Here is a look at where Notre Dame’s needs will be for the class of 2010. This list is also subject to change based on any transfers, injuries, etc; but here is how I would rank Notre Dame’s recruiting needs for 2010.
1. Offensive Tackle
The biggest need for the class of 2010 is at offensive tackle. Luckily Notre Dame landed Zach Martin last year because other than Martin they missed out on all of their top targets and would have come up completely empty at the position had it not been for Martin’s commitment. With Christian Lombard already committed this year, Weis is off to a great start here, but he needs to another another top notch, elite offensive tackle – most notably Seantrel Henderson. Michael Floyd needs to be in his old teammates ear and get Henderson to join him in South Bend.
2. Defensive End
Notre Dame did not land a single defensive end in last year’s class and will need to find some speed rushers in this class to really see the full impact of a Jon Tenuta defense. Chris Martin is a fantastic start to recruiting at this position this year, but the staff will need to add at least one more defensive end in this class after whiffing last year.
I thought about putting this a little lower because Weis has not had any trouble recruiting quarterbacks prior to the class of 2009 when back to back 5 star QBs the previous two classes scared away most recruits. Not getting a quarterback last year makes the position a pretty high priority for 2010 though. It seems as though Jake Heaps is the number one target here, but he doesn’t look all that likely at this point. Weis locked up both Clausen and Crist by the end of the Blue-Gold game in each other their respective years, but I’m not sure that is going to happen this year.
4. Defensive Tackle
Tyler Stockton could end up being one of the more surprising recruits out of last year’s class because outside of ESPN he didn’t get a whole lot of love from the recruiting services, but with Notre Dame moving back to more 4-3 fronts with Tenuta calling the plays, defensive tackle becomes another high priority for 2010. With the five defensive linemen that came in last year, the tackle position could be pretty well stocked since Sean Cywnar, Hafis Williams, Brandon Newman, and Ethan Johnson could all be defensive tackles. Still, games are won and lost in the trenches and getting just one defensive tackle last year won’t cut it again.
Losing both Jawanza Starling and Byron Moore on Signing Day hurt. It would have made things much easier for this position in 2010 had the Irish landed at least one of them. Notre Dame will need to take at least two safeties in 2010 now though. I think we”ll see Leonard Gordon moved to safety for some depth, but Notre Dame will still need some numbers here next year.
Assuming Gary Gray returns to the team and Darrin Walls comes back for a 5th year in 2010, this position could be pretty well stocked. A great senior season from Walls in 2009, however could very well send him to the NFL next April. Raeshon McNeil is out of eligibility after 2009 as well so this positon could move up the priority list. What keeps it still somewhat low is that Robert Blanton will only be a sophomore in 2009 and Gray will still have three years of eligibility if he returns this summer as he is expected too. EJ Banks injury could cloud the priority need at this position as well. If he can’t regain all of his explosiveness after the ACL injury, an eventual move to safety could be in his future as well.
7. Interior Offensive Line
Notre Dame has done a very good job recruiting the interior of the offensive line over the last few years. Landing Alex Bullard and Chris Watt this year after adding Mike Golic, Braxston Cave, and Trevor Robinson has the interior offensive line looking deep.
8. Wide Receiver
Deion Walker and John Goodman still have four years of eligibility, Michael Floyd has three, and Shaquelle Evans will have four making wide receiver not as high up on the priority list as it normally would a year after signing just one wideout. Daniel Smith was a great start at the position, but look for Weis to add a pair of receivers. There are a lot of local products at this position and Notre Dame shouldn’t have a hard time getting wide receivers in this class.
While Notre Dame’s offense doesn’t currently utilize the fullback much, I would love to see Notre Dame add a dynamic fullback in this class that could become another weapon for Weis to use. Tyler Gaffney could have been that player last year, but he ended up at Stanford. With the recent news that Luke Schmidt’s football career is over, Notre Dame is also left with just Steve Paskorz at fullback.
Manti T’eo’s potential pending mission could make linebacker a bigger need, but even if T’eo takes his mission, Notre Dame has done very well at this position the past few years. Steve Filer, David Posluszny, Anthony McDonald, Carlo Calebrese, Dan Fox, and Zeke Motta in the last two classes (note: I’m counting Fleming as a DE) give Notre Dame a very solid core of young, talented, fast linebackers.
11. Running Back
With Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick joining an already talented group of running backs, this position becomes less of a need this year. I think Weis and staff will look to add just one back this year just as they did last year when Jonas Gray was the lone running back in the class. A bigger back would be nice in this class since the Irish lack a big, bruising back other than Robert Hughes.
12. Tight End
Despite all of the depth issues at tight end this year, this might be the most loaded position on the team. Kyle Rudolph, Mike Ragone, and Joseph Fauria all have three years of eligibility left and Tyler Eifert and Jake Golic have four. That’s five tight ends with at least three years of eligibility remaining. Look for Notre Dame to target a receiving threat tight end this year
13. Special Teams
After adding three specialists to the class of 2009, I really hope we don’t see any special teams players added to the class of 2010.