What a difference one month makes for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and head coach Brian Kelly. One month ago, the Irish were preparing for the BCS National Title Game against Alabama, recruits began flocking to the Irish and ‘the hoax’ was only known to Irish insiders.
After a crushing defeat, the rumor mill began to pump out stories about Kelly bolting to the NFL. Kelly decided to stay put at his dream job, and his loyalty to Notre Dame is paying off.
Kelly inherited a struggling program, but he turned that program around by getting the most out of the good players that Charlie Weis and his regime were able to recruit, but not coach to their highest potential.
Now Kelly and his coaching talents will be on display for years to come at Notre Dame. In 2013, he brings the most anticpated recruiting class since the legend Lou Holtz was on the Notre Dame sidelines.
Leading the way for this years class is one of the top linebackers in the country, Jaylon Smith, who is a local product from Bishop Luers High School. Smith, a five-star recruit, has been ranked in the top five overall and won the Butkus Award for the best high school linebacker. Smith could go down as the highest regarded player to chose Notre Dame since Manti Te’o picked the Irish over USC. Unlike Te’o, Smith knew that Notre Dame was the place for him, committing to the Irish last June.
Smith is one of many highly regarded players that will play for defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. Joining Smith in Diaco’s defense are defensive back/athlete Max Redfield, defensive end Isaac Rochell, linebacker Doug Randolph and cornerback Devin Butler.
Kelly is building on his defenses dominating performance from last season, but that was not his only focus for this recruiting class. Kelly knew that he had to replace runningbacks Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood.
Greg Bryant is a great start to adding to the new Notre Dame backfield. Bryant, the 2nd ranked running back in the country, rushed for over 3,500 yards at American Heritage High School. Bryant will be a great compliment to George Atkinson III, who is s shifty speedster. Bryant is a powerful runner that does not shy away from contact and will bring a power attack that has lacked since the depature of Robert Hughes a few seasons ago.
Newcomers that will join Bryant on the Irish offense include wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., quarterback/athlete Malik Zaire, tight ends Mike Heurman and Durham Smythe and offensive tackles Hunter Bivin and Colin McGovern.
Kelly coached Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season, and with this recruiting class Notre Dame should be back in the national title picture in 2014.