Class of 2013: Instant Impact

Notre Dame's current freshmen crop enjoyed contributions from 11 of its 23 members this season, 10 of which will earn monograms for their efforts that included 26 combined starts from six of its rookies competitors.

The graduating seniors of 2013 won 36 games of their 51 played to date, all under fourth-year head coach Brian Kelly. A win against a yet-to-be-determined bowl foe would tie the 2010 freshmen with Lou Holtz's 1991 freshmen class for 37 wins (37-9-2) for the most at the program over the last 22 seasons.

More important to Irish fans, Kelly's classes that remain behind are likely to surpass their 2010 predecessors. Below is part three of our four class reviews at the conclusion of the 2013 regular season.

Click here for our initial installment and a look at the freshmen class of 2010, the winningest group at the program since Lou Holtz's 1992 freshmen.

Click here for a detailed review of the current juniors, the freshmen class of 2011.

Click here for a look at the progress of the team's current sophomores, the freshmen class of 2012.

2013: Immediate Gratification

Initially 24 players in number, the transfer of five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes not only caused a national stir, but impacted the team's depth up front in a 2013 season that saw three of the team's main defensive linemen lose a combined 18 games, plus parts of four others, to injury.

The class, Scout.com's fifth-ranked on National Signing Day 2013, nonetheless received major contributions from every position group with the exception of tight end and quarterback: Tarean Folston (RB), James Onwualu, Corey Robinson, and Will Fuller (WR), Steven Elmer (OL), Isaac Rochell (DL), Jaylon Smith (LB), Max Redfield (S that started on ST), and Devin Butler and Cole Luke (CBs).

2013: Just the Facts

Of the 23 remaining members, 10 played in 2013 to use a season of eligibility: Steve Elmer, James Onwualu, Corey Robinson, Devin Butler, Jaylon Smith, Isaac Rochell, Tarean Folston, Max Redfield, Will Fuller, and Cole Luke.

From that group, six became first-year starters, full or (mostly) part-time: Elmer, Onwualu, Robinson, Smith, Folston, and Fuller. Smith started 12 games, the remaining quintet combined for 14 starting assignments.

-- Three are currently on the injured list: LB Doug Randolph (August shoulder surgery), TE Mike Heuerman (in-season shoulder surgery), OL John Montelus (off-season shoulder surgery)

-- 13 are believed eligible through 2017: Randolph, Heuerman and Montelus, plus Greg Bryant (played but had a procedure on his knee that truncated his season in late September), Michael Deeb, Torii Hunter, Malik Zaire, Jacob Matuska, Colin McGovern, Hunter Bivin, Mike McGlinchey, Rashad Kinlaw, Durham Smythe.

-- Record to date: 8-4
-- Record vs. Top 25 teams, either at game time or at season's end: 2-3 (does not yet include USC 2013)
-- Record as favorites: 6-1
-- Record as underdogs: 2-3

2013 and Beyond

Twenty-three quick thoughts on the current crop of rookies:

OL Steve Elmer: Likely left tackle starter in '14 proved to be among the team's most important reserves…
LB Jaylon Smith Future superstar proved to be among the team's ten (five?) best players...

RB Tarean Folston: Future star or future split-timer among a crowded quintet? Has the feet and frame...

WR Corey Robinson: Future competition abounds but his top skill is invaluable and can't be taught…

WR Will Fuller: Already a leg up on Chris Brown for 2014? The speedster has superior ball skills...

WR James Onwualu: You want a more physical offense? Onwualu would be part of its perimeter…

CB Cole Luke: Pushed for early rotation time before settling into dime role. Has a leg up to start in '14...

CB Devin Butler: Surprise regular in the dime package, Butler enters Spring '14 as the No. 3 CB…

S Max Redfield: It was incumbent upon the staff to find a role for this type of athlete from scrimmage…

DE Isaac Rochell: Odds-on favorite for a starting role if Tuitt jumps ship for the NFL...

RB Greg Bryant: The minotaur gets a re-start to his career in mid-March. And an extra season of competition...

OT Mike McGlinchey: Varsity backup as a frosh…potential LT starter if Elmer remains inside?

OG Hunter Bivin: Third freshmen OL to earn varsity practice reps; spring battle for LG role awaits...

OG John Montelus: Surgery meant my sleeper for 2014 didn't dress for home games; weight loss appears necessary...

OG Colin McGovern: Needed time after November 2012 knee surgery and got it. Was always going to redshirt…

LB Michael Deeb: Workout warrior ready to compete for ILB rotation role this spring...

TE Durham Smythe: Has a leg up on his classmate Heuerman after the latter missed most of 2013...

TE Mike Heuerman: Shoulder surgery set him back -- spring 2014 will be about moving to No. 3 role

QB Malik Zaire: The no-doubt No. 2 for 2014 assuming Everett Golson returns and remains...

WR Torii Hunter, Jr.: Will be 15 months removed from broken femur by spring '14…and ready to roll

DB Rashad Kinlaw: Scout team QB will likely debut as third-string CB this spring…can he help return unit?

LB Doug Randolph: Could move back outside where he belongs if incoming frosh aid interior...

DL Jacob Matuska: Redshirt season was necessary…third-string role (or better?) available for '14 spring and fall


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories