With just a few days left until National Signing Day, it stands to be an interesting final few hours for Irish fans. While Kelly and staff have pretty much locked in almost every recruit, there are still a few question marks left. Unfortunately for Notre Dame fans, they are some big questions that could mean the difference between a very good class, and an outstanding class. Although there are a handful of recruits left that have the Irish name attached to them, we wanted to focus in on a couple of kids that are legitimate options for Notre Dame.
Eddie Vanderdoes – (DT) Auburn, CA
AT 6’3 310, the defensive tackle out of Placer High in Auburn, Ca definitely has the look of big time college player, and major football programs have obviously taken notice. Originally committed to USC, Vanderdoes re-opened his recruiting, but seems to have narrowed his choices down to UCLA, Notre Dame, Alabama, and yes, USC is still in the mix possibly. It’s hard to get a gauge on the big man from California, as he has basically invoked a media blackout period until his announcement at 5pm(PST) on Wednesday.
Depending on who you talk to, UCLA and Notre Dame are the favorites, with his Mom favoring the Irish. Other circles have the Crimson Tide as his favorite, with Notre Dame a close second, and UCLA a distant 3rd. Washington is also in the mix, and at this point, it truly is a “wait and see” situation. The one fact that is not up for debate, is that whatever program is lucky enough to receive that fax on February 6th, will be getting an incredible talent with room still left to grow physically and mentally, and one that has all the markings of a player that is destined for the NFL. Obviously nothing is ever guaranteed, but if the Irish win the “Vanderdoes sweepstakes”, it would be a major coup for Kelly and Co.
Kylie Fitts (DE) Redlands, CA
Widely considered one the best defensive end prospects in this year’s class, the 6’4 245 pound end out of Redlands East Valley High is a disruptive force both in the run and pass game. A high energy guy, with a “no quit” type of attitude, has had schools from all over the nation courting him. While he may not be flashy, he understands how to get his job done on a consistent basis. Fitts is also a recent decommit from USC after they would not allow him to enroll early in school, but if rumors are correct , USC is still a possibilty, with UCLA, Utah, and Notre Dame on his short list. If USC does end up losing both Fitts and Vanderdoes, it would be a major blow to their defensive line and a major pick-up for another program. It doesn’t feel like the Irish are at the top of his list, and it would be a pretty big surprise if South Bend ends up as his final destination, but one never knows.
Tarean Folston – (RB) Cocoa, FL
The story of Folston has been an emotional roller-coaster for all involved. With over 4200 yards on the ground and 46 rushing touchdowns in his high school career, it only makes since that the running-back out of Florida would have an excess of suitors(and he does). Originally interested in Oregon and Florida State, Folston committed to Notre Dame after his visit to South Bend, stating that he loved the energy he felt, and he could see himself at Notre Dame for four years. Just when Irish fans were feeling good about the 4* running-backs decision to give a verbal to Kelly and Co, came the news of him accepting a late-visit invitation from Auburn. As if that wasn’t bad enough ESPN had published a story saying that Folston may be flipping to Auburn, because he was struggling meeting Notre Dame’s academic requirements. To add more fuel to the fire, it was being also reported that Folston was no longer using “ND commit” as his Twitter status. Finally, it has come to light that the rumors were just that, rumors. He had told the coaches at Auburn that he was fully committed to the Irish, and South Bend would be his destination of choice.
So if he is committed, and has reaffirmed that commitment, then why is he on the this list? He is on this list because until he actually faxes in his L.O.I on Wednesday, we feel nothing is certain with this young man. This is not a knock on Folston at all, but rather an understanding that he has struggled making such an important life decision, and nothing would surprise us at this juncture. The combination of Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston in the backfield for Notre Dame is a dream come true, we just want to make sure that it does come true.
There are obviously some other names out there, but none that we think the Irish have a realistic shot at come Wednesday. In fact, of the three on this list, we feel the Irish will hold on to the Folston commit, and that is it. If that is the case, Irish fans have nothing to be upset about though, as Notre Dame will most likely end up with a the top 5 recruiting class this year. Kelly has added some much needed skill at running-back, in the secondary, and on the offensive line. The Irish also added some great talent in the line-backing corp. with the addition of Doug Randolph and Jaylon Smith. We also can’t wait to see what Max Redfield and Cole Luke can do in the secondary, and what Malik Zaire can do behind center. These are just a few of the names that we are excited about, and hopefully come February 6th, there might be a few more.