The Irish have missed on a number of their top targets so far, but this staff has proven they can evaluate talent. Irish fans have to hope that they've found some solid replacements for some of the top targets no longer interested in Notre Dame.
Let's take a look at the list.
The Irish appear to be slipping with Brohm. Louisville has always been the competition, but the Irish might end up third in this race. The Irish are not out of it, but their chances appear to be sliding rapidly. We said earlier that Carpenter is very unlikely. Nothing has changed to change our minds on that. Bragg seems very excited about the chance to play for Notre Dame, so does Wolke. The Irish will likely land one of either Bragg or Wolke. They could end up with both in the end. We are going to guess Bragg is the guy.
Running backJustin Hoskins (committed)
Hoskins was a vital commitment. Walker has said Notre Dame is leading the race. We've felt good about Walker for a while, and that continues. However, plenty of very good schools and football programs remain to be visited. Don't pencil Walker in until he's taken these visits. Taylor appears very open to Notre Dame. He has never indicated anyone as a leader, other than Miami. Miami passed so this race is open. Forsett is a new name. I don't believe he has been offered at this point. We'll wait and see what happens here. We think the Irish will end up with Hoskins and Walker.
Wide ReceiverDevon Lyons
When the season began, the priority was a speed receiver. Only McCoy appears to be that blazing deep threat they were hoping to land. The others are said to have speed, but not the blazing speed they were looking for.
The Irish appear to be slipping for Lyons after leading most of the year. Willingham has used his in-home visit already. We think the Irish will continue to slide unless something changes real soon. At this point, he doesn't look likely.
McCoy remains open right now. Arkansas and their track program could become a factor. Texas A&M is another concern, and now Arizona has jumped into the mix. We won't know on McCoy for a while. We think the Irish have some ground to make up here.
Creamer has visited, and lists Illinois as his leader—doubt he comes to Notre Dame. Chancellor Young appears very interested, as does Vaughn. The best bets are Young and Vaughn.
Tight EndKellen Freeman-Davis
Freeman-Davis has set his official visit to Notre Dame on January 16th. Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue are the competition. Rumors have said he'll likely stay in-state. Davis denies these rumors. He hasn't indicated any leader recently. The Irish have more selling to do here. We're going to guess he doesn't sign with Notre Dame in the end.
Offensive LineChauncey Incarnato (committed)
John Kadous (committed)
Both Incarnato and Kadous were vital. Both appear solid commitments at this point. The Irish will likely battle Stanford for Smith. Maryland and Tennessee are the competition for Thomas. The Irish should have a good shot to sign both players in the end. We would not be surprised to see Notre Dame take both if they can get them. At least one will sign. We think/hope they will sign both.
Defensive LineBrandon Nicolas (committed)
Ronald Talley (committed)
Nicolas could play either defensive line or offensive line. Talley was an important pickup because the Irish need bodies, and we like his attitude. Richard has dropped the Irish recently, and we are not confident they can get back in the race. Mbakogu remains interested, but many think he'll stay on the West Coast. Brown appears to be the best bet at this point, and remains very interested in Notre Dame. THe Irish were late on Baker. He'd been favoring Notre Dame earlier. Will the late start hurt the Irish? We think the longer he waits, the better for Notre Dame. We're going to guess the Irish land Brown in the end, maybe Baker as well.
LinebackerAbdel Banda (committed)
Anthony Vernaglia (soft verbal)
Banda is committed, we're not sold that Vernaglia is at this point. Losing Vernaglia would be a big blow to this class. We don't consider him committed because he hasn't closed the door on other schools. It appears this will continue until Willingham and his staff can close the door. We don't feel confident that Notre Dame will sign Vernaglia in the end. Hopefully they will.
Thaxton is going to be a tough sell, but this Irish staff did just that last year with Mitchell Thomas. The Irish were his first scheduled visit. He's held that Irish visit the entire time. He's looking at a lot of great schools, all in the south. This will be a very difficult sell.
Crum also remains interested. He'll take a visit, but the Irish were said to be trailing Georgia Tech. The Irish have some ground to make up for Crum. Palmer is a new name. The Irish came in late on him. Will the late start hurt Notre Dame?
This position is really up in the air right now. First order of business is to secure Vernaglia. Then the Irish need to sign at least one of the remaining three. The Irish cannot finish with just one linebacker in this class. We're hoping that doesn't happen. We can't predict any of the remaining three to come to Notre Dame at this point.
Defensive BackTregg Duerson (committed)
The Irish needed two solid corners in this class. Hopefully they will sign two.
Duerson is committed. He appears to be a good athlete. The jury is out on if he's a top talent. Lyles is being recruited as a safety. We think Virginia is the team to beat for Lyles. Grixby is listed as a corner, but Notre Dame appears to be recruiting him as a wide receiver. The Irish have a legitimate shot at Grixby.
Jabbie is said to be either a corner or safety prospect. Usually that means a safety prospect. Notre Dame will have to battle Boston College and Missouri for him. They should have a good shot in the end. McBath is a new name added to the mix. He could be a vital pickup as he is considered a true corner. Lambert is said to be a Notre Dame/Florida State battle. The Irish haven't won many of these late in the recruiting season.
We don't know much about McBath yet. He could be a steal if they can sign him. Regardless, the Irish need at least two true corners in this class. We think Jabbie will end up being a commitment in the end. After Jabbie, we can't predict anyone at this point.
January is always the most exciting month of recruiting. Expect some surprises, and some disappointments. We expect more names to pop up as the month continues. Willingham and his staff have time to change opinions. Hopefully they can do that.
The Irish have to finish strong in the end. The margin of error is very slim at this point. Hopefully the can close on many of the top players left on the board.