Recruiting for the 2011 freshman class will continue for a couple of weeks before the day the young men must formally sign their letters of intent, and lock in their choices. It is not premature to comment, however, on progress to date, particularly as regards Notre Dame.
Irish fans are elated at the verbal commitment this weekend from Ishaq Williams, and the recommitment of Aaron Lynch. Both are top rated defensive ends. Stephon Tuitt is another top ranked defensive end previously committed, and still on board. All of these kids are ranked in the top 100 of their peers. Ben Councell, another defensive end verbally committed, may be upgraded to the top 100 on the basis of the very strong impression he made at a recent all-star game. Of these four defensive ends, Williams and Councell actually project to be most promising as playing outside linebacker positions. Louis Nix recruited last year at the nose tackle position, promises to round out the best defensive line in college football in the next few years. Of course, Manti Teo, a sophmore superstar in 2010, and Carlo Calabrese, the other leading tackler on the 2010 team, another sophmore, complete a "front seven" likely to be dominating and fun to watch. ND has also received commitments from 4 or 5 promising defensive backs adding needed depth in that category.
It's almost embarassing mention Carrico, Rabassa and Springman , defensive linemen or Jarret Grace, a promising linebacker, as afterthoughts. All of these four could compete for playing time, and one or two could be asked to switch to the offensive line, where they would be equally promising.
All of this defensive power recalls the Brian Kelly quote, that he could build an offense, but that he needed to recruit a defense. Well he certainly done that. Also interesting to a ND fan is the diversity of geographic origins. The six "top 100" recruits this year come from NY, PA, GA, FL, NM, and CA. Compare this to other powerhouses like Ohio State, Texas, LSU and Florida, all of whom's "top 100' recruits come from within their own state.
Less one suspect that this effusiveness over the defensive side of the line masks concerns regarding the offensive side, Coach Kelly has recruited a SC quarterback, a TX running back, an IL receiver and a potential slot receiver from CA, ideally suited to his "spread offense" scheme. Add a top rated offensive lineman from CT to the previously counted "top 100" offensive lineman from NM, and perhaps the best tight end in the country, the PA kid. Another offensive lineman (from IN) is the promising kid brother of a current starting offensive guard. Oh, and ND has signed up an excellent kicker (MI) and remains in the running for 5 star running back from NJ .
Obviously ND fans should be elated about the overall quality of this class, the extremely talented defensive players, making recruiting inroads into the deep south, and the "RKG" on offense to bring Kelly's plans to fruition. For this long time ND fan, the outreach to a national recruiting base is particularly edifying and elicits complements to what must be, start to finish, the hardest working staff in college ball.