Notre Dame: good news, bad news

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The good news at Notre Dame is new coach Brian Kelly is undefeated, appears to have a personality that impacts favorably on his players and has recruited a top 10 class to date by receiving commitments from kids who normally opt to attend Notre Dame, the kind of kids who didn't give former coach Charlie Weis the benefit of the doubt.

The bad news at Notre Dame is while Kelly has recruited some outstanding prospects to bolster his spread offense, including an athletic quarterback who can run and throw, he and his staff still must prove they can recruit impact players on defense, which the Irish haven't been able to do on a consistent basis for the last 20 years.

Sure, Notre Dame got widely heralded linebacker Manti Teo two years ago. But they have struggled since 1993 to put together a great defensive line that compares to Bryant Young, Brian Hamilton and Oliver Gibson.

Kelly has landed 6-5, 270-pound offensive lineman Matt Hegerty, the No. 1 player in New Mexico and one of the top seven or eight offensive linemen in the nation.

He also got one of the best tight ends in the nation, 6-5, 235-pound Ben Koyack of Oil City, Pa., who picked Notre Dame over USC and Ohio State. He has 4.5 speed.

Kelly also got 6-5, 300-pound offensive lineman Conor Hanratty of New Caanan, Conn., son of former Notre Dame quarterback Terry Hanratty.

He got the best offensive lineman in Florida, 6-6, 270-pound Jordan Prestwood of Plant City, who was a tight end last year. He was the most widely recruited offensive lineman in Florida with offers from Florida and Alabama.

The Irish are doing well but what they still need to do is recruit skill position players. They still need a left tackle, wide receiver, running back, a pass-rushing defensive end and a cover cornerback, impact players that they don't currently have on their roster.

Who are they hoping to sign?

The list includes the No. 1 offensive lineman in the nation, 6-7, 290-pound Cyrus Kouandjio of Hyattsville, Md., 6-0, 190-pound running back Savon Huggins of Jersey City, N.J., 6-5, 240-pound defensive lineman Ray Drew of Thomasville, Ga., and quarterbacks Bubba Starling of Gardner, Kan., and Kiehl Frazier of Fayetteville, Ark.

Starling, a 6-5, 200-pounder, is one of the top five quarterbacks in the nation. But he also is a baseball star who throws a 95 mph fastball and is hitting .600 and could be a first-round choice in the major league draft in June.

Frazier has been offered by Oklahoma.

Look for Kelly and his staff to spend a lot of time in Florida, which boasts a lot of outstanding defensive players in the class of 2011. Unfortunately, there are no impact defensive linemen in the Midwest that Notre Dame is recruiting this year.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on May 14, 2010 2:25 PM.

Bright future at Illinois was the previous entry in this blog.

Who's the nation's No. 1 player? is the next entry in this blog.

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