The Big Board: Big Skill, TE, LB

We put a bow on our week-long Big Board recruiting series with a look at the "Big Skill" athletes, including targets and prospects at inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and tight end.

There are a combined 23 seniors and 5th-year competitors on Notre Dame's 2013 roster. Subtract that total from the 83 present scholarships (including incoming freshmen) or 2013 and Brian Kelly's program has 60 scholarships taken for the 2014 season.

Beginning with that number (60), expects at least five current seniors -- S Austin Collinsworth, QB Andrew Hendrix, RT Christian Lombard, TE Alex Welch, and CB Lo Wood -- to apply for and be granted a fifth season of eligibility. That would make the number of scholarships taken for the 2014 season, 65.

Rather than presuming 65 scholarships, which makes for 20 open spots in the 2014 class, it makes more sense at an early stage to account for attrition over the next 10 months. Consider 22 pledges for the 2014 class as the working total.

Six of those 22 scholarships are already accounted for with Monday's pledge by OL Sam Mustipher and his fellow 2014 class members Greer Martini (LB), Justin Brent (WR), Jay Hayes (DL), Jimmy Byrne (OL), and Andrew Trumbetti (DL).

In this, the final of of four Big Board updates this week, recruiting reporter Anna Hickey highlights Notre Dame's top linebacker and tight end targets -- all "Big Skill" athletes in head coach Brian Kelly's recruiting profile. O'Malley then handles the needs and numbers game for each position group.

Note: Click here for Part I of the Big Board and a look at the programs needs at offensive line and quarterback.

And click here for Part II and our review of the needs and targets at both wide receiver and running back.

Finally, Click here for Part III and our examination of the team's targets and needs on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield.

The number in parenthesis denotes program Need not necessarily a projection of how many at each position will fill out the 2014 class.

Inside Linebacker (2/3):

Three-star Woodberry Forest School (Woodberry, Va) star LB Greer Martini became the staff's first pledge back in July, 2012.

O'Malley Expects: One in addition to Martini prior to September. The third projected here will likely be pursued after the staff vets its roster for players that can successfully move inside, or pending a potential 5th-year for Kendall Moore in 2014. Preferred walk-on Joe Schmidt enters his third season with the program this fall. He'll be a senior in 2014 and a prime candidate to ascend to scholarship status and at worst, provide trusted depth to the inside 'backers unit.

Hickey's top ILB target: Nyles Morgan (Crete, Illinois) -- Recruitment blew up this spring, adding at least 10 offers since March. Morgan doesn't plan to narrow his list until next season, and announce after the season is over.

Schools to watch: Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Oklahoma

Outside Linebacker (1/2):

The Irish return Ishaq Williams (1), Romeo Okwara (2), Ben Councell (2), Jaylon Smith (3/4), and Doug Randolph (3/4) to their 2014 squad. Its not a position of need next season, or in the immediate future, but one such athlete is always recommended at a position defensive coordinator Bob Diaco noted Thursday as one of the most difficult to play in his scheme, both mentally and in terms of a physical fit.

O'Malley Expects: One true outside linebacker in the Williams/Okwara mold, then athletes that can project to the "Big Skill" profile described above. If Notre Dame brings in two top tier outside linebacker prospects, the 2014 roster will undergo attrition: "survival of the fittest," college football style.

Hickey's Top OLB Targets

-- Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Virginia): Can play defensive end, also being recruited by Notre Dame to play tight end... staying open right now, expect Notre Dame to get a visit if the Irish are still targeting him this summer/fall
Decision timeline: Plans to take officials
Schools to watch: Maryland, North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida, Ohio State

-- Andrew Williams (McDonough, Georgia): Hasn't put out a list of favorites, but plans to narrow his list this summer, a big priority for the staff
Decision timeline: Wants to decide before his senior season.
Schools to watch: Georgia, Clemson, LSU, Tennessee, North Carolina State, Alabama, Georgia Tech
Notre Dame visit date: January 13, Post visit story: click here

-- Richard Yeargin (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): Was "relieved" to finally receive Notre Dame offer earlier this month
Decision timeline: Not set, plans on visiting Notre Dame this summer or take an official visit
Schools to watch: Florida, Clemson, UCLA, Tennessee, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Michigan

-- Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio): Not naming leaders, but the gist is that Ohio State is his front-runner, though Notre Dame impressed during his visit to the Blue & Gold game
Decision timeline: No timetable, but it's a possible a commitment to Ohio State could happen sooner than later
Schools to watch: Ohio State (team to beat), Michigan
Notre Dame visit date: February 24, Post visit story: click here

-- Melvin Keihn (Baltimore, Maryland): Considering primarily ACC schools right now, including Notre Dame, who is in his top six
Decision timeline: Nothing set
Schools to watch: Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Rutgers

Tight End (1)

Each of the team's five tight ends on scholarship are eligible through 2014; only three from that group will be around in 2015. One quality prospect is nearly mandatory to avoid a depth issue two years from now.

O'Malley Expects: One tight end with a penchant for the physical rather than (primarily) a downfield threat. Two should then be courted for 2015.

-- Nic Weishar (Chicago, Illinois): Comes down to Michigan and Notre Dame, possibly Northwestern.
Decision timeline: Could be nearing a decision
Schools to watch: Michigan, Northwestern
Notre Dame visit date: April 13

-- Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, California): Teammate Dallis Todd who had Irish offer just committed to Oklahoma
Decision timeline: Plans to take official visits
Schools to watch: Alabama, USC, Oklahoma

-- Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah): Was a Stanford lean early in his recruitment
Decision timeline: Plans to take official visits, Irish in good shape to receive one if a tight end is still needed
Schools to watch: Stanford (team to beat), Utah, Nebraska, UCLA

Big Skill/Athletes (3) -- an Overview

Possibilities include an additional outside linebacker prospect, a second cornerback, a second tight end that could play LB, a second running back that could project to the defensive backfield, or a high school quarterback that projects elsewhere in college.

O'Malley Expects: At least three, because its a catch-all grouping as described above. Expect the bulk of those eventually slotted here to be evaluated at multiple positions. The 2013 position slotting and season evaluation of incoming freshman linebacker Doug Randolph will also effect recruitment of additional outside linebackers in this cycle.

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