2013 Tight EndsAlex Welch (2), Ben Koyack (2), Troy Niklas (2), Mike Heuerman (4/5), Jacob Matuska (4/5)
Needs and Notes: Don't expect another true tight end pledge for 2013, though like Big Skill prospect Jacob Matuska, it wouldn't be a surprise to see one, two, or even three high school players currently playing tight end added to the class as the position projects well to both linebacker and defensive end at the college level (Brian Kelly's "Big Skill" recruiting profile)…Mike Heuerman is likely the only pure tight end recruit for 2013…As noted in Part I, neither senior Tyler Eifert nor his classmate Jake Golic are projected to return for a 5th-year, but with the events of 2012 (injury, improvement, regression) determining the status of both.
2013 QuarterbacksTommy Rees (1), Andrew Hendrix (2), Everett Golson (3), Gunner Kiel (4/5), Malik Zaire (4/5)
Needs and Notes: The class breakdown at the position is expertly staggered heading into 2013, and Notre Dame will not bring in another pure quarterback prospect for this cycle…Don't expect the players listed above to be identical when this column is updated next June.
2013 Running BacksCierre Wood (1), George Atkinson (2), Amir Carlisle (2-3, two assuming Carlisle plays in 2012 as planned), Cam Roberson (2), Will Mahone (4/5), Keivarae Russell (4/5)
Needs and Notes: Junior Cam Roberson has yet to play due to red-shirt and injury…Wood is, as explained in Part I, a 50/50 proposition at present to return for a 5th-season in 2013…Should the Irish strike out at running back for the current cycle (and if Wood elects to turn pro), sophomore cornerback Cam McDaniel could return to the position after a 2012 season spent with the defensive backs and (primarily) on special teams…
In terms of numbers, running back isn't an absolute need position for this cycle, but the lack of a single RB prospect in 2013 would again necessitate two for 2014…Any 'back the staff believes can challenge for what is now a dual starting role for the modern position in 2014 should be welcomed aboard in the current cycle…Of note, and as mentioned by a New Ara message board poster -- running back prospects also lend roster versatility (the ability to move to the defensive backfield is invaluable and coveted by the staff for its "Skill" position profile (RB, WR, DB).
Wide ReceiversT.J. Jones (1), Daniel Smith (1), DaVaris Daniels (3), Justin Ferguson (4/5), Chris Brown (4/5), Davonte Neal (4/5), Corey Robinson (4/5), James Onwualu (4/5)
Needs and Notes: With Robinson and Onwualu on board, one more prospect for 2013 is essential as the staff continues to replenish depth in a unit bereft of that luxury….None of the players listed above are proven top-tier starters, so no promising talent should be turned down for the upcoming cycle…
With a preferred six-player game day rotation in Brian Kelly's spread attack, one more (talented) wide receiver prospect is arguably more important than landing the program's first running back pledge for 2013 (we'll call it a draw)…Of the players listed above, only Neal is a potential cornerback. Thus, adding an "athlete" to the 2013 recruiting haul would be a fine way to round out the position group.
2013 Offensive LinemenChris Watt (1), Zack Martin (1), Christian Lombard (2) Tate Nichols (2/3), Jordan Prestwood (3), Brad Carrico (3/4), Nick Martin (3), Matt Hegarty (3), Conor Hanratty (3), Ronnie Stanley (4/5), Mark Harrell (4/5), John Montelus (4/5), Mike McGlinchey (4/5), Colin McGovern (4/5), Hunter Bivin (4/5), Steven Elmer (4/5)
Needs and Notes: Notre Dame should be set with five incoming offensive linemen for 2013…With attrition inevitable at the position (injury, transfer, etc.), and after just two OL pledges in Stanley and Harrell for 2012, expect the staff to target a four-man haul in the 2014 cycle, thus giving the program 5 (2011), 2, 5, and 4 over a four-year recruiting period, as attrition suggest one or two of those 16 won't compete in South Bend for four/five years.
2013 Specialists ScholarshipsNick Tausch (1), Kyle Brindza (2), Scott Daly (4/5)
Needs and Notes: Both a punter and kicker will likely be targeted for 2014 to avoid scrambling for both in 2015 when Brindza, a dual-position prospect though currently just the teams kick-off specialist, graduates. The Irish are set at long-snapper (in terms of scholarship allotment) through 2015…If Tausch continues at his career pace (he's 15-18 on field goals including a 14-17 effort as a true freshman in 2009), he could be asked to return in 2013, though that's rare for a kicker, former record-setter David Ruffer notwithstanding.
Note: A wrap-up of the particulars/numbers at each position and the team's three recruiting profiles will appear in tomorrow's Monday Morning Briefing