As we slowly approach Signing Day, Brian Kelly and his coaches at Notre Dame are putting together one of the nation's best recruiting classes. The Fighting Irish have verbal commitments from 16 players, including 11 consensus four-star prospects. Kelly's haul is good enough to earn his program the ninth position in 247Sports' overall rankings for 2014.
After an active summer, the pace of commitments to Kelly's program have slowed as the high school and college seasons began. Notre Dame has not received a verbal commitment since early August, when outside linebacker Richard Yeargin III and defensive tackle Matt Dickerson committed on consecutive days. Yeargin, a four-star prospect from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is widely considered one of the nation's top 30 outside linebackers. The three-star Dickerson is another product of Notre Dame's recruiting efforts in California.
The Irish class is highlighted by a pair of New Jersey commits. Offensive tackle Quenton Nelson is a consensus national top 100 recruit and one of the nation's top five tackle prospects. The 6'5, 295-lb. Nelson hails from Red Bank, N.J., and chose Notre Dame over Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Miami, and 25 other offers.
Nelson will be joined in South Bend by fellow Garden State resident Andrew Trumbetti. The 6'5, 250-lb. defensive end recruit hails from Demarest, and has been routinely ranked among New Jersey's five best high school prospects. He has a four-star consensus rating, and is widely considered one of the nation's top 10 strongside defensive ends.
Ohio-based quarterback DeShone Kizer committed to the Irish in June. Kizer, who is 6'5 and weighs 207 lbs., is widely considered one of the ten best players in Ohio and one of the nation's best pocket passers. He held 20 scholarship offers, including offers from Alabama, LSU, Louisville, Penn State, Nebraska, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
Wide receiver Justin Brent, from the aptly-named Speedway High in Indianapolis, is Indiana's top player and a national top ten wideout recruit. Brent received a four-star grade and a spot in 247Sports' national top 100. He committed to Notre Dame last July, and his commitment has held firm despite interst from Michigan, Ohio State, Louisville, Arkansas, and Penn State.
Notre Dame is very much in the mix for many prospects, but it's tough to pinpoint any five-star types for who the Irish are a strong favorite. Receiver Michiah Quick, a four-star from Fresno (Calif.) Central East is probably the prospect who fits the bill most closely, but USC will offer stiff competition for Quick.