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

said.

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,

Calif.

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

practices.

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

Spurs.

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

year.

”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.