Irish in hot pursuit to add interior linemen

Faced with a top nose tackle prospect falling off the board as well a decommitment from a defensive tackle, Notre Dame is exploring all of its options in a last minute effort to add interior defensive linemen to its 2014 recruiting haul. breaks down Notre Dame's chances of landing both a familiar target and new names on the Irish's recently expanded defensive line recruiting board.

With the elimination of nose tackle Matt Elam as an Irish target coupled with the decommitment of defensive tackle Matt Dickerson, Notre Dame has recently added some fresh faces as potential prospects along the interior of the defensive line.

The Irish currently hold commitments from 2014 defensive linemen Grant Blankenship (swing defensive end/CAT linebacker), Jonathan Bonner (swing defensive end/CAT linebacker), Jay Hayes (defensive tackle) and early enrollee Andrew Trumbetti (defensive end).

Holley in a holding pattern:

One name that has resurfaced in the new year has been four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley of Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln. Holley, a Penn State commit, has chosen to hold off on making any decisions until a new head coach is named in Happy Valley. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound athlete was one of Notre Dame's most sought-after prospects while he was still on the board. However, Holley chose Penn State over Florida (second) and Notre Dame (third) in December. Should Penn State interim head coach and former assistant Larry Johnson stay with the Nittany Lions, there is a good chance Holley will follow suit. Until a final decision has been reached by Penn State and therefore Holley, Notre Dame, along with Florida, Alabama and Syracuse will remain in close contact. It is worth noting that Florida and Penn State have already used their in-homes with Holley, while Brian Kelly has not.

New offers:

Notre Dame has extended offers to a trio of new names on the defensive line, including four-star tackle Daniel Cage of Cincinnati (Ohio) Winton Woods, three-star tackle Michael Sawyers of Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth and three-star tackle Trey Lealaimatafao of San Antonio (Texas) Earl Warren.

Cage has taken one official (Illinois) and has three more (Louisville, Michigan State and Missouri) on his plate sandwiched on the weekends between the end of the dead period and National Signing Day. Should Cage decide to take a visit to Notre Dame, it will likely have to come during a week day.

Sawyers, a Vanderbilt commit, is in the process of filling his weekends with officials to other schools as result of Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin being considered for the Penn State head coaching job. Sawyers will visit Ole Miss on Jan. 24 and likely Tennessee or Vanderbilt on Jan. 31. He's picked up offers from Oregon, South Carolina, Syracuse and UCLA in recent days. Whether Notre Dame can fight off competition to land a visit with time dwindling, is difficult to predict.

Above: Michael Sawyers

Lealaimatafao, a former Texas commit, has opened up his recruitment with the departure of Mack Brown. He has already taken four official visits (Arizona State, Ole Miss, Texas and UCLA) and has his last one scheduled to Oregon on Jan. 17. LSU is also squarely in the mix. At this point, it's likely a long shot for the Irish to receive a visit.

No Irish offer... yet:

A couple key names to file away: Chris Nelson and Marcus Griffin

Nelson, a three-star lineman from Lakeland (Fla.) Victory Christian, a former Louisville commit, is likely to land at Texas, where Charlie Strong is now located. He'll visit Texas on Jan. 24. If he's still on the market after that, the Irish could land a last minute visit.

Griffin, a four-star tackle from Belleuve (Wash.) High, is being recruited hardest by California, Mississippi State and Washington State. He has officials planned to Cal for this upcoming weekend and Mississippi State on Jan. 31. It's hard pressed to believe he would schedule a visit to South Bend without an offer in his back pocket.

Bottom line:

With the exception of Holley, Notre Dame jumped into the game late with these defensive line prospects. As a result, efforts to land a last minute lineman in the 2014 cycle may not come to fruition, making defensive line recruiting, particularly on the interior, a priority for the 2015 class.

Note:The potential outlook of the Irish defensive line in 2014 and beyond is dissected and discussed in-depth here.

Be sure to join the discussion regarding the constantly changing outlook of defensive line prospects here.

Also, click here to view the calendar of events occurring as they pertain to Notre Dame's recruiting efforts from now until Signing Day.

Above: Notre Dame defensive end commit Andrew Trumbetti, who posted the best score in the Under Armour Skills Challenge in early January (beating five-stars Lorenzo Carter and Andrew Brown) could vie for a spot on the two-deep in 2014. Top Stories