A peek at Notre Dame's 2011 recruiting class

The last Notre Dame coach promised a ``schematic advantage'' when he arrived with much fanfare in South Bend, home of the Fighting Irish. The new one, Brian Kelly out of Cincinnati University, is promising nothing more than blood, sweat, toil and tears.

Kelly is making no promises, but he's hard at work in recruiting with nine commitments, including five-star tight end Ben Koyack of Oil City, Pa., who also was pursued by nearly every college in the nation. He also landed offensive tackle Matt Hegarty of Aztec, N.M., who also was on USC's most-wanted list.

Kelly also has commitments from five players with four-star rankings, three with three-star rankings and one who hasn't yet been ranked. Not a bad start for a guy who's going to become a tough foe for the Trojans.

One change in Notre Dame recruiting strategy -- a de-emphasis on seeking California athletes. Former coach Charlie Weis had come on stronger and stronger in the Trojans' home territory. Only four Californians are being recruited by the Fighting Irish.

Maybe you'd like other news out of South Bend. Kelly isn't sugar-coating his assessment of returning talent. According to Blue & Gold magazine, he told returning linebacker Manti Te'o that ``he wasn't as good a player as everybody on the outside made him out to be,'' and described Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High quarterback Dayne Crist's footwork as ``sloppy.'' Te'o, as you'll recall, was considered a USC lock until a last-minute conversion in February of 2009.

Complicating Notre Dame's predicament was the recent arrest of returning tight end Mike Ragone's arrest on marijuana possession charges. Kelly said Ragone's situation would be handled ``internally.''

The hope around South Bend is that the Fighting Irish will qualify for a BCS game in Kelly's first season as head coach. Uh, if that develops, it will be a miracle and Kelly's recruiting prospects will soar.

Stay tuned.

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