The Irish are sitting at No. 5 in national recruiting rankings per FOX Sports NEXT, and of the 14 pledges, there are 10 four-stars and four three-star prospects. With a plethora of updates from FOX Sports NEXT's national analysts during the recent annual event, The Opening, it's clear the Irish are primed to push for a consecutive top five, even top three finish as we soon open the chapter on official visits.Using Tim O'Malley's numbers, IrishEyes.com expects the Irish to take 23 total commitments in the 2014 class. With 14 in the fold, that leaves nine more spots to be filled. As of July 11, the Irish are set and accounted for at quarterback, running back, tight end, and offensive line. (Such prospects could join, but aren't needed.) The focus going forward will at defensive line, wide receiver… and defensive back. Yes, defensive line and wide receiver are the obvious emphasis, but the Irish are in position to nab a few elite prospects in the secondary, especially should they choose to use extra space in this class to go above what's absolutely needed at corner and safety.
DEFENSIVE LINEIrishEyes.com expects Notre Dame to add a nose guard and an exterior prospect, the latter one that could potentially move inside, instead of a defensive end /CAT hybrid. The Irish are in great shape with nose guard Matt Elam, who could have Notre Dame even with, or perhaps higher than early favorites Alabama and Kentucky. Tackle Thomas Holley gave Notre Dame great reviews after his summer visit, which is more than just fluff, considering he was also fresh off visits to Florida, Florida State, Miami and Ohio State. Others to consider: DE Jaylen Johnson – Could be a USC/Boise State competition at this point DE Matt Dickerson – High on Washington, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Arizona and UCLA, has said repetitively that he really wants to visit the Irish in the fall. DE Lorenzo Carter – Irish really upped their chances after a summer visit, Alabama & UGA will obviously provide stiff competition for this Peach State five-star. DE Solomon Thomas – Enjoyed his visit to South Bend, but Texas and Alabama may still have comfortable lead.
WIDE RECEIVERAlready on board is the underrated break-out star of The Opening, wide receiver Justin Brent. The Irish though will still add at least two more wide outs. They've been in contention with what seems a large number of top prospects, but as the summer progressed, a few stand out. Michiah Quick – Has the Irish in his top five, visited in the spring and was impressed with the atmosphere and how he would be used in the offense at Notre Dame. Allen Lazard – Iowa State commit who is close with Irish safety coach Bob Elliott. The question is how much will it take to flip his pledge in the fall? Corey Holmes – Down to UCLA and Notre Dame. A commitment could come within the next week or two. Isaiah McKenzie – A bit of an enigma with academic issues still being rumor at this point. McKenzie plans to commit somewhere before the season begins. Others to consider: Mark Andrews, Cameron Sims, Erik Brown
DEFENSIVE BACKOnly one is necessary, three would be a luxury, and the Irish are among the top tier for some very elite talents such as Budda Baker, Juju Smith, Quincy Wilson, Nick Watkins, Kyle Gibson, Curtis Samuel, Adoree Jackson and Jamal Adams.
At this point though, some of the above have South Bend among their top destination as more of a placeholder than true contender (perhaps, Adams, Jackson…), but the Irish are in very good shape to land: CB Kyle Gibson, S Juju Smith, CB Nick Watkins
NITTY GRITTYIn an ideal Irish recruiting world, and to fill essential needs: 2 DL 0-1 S 1 CB 2-3 WR 1-2 MLB And then, potentially… 1 OLB in addition to Bonner 5th offensive lineman 2nd CB, first is yet to be filled 2nd TE 2nd RB
The 9 "right of kind guys" to fill the "Golden Army"First consider the following:
- Adding a second true middle linebacker is still a question mark; things with Nyles Morgan remain status quo…- Braden Smith likes the Irish, does he like the South/Lone Star State more? - How realistic is it that Joe Mixon, or even Donte Thomas-Williams, pledges Irish? - My best needs-based guesses, with "guesses" being the operative word, considering 2014 has yet to kick off: 1 OLB – Richard Yeargin 2 DL – NG Matt Elam, DE Matt Dickerson 3 WR – Corey Holmes, Allen Lazard, Isaiah McKenzie 1 CB – Kyle Gibson 1 S - Juju Smith And then adding: TE Tyler Luatua Just missing my cut: WR Michiah Quick, WR Erik Brown, DT Thomas Holley, DE Lorenzo Carter, CB Nick Watkins.