SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 03: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leads his team onto the field before taking on the University of South Florida Bulls at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Irish have very few holes in this excellent recruiting class.
Notre Dame took a hard loss to the Florida State Seminoles last night, and the focus now turns to recruiting.
Notre Dame's recruiting class currently sits at 16 commitments. And the Irish will look to take up to 22 (possibly 23) commitments in this class, meaning there's still a lot of potential drama left on the recruiting trail for Notre Dame.
And despite the loss, the Irish did receive some good news yesterday in commitment KeiVarae Russell, of Washington, who picked the Irish over the Huskies.
Let's address the position on the mind of every Notre Dame fan: quarterback. Despite Tommy Rees's ridiculous interceptions, Notre Dame is not expected to take a quarterback in this class. The Irish had three targets and didn't land any of them. Apparently, they have decided not to reach for a lesser talent. This isn't as crazy as some might think, as the Irish already have three quarterbacks on the roster.
The star of the group is defensive lineman Jarron Jones, who at 6'6" and 300 pounds should be a beast in Notre Dame's 3-4 defensive scheme. The five-star out of New York held offers from almost every school in the country, and at one time was committed to Penn State.
Defensive back has been a priority for the Irish, and Notre Dame has filled the need with five quality defensive backs in Ronald Darby, Tee Shepard, John Turner, Nick Baratti and C.J. Prosise. The former two are four-star recruits who were pursued on a national level. But the Irish aren't done here.
So who is left on the board for the Irish?
The targets remaining on board include Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, CA), teammates Yuri Wright and Elijah Shumate (Ramsey, NJ), Ishmael Adams (Thousand Oaks, CA), Donaldven Manning (Miami, FL), Demetrius Cox (Jeannette, PA) and Marcus Rios (Elk Grove, CA). A current Penn State recruit (Armani Reeves - West Roxbury, MA) is keeping the Irish on his short list of back-up schools depending on the coaching situation in State College.
At this point, Thompson would be a long-shot. Wright and Schumate would be a phenomenal safety tandem to go along with Shepard and Darby (think Sapp-Earl-Walton-Duff). Manning is a current Virigina Tech commit and early entry candidate. Cox and Rios are late comers and I have no idea where either end up going.
I don't see Notre Dame flipping Manning, but Shumate is a definite possibility and would be an excellent get.
Where else is Notre Dame looking to put those remaining six scholarships to use?
Outside linebacker is certaintly a priority:
It appears that there are two targets left at the position: Ifeadi Odenigbo (Dayton, OH) and Ken Ekanem (Clifton, VA). Odenigbo took an official visit for the USC game and has publicly stated that academics are a top priority. Ekanem appears to be one of the players to recently appear on the Irish radar and is scheduled to visit in a few weeks. Both are exceptional athletes that would benefit from Bob Diaco's system.
Remember that since Notre Dame runs a 3-4, it is looking for a bit different type of player than you might think of when thinking about outside linebackers. In fact, many of the outside backers pursued by Notre Dame are in fact being recruited to play defensive end in 4-3 schemes by other schools.
Odenigbo holds 20 offers and is also considering Cal, Ohio State and Stanford. Ekanem also holds more than 20 offers and is also considering North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Oregon. Of note, Ekanem is having ACL surgery in late December, but teams have not backed off the talented recruit.
Notre Dame already has a top class even if it doesn't grab another commitment. But with several outstanding targets left on the board, the Irish could close strong and rocket up the rankings.
For more on Notre Dame Recruiting, visit One Foot Down.