NOTRE DAME — As the final letters of intent trickled in, it became clear that there would be would be no dramatic turns this time around, no 11th-hour decommits.
There were no Deontay Greenberrys, a former 5-star receiver who made a last-minute decision to pledge with Houston over the Irish in 2012. Instead, Notre Dame received official letters of intent from all 23 of the verbal commits it had heading into the final week of recruitment and a special 24th commit later that evening.
Eddie Vanderdoes, a 5-star defensive tackle, signed with the Irish Wednesday, Feb. 6, ending a high profile, 3-way race with Notre Dame, Alabama and UCLA.
The difference in recruiting this time around, head coach Brian Kelly said, was ensuring the level of commitment.
“I think what we did this year is that we made sure where that commitment was,” Kelly said. “In other words, if you’re committed, that means you’ve ended this recruiting process. And I think in some instances, being firmer toward that end allowed this not to take shape. ... We’re not getting these quick knee-jerk reaction kind of decisions, these are kids that really took their time to make the right decision.”
Tarean Folston caused Notre Dame some anxiety after Auburn made a last-ditch effort to bring the 4-star running back on board. But Folston signed with the Irish shortly after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, becoming the 23rd and final verbal commit to fax his letter.
With all 23 commits on board, Notre Dame was waiting on defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who planned to announce his college choice at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The 5-star prospect is choosing from Notre Dame, Alabama and UCLA.
Here’s what Kelly had to say about his loaded incoming class:
Note: Folston and Vanderdoes signed with Notre Dame two hours after Kelly’s press conference and were therefore not included in Kelly’s rundown of each player in the 2013 class.
OL Hunter Bivin
“What we have here is a young man with great versatility on the offensive line. He played tackle, he moved to center in the allstar game, played flawlessly at that position. Here’s a young man that comes in with the size and strength and the versatility on the offensive line, an area that as you know with five offensive line commits was very central to this recruiting class.”
RB Greg Bryant
“What we really love about Greg is, again, a guy that has shown a proficiency of catching the football as well as running physically tackle-to-tackle. We think we get that kind of physical play with Greg Bryant. He’s a wellconditioned athlete. He’s got great instincts in running the football, but we love the fact that he can catch the football, as well. Outstanding football player. His dad is a coach, coaches at the high school. We just love that kid that comes from a coach’s family. He really understands the game.”
CB Devin Butler
“Devin obviously at the cornerback position is a need that we have within our program. With injuries last year and graduation the year before, we were thin obviously this year, and we were able to find a way to get it done back there. Now we can add some depth to the cornerback position. He’s an exciting player that’s going to come in and compete immediately.”
LB Michael Deeb
“He brings an energy to everything he does. When he walks in that locker room, it’s time to play football, and if you’re not locked in, he’s going to make sure he says something to you. We love his energy, we love the way he plays the game, and obviously from our standpoint feel like he’s a guy that can come in and obviously compete for us.”
OL Steve Elmer
“Bright, articulate, he fits all the profiles that we’re looking for with great feet, athleticism, can play on the edge, play the tackle position for us, and again, just a great student and a great young man.”
WR WILLIAM FULLER
“We believe that if there’s a guy that flew under the radar a little bit, it was William Fuller. The thing that really clearly stands out is his ball skills. He can run and catch the football. We think as he develops physically, he also has that speed, that topend speed that can obviously impact football games.”
TE Mike Heuerman
“That tight end position as you know, we like to use it in multiple fashions, whether he’s split out as a wide receiver or if he’s inline blocking or moving him around, Mike fits that profile...He’s going to be a fine football player for us. He continues to develop at that position.”
WR Torii Hunter Jr.
“He suffered a leg injury, and he’s already up moving around after two and a half weeks. The care and the commitment that he has, here’s a guy that’s only going to get better and physically develop. We think he’s got that burst, if you will, that ability to take it and go from anywhere on the field. We think he’s an inside guy that can really make a difference for us within our offensive structure and just a great family and a great young man.”
