It’s getting down to crunch time to sign up the Notre Dame recruiting class of 2011. After what appeared to be a mass exodus of young talent in November, the Irish are finishing the recruiting cycle on a note higher than anyone could have expected.
If star-ratings and high school highlight reels hold any truth, which is a big if, the Irish should have the best defensive line in the country three years from now. Anchoring the center of that line will be the 6-foot-5 320 pound Louis Nix. Nix spent the past year saving eligibility on the sidelines while the coaching staff tried to determine just how much meat they want on his bones. Kelly said during the bowl prep practices that when the younger guys were given a chance to show off in a December scrimmage, Nix stood out amongst his peers. He will likely compete with Sean Cwynar for the starting spot next year and certainly has a bright future ahead of him.
That future will only get brighter with the unbelievable list of young defensive ends expecting to land in South Bend in the next few weeks. Ishaq Williams is the third best weak-side defensive end in the county according to 247Sports.com. Williams, who had narrowed his choices to Notre Dame, Syracuse and Penn State, was supposed to take a trip to visit JoePa in Happy Valley this weekend. However, Irish Illustrated reported this morning that Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco stopped by the Williams’ house in the Bronx at 4:30 this morning and got Ishaq’s pledge to the Irish.
On the strong side of the ball, Notre Dame has seemingly locked up two of the country’s top four prospects for their third down lineman. Georgia native Stephon Tuitt has been consistently Irish since the Fall, but recently took an official visit to nearby Georgia Tech. After coming back from Atlanta, Tuitt and his mother let it be known that he still planned on coming to South Bend.
The crown jewel of that defensive line of the future may very well be Florida’s Aaron Lynch. Lynch is the No. 29 overall player coming out of high school this year according to 247Sports and after a flip-flopping session that puts John Kerry to shame, Lynch appears to be back in the hands of Our Lady. The 6-foot-6, 250 pound monster decommited from Notre Dame during the dark ages on Navy and Tulsa, but made a last second decision to ditch Florida State and return to Brian Kelly’s team. Lynch is going to be on campus this weekend on an official visit but that seems more like the formal ribbon cutting than anything else.
Lynch and his mother have consistently said wherever he lands he will be enrolling during the spring semester. Classes at Notre Dame start this Tuesday and Lynch will have seven class days after that to officially enroll at the University. His window to return to Florida State has officially closed at least for this semester because the Seminole students started class on Jan. 4. Anyone who saw Lynch’s dominating performance during the Army All-American game last week has to be excited about the prospect of him wearing Blue and Gold.
The official nod from Williams this morning brings Notre Dame’s list to 21 players for 2011. With several key fifth-year players eating up scholarships, Notre Dame only has room to make a few more moves. Here’s a few other players on Notre Dame’s radar:
Amir Carlisle (RB – Cal.) – Carlisle will speak with coaches from USC and Notre Dame today before making his final decision on a school tomorrow.
Savon Huggins (RB- N.J.) – Huggins is a 4-star back with speed. He is set to announce his decision on Jan. 28 and will likely choose Rutgers or North Carolina if not the Irish.
Chase Hounshell (OT- Ohio) – The three-star tackle is currently committed to Florida but visited South Bend on Dec. 10 and is scheduled to return on Jan. 22. He could be changing camps on Naitonal Signing Day
Troy Niklas (OL/DL – Cal.) – At 6-foot-7, Niklas has a lot of frame to grow in to. He has narrowed the choices down to ND, USC and Stanford. He will make an official visit to Notre Dame on Jan. 28 — always good to get the last word in.