Breaking Down Notre Dame's 2014 Recruiting Class
Beginning in the trenches on the offensive side of the ball, this year's offensive line haul is the backbone of the class. Although not the deepest position, the Irish landed four skilled linemen with Quenton Nelson being the jewel of the entire class. Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars and Jimmy Byrne round out the group and all have the capabilities to come in and compete early.
This is the second consecutive year in which Notre Dame has been able to add quality depth on the offensive line. Coincidentally, OL coach Harry Hiestand is going into his second year and his presence is paying dividends on the recruiting trail.
Moving behind the O-line, the Irish signed only one quarterback prospect in Deshone Kizer. With the departure of Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix, Kizer will provide some much needed depth behind the expected Everett Golson/Malik Zaire combination.
With a lack of proven playmakers on offense, head coach Brian Kelly probably would've liked to have landed some difference-makers at receiver. Nic Weishar and Tyler Luatua add some numbers at the tight end position after the departures of Troy Niklas and Alex Welch. Wide receiver Justin Brent seems to be the most potent weapon in the class and, after enrolling early, will have the chance to see the field as a true freshman. He will be joined by fellow receiver Corey Holmes, who also has a skill set necessary to possibly see some early playing time.
The quantity of this class comes in the form of the front seven on defense. The Irish added seven defensive linemen to a line that will have a lot of question marks heading into 2014 after Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt opted for the NFL early. Tackle Jay Hayes stands out as the best talent but the additions of Jhonathon Williams, Andrew Trumbetti, Grant Blankenship, Jonathan Bonner, Pete Mokwuah and Daniel Cage create a depth on the D-line that the Irish have been needing.
As with the defensive line, there is one linebacker in the group that really stands out: Nyles Morgan, who should be able to compete early on the inside. The coaching staff also added great depth with Drue Tranquill, Greer Martini, Kolin Hill and Nile Sykes. With the addition of 12 quality front seven players, Notre Dame has a lot of pieces to build a quality foundation for the defenses of the future.
If there is one area of this class that is underwhelming then it has to be the secondary. The Irish only signed one true secondary prospect in corner Nick Watkins. Although Watkins is a talented prospect and will give the secondary a boost, the numbers aren't as deep here, especially with the losses of Bennet Jackson and Lo Wood.
At the end of the day, Kelly has shown an incredible ability to develop talent and get the most out of his players. Although this class does not really have any highly-rated, eye-popping playmakers that fans love to drool over, it does have a combination of quality and quantity that should allow Notre Dame to at least be a competitor this coming fall.