Can Notre Dame Fighting Irish Retain Top Recruiting Class of 2014?

By Rick Stavig
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly four months into College Football Recruiting 2014, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are continuing where they left off from ’13: en fuego.

The Irish currently have a class that’s ranked No. 1 nationally by both and  For good measure, 247sports has their class ranked fifth, and ESPN ranks the class seventh.  Can this torrid pace continue until National Signing Day 2014?

Good question.  Like countless expressions regarding life itself, there will be ups and downs from here on out, but I’d imagine more of the former and less of the latter.

Coach Brian Kelly and staff got off to another hot start for this class, snagging four commitments from this class of 2014 during the ’13 recruiting cycle.  Receiver Justin Brent (Indianapolis, IN), tackle Jimmy Byrne (Cleveland, OH), defensive tackle Jay Hayes (Brooklyn, NY) and inside ‘backer Greer Martini (Woodberry Forest, VA) have all been committed to the Irish’s 2014 class since December of 2012 or earlier.

Since then, Notre Dame has continued it’s aggressive ways, with a clear focus (once again) on the offensive line.  The Irish have snagged huge commitments from tackles Quenton Nelson (Red Bank, NJ), the No. 3 tackle nationally and a 5-star prospect, and Alex Bars (Nashville, TN), considered the No. 7 tackle nationally.  Throw in 4-star tackle Sam Mustipher (Olney, MD), and the aforementioned Byrne, and it’s clear the Irish are taking steps towards eliminating the deficiencies on their offensive line, which was treated to a genuine southern beat down at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship Game.

However impressive the collection of linemen may be, the biggest ‘get’ for the Irish thus far might be running back Elijah Hood (Charlotte, NC). Hood is widely viewed as a 5-star prospect, and one of the premier players nationally.

Still, there’s a long way to go, and a lot of holes yet to be filled.  The Irish still haven’t found their quarterback yet, and that need became even more apparent with the recent Everett Golson revelations.  Kyle Hill (Scottsdale, AZ), David Cornwell (Norman, OK), Jacob Park (Goose Creek, SC) and Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, CA) can all expect to be hearing regularly from the Notre Dame staff from now until next February.

Besides quarterback, the Irish will probably be looking to add another running back, another offensive lineman, and possibly even another tight end, even though they already have Nic Weishar committed.  And you just know Kelly will be looking to add various other star prospects like Michiah Quick (athlete, Fresno, CA), Da’Shawn Hand (defensive end, Woodbridge, VA) and Raekwon McMillan (linebacker, Hinesville, GA) among many others.

Will the Irish end up with the top class?  They could.  A lot will depend on the results on the field, but Kelly and his staff have shown they have the recruiting chops to keep up with the rest of college football’s elite.

Rick Stavig is a National Recruiting Columnist for Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.

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