It’s been difficult to talk Notre Dame Football since January 7th. Between a 42-14 shellacking of the Irish at the hands of Alabama and the Manti Te’o “Play Like Your Fake Dead Girlfriend Died” scandal, it’s been hard to be a public Irish fan. Today, I personally end that dark period.
The Irish finished today’s signing day with a total of 24 recruits (ranked 4th by ESPN before the Eddie Vanderdoes commitment), including four five-star recruits according to Rivals.com, which is the first time Notre Dame has ever accomplished that feat. Those signees include linebacker Jaylon Smith from Fort Wayne, Indiana (which has me extremely excited because of Fort Wayne being my hometown), Max Redfield, who’s listed as an athlete according to most but will most likely see the field for the blue and gold in the defensive backfield, Greg Bryant, a 197 pound speedster back from Delray Beach, Florida and just now, Eddie Vanderdoes, a 310 pound defensive tackle from California.
The Irish feature a class with a good balance of position fillers and wonderful talent. But who can make the most impact the earliest? Irish fans, get used to the names Jaylon Smith and Max Redfield. These two are the future of Notre Dame’s defense. Redfield’s a fast and physical defender with tremendous ball skills. Jaylon Smith is arguably the best athlete at any linebacker position in this class for any school. Brian Kelly said at today’s press conference that Smith just has “it. When he walks into the room, the room lights up.” (per @ChiTribHamilton) Vanderdoes is a physical, high motor defensive lineman who can fit right in with the dominant front that help carry the Irish to a National Championship Game appearance.
I personally am a huge fan of Torii Hunter Jr. and wish the youngster well as he makes his return from a broken leg. The Bryant/Folston duo in the backfield joining George Atkinson III could be huge. Bryant and Folston each possess huge upsides and with Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick out and with only GA3 having any kind of experience in the Notre Dame backfield, these two could both see the field and make quick and great impacts.
An x-factor in my opinion: 6’4” Corey Robinson, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer, David Robinson. When I personally watched him at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, I said, “Michael Floyd 2.0”. Floyd’s speed was never a strong point in his time in South Bend, but his height and build made him one of the best receivers in the country. Once Robinson starts the weight program, I think his size could be a match-up nightmare for teams playing the golden domers.
Overall, the Irish brought in a grade A class with a huge upside. Tons of talent on both sides of the ball that will have their opportunities to fill into some empty holes and make an impact.