Meet Notre Dame’s 2014 Offensive Recruits

Notre Dame heads into Signing Day with 10 recruits on the offensive and special teams side of the ball with the hopes of adding one more in the form of electric wide receiver Michiah Quick.  Of the 10 commitments on this side of the ball already though the Irish did an excellent job in addressing needs across the board.

[See Also: Meet Notre Dame’s 2014 Defensive Recruits]

In this year’s class, Notre Dame signed 4 offensive linemen giving the Irish one of the nation’s best offensive line hauls for the second year in a row headlined by a 5-star offensive tackle.  The two wide receivers Notre Dame already has on board give the Irish an excellent combination of size and speed at the position – a group that would also rank among the nation’s best should Quick select Notre Dame later today (announcement at 6:30 PM ET).

[See Also: Signing Day 2014 Announcement Schedule]

For the second year in a row, Notre Dame added a quarterback tailor-made for Brian Kelly’s offense to finally give the Irish a full depth chart of quarterbacks capable of running Kelly’s ideal offense.

Oh yeah, and Notre Dame is bringing in the best tight end class in the nation… again.  Not a bad haul for the Irish in 2014 regardless of the decision of Quick later tonight.  That said, this offensive class becomes even more special if the Irish beat the Sooners for his signature.

With all that in mind, we bring you the 2014 Notre Dame offensive and special teams recruits. That is, of course, there are no last-minute surprises like two years ago with Deontay Greenberry.

Alex Bars – OT

A consensus 4-star tackle and Under Armour All-American, Bars is also considered a top 100 overall prospect according to both Rivals and ESPN.  Right now, Bars is a more accomplished run blocker than a pass blocker – at least that seemed to be the general consensus during the week of Under Armour Bowl practices where Bars initially struggled before rebounding to have a solid week.

Notre Dame beat out an impressive list of suitors for Bars pretty early in the process – Bars committed to Notre Dame back in May.  His performance at the Under Armour Bowl clouded what made Bars a top 100 prospect in the first place such as man handling 5-star recruit Lorenzo Carter during the summer camp circuit.  With the depth that Notre Dame has built along the offensive line, Bars will not be asked to play early, but rather should be afforded the luxury of red-shirting as a freshman before challenging for a supporting role in 2015 – the way you want to bring along college linemen.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-6
  • Weight: 310 lbs
  • Hometown/High School: Nashville, TN / Montgomery Bell Academy
  • 40 Yard Dash: n/a

Competition: Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 4-star, #10 OT, #98 overall
  • Scout: 4-stars, #14 OT, #202 overall
  • 247 Sports: 4-star, #14 OT, #155 overall
  • ESPN: 4-star, #7 OT, #76 overall

Justin Brent – WR

Brent was one of the earliest commitments in the class of 2014 for Notre Dame.  At the the time he was an under the radar three star recruit with a less than impressive offer list.  Brent blew up and was easily one of the fastest risers in this year’s class.  It wasn’t long before Brent earned a 4th star and then started turning heads at camps such as Nike’s the Opening where he was named the Dream Team at the event.  Even as his stock soared, Brent never wavered in his commitment to Notre Dame and thus there weren’t a lot of big name offers to come his way.

As a senior Brent played a lot of running back for Speedway HS in Indianapolis so he will need to take advantage of the early start that enrolling at the mid-year has afforded him, but with his size, he will have a chance to compete for playing time early.   As  senior he ran for over 1,300 yards and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground but was limited to just 28 catches for 391 yards through the air because he was lined up primarily in the backfield.  Those rushing statistics though are proof of how dangerous Brent can be in the open field with the ball in his hands.

[Related: Recruits who saw their stock rise]

More of a bigger, physical wide receiver than some of the other wide receivers on the Irish roster, Brent adds an element of toughness to the wide receiver position that Notre Dame could use.   Every service other than ESPN has Brent in their top 100 overall prospects and all have him rated as a 4-star recruit.  It’s rare for a near consensus top 100 recruit to have offers from just Notre Dame and Louisville, but there was a never a doubt where Brent wanted to continue his career.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 195
  • Hometown/High School: Indianapolis, IN / Speedway HS
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.5

Competition: Louisville

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 4-star, #11 WR, #84 overall
  • Scout: 4-star, #11 WR, #64 overall
  • 247 Sports: 4-star, #8 WR, #67 overall
  • ESPN: 4-star, #41 WR, #280 overall

Jimmy Byrne

One of the earliest members of the class of 2014, Byrne sometimes gets forgotten – especially considering the impressive haul Notre Dame landed along the offensive line – but Notre Dame fans shouldn’t forget about the Ohio native.  His recruiting rankings are all over the map because some have him pegged as an offensive tackle, while others have him rated as a guard.  With Alex Bars and Quenton Nelson in this class, Byrne most likely projects as a guard for Notre Dame – the position where he was rated as a 4-star prospect by both Rivals and 247 Sports.

