After an impressive 2013 recruiting class it would be easy for Brian Kelly and Co. to step back and enjoy their recent success, but college recruiting will just not allow that. The pursuit of talented young men who have the potential to impact a program on a national level has become a year-long process, and one that never ends. The whole staff understands that recruiting consistency is the lifeline of a program and what allows a successful program to be sustainable. While Irish fans have the luxury of sitting around trying to figure out what Freshmen could have an impact in 2013 immediately, the Notre Dame coaching staff is already filling out their white board with 2014 prospects. As of now, the Irish have 4 hard commits for next year, and we figured it was never too early to start getting excited about what could be in store for Notre Dame come next February.
Jay Hayes – DT 4* (Poly Prep – Brooklyn, NY)
This young man has emphatically made it known that he is committed to the Irish program, and has done so without ever stepping one foot on campus. As a Junior, the 6’5 270 lb defensive tackle has thrust his name into the spotlight, and most major college programs have taken notice. With offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Oregon, amongst others, Hayes is 100% committed to Notre Dame, and Irish fans have Bob Diaco to thank for that. When Hayes discussed his commitment to the Irish, he explained that the Irish approached him in a professional manner, and he loved that. He stated that he is all about getting down to work, both on the field and in the classroom, and when comparing the other schools, not one of them could offer the combination of the two, like the University of Notre Dame could. We would imagine that Hayes will add weight in muscle over his Senior year, but hopefully will retain the speed and quickness that makes him such a disruptive force on the defensive line.
Greer Martini – OLB 4* (Woodberry Forest – Woodberry Forest, VA)
After attending one of Notre Dame’s camps, Martini left with an offer to play football for the Irish, and after talking to his parents, the decision to pick Notre Dame was made. While not receiving quite the fanfare that Jay Hayes has, the 6’3 210 LB from Virginia still had offers from Maryland and North Carolina State, with interest from Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Alabama. Martini’s game seems more suited for the Will position, as he has a nose for the ball, and can really cover the passing lanes and out in the flat. He seemingly has great instincts, and reads the opponents QB well, while possessing the
speed to cover the pass, and has shown the ability to attack the edge with success also. While in no way are we comparing him to Wilbur Marshall of the Chicago Bears back in the 80’s, his game definitely resembles that type of style.
Justin Brent – Wide Receiver 3* (Speedway – Indianapolis, IN)
Although Brent never took an official visit to South Bend, the unofficial one he did take, was enough to convince him that Notre Dame is where he wanted to play. While having no official offers from anyone else, he was receiving interest from Cincinnati, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. The 6’3 190 lb WR out of Indy picked the Irish because they were the first school to take notice, to visit, and to offer. Being close to home was another factor that played into the decision, as his family would be close enough to see him play. In 2012, the Junior had 54 receptions, for 994 yards, and 13 touchdowns. While he doesn’t possess blinding speed, he has very soft hands, and can be very elusive with the ball in his hands. He also seems to understand how to use his size as an advantage and position himself, which is a great sign so early in his career. The fact he is another recruit from Indiana is also a good sign, as Brian Kelly seems to understand the importance of recruiting both on a national level, and locally also.
Jimmy Byrne – OL 3* ( St Ignatius – Cleveland, OH)
Already an impressive figure at 6’4 275lb as just a Junior, chances are by the time Irish verbal commit hits South Bend in 2014, he could be close to 6’5 and almost 300lbs. The Irish keep adding size and strength to their offensive line in impressive fashion, and it looks like that trend will continue with the verbal from the St. Ignatius 2014 prospect. While Byrne had offers from Michigan State, West Virginia, and in-state power Ohio State, it was the offer from the Irish that grabbed his attention. In watching his video, Byrne looks to do a very good job of getting inside his man and controlling the direction of the run block, and looks to have enough speed and quickness to maintain and recover during pass blocking. The Junior looks to possess good overall balance and seems to be a high energy guy that doesn’t quit until he knows the play is dead. The one small concern we did have was his footwork, but keep in mind the young man is just a Junior, and obviously has time to grow and develop.
We understand most people are still excited about the recent class of commitments for 2013, as they should be, but recruiting never stops, and a coaching staff can’t afford to either. The Irish seem to have a very strong start to the class of 2014, and it will be just as exciting to see what kind of front-line talent and depth they can add over the next 11 months. In the upcoming weeks we will take a look at some of the offers the Irish currently have out there, and see which way they may be leaning.