The Notre Dame coaching staff identified Everett Golson later in the recruiting process, but they have to be very happy that they were able to sign him. The first thing that Brian Kelly likes about the kid is that he's a winner. He led Myrtle Beach High School to two state championships in three year. He has the physical skills to allow Kelly to utilize his entire playbook.
Kelly on Golson: "He's a guy that keeps his eyes up and is always looking downfield to make a play. That's extending the play. He extends the play and delivers the football as well as anybody that we had watched. And I think you'll see that in the way he plays the game."
Cam McDaniel is another prospect that the Irish staff identified later in the process, but will be happy to have. They would have liked to have added another player here, but running back wasn't a need position this year. If you're looking for a guy that fits Brian Kelly's offense, McDaniel is that guy. McDaniel was one of the top running back in the highest division of Texas high school football.
Kelly on McDaniel: "This is not a guy that lined up at the slot and they threw screens to. This is a guy that was able to run. The real sell for us was his durability, toughness and his ability to play through some injury and also have a dynamic piece to him as well. He can catch the football. He can play in all of the special teams for us. And he's physical enough at 190 pounds that he can run inside. He's got an inside presence. "
The Irish landed two very good wide receivers and two guys that the staff identified very early in the process. DaVaris Daniels really didn't see himself at Notre Dame when the recruiting process started, but he warmed up quickly when he saw Brian Kelly hired as the head coach. Daniels has similar skills as Michael Floyd. He isn't Floyd, but does play the game in a similar fashion.
Kelly on Daniels: He's long… very good ball skills, and I think the thing that stands out is his size and his ability to make people miss for his size. It's pretty clear to see his raw athletic ability at a good 6-foot-2. You can see him run out here. You also see him make a number of people miss and catching the football in traffic as well."
George Atkinson was recruited by all the top programs in the country, so this was a big win for the Notre Dame staff. Atkinson played multiple positions in high school, and his versatility is typical of the type of player coach Kelly recruited. Atkinson was one of five Irish recruits that played in the U.S. Army All-American game.
Kelly on Atkinson: "George is an extremely talented young man. He can play a number of positions…great speed. I think if you were going to separate him from some of the other players in our class, he's long at 6-foot-2, and extremely versatile. A guy that can catch the screens as well, and obviously with the ball in his hands, he's extremely dynamic as a football player. "
Ben Koyack slid down the Scout.com ranking during his senior season, but once the national recruiting analysts saw Koyack participate in UnderArmor All-American game he was elevated to the No. 1 tight end in the country. Brian Kelly compared him to Tyler Eifert, and I think he's a cross between Eifert and Kyle Rudolph. He's a perfect fit for the Irish offense.
Kelly on Koyack : "We loved Ben Koyack from the very beginning…. He's got all the skills necessary to be a great, great fit within our offensive structure. He can get vertically down the field and his ball skills are outstanding…very soft hands. Naturally catches the football. Doesn't fight it at all. And, again, he can play physical at the line of scrimmage or you can even spread him out and use his size, which Oil City did a pretty good job of. "
Matt Hegarty had scholarship offers from just about all of the top football programs in the country, but chose the Irish early on. Hegarty played offensive tackle throughout high school, but could be a swing guy at Notre Dame. Offensive line coach Ed Warinner will likely start him out at tackle and go from there.
Kelly on Hegarty: "We saw him move and felt like he was our target right away at the offensive tackle position, and you'll be able to see that with his athleticism. As you know, we like to move our linemen. The film that sold us is his ability to move in space and then arrive physically, square up, with good body position and finish off. "
The Irish are very thin on the interior of the offensive line, so if Conor Hanratty comes in prepared and ready to compete he could find himself in the two-deep by the start of the 2011 season. That said, Hanratty will need to add some strength and rework his 290-pound frame.
Kelly on Hanratty: "First of all, at the position; (Conor) was somebody that we believed over a period of time as we developed him, he was going to be a really good football player for us. But we liked his tenacity. He really got after people. And you'll see that in everything that he does, (he) uses his hands very well and had an edge to him in the way he played. When I say an edge to him, he had that gnarly kind of demeanor at the offensive line."
Like Hegarty, Nick Martin could be a swing guy as well, but it is likely that he'll start out at guard. While his commitment didn't make a huge splash at the time, Martin was a guy that the Irish staff wanted and they were very happy to get. Like Hanratty, he'll be battling for a spot on the two-deep on the first day.
Kelly on Martin: "He's got really good athletic ability, and he finishes off blocks. He's got a demeanor again. That offensive line demeanor for us is the way they play the game. And he plays it very, very well. "