The scouting report in Byrne says that he needs to improve his run blocking and Byrne himself agreed with that sentiment when he was interviewed by UHND this spring.  “The biggest thing I feel I need to work on and am really paying attention to, is getting leverage and finishing my blocks in the run game,” he told us back in February of 2013.  He also told us that one of the main reasons he selected Notre Dame was offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.  “One of the biggest, if not the biggest influences was offensive line coach Hiestand, and my relationship with him,”  he said before adding, “Talking to some of the other guys, they were telling me that he is the type of guy that you could sit down and have dinner with, but is really going to push you on the field.”

Like his fellow linemates in this class, Byrne has a bit of a mean streak and wants to be great.  “There really are no excuses for me not to go in there and dominate,” he told us last year.  “A lot of the kids are going to know me as the kid who is going to Notre Dame now, so I kind of have to live up to that.”

Measureables

  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 295
  • Hometown/High School: Cleveland, OH / St. Ignatius HS
  • 40 Yard Dash: n/a

Competition: Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 4-star, #30 OT
  • Scout: 4-star, #12 OG, #211 overall
  • 247 Sports: 3-star, #24 OG
  • ESPN: 3-star, #38 OT

Corey Holmes

Built in a different mold than the more physical Justin Brent, Corey Holmes is another consensus 4-star wide receiver but brings a different skillset to the table for the Notre Dame offesne.  Holmes possess more pure speed and big play ability.  If Justin Brent were to be this year’s DaVaris Daniels, Holmes would be more of the TJ Jones – albeit a taller one.

Notre Dame went into Florida to lure Holmes away from the power house program at Saint Thomas Aquinas – the home of former Notre Dame players like Sam Young, Dan Wenger, and Jordan Cowart.  Holmes is actually the first prospect from one of the Sunshine State’s perennial powerhouses to select Notre Dame since Brian Kelly arrived in South Bend.

Like Bars, Holmes was an Under Armour All-American, but unlike his classmate, he saw his stock rise following his week of practice.  Holmes moved into the Rivals 250 after having a good week of practice where he flashed fluid route running and the ability to create separation with more than just pure speed.  Holmes will come in with aspirations for playing time and will push the 2013 freshmen for a place in the rotation.   A role similar to the one Will Fuller player in 2014 seems to be the most likely for Holmes.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-2
  • Weight: 175
  • Hometown/High School: Fort Lauderdale, FL / Saint Thomas Aquinas HS
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.48

Competition: Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 4-star, #29 WR, #224 overall
  • Scout: 4-star, #38 WR, #200 overall
  • 247 Sports: 4-star, #43 WR
  • ESPN: 4-star, #13 WR, #94 overall

Deshone Kizer

Notre Dame needed to landed a Brian Kelly style quarterback in this class to fill out a full depth chart at quarterback with signal callers suited for Kelly’s offense and they did just that with Deshone Kizer.  Kizer is a tall, quick quarterback with a big arm who is very comfortable playing out of the shot gun and in a no huddle offense – two staples of an ideal Brian Kelly offense.

Right now, Kizer has a lot of potential but is still pretty raw.  When he competed in the Elite 11 competition this summer he flashed his potential, but wasn’t able to make it to the final 11.  The coaches on staff at the competition all said Kizer has the tools to be elite, but lacks consistency at this point.    Those same coaches all remarked that Kizer is also very coachable – a crucial characteristic for a raw quarterback like Kizer to succeed.   With Everett Golson back on campus and Malik Zaire having a year of redshirting under his belt, Kizer won’t be asked to do too much other than learn and work on his mechanics as a freshman with newly hired quarterbacks coach Matt LeFleur.

Off the field, Kizer flashed the kind of leadership you want in your quarterback by being an active recruiter for the Fighting Irish since committing early in the summer.  All in all, Notre Dame added an ideal quarterback for this class.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 205
  • Hometown/High School: Toledo, OH / Central Catholic HS
  • 40 Yard Dash:

Competition: Alabama, LSU, Louisville, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Tennessee, Wisconsin

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 4-star, #9 Dual Threat QB
  • Scout: 4-star, #17 QB, #263 overall
  • 247 Sports: 4-star, #10 Pro-Style QB, #162 overall
  • ESPN: 4-star, #16 Dual Threat QB

Tyler Luatua

The recruiting services were split on their rating of Luatua.  Rivals and Scout pegged him as a 3-star while 247 Sports and ESPN both ranked the California native as a 4-star prospect.  If you glance at his offer list though, it looks as though many of the nation’s elite programs side with 247 and ESPN.  Anytime you can win a recruiting battle for a kid from California over the in-state powers AND a host of SEC programs like Alabama, Georgia, and Florida you have yourself a pretty good recruit.  His recruitment came down to Notre Dame and Alabama – a fight Notre Dame eventually won after a longer than expected battle with the Crimson Tide.

Luatua was an Under Armour All-American but did not get a chance to show much of his playmaking ability in the game without any targets coming his way.  Right now though, Luatua is more advanced in the blocking aspect of the position rather than the receiving end.  His physical skills actually have some believing that he could play defense on the next level as well at either 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB, but offense is where he was recruited by Notre Dame.

