Click here for Part II and a look at two tiers of potential 5th-year returnees.
Scholarship Breakdowns and Remaining TargetsPotential scholarship changes in the form of injury waivers or transfers out of the school are inevitable at any program each season. One or more will likely impact the Irish roster between now and the beginning of 2012 training camp, and certainly by the 2012 season. But the groups below include each of the team's 78 roster spots at present, including each verbal commitment and four likely 5th-year returnees.
Also included are remaining recruiting targets at each position.
Note:The number in bold indicates each player's eligibility status beginning next fall.
2012 Quarterbacks (4): Tommy Rees (2), Andrew Hendrix (3), Everett Golson (4), Gunner Kiel (4/5). Notre Dame is not expected to add another quarterback to the ranks in this recruiting cycle due to Kiel's recent enrollment. The trick now is keeping each of the four in South Bend through their respective graduations.
RB Notes: Riddick's move to the backfield for bowl season is expected to be permanent. Incoming freshman Russell is rumored to be a slot receiver competitor upon arrival. Mahone and Russell are likely the only two ‘backs for the 2012 class. The versatile Carlisle is ineligible to play per NCAA transfer rules and is therefore likely to see plenty of time as a Scout Team wide receiver action as well next fall.
2012 Wide Receivers (*10) *John Goodman (1), Robby Toma (1), T.J. Jones (2), Daniel Smith (2), Luke Massa (3), DaVaris Daniels (4), Matthias Farley (4), Deontay Greenberry (4/5), Justin Ferguson (4/5), Chris Brown (4/5).
WR Notes: The (*10) includes Goodman who told The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that he'd return for a 5th season. Goodman's inclusion would make him just the third Irish player entering 2012 with a collegiate reception.
The Irish remain in contention for Tampa 4-star WR/S Nelson Agholor, likely the most important of the team's remaining targets.
Scottsdale, Ariz. receiver Davonte Neal received a recent visit from head coach Brian Kelly (detailed here.). Neal has three more visits scheduled including one to home-state Arizona (February 10) nine days after National Signing Day.
With Toma and possibly Goodman exiting after 2012, and Massa more of a utility player at present, the Irish need another wide receiver in this class. Agholor could hit the rotation immediately; Neal would have the inside track for a 2013 role and the rest could undoubtedly help a unit in flux.
2012 Tight Ends (4): Tyler Eifert (2), Jake Golic (2), Alex Welch (3), Ben Koyack (3). The Irish appear to have turned their focus to the top tier tight ends of the 2013 class. Golic endured back surgery following the season and his availability for 2012 is uncertain. Though Eifert has two seasons of eligibility remaining, he'll graduate in December and take his talents to the NFL barring injury.
2012 Offensive Linemen (*14/*15): *Braxston Cave (1), Chris Watt (2), Zack Martin (2), Christian Lombard (3), Bruce Heggie (3), Tate Nichols (3/4), Connor Hanratty (4), Nick Martin (4), Matt Hegarty (4), Jordan Prestwood (4), Brad Carrico (4), Mark Harrell (4/5), Ronnie Stanley (4/5).
Offensive Line Notes: Braxston Cave is the "sure thing" denoted by an * (consider him #14) while Golic is the question mark to return (potential #15). Recent de-commit Taylor Decker make Arik Armstead's recruitment even more important, though as the No. 1 ranked OT prospect, he'd have been welcomed aboard, regardless. As of today, Armstead is no longer expected to be an early enrollee for the college of his choice (more on Armstead below).
Puyallup, Wash. 5-star OG Josh Garnett will choose among Stanford, Notre Dame, and Michigan, with the Cardinal in the lead.
Scholarships and Targets - Defense2012 Defensive Linemen (*10): Kapron Lewis-Moore (1), Tyler Stockton (2), Kona Schwenke (2), Louis Nix (3), Aaron Lynch (3), Stephon Tuitt (3), Chase Hounshell (3), Tony Springmann (4), Sheldon Day (4/5), Jarron Jones (4/5)
Defensive Line Notes: Likely 5th-year Kapron Lewis-Moore represents the (*10) notation above. The Irish utilize a 4-3 front as often as the 3-4 "base," so the nose guard designation that belongs solely to Nix and Springmann (at present) is misleading. Tuitt is an interior player in the 4-3 as are Lewis-Moore, Hounshell, and Schwenke; Tuitt also served at nose guard at times early last season. The Irish should have the luxury of red-shirting Day and Jones next year; Jones is also an offensive tackle prospect.
Remaining on the board for 2012 are the Armstead brothers: Armond – who would be a 5th-year transfer in from USC, and Arik – Scout.com's No. 1 ranked OT prospect who is seen by many as a top-notch defensive lineman at the next level.
ILB Notes: Though Scout.com lists verbal commitment Nick Baratti as a middle linebacker prospect, I'm not willing to pull the trigger on the Big Skill recruit's destination as such. Unless Ken Ekamen (below) projects inside for the Irish staff, Notre Dame appears content to otherwise sit out the 2012 ILB cycle.
OLB Notes: Four-star prospect Ken Ekanem is down to home-state Virginia Tech and the Irish, with a South Bend visit planned for Saturday, January 27. Ekanem tore his ACL in early December but would be a great add for the 2013 season as a talented, recovered red-shirt freshman. No other OLB prospects appear likely for the 2012 cycle.
2012 Safeties (9/*10): *Jamoris Slaughter (1), Zeke Motta (1), Austin Collinsworth (2), Eilar Hardy (4), Chris Badger (4), Nick Baratti (4/5), John Turner (4/5), C.J. Prosise (4/5), Elijah Shumate (4/5).
Safety Notes: Jamoris Slaughter is a lock to take up one of the (*) above. He'll start for the Irish again in 2012 and ranked as one of Irisheyes.com's 10 best players at season's end. The aforementioned McCarthy is the other possible addition to give the group 10 in number – an unnecessarily high total except three would exit following 2012, and others could move to OLB (Shumate, Baratti), ILB (Baratti), or slot receiver (Collinsworth).
Likewise, five of the 10 potential safeties above don't join the team until the summer, and a sixth, Hardy, will be just seven months removed from ACL surgery when spring ball begins, leaving the defense with three scholarship safeties for the spring session should McCarthy not return.
Four-star Jeanette Pa. safety Demetrious Cox remains in play as well.
CB Notes: The Irish are in desperate need of another top-notch cornerback; de-commitment Ronald Darby leveled a huge blow with his December flip. Notre Dame will continue to fight for the 5-star's services, but 3-star prospect Anthony Standifer (Crete, Illinois) will visit Saturday (January 20), and Darby's fellow 5-star, Brian Poole – a Florida verbal commit – remains a heavy Irish target.
New Jersey 4-star Yuri Wright might remain in play, though recent off-field events that culminated in his expulsion from Don Bosco Prep have clouded his collegiate recruitment. Wright would be a tough sell to University admissions.
Notre Dame needs another cornerback to join this class.
Specialists (5): Ben Turk (1), Jordan Cowart (1), Nick Tausch (1/2), Kyle Brindza (3), Scott Daly (4/5). The Irish won't pursue another specialist this season but could look to bring in a top punter prospect in 2013. Kickers Nick Tausch and Kyle Brindza have five seasons of eligibility remaining between them. Brindza could also punt when Turk graduates in 2012.