Notre Dame welcomed 5 early enrollees to the University this weekend. These five young men will have the unique opportunity to get a head start on their academics and their college football careers before their classmates. This time will be invaluable. It has been described as becoming a Sophomore by the time a player reaches the fall. Last year, Sheldon Day used this time to prepare him for the 2012 season. Day gave Notre Dame depth for this season. Here are this year’s early enrollees:
Steve Elmer is a consensus 4-star Offensive Tackle recruit from Midland, Michigan. He was Notre Dame’s first commitment, pledging for the Fighting Irish on September 17, 2011. At 6’6”, 305, Elmer has prototypical size for the Left Tackle position, which is his liking landing spot in college. Notre Dame lacks depth at the Offensive Line position. This is part of the reason Notre Dame was unable to be physical during the preparation for the National Title game. Elmer will likely land in the two-deep of either Tackle position immediately. He will probably not play this season but he could be a candidate for a starting spot in his Sophomore season. Elmer could contribute on Field Goal and Punt teams. But, it may be wise to save a year of eligibility by having him contribute on the Scout team.
Notre Dame lost its best Tight End in Tyler Eifert to the NFL and no other Tight End has proven that they can fill the void. Notre Dame has utilized the Tight End effectively since 2004 when the Fighting Irish had Anthony Fasano. The current roster features Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack and Alex Welch. These are all talented players but none have taken hold yet. Mike Heuerman is a prototypical pass catching Tight End. He checks in at 6’4” 220 and runs a 4.69 40-yard dash. Heuerman could fight his way up into the rotation, especially if Welch does not recover from his ACL injury.
James Onwualu hails from the same High School as Michael Floyd. If Onwualu becomes half the player that Floyd was, it will have been a successful career for him. Receiver is one of the most wide open positions on the team. Jones and Daniels appeared to make a case for themselves in the BCS National Title Game. But the slot and back up positions are up for the taking with the vacancies of John Goodman and Robby Toma. Onwualu could cease one of these positions if he takes advantage of the Spring.
Corey Robinson was one of the most surprising players of the US Army All-American Bowl week. He has great size and runs excellent routes. He is a body that Notre Dame does not have right at 6’5”. He could be a red zone threat. His father, “The Admiral”, grew several inches upon entering college. This could happen to Robinson. The outside Wide Receiver position appears to be covered by TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels. Robinson probably needs time to develop his upper body.
Zaire fits the spread offense that Brian Kelly is trying to run. He ran a multiple formation option attack at Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio. He was one of the Elite 11 Quarterbacks. Zaire will need time to develop in the weigh room. As a Quarterback, he needs to develop his accuracy to be ready to run the offense the way Kelly will want it to be run. The Quarterback situation is nailed down currently but Kelly lets everyone compete. Is Notre Dame expecting a transfer? As of right now, Zaire is the 5th string Quarterback. Next year, when Rees and Hendrix graduate, he will at least be the 3rd string. But if Kiel transfers, he could sitting right behind Golson.