The Big Board: March 6

Our first update of Notre Dame's 2014 recruiting needs includes top early targets.

There are a combined 22 seniors and 5th-year competitors on Notre Dame's 2013 roster. Subtract that from the 85 present scholarships for 2013 and Brian Kelly's program technically has 63 scholarships already taken for the 2014 season.

Beginning with that number (63), expects four of the seniors -- RT Christian Lombard, TE Alex Welch, CB Lo Wood, and S Austin Collinsworth -- to apply for and be granted a fifth season of eligibility. That would make the number of scholarships taken for the 2014 season 67.

A fifth season of eligibility (and 68th scholarship) could be granted to senior ILB Kendall Moore. Moore has yet to earn a start or play meaningful snaps from scrimmage, but without him, Kelly will have two returning inside linebackers next year (not including 2014 pledge Greer Martini).

(At present, it's unlikely the remaining graduating seniors would be granted a fifth season.)

Rather than presuming 68 scholarships, which makes for 17 open spots in the 2014 class, it makes more sense at an early stage to use the round number of 20 because of attrition in a program. Four of those scholarships are already accounted for in high school juniors Justin Brent, Jimmy Byrne, Greer Martini, and Jay Hayes.

Why 20 rather than the actual number available? Notre Dame has experienced a transfer between football seasons for at least 30 straight years. That reality, coupled with the possibility of a medical scholarship, allows for a manageable 20 as the 2014 scholarship target.

2014 By the Numbers

The scholarship distribution is broken down below, with the number in parenthesis denoting NEED more so than projected pledges at each position.

Offensive Line (4):

Four-star Cleveland (St. Ignatius) OT Jimmy Byrne pledged to Notre Dame on December 8, 2012.

O'Malley Expects: Three to round out the need prior to kickoff 2013...

Hickey's Top Targets: K.C. McDermott, Alex Bars, Jovan Pruitt, Natrell Curtis, Jamarco Jones, Corey Martinez

Defensive Line (3):

Four-star Brooklyn (Poly Prep) OT/DE Jay Hayes announced his pledge to Notre Dame on November 7, 2012.

O'Malley Expects: Selectivity, at least for the final pledge, and especially if Notre Dame brings in four defensive linemen rather than the three projected here. The Irish need bodies up front, but its a position unit in which the staff has enjoyed great success in terms of quality of recruit over last three cycles (Aaron Lynch, Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell, and the signing day splash of Eddie Vanderdoes highlight the list).

Hickey's Top Targets: Sam Mustipher, Josh Frazier, Anthony Moten, Enoch Smith Jr., Andrew Trumbetti, Malik McDowell

Inside linebacker (2-3):

Three-star Woodberry Forest School (Woodberry, Va) star LB Greer Martini became the staff's first pledge back in July, 2012.

O'Malley Expects: One in addition to Martini prior to September. The third projected here will likely be pursued after the staff vets its roster for players that can move inside or a potential 5th-year for Moore in 2014.

Hickey's Top Targets: Clifton Garrett, Nyles Morgan

Big Skill/Athletes (3):

Possibilities include a Dog/Cat prospect, a third wide receiver, a second cornerback, a running back, or a high school quarterback that projects elsewhere in college.

O'Malley Expects: At least three, because its a catch-all grouping as described above. Expect the bulk of those eventually slotted here to be evaluated at multiple positions. The 2013 position slotting of current outside backer prospects Romeo Okwara and inching freshman Doug Randolph will also effect recruitment of Dog/Cat prospects.

Hickey's Top Targets: Dallis Todd, Tyler Luatua

Wide Receiver (2):

Three-star Speedway, Indiana native (Speedway HS) Justin Brent followed Martini's pledge six days later (July 9).

O'Malley Expects: One top tier prospect. The Irish will likely open 2014 with nine receivers (including Brent), none of which exhausts eligibility at season's end. One more is needed; if two are taken, they'll be high-level prospects on the staff's list.

Hickey's Top Targets: Michiah Quick, Malachi Dupre, Artavis Scott, Mark Andrews

Outside Linebacker (1):

Six are eligible through 2014; five of those through 2015 or beyond. Pending the growth of Romeo Okwara (to defensive end), another outside 'backer prospect, likely a Cat, will become necessary.

O'Malley Expects: One Cat prospect. Until Kelly states otherwise, I've projected Okwara for eventual DE duties.

Hickey's Top Targets: Andrew Williams, Melvin Keihn, Dillon Bates

Cornerback (1):

Notre Dame will likely return seven cornerbacks to its 2014 roster, with five from that group eligible through 2015 or beyond. Adding one in 2014 and two or potentially three more in 2015 would keep the position group healthy.

O'Malley Expects: One that can compete for a starting spot early (by 2015). If the staff had more scholarships available (or more become available) for the 2014 class, a second cornerback would likely be added.

Hickey's Top Targets: Jonathan Lockett, Jabrill Peppers, Adoree Jackson, Nick Watkins, Jalen Tabor

Tight End (1):

Each of the five on scholarship are eligible through 2014; only three from that group will be around in 2015. One quality prospect is nearly mandatory to avoid a depth issue two years from now.

O'Malley Expects: One tight end with a penchant for the physical rather than (primarily) a downfield threat. Two should then be courted for 2015.

Hickey's Top Targets: Tyler Luatua, Jeb Blazevich, Dalton Schultz, Ian Bunting, Nic Weishar

Quarterback (1):

Three of the team's current quintet are likely to return in 2014, with a fourth, Andrew Hendrix, unlikely but eligible.

O'Malley Expects: One in every class from here to eternity...

Hickey's Top Targets: Brandon Dawkins

Running Back (1/0):

None are necessary, but an elite player would obviously be welcomed by the staff, and its apparent in their early approach to recruitment of the position. With six 'backs on the 2013 roster, none of which exhaust eligibility at season's end, relative depth is not an issue.

O'Malley Expects: One top tier pledge, likely prior to the conclusion of spring ball.

Hickey's Top Targets: Elijah Hood, Nathan Starks, Sony Michel, Joe Mixon

Safety (0/1):

All nine of the team's current safeties are eligible through 2014. Any safety pegged to join the Irish program will be of great potential or ultra-competitive.

O'Malley Expects: Top talent will always be welcomed, but expect the Irish to take a pass on the position unless said prospect can move to outside 'backer or is versatile enough to play CB/WR. Notre Dame has recruited five safeties over the last two cycles with two others in 2011, both of whom received freshmen redshirts.

Hickey's Top Targets: Kyle Gibson, Juju Smith, Quincy Wilson


The Irish appear set for the current cycle, presuming a trio of preferred walk-ons inked since National Signing Day meet expectations.

Punter (0): Notre Dame added preferred walk-on punter Andrew Antognoli post-Signing Day. Antognoli will likely receive a full season of evaluation prior to the staff pursues a potential punter prospect. Wake Forest transfer Alex Wulfeck will play his fifth and final season of college ball at Notre Dame as a preferred walk-on.

Kicker (0): Kyle Brindza is eligible through 2014. Notre Dame added preferred walk-on kicker John Chereson after Signing Day.

Long-Snapper (0): Scott Daly has four seasons of eligibility remaining

Click here to link to the 2013 Irish roster and eligibility chart, broken down by scholarships allotted to both sides of scrimmage and special teams.

Click here for a look at current scholarship offers and targets for 2014. Top Stories