Notre Dame football recruiting: Fighting Irish build on runners-up with top-ranked class

USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame's incoming recruiting class is considered the best in the nation by some analysts, meaning the talent that leaves after this year's National Championship appearance could be replaced quickly.

Notre Dame won't experience a major dropoff in talent over the next few seasons, as the Fighting Irish are universally regarded as having one of the best classes in the nation in 2013.

Notre Dame were the runners-up on the field in 2012, getting absolutely crushed by Alabama in the National Championship game. But they're beating Alabama on the recruiting trail: ESPN and Rivals consider Notre Dame's class to be the top in the country, while Scout is slightly pessimistic, putting the Irish at No. 2 behind Michigan. Brian Kelly's staff bringing in a class 23 recruits strong, with blue chippers across the board:

Jaylon Smith, OLB, Fort Wayne, IN: Smith won't take Manti Te'o's spot in the middle of the 3-4 defense, but he might be the best linebacker in the country. The 6'3 Smith is universally considered a five-star recruit and is considered the top outside linebacker in his class -- perfect for the 3-4 defense Notre Dame runs. He's one of four linebackers committed to Notre Dame, including Ohio State decommit Alex Anzalone.

Greg Bryant, RB, Delray Beach, FL: Greg Bryant was initially committed to Oklahoma, but running back decided to join Notre Dame instead. The 5'11 back considered by some to be a five-star recruit might not contribute immediately as a freshman as he'll join a backfield with Cierre Woods and Theo Riddick, but he'll likely be a big factor down the road. ESPN considers Smith the No. 2 running back in the country.

Max Redfield, DB, Mission Viejo, CA: Redfield's a safety, although some recruiting services just have him listed as an athlete. Either way, he's elite, considered a five-star recruit by Rivals, and made his announcement of Notre Dame during the Under Armour All-American game.

Malik Zaire, QB, Kettering, OH: Zaire isn't the top recruit in the Irish's class, but is still elite, considered four stars by all services and one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the country by some. Zaire's a lefty dual-threat quarterback who will likely take some time to learn Brian Kelly's system before seeing playing time, especially considering the incumbent is a youngster himself in Everett Golson.

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