It is presumed 78 of 85 allotted spots are spoken for on Notre Dame's 2012 roster (see the link above or the text below).
Though nothing is official, seniors Jamoris Slaughter, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Braxston Cave, and John Goodman have made it known through various means that each has been asked to return for a 5th-season of eligibility in 2012 (pending faculty board reviews).
Two of the players' classmates: Mike Golic and Dan McCarthy, have been rumored in recent weeks as 5th-year possibilities. With the aforementioned quartet of Slaughter, Lewis-Moore, Cave and Goodman purportedly taking spots 79-82 on the roster, just three spots remain for prospective recruits and/or another 5th-year senior.
With less than two weeks until National Signing Day (February 1), it's a good bet neither Golic nor McCarthy will know his 2012 standing until the last letter of intent has been faxed to the Irish football offices.
(Fellow senior Sean Cwynar told the Chicago Tribune Wednesday that he would not return. Cwynar graduated in May 2011, a full year ahead of schedule, and was part of Notre Dame's accelerated MBA program last year from which he will receive a second degree in May.)
The Case for the 5thsThree more verbal commitments would bring the 2012 class number to a healthy 20, but three more would also push both Golic and McCarthy off the 85-man list. Golic is the only backup center with legitimate experience, starting the final four games of 2011 and playing (well) vs. Wake Forest in extended action previously. The senior pivot struggled in those final four outings and was part of an offense that allowed 11 sacks in its final four games after yielding just five in the season's first eight contests.
Golic also possesses the versatility to play either guard position and therefore a valuable commodity whether he's viewed as the 6th, 7th, or even 10th best non-freshman offensive linemen by the staff for 2012.
McCarthy's inclusion is speculative, the result of ample rumors suggesting he'd be brought back to the fold. The safety's career has been wrecked by injuries including a severe neck injury in November of his final high school season. He missed most of Kelly's first season nursing hamstring and shoulder injuries (the latter required surgery), and has rarely had an opportunity the trademark aggressiveness and skill that accompanied his recruitment.
(It should be noted the first observation Kelly made in spring 2010, his first with the squad, was: "The McCarthy kid can tackle…)
Notre Dame returns just two experienced safeties for 2012: starters Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta. 2010 freshman Austin Collinsworth is a special teams star but his scrimmage time last year was mostly as a dime package linebacker. 2011 freshman Eilar Hardy is expected to return after tearing his ACL in August and 2010 freshman Chris Badger will enroll in June for the summer semester – another untested, first-year backup at the position.
Seven backups, zero starts, limited scrimmage experience. McCarthy has played sparingly from scrimmage though he did earn significant special teams snaps last fall.
If in good healthy, the former 4-star still has a leg up on most rookies after four years in a college program.
Note: Part III will breakdown the team's remaining recruiting targets and offer a position-by-position look at the 2012 roster, including its 14 current verbal commitments less than two weeks from National Signing Day.