Kelly: 24 recruits provide Notre Dame with needed depth
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame added 24 players to its roster Wednesday that coach Brian Kelly said should provide the needed depth to challenge for a national championship even though it wasn't rated as a top-five class by analysts.
''We don't look at it through anybody else's lens but our own,'' Kelly said. ''So I hear what they say that what, this is the 15th-rated or 18th-rated class? I don't know what they're saying. These are guys that we believe can help us win a championship. That's how we recruit.''
Scout had Notre Dame's class ranked seventh while Rivals had the Irish 12th.
Kelly said the biggest need filled was signing three cornerbacks and kicker Justin Yoon to replace kicker Kyle Brindza, who graduated.
''If you break it down to the two musts, we needed a kicker and we needed the three in-and-out corners. We had to have those,'' he said.
The highest-rated recruit was quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who originally committed to Penn State. The Irish went after him after Blake Barnett, who signed with Alabama, decommitted in June. Kelly said he considered not signing a quarterback, but changed his mind.
''What I saw from him and was able to learn and develop over time with him, there was no way we were going to pass on this young man,'' Kelly said.
Signing day lacked the drama of some recent years, with running back Dexter Williams and wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown being the only players to announce Wednesday, although both decisions were expected.
The biggest drama Wednesday involving Notre Dame was a report that was quickly shot down that former Michigan coach Brady Hoke was joining Kelly's staff. Hoke said on CBS Sports Network that he had a ''discussion'' with Kelly, but added ''I'm not going to South Bend.''
Kelly declined to talk about reports that defensive backs coach Kerry Crooks and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur had accepted jobs elsewhere.
Kelly also indicated the Irish were looking into adding depth at safety by possibly adding a player or two who have graduated from other universities.
Notes: Kelly said offensive lineman Conor Hanratty had decided not to return for a fifth year. He also said cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who missed last season after an investigation by the school into academic dishonesty, is taking classes at the University of Washington and is hoping to return to Notre Dame in June. Defensive lineman Ishaq Williams also plans to return, Kelly said. ... Kelly said with construction going on around the stadium, it's not known where the spring game will be played. He said it likely will be played on campus.
Top 25 Class: Yes
Best in class: Brandon Wimbush , QB, Jersey City, New Jersey.
Best of the rest: Alize Jones, TE, Las Vegas; Shaun Crawford, cb, Lakewood, Ohio.
Late addition: Dexter Williams, RB, Winter Garden, Fla.
One that got away: Quarterback Blake Barnett to Alabama, committed in November 2013, decommitted in June after visit to Oregon.