The Kelly Effect: Offensive Commitments

Notre Dame still hasn't named a replacement for Charlie Weis, but all signs are starting to point to Cincinnati's Brian Kelly. If Kelly does indeed land the head job at Notre Dame, what effect will he have on recruiting? Will he be able to hold onto the 18 prospects currently committed to the Irish? Will he be able to lure any new recruits to Notre Dame?

The first thing that needs to be made clear is that Notre Dame will stand behind their scholarship offer to all the prospects that committed to Charlie Weis regardless of who is named as head coach. The question now is whether the committed player is going to stand behind their commitment to attend Notre Dame. The answer to that at this time appears to be yes; nearly every recruit appears to be standing strong to their commitment to Notre Dame.

With Jimmy Clausen heading to the NFL, Dayne Crist will be the lone returning quarterback on the Irish roster which means the quarterback situation at Notre Dame is ideal for any quarterback. Notre Dame has two quarterbacks already committed in Tommy Rees of Lake Forest High School (Ill.) and Moeller High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) signal caller Andrew Hendrix. Both prospects have stated that they have no plans to reconsider their commitment to Notre Dame, with Rees still considering the early graduation route. Rees understands the upside of getting a head start this spring, but his decision will likely wait until he gets an opportunity to speak with his new head coach. There have been questions about Notre Dame potentially going after another quarterback. I doubt that will happen. The new head coach already has two new guys, doubt he'd want to get the quarterback numbers out of whack in his first year.

When the new head coach walks in the door, the first thing he'll like is the depth and talent at running back. That doesn't mean the shelf doesn't need to be restocked. After next season, Notre Dame the only ball carriers remaining on the roster will be Jonas Gray with one year of eligibility, Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. No worries, help is on the way with Cameron Roberson and St. Thomas Aquinas standout Gio Bernard. Neither player has been available for comment, but it is believed both will stick with Notre Dame. There has been some chatter that Bernard is looking around, but that is likely a backup plan, because Kelly's offense would appear to be a perfect fit for his slashing style. Roberson committed to Notre Dame as much as he did to the coaching staff, so expect his name to stay in this recruiting class.

It's hard to believe there would be a more attractive offense for a wide receiver than Charlie Weis' offense, but if Kelly is named the head coach at Notre Dame, Irish wide receiver commitments Daniel Smith (6-foot-4, 205-pounds), Bennett Jackson (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) and Tai-ler Jones (6-foot-0, 183-pounds) will report to campus with a smile on their face. Smith, Jackson and Jones have all gone on record and said that they are firmly committed to Notre Dame. Jackson summed up his feelings on the coaching change recently when he told's Bob Lichtenfels, ‘I chose to go to Notre Dame because of the academics, the tradition and because I had a good relationship with the players.' His comments are very similar to those made by both Smith and Jones. There have been rumblings that have Jones considering a few visits, but I don't put much stock in them. Tai-lor is scheduled to graduate this month and he is scheduled to be at Notre Dame in January. It is possible that a coach like Kelly would be interested in adding another wide receiver to this class as Weis wanted to do, and I doubt it would be difficult for him to get the attention of several of the top receivers like USC commitment and's No. 2 ranked wide receiver Kyle Prater (Hillside, Ill.)

Despite the reputation of the spread, Kelly utilizes the tight end quite effectively in his offense. In 2009, the tight ends at Notre Dame caught 39 passes for 424 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers are fairly similar to the production of Brian Kelly's tight ends who caught 33 passes for 492 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers are probably very good news to Alex Welch of Edler High School (Cincinnati, Ohio). Welch (6-foot-5, 225-pounds) committed to Notre Dame in part because of the way Weis utilized the tight end in his offense. Welch was disappointed to see Weis leave Notre Dame, but like the others, he gone on record stating that he is firm with his commitment to Notre Dame.

Christian Lombard from Fremd High School (Palatine, Ill.) is the lone offensive lineman currently committed to Notre Dame. Lombard was the first pledge for the 2010 recruiting class, and there may not be another player in this class that is more committed to Notre Dame than Lombard. I've had a number of conversations with him, and he has made it very clear that he wanted to play for Weis, but he committed to Notre Dame. There is no question Kelly will need to add several more offensive linemen, if he lands in South Bend and Matt James would likely be the most obvious guy to follow him. Kelly and his staff have done an outstanding job of recruiting James and have the Bearcats holding strong against recruiting powers Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Florida. Top Stories