The 2014 class taking shape
Notre Dame has received three commitments in two days, earning the Irish significant momentum as the final stretch to National Signing Day approaches. With the recent additions of linebackers Nile Sykes and Kolin Hill and tight end Tyler Luatua, Notre Dame's current commit total is 22, omitting wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie. If the Irish are going to take a full class, that leaves at the very most five spots (the 5th spot being a very elite prospect who wanted to jump aboard late in the game) for the taking. Here is a look at the dozen prospects who could fill those remaining three to five spots. First up, the eight primary targets: 4-star wide receiver Michiah Quick (Fresno, California): This will likely come down to Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Quick has no future visits on the docket, and he's taken his officials to Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Oregon. Should Quick decide to stay home, UCLA is likely the favorite to land him. He's Notre Dame's top wide receiver target, but the Irish have some stiff competition from the Sooners and possibly the Bruins. 4-star tight end Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah): Notre Dame provided Schultz with a knockout official visit last weekend, but it's still unlikely the Irish have passed Stanford as the team to beat. Notre Dame could land him, but there's still work to be done, and likely Stanford will have to slip some for the Irish to emerge as No. 1. 3-star wide receiver Charles Nelson (Daytona Beach, Florida): Nelson took his official visit to Notre Dame this past weekend, and he has officials planned to USC and West Virginia for January. Whether or not Nelson decides to commit to Notre Dame within the next couple of weeks is up to him. He has the green light to commit, so it should be interesting to see if he pulls the trigger for the Irish without visiting the Trojans, who is providing the main compeition. 5-star safety Juju Smith (Long Beach, California): This will likely come down to USC and Notre Dame. Smith likes all that Notre Dame can offer him, and so does his family. However, USC is still stiff competition because it's close to home. Smith will take his official visit to USC in January, and a final decision will come after that. 4-star nose tackle Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Kentucky): Elam has a top three of Alabama, Kentucky and Notre Dame. He took his official to Notre Dame for the USC game, and he took his Kentucky official last weekend. Since Elam plans to announce at the Army Bowl on Jan. 4, his schedule won't allow for an official to Alabama, though he has visited the Tide multiple times. He's one of Notre Dame's very top targets, and I like the Irish's chances here. 4-star linebacker Nyles Morgan (Crete, Illinois): Once thought to end up as a solid get for the SEC, Morgan is now Notre Dame's to lose, even with the departure of Notre Dame's coordinators and his primary recruiters. Vanderbilt and Florida are also in the mix. Morgan did not visit Vandy or Notre Dame this weekend, though both programs were possible destinations to receive a visit. Morgan plans to announce his decision at the Army Bowl on Jan. 4. 4-star linebacker Andrew Williams (McDonough, Georgia): Williams is still a top target on Notre Dame's board, though the Irish will be a long-shot to land him, especially if he doesn't make it to campus again. Williams has not visited Notre Dame since last spring. Auburn, Clemson and Ole Miss are probably higher on his list. 4-star defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas): Thomas has reached out in recent weeks to the Irish staff about an official visit but has not scheduled anything to date. He has officials planned to Arkansas, Ohio State, Stanford and UCLA for the weekends leading up to signing day. It still looks like he's Stanford's to lose. On the board, but not priorities: 4-star offensive tackle Braden Smith (Olathe, Kansas): Smith will take an official visit to Notre Dame in January before he makes his final decision, but TCU appears to be the team to beat. Also, with four talented offensive lineman already on board and tight numbers in this recruiting cycle, Notre Dame doesn't view Smith as a must-have in any shape or form at this point. 3-star wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Florida): McKenzie is still waiting on test scores to be considered an official Notre Dame commit. If Nelson commits to Notre Dame in the meantime, and Quick decides he wants to come to Notre Dame, McKenzie could be out of a spot. 4-star wide receiver Erik Brown (Fontana, California): Brown, a current California commit, is still being courted by Notre Dame, but he does not have a go-ahead to commit. Should he receive that from the staff, there's a legit possibility he will switch camps. 4-star safety Payton Hendrix (Dallas, Texas): It may be somewhat surprising Hendrix isn't listed as as top prospect at this point, but with space dwindling, Juju Smith looking like a legit contender, and safety not a desperate position of need in this cycle, the staff isn't putting a lot of pressure on Hendrix to commit just yet. He visited Arkansas last weekend.
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