Notre Dame's Defense Continues To Look Strong Into The Future

By James Bowe
Ed Szczepanski – USA TODAY SPORTS

Coming into National Signing Day,  the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were not supposed to make a splash. They had received plenty of very solid commitments and many fans were more focused on the commitments not having a last second change of heart.

While Notre Dame did target key players that made their announcements yesterday on National Signing Day, many experts counted the Irish out and their 2013 recruiting class over with.

That all changed around 7pm PST when Eddie Vanderdoes, a once verbal commitment to the University of Southern California, decided he will be leaving the sunny skies of California for South Bend Indiana. Not only is getting a highly recruited defensive tackle helpful to any team, but it solidifies the 2013 Notre Dame defensive recruiting class.

Vanderdoes will join a Notre Dame defensive line that dominated during the 2012 season. With the return of All Americans in Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix, Vanderdoes will step right in day one in the rotation with those two as well as Sheldon Day who had a very solid freshman year. While the 300 pound Vanderdoes’ natural position looks to be at defensive tackle, his 4.8 40 yard time gives him the speed, as well as the strength to hold his own on the end.

Getting a key player like a Vanderdoes to switch from a rival in USC is great. It’s even better when Notre Dame did that twice.

Max Redfield, a highly recruited athlete/safety from California was also once a USC commit. Redfield opened up his commitment in January and it came down to Notre Dame and USC. Redfield chose the Irish and looks to be an immediate impact in all phases of the game. Redfield currently plays on both sides of the ball in high school. While projected to play safety, he is good enough of an athlete to play some wide receiver and even make a name for himself in the return game.

The Notre Dame secondary was the weak link all season and it finally showed in the national championship game. The secondary did hold its own considering the fact they had to start a freshman running back at corner, and another offensive player at safety. Redfield will give the secondary a big lift and will be a future star in the secondary.

Great players leave a legacy after they leave the collegiate game and their greatness becomes a burden on their future successor.

The burden of filling the shoes of Manti Te’o falls onto Notre Dame’s highest ranked member of their class, Jaylon Smith.  Smith, a Indiana native, has the speed of a cornerback, with the pass coverage skills of a safety in the body of a linebacker. Do not be too surprised to see Smith starting game one, in the spot where number five used to patrol the field.

Vanderdoes, Redfield and Smith are the key members of the Notre Dame defensive class. They all have the play making ability and fill a need at every level of the defense.

The gap was clearly large talent wise between Notre Dame and the University of Alabama. With the addition of these three, the gap just closed a good amount.

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