Prospects continually tell IrishEyes.com the staff is looking for two or three running backs in the 2013 class, and the fact five running backs set official visits during the season only reinforces the Irish's desire to bolster the unit.
Red-shirt sophomore Cierre Wood is the clear-cut starter this season, and he has two years of eligibility beyond 2011.
The season-ending spring knee injury to Cameron Roberson means he has a long road back to health, and questions always surface about the recovery ability of running backs with serious knee injuries.
The questionable depth puts a premium on running back recruiting, and IrishEyes.com takes a look at the key targets on Notre Dame's board.
Keith Marshall, 5-11, 194, Millbrook High, Raleigh, N.C.
The skinny: The nation's No. 1 running back has trips to Georgia (Sept. 10), Notre Dame (Oct. 22) and Florida (Nov. 26) scheduled, and he will make a decision well before signing day because he plans to enroll in college in January.
Notre Dame has done well with Marshall for a while, but he is quiet in his recruitment and getting him away from an SEC school could be difficult. His visit will be huge, especially as he gets to see first-hand how he staff handles in-game usage of the running back.
The current read: Cautious optimism.
William Mahone, 6-0, 205, Fitch High, Youngstown, Ohio
The skinny: He was set to decide three weeks ago, but held off on his decision to get a better look at schools, which bodes well for the Irish. He is listing Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan State and Pittsburgh as his final four.
He is visiting Penn State (Sept. 10) and Notre Dame (Sept. 17) in the coming weeks, and could also visit his two other suitors.
The current read: Optimistic
Byron Marshall, 5-10, 195, Valley Christian Schools, San Jose, Calif.
The skinny: He made an August visit to Notre Dame and is planning a return for Oct. 22 against USC. He also is looking at the Trojans, Oregon, California, Washington and Arizona State. Getting him off the west coast will be difficult.
The current read: Much work is needed.
Keivarae Russell, 5-11, 170, Mariner High, Everett ,Wash. The skinny: Count Russell among the throngs of recruits set to visit for the USC game, and it will be big for the Irish since his "dream" offer came in from the Trojans recently. He added USC and Boise State to a final three that included Washington, Cal and Notre Dame. The current read: Much work is needed.
Drew Harris, 6-1, 200, Downingtown East High, Exton, Pa.
The skinny: Harris has been very quiet with his recruitment, and the Irish haven't been very involved. However, Notre Dame did send a written offer his way, which shows a certain level of interest. He has said in the past he will look closely at backfield depth and the current recruiting class.
The current read: Much work is needed.
Dami Ayoola, 5-10, 195, St. Thomas Aquinas High, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The skinny: He holds plenty of offers, including one from Notre Dame, and is planning a visit – of course, it's Oct. 22 - -to South Bend, Ind., to get a closer look at the program. He isn't adverse to heading away from home, but there are plenty of other suitors for him.
The current read: Visit will be huge
Shaquille Powell, 5-9, 200, Bishop Gorman High, Las Vegas
The skinny: The only school he knows he will visit officially is Vanderbilt, and he is looking at a number of schools, including Arizona and Illinois. He looks to be a second-tier recruit for the Irish, but one worth keeping warm since he really likes the program, and crazy things happen in recruiting.
He is eager to get a Notre Dame offer, and receiving one would vault the Irish into contention quickly
The current read: If Notre Dame offers, it would likely lead
Chris Brown, 6-0, 195, San Joaquin Memorial High, Fresno, Calif.
The skinny: Brown picked up an offer from Washington, and remains in contention as a second-tier running back prospect and does not hold an Irish offer. He holds offers from most of the Pacific-12 conference, and could get squeezed by other schools before Notre Dame is ready to make a decision on offering.
The current read: Even with offer, much work would be needed.
David Smith, 6-1, 190, Bremen High, Midlothian, Ill.
The skinny: Smith had Indiana as his leader in June, but plenty of other schools joined the fray, including Iowa, where a pair of close friends already committed to the Hawkeyes. Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois and West Virginia are other schools in the mix, and an offer from Penn State could swing his recruitment in the Nittany Lions' way.
The current read: An offer would put Notre Dame in contention.