Notre Dame adds DL Vanderdoes, signs 24 recruits
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wasn’t about to quibble with
recruiting experts who called the recruiting class he signed
Wednesday his best.
”I love agreeing with experts,” he joked.
Most recruiting services had the Irish ranked in the top five in
the country, and that was before standout defensive lineman Eddie
Vanderdoes from Auburn Calif., became the 24th player to commit to
the Irish when he made his announcement Wednesday night.
Vanderdoes had previously committed to Southern California, but
announced recently he was looking at other schools.
Kelly said the players signed by the Irish show that Notre Dame
has returned to elite status, being ranked No. 1 this past season
for the first time in nearly 19 years and playing against Alabama
in the BCS title game, which the Irish lost 42-14.
”It’s a recruiting class that when you’re looking at it from my
perspective, it meets the time and place as to where we are right
now. We’re a team that has gone from unranked to top 10 ranking,
top five ranking, at times we’re the No. 1 team in the country, and
I think your class begins to reflect that as you move forward,” he
Running back Greg Bryant of Delray Beach, Fla., was an example
of that. Bryant, who rushed for 1,447 yards and 17 touchdowns on
186 carries last season, had committed to Oklahoma and the Irish
hadn’t contacted him since May.
But after Bryant decommitted from Oklahoma and the Irish were
off to an 11-0 start and ranked No. 1, recruiting coordinator Tony
Alford decided to give him a call just before Thanksgiving and
quickly found there was interest.
”The season, 11-0, we were first in the country, that certainly
had an impact with him as far as piquing his interest,” said
Alford, who also is the running backs coach.
Among the other highly touted players in the class are
linebacker Jaylon Smith of Fort Wayne, Ind., running back Tarean
Folston, who rushed for 1,186 yards and 13 touchdowns for Cocoa
(Fla.) High School, and safety Max Redfield of Mission Viejo,
Smith won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top high school
linebacker, the same award Manti Te’o won four years ago.
”He’s got all the things that you’re looking for, that
quickness, that ability to strike,” Kelly said.
Redfield is one of four defensive backs who will add depth in
the secondary. After starting cornerback Lo Wood and safety Jamoris
Slaughter went down with season-ending injuries, the Irish had to
depend on sophomore safety Matthias Farley and freshman cornerback
KeiVarae Russell, two players who were recruited on offense.
The Irish also added depth along the offensive line with five
recruits: 6-foot-6, 290-pound Hunter Bivin, 6-5, 300-pound Steve
Elmer, 6-7, 280-pound Mike McGlinchey, 6-5, 280-pound Colin
McGovern and 6-5, 305-pound John Montelus. Kelly said the Irish
were so thin along the line that at times as the Irish practiced to
get ready for Alabama he only had five healthy linemen at some
The Irish are expected to be at the 85-player scholarship limit
for the first time since Tyrone Willingham was coach, which Kelly
said should help.
”That impacts your program, I’m telling you,” Kelly said. ”It
impacts the way you practice. You don’t get a chance to tackle
quite as much, and all those things begin to show themselves when
you’re below the scholarship numbers.”
The Irish also added two wide receivers with famous fathers:
wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., whose father signed with the
Detroit Tigers in the offseason, and Corey Robinson, whose father,
David, was a Hall of Fame basketball player with the San Antonio
Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports called the
recruiting class Notre Dame’s best since 2008, when the Irish had
the consensus No. 2 class. That class featured Michael Floyd, tight
end Kyle Rudolph, defensive back Robert Blanton and linebacker
Darius Fleming. Each was an NFL draft pick.
Lemming said the key for the Notre Dame coaching staff is to
follow this year’s class up with another strong class next
”If you want to be in Alabama territory that means you have to
put four great classes back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Notre Dame has
not been able to do that. So depth-wise, talent-wise they’re not
able to practice as hard as Alabama is because one guy goes out
they have another guy just as good to come in. Notre Dame didn’t
have that luxury,” he said.