Lone Wolf?

Cornerback isn't an area of major need for Notre Dame in the 2014 cycle, but recent history indicates attrition at the position allows room for another CB/athlete to join what should be a 23-25 player class.

The addition of four-star prospect Nick Watkins to Notre Dame's 2014 recruiting haul gives head coach Brian Kelly the prototypical cornerback prospect his staff has coveted since arrival in the winter of 2010.

Since, Kelly, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, and co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks have inked four players that fit their chosen profile, one calling for 6'1" rangy athletes on the perimeter: 2011 three-star Jalen Brown (6'1"), 2012 five-star Tee Shepard (6'0"), 2013 four-star Cole Luke (6'0") and 2013 three-star Devin Butler (6'1").

Luke and Butler have already emerged as contributors, passing Brown in the pecking order as a result. Shepard never played a down in South Bend, transferring before his first spring practice.

The position is no stranger to such attrition as prior to Shepard's departure, the Irish cornerbacks unit lost E.J. Banks (class of 2009) and Spencer Boyd (2010), as well as 2012 five-star pledge turned-de-commit Ronald Darby, as well as Marlon Pollard, a 2008 Irish pledge that de-committed during the Weis era and is currently enrolled at Arizona State.

With four current Irish cornerbacks expected to return to the team next fall and a fifth, senior Lo Wood, eligible for a fifth season, does Notre Dame need to add another in addition to the promising Watkins?

Projected 2014 Cornerbacks Depth Chart

Senior captain Bennett Jackson will exhaust his eligibility following Notre Dame's bowl game this fall. Below is a look at returning veterans for the 2014 season to be joined by Watkins upon arrival.

Senior Lo Wood: Eligible for a fifth season in 2014 and an early graduate last May prior to his senior season, Wood is expected to pursue a fifth year elsewhere at season's end. The senior had four tackles including one for lost yardage at Air Force on October 26.

Junior Jalen Brown: Eligible through 2015, Brown ranks sixth among the six current cornerbacks in terms of playing time this fall.

Sophomore Keivarae Russell: Will make his 22nd consecutive start Saturday vs. Pittsburgh and is eligible through the 2015 season.

Freshmen Devin Butler and Cole Luke: Both play extensively in the nickel and dime packages and rotate at field (Luke) and boundary corner (Butler) respectively.

5'11 junior Josh Atkinson has moved to wide receiver full time but could move back to corner in a pinch. 5'11" freshman Rashad Kinlaw will be slotted as either a safety or cornerback after the season. He's served most of his true freshman season on the scout team as a quarterback.

Attrition appears inevitable for the 2014 Irish. At cornerback, at running back, and maybe at quarterback. Watkins' addition fills the class's need at the former, but another defensive back capable of playing cornerback would augment his pledge and help add back end (and special teams) versatility to the current crop.

The 2014 secondary will also include returning safeties Austin Collinsworth (5th), seniors Matthias Farley and Eilar Hardy (both eligible through 2015), juniors Nicky Baratti, Elijah Shumate (2015) and John Turner (2016), and sophomore Max Redfield (2016), with the aforementioned Kinlaw also potentially in the mix.

Considering that safeties collection, a pledge from either of the team's 2014 safety prospects Juju Smith or Payton Hendrix would make the addition of another defensive back/athete superfluous.

And defensive linemen (red alert!) and inside linebackers must be added for 2014 (and '15) post-haste.

A second cornerback isn't necessary, but considering the recent machinations of the position at Notre Dame it wouldn't be a surprise if Kelly & Co. court an athlete capable of playing the defensive perimeter as Signing Day 2014 approaches.

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