes from the same high school as Cam McDaniel and is very similar to a Kapron Lewis-Moore type DE.
Inside LB (3): Grace, Rabasa, Deeb
Commitment (1): Martini
Outside LB (5): Williams, Councell, Okwara, Smith, Randolph
Clearly, there are depth issues at inside linebacker. This will likely result in Kendall Moore earning a 5th year and Doug Randolph seeing practice reps inside this fall. The staff already has one verbal commitment and will look to add one Cat LB, with the top target there being Andrew Williams (GA), former teammate of signee Isaac Rochelle and Lorenzo Carter (GA). Other top linebacker targets include Nyles Morgan (IL), Reakwon McMillan (GA) and Kevin Mouhon (GA). Mouhon is a teammate of Carter and recently received an offer. They were scheduled to visit this week, but have postponed until July.
The staff will likely continue to work on other prospects currently committed to other schools. They were making some headway with Dante Booker (Ohio State commit, but they are looking at other LBs), and reportedly stay in contact with Deon Drake (Michigan State commit).
Cornerbacks (6): Brown, J. Atkinson, Russell, Luke, Butler, Kinlaw
Safeties (6): Hardy, Farley, Badger, Baratti, Shumate, Redfield
Defensive Backs (1): Turner
First, I put Turner at DB because I think he can play either position. It is actually amazing to see how well the staff has addressed depth issues at DB over the past two classes. There will likely be some movement here with players changing positions, but it looks like the staff should only take two DBs in this class. Top targets include Nick Watkins (TX), Adoree' Jackson (CA), Jalen Tabor (DC) and Juju Smith (CA).
Special Teams (5 - 2 K, 2 P,1 LS):
Kicker (1): Brindza
Long Snapper (1): Daly
It appears that the staff is taking a slightly different approach on special teams. They are bringing in former Wake Forest P Alex Wulfeck for 2013 in addition to two freshman preferred walk-on kickers. I think the staff will still likely look at scholarship kicker options during this recruiting cycle. One offer went out to JK Scott (CO), who was also offered by Alabama and promptly committed to the Crimson Tide.
As a recap, here are the numbers needed at each position for the 2014 recruiting class:
Offensive Line: 4
Running Back: 1
Tight End: 1
Wide Receiver: 3
Defensive End: 3
Nose Guard: 1
Inside Linebacker: 2-3
Outside Linebacker: 2