What do you do when you lose standout defensive players on the line, at linebacker and at safety? You address those areas through recruiting and that’s exactly what Notre Dame is doing this recruiting season.
Brian Kelly must fill large voids left by defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, middle linebacker Manti Te’o and safety Zeke Motta.
Kelly has secured commitments from four-star defensive end Isaac Rochell, who hails from Georgia, Indiana five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith and five-star safety Max Redfield from California can help take the sting away from losing studs like Lewis-Moore, Te’o and Motta.
Assuming Notre Dame signs all the players it currently has committed, the class will include seven defensive players with two listed as athletes – James Onwualu, a four-star Minnesota product, and three-star New Jersey native Rashad Kinlaw.
The Irish would love to add defensive end Kylie Fitts to their class. The four-star California native decommitted from USC, but might be tough to snag from the West Coast since he’s considering Oregon, Washington and UCLA plus Notre Dame.
Another player who might be signing with the Irish on Wednesday is UCLA commitment Deon Hollins. Will the linebacker opts to head to South Bend instead of the Golden State?
The biggest possible fish still to catch for Notre Dame is coveted defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes. The five-star California product, who is a top-25 recruit overall (all positions) by Rivals.com, would be a heck of a catch for Brian Kelly and Co. The former USC commitment will visit Alabama this weekend.
If the Fighting Irish somehow lure both Hollins and Vanderdoes, Notre Dame likely will have the best recruiting class in the nation.
Even without Hollins and Vanderdoes, Notre Dame will still ink a top-five class on Wednesday, marking the fourth time in the past six years the Irish have had a top-10 recruiting class.
If Lady Luck is on Notre Dame’s side down the stretch, the Irish may have a recruiting haul second to none. Landing such a class would be icing on the cake for what’s been a very memorable five months or so (minus the debacle against Alabama of course).
Keep in mind, if things fall into place for Kelly and Co. this will be Notre Dame’s best recruiting season since 2008 when the Irish snagged the second-best class.
Such a stellar recruiting class is just what the program needed to keep the momentum generated from a 12-1 season that included an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game going.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.