CB Rashad Kinlaw
“We love his size, his length, his athleticism. We think it’s an untapped resource for us in that we’re only going to get him better and better physically, and he has the speed, he has the ability to play the ball. We think he’s going to fit well at the cornerback position for us.”
CB Cole Luke
“When Cole came up in the summer, recruited by virtually everybody in the country, I remember when we were talking about this, that he called and kind of had a soft commit. So I think this was maybe on a Tuesday, and he said, ‘I’ll call you back on Saturday.’ So we’re waiting all week, how does it sound, Cole, sound good? Do you like saying that you’re committed to Notre Dame? And finally he called us back a week later and said, ‘Coach, I’m all in.’ My point being, here’s a kid who really thought about it.”
DE Jacob Matuksa
“Another guy that can play in the profile that we have at the defensive line position for us but is also versatile enough that he can play on the other side of the ball. Our target is to play him on the defensive side of the ball. He’s going to physically get bigger and stronger. We just like his work ethic.”
OL Mike McGlinchey
“He’s another young man that has the athleticism to play the tackle position, but he’s athletic enough that he’s played tight end. We were really impressed with the way he played basketball. He was a ferocious competitor, ran well, and is somebody that is going to continue to get stronger physically.”
OL Colin McGovern
“Colin is more than just a player from the Midwest; he’s a physical, strong guy that can play inside for us, and really felt early on in this process when we watched him compete, and again, here’s another guy that came up to camp, and we got a chance to see him in person, and that makes such a big difference to us.”
OL John Montelus
“I remember just kind of kiddingly looking at John, and John is probably not 6-5, but he’s well over 6-3, and he looks short compared to everybody else in that offensive line class. But he’s not short on physical play. He will knock you out. He gets off the ball, he’s physical at the point of attack.”
WR James Onwualu
“This is a very talented player, very talented. If you watch him work out, really love his athletic ability. Versatile player, he’s going to be on the offensive side of the ball, but if we ever got into a bind he certainly could play defense, as well. But great attitude, just high energy.”
LB Doug Randolph
“Dual athlete, excellent lacrosse player, played basketball, can do a number of different things. He’s somebody that’s long at 6-3, very versatile, can stand up or put his hand down, he gives us that kind of flexibility at that position. Great student, great family.”
S Max Redfield
“He’s a young man that has a specific skill set that could see him play offense, he could play defense, he’s going to play in that safety position for us, and we think he’s a young man that can come in and compete. He’s got all the athletic ability, and he’s a very smart young man.”WR Corey Robinson
“I think what really impressed us about Corey is that he’s just beginning to blossom. ... So we think we’ve got a guy early on that has not even come close to tapping his potential. 6-5 receiver, and again, I love the fact that he’s a guy that will come up and get the football.”
DL Isaac Rochell
“He’s going to play on the defensive line, and he’s going to impact this program. I think he’s got a huge upside, and we’re really excited about getting a player of this caliber here to Notre Dame.”
LB Jaylon Smith
“The thing that’s most impressive is the character of this young man and his energy. He just has it. When he walks into a room, the room kind of lightens up, and that’s the kind of personality that he is, and he is one tough football player, as well. He’s got all the things that you’re looking for, that quickness, that ability to strike. He can play any position really.”
TE Durham Smythe
“He’s going to be obviously a big, physical player for us but has the soft hands and the ability to get out and run routes. We’re excited about Durham coming in later in the process, but getting a chance to meet his family and spending time, it’s a great fit.”
QB Malik Zaire
“I think what I loved about Malik is when he came up here last spring, he sat in our quarterback meeting room, and in that meeting room you’ve got some really good quarterbacks. When he left that meeting, he made it clear to me that this was the place he wanted to be. He loved the environment, he loved the coaching, he loved the opportunity to come in and run the offense, and that’s looking at great competition and saying, I don’t care about that, I’m going to come to Notre Dame because it’s the right place for me academically, and it’s the right place for me because I’m going to be the starter here at Notre Dame, and we love those kind of guys that have that attitude.”