The Skill recruiting profile technically includes Safeties, along with wide receivers, quarterbacks, running backs, and quarterbacks. But Kelly has repeatedly made reference to safeties as part of his "Big Skill" sect, including the following initial statement that defined the type:
"‘Big Skill' is profiling out – If I could take 20 guys that were tough gentlemen, that fit the profile at Notre Dame academically; were 6'4" 215 or 220 pounds, you'd never be able to track who's playing where. Some play defensive end, some play tight end, some are safeties. That's ‘Big Skill.'"
For our purposes, safeties will be included in our forthcoming article covering the Big Skill scholarship allotment.
Below is Part II and an examination of Kelly's Skill recruiting profile.
Re-Stocked SkillThe "back end" of the Irish defense; the wide receivers, the hybrid spot of RB/slot receiver, and of course, the signal callers. Those are positions that define Kelly's Skill profile. The incoming 2013 class will join forces with each player listed below:
(1) 2015 Cornerback: Jalen Brown. Potentially Davonte' Neal, currently expected to play slot receiver but ranked No. 5 overall at cornerback by Scout.com.
The current roster includes five cornerbacks but only with the move of running back Cam McDaniel to the defensive backfield. Next year's group should have at least seven, but that number drops back to five entering 2014 and pending the future recruitment of the position. (More on that below.)
(1) 2014 Running Back: Cam Roberson
(2) 2015-16 Running Backs: Will Mahone and Keivarae Russell
(0) 2016-17 Running Backs Pledges: None to date.
Though its only one extra season of service, Wood's presence in 2013 would mitigate the need for a premier runner's addition to the 2013 class.
(2) 2013 Wide Receivers: T.J. Jones and Daniel Smith
(1) 2014 Wide Receiver: Luke Massa
(1) 2015 Wide Receiver: DaVaris Daniels
The Irish need enough of a talent influx over the next two cycles (including incoming 2012 pass-catchers Ferguson and Brown) to give Kelly a reliable six-player game day rotation, something the head coach has not experienced in his first two seasons in South Bend.
2013 Quarterback: Tommy Rees
2014 Quarterback: Andrew Hendrix
2015 Quarterback: Everett Golson
2015-16 Quarterback: Gunner Kiel
2016-17 Quarterback Pledge: Malik Zaire
History tells us there's no chance each QB listed above remains with the program through college graduation, but at present, the Irish are well-stocked and nearly perfectly tiered at the position. That will likely change by season's end, which is why the Zaire addition was crucial to the '13 crop.
Skill Position Numbers GameFrom the outside looking in, making sense of the myriad players and variables listed above is no easy task. But a little common sense goes a long way:
Cornerback: Two pledges; another is essential and even two more should be accepted if both are high on the team's value chart. The transfer of Tee Shepard but the Irish a bit behind the numbers game and Kelly and Diaco will again have five cornerbacks eligible in 2014 if no more jump on board – that's no better than the current situation. Another pledge is necessary in 2013.
Running Backs: No pledges; none essential, one will be accepted if he's a top tier prospect. The 2014 Irish backfield will feature George Atkinson, Amir Carlisle, Will Mahone, and Keivarae Russell with the latter pair eligible for at least another season. Adding a top tier back would be ideal for 2013, but tacking on a garden-variety running back prospect to the tail end of the class isn't essential.
Wide Receivers: Two pledges; one more essential, two would be welcomed if considered higher on the staff ledger than the incoming pair. Unlike the defensive line, the program needs talent at the position much more so than raw numbers (additional bodies are essential in the trenches). The current team will welcome 4-5 2012-13 receivers by February 2013 while losing just two competitors to graduation. Three commits would suffice in the current cycle.
Quarterbacks: One pledge; no others planned nor are any expected to be recruited and/or join for '13.
Part I and II ReviewTwo more Skill pledges are essential, three would be ideal, with four definitely a reasonable allotment if the RB addition includes a potential top tier prospect.
Including Part I of our series (Power), we've allotted six of the program's 9-10 remaining 2013 scholarships(three for both Power and Skill) to help fill out Kelly's 2013 class. Seven would be accepted under ideal circumstances with five the minimum.
Note: Next in our series, a look at the Big Skill recruiting profile. Kelly's initial description of "Big Skill" from his first days in South Bend is as follows: "‘Big Skill' is profiling out – If I could take 20 guys that were tough gentlemen, that fit the profile at Notre Dame academically; were 6'4" 215 or 220 pounds, you'd never be able to track who's playing where. Some play defensive end, some play tight end; some are safeties. That's ‘Big Skill.'"