Could it really be? Are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish really back? They very well could be. And this time, it might actually be for real.
This isn’t the same kind of team that was so highly ranked in the early days under Charlie Weis; a team that was known for explosive offense and buckling under pressure. That team couldn’t win a big game to save its life.
But the 2012 version of the Irish? The exact opposite.
This team doesn’t have anything that resembles a passing attack. The offense relies on a dominant running game. The front seven on defense is as good, if not better, than anyone in the country, other than Alabama. And most importantly, they win the big games.
Don’t get me wrong, the road ahead is tough for the Irish, most notably huge games against Stanford, Oklahoma and Southern Cal. But the confidence, the swagger, is there for the first time in perhaps decades. What’s responsible for this? Recruiting. And this years class is no different.
Notre Dame has been dominant on the College Football Recruiting trail for the 2013 class. Brian Kelly, for all of his personality deficiencies, is a recruiting machine, assembling the kind of talent you need to win on the biggest stage. Right now Notre Dame has one of the top 5 classes in the country, and some even rank them as high as #2 (Southern Cal undoubtedly has the best class, by FAR).
Let’s examine this fantastic class that Kelly is putting together…
QB- Malik Zaire is a talented dual threat quarterback. Looks an awful lot like Everett Golson did coming out of high school. Will be the only quarterback brought on in this class.
RB- Jamel James is the only man on board. Kelly would like one more, but the Irish are fairly deep here.
WR- This is a huge need for the Irish, and they already have three committed. William Fuller is playmaker, and could play early. Torii Hunter Jr. (son of Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter) and Corey Robinson (son of NBA HOF’er David ‘The Admiral’ Robinson) are not just sons of famous athletes. They are fantastic wide receivers with a ton of talent.
TE- Great group here looking to continue the long tradition of excellent tight end play in South Bend; Mike Heuerman, Danny Mattingly and Jacob Matuska are committed.
OT- The Irish are trying to assemble an offensive line class that could rival the haul Stanford brought in last year. Steve Elmer, Hunter Bivin, Mike McGlinchey and Colin McGovern have offers from every major school in the country.
OG- John Montelus is the lone man here, but he’s one of the best in the country.
C- None, and none are offered. McGovern could play here as well.
DE- Isaac Rochell is committed, and he’s dominant. More depth will be needed as this is a priority position.
DT- None yet, at least one will be brought in for depth.
MLB- Michael Deeb is on board. Not a big priority in this class.
OLB- The best outside linebacker collection in the country. Jaylon Smith, Alex Anzalone and Doug Randolph could play right now.
CB- Devin Butler is good, but won’t be enough. A big need here.
S- None yet, and it’s the same story as cornerback. Big need. The Irish need a lot of help in the secondary moving forward.
ATH- James Onwualu and Rashad Kinlaw are incredibly diverse. Their best positions probably are running back and receiver, but might be forced into the secondary due to lack of depth.