Tomorrow five commitments from the recruiting class of 2011 will enroll at Notre Dame for the spring semester – a group that could help define the 2011 season for the Irish. Aaron Lynch, Ishaq Williams, Everett Golson, Brad Carrico and Kyle Brindza all reported to Notre Dame over the weekend and will start classes tomorrow.
This year’s group of early enrollees features several instant impact type recruits that could see the field very early for Notre Dame.
Lynch and Williams are the type of elite defensive recruits that have eluded Notre Dame for years on the recruiting trail.
Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore are entrenched at the starting defensive end positions for Notre Dame in 2011, but Lynch should provide immediate depth and will almost certainly be in the two deep by opening day. With the speed in which the Irish offense aims to run at, Notre Dame will rely on a deep rotation of defensive ends – a rotation Lynch will almost certainly be in early on.
Williams meanwhile could challenge Prince Shembo and Steve Filer for a starting position at outside linebacker opposite Darius Fleming. Shembo was a major bright spot for the Irish defense in 2010 which would make unseating him for a starting role a difficult task, but at the very least, Williams figures to be in the two deep on opening day just like Lynch.
The last defensive recruit Notre Dame landed the caliber of Lynch and Williams was Manti Te’o two years ago. Te’o didn’t start from day one, but it didn’t take long for the Hawaii native to find himself in the starting lineup. Te’o, however, did not have the benefit of enrolling early like Lynch and Williams so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if either or both has a prominent role in the 2011 defense.
Sticking on the defensive side of the ball, Brad Carrico will provide additional depth at the defensive end position for Notre Dame as well. Carrico isn’t as accomplished of a pass rusher as Lynch, but he has the size necessary to provide depth for the Irish this fall – especially since he will have a full off-season in the weight room with Paul Longo.
Moving over to offense Everett Golson will throw his name into the quarterback derby this spring thanks to his early enrollment. It will be a major challenge for him to grasp the offense quick enough to seriously challenge for the starting role, but he will have a few things working in his favor. First off, he comes to Notre Dame after playing in a similar spread offense in high school and secondly, he is tailor-made for Brian Kelly’s offense due to his combination of mobility and passing skills.
None of the quarterbacks on the Notre Dame roster are as mobile as Golson. That should give the South Carolina native a fighting chance and at the very least could give Brian Kelly the ability to design some packages for him to run.
Golson will also walk-on to the Notre Dame basketball team, but will not be able to participate in basketball activities for this season.
Last, but not least, Kyle Brindza will challenge for a few roles within the special teams this fall. Brindza may have the strongest leg of any of the kickers on the Notre Dame roster for 2011 and could very likely be the kick-off man for the Irish in the season opener. Brindza could also push Ben Turk for the punting duties as well. Turk was very good at placing punts inside the 20 yard line, but didn’t have many “booming” type punts that really changed field position this year.
The recruiting of each of these early enrollees was as different as the positions they play. Carrico was the first commitments in this year’s class and there was never much of a questions where he would end up. Ever since his commitment, Carrico was a solid commitment for the Irish and never wavered in that commitment.
Brindza was an early commitment for Notre Dame as well, but it wasn’t always clear whether or not he would enroll early with the Irish. At one point it looked liked Brindza would be giving up his early enrollment slot because Notre Dame was going to have too many early enrollees. Matt Hegarty and Ben Koyack, however, both decided against enrolling early and a spot opened up.
Williams and Lynch meanwhile were recent commitments. Williams committed on Friday with Lynch recommitting to Notre Dame on Saturday after a wild recruiting saga that has been well documented. Both were huge recruiting coups for Notre Dame since it looked like neither would be coming to Notre Dame at various times over the last few weeks. Brian Kelly, Bob Diaco, and Tony Alford were still able to land both elite recruits and get them on campus in time to enroll.
In previous years Golson wouldn’t be considered a late commitment, but with the rise of early commitments over the last several years, Golson could be considered a late addition to this class. Originally committed to North Carolina, Golson reopened his recruiting when the NCAA started looking into North Carolina and some its players and ended up committing to Notre Dame in early December.
With all five recruits on campus and set to start classes, Notre Dame fans can breath a little easier knowing that the Irish have these recruits locked up and secure for this year. With only a few spots remaining in this class, the staff’s main focus will be on shoring up all of the current commitments and making sure all sign their letters of intent on Signing Day.