With the news of Isaiah McKenzie’s impending recruiting visit to the University of Notre Dame at the end of January, the Irish may be securing the most important recruit of the 2014 class.
Although it’s well documented that the greatest need for next year is on the defensive line, McKenzie, although ranked a three star recruit by many, could provide for Notre Dame something that has been missing in the football program for a number of years.
When one reflects on the best Notre Dame teams in the last 30 years, one component that stands out was the presence of a dangerous return man. During the Holtz era, the Irish had two of the all-time best in Tim Brown and Rocket Ishmael. Both were capable of shifting the momentum of important games with an electrifying punt or kick return. As one can see from this year’s national championship game, an outstanding return game is critical to the success of any football team hoping to win a national title.
This is an element that is been missing from the Notre Dame football program for quite some time.
Although in past recruiting classes Kelly has secured players who at the high school level were outstanding in the return game, none have demonstrated the ability to translate that to the Division I level.
Mackenzie’s exciting performance at the Under Armour All-America Bowl shows that he may, in fact, be different.
There is no question that the 2014 version of the Fighting Irish football team is desperately in need of bodies along the defensive line and that there is much excitement about the arrival of Andrew Trumbetti and the other line recruits. However, McKenzie may bring to this class a possible game changer and someone who, at a moments notice, could swing the team’s fortunes in a positive direction.
It seems evident that with a visit set for January 31, McKenzie may have met all the academic requirements necessary to make a commitment to the University. If that is the case this is great news for the Notre Dame football program. Mackenzie may be the next outstanding return man that the Irish have desperately been looking for and he may be the vital piece needed to make another national championship run.