Along with classmate Nic Weishar, he forms a perfect duo at the position with Weishar being the more accomplished receiver at this point and Luatua having the leg up as  ablocker.  With Troy Niklas headed to the NFL, there will be a battle for the backup tight end spot between the incoming freshmen and rising sophomores Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe.  If we were to compare this year’s frosh to last year’s, Luatua would be the Smythe to Weishar’s Heurman.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 230 lbs
  • Hometown/High School: La Mirada, CA / La Mirada HS
  • 40 Yard Dash:

Competition: Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 3-star, #12 TE
  • Scout: 3-star, #18 TE
  • 247 Sports: 4-star, #7 TE
  • ESPN: 4-star, #3 TE/H-back

Sam Mustipher

Of all of the incoming offensive linemen, Mustipher might be the nastiest of the bunch – and we mean that in the best of ways.  Mustipher plays the game of football with the type of mean streak that a guard should play the game with.  Along with a mean streak, Mustipher also brings a great deal of versatility.  He played tackle in high school but projects at guard or center on the collegiate level.  He could even help out along the defensive line in a pinch, but if the Irish close strong on Signing Day, that won’t be necessary.

Like most high school offensive lineman, a year on the scout team and in the weight room would be the best for Mustipher to allow him to adjust to bigger and stronger competition.  Mustipher has all of the tools to be a multiple year starter for Notre Dame along the offensive line though and reminds me a bit of Nick Martin at this stage.  Martin played some tackle in high school but moved inside once he got to Notre Dame and eventually became the starting center for the Irish as junior in 2013.  A similar career path for Mustipher would have the Irish coaching staff and its fan very, very pleased with this addition to the class of 2014.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 295
  • Hometown/High School: Olney, MD / Good Counsel HS
  • 40 Yard Dash: n/a

Competition: 

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 4-star, #12 OG, #203 overall
  • Scout: 4-star, #9 OG, #134 overall
  • 247 Sports: 3-star, #22 OG
  • ESPN: 4-star, #18 OG

Quenton Nelson

The one 5-star recruit in this year’s classing heading into Signing Day according to Rivals, Nelson is one of the nation’s truly elite offensive tackles and is one of the headliners on the offensive side of the ball for the #GoldenArmy14.  Another offensive lineman in this class with offers from both Alabama and Stanford showing that Notre Dame, led by OL coach Harry Hiestand, is competing with the nation’s best for its offensive linemen.

ESPN was a bit bullish with their ranking of Nelson as only the #175th overall prospect considering the lowest he was rated on any other service was #75 overall, but they are also the only service who thinks that he projects as a guard on the college level.

Nelson was a US Army All-American and played well down in San Antonio.  In the game, Nelson started at left tackle for the East team and battled with Solomon Thomas throughout the day.  Both had their moments, but Nelson showed that he is capable of stuffing the nation’s elite defensive ends at times.

Nelson has the talent to play early in his career just like Steve Elmer did in 2013 but the good news is that Notre Dame has enough depth and talent that Nelson won’t be forced into action.  If he sees the field in 2014 it will be because he passed up multiple older players on the depth chart.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-5
  • Weight: 300
  • Hometown/High School: Red Bank, NK / Red Bank Catholic HS
  • 40 Yard Dash:

Competition: Alabama, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee, Wisconsin

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 5-star, #3 OT, #29 overall
  • Scout: 4-star, #4 OT, #46 overall
  • 247 Sports: 4-star, #6 OT, #75 overall
  • ESPN: 4-star, #12 OG, #175 overall

Tyler Newsome

Notre Dame offered Newsome a scholarship last year before Kyle Brindza won the punting duties in 2013 because they wanted someone on the roster who could potentially handle those duties to allow Brindza to focus on field goals full time.  Brindza surprised many with how well he handled the punting duties in 2013 though so it is unclear if Newsome will be able to step in and take over the punting job in 2014.  In an ideal world, Newsome would do just that though so that Brindza could focus on place kicking – an area he has done extremely well at but could use a bit more consistency.  Newsome, however, has his work cut out for him.

Newsome was the first specialist to receive a scholarship offer from Notre Dame since longer snapper Scott Daly in 2012.  With Brindza out of eligibility remaining after the 2014 season, look for Notre Dame to pursue a place kicker in the next recruiting cycle to compete with Newsome in 2015 for those duties.  Newsome has the ability to place kick on the next level, but he is considered more a punter and kick-off specialist.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 190
  • Hometown/High School: Carrollton, GA / Carrollton HS
  • 40 Yard Dash:

Competition: Air Force

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 3-star, #6 K
  • Scout: 3-star, not ranked at K (no rankings for kickers, no 4-star kickers)
  • 247 Sports: 2-star, #18 P
  • ESPN: 3-star, #8 K

Nic Weishar

Nic Weishar is going to get a lot of comparisons to Tyler Eifert as a tall, 3-star tight end prospect out of the Midwest and for good reason – Weishar is built very much in the same mold.  It would be unfair to expect that kind of production beings as Eifert left Notre Dame as the most prolific pass catching tight end in the history of the program, but if Weishar is anywhere close to that, Brian Kelly and Notre Dame will continue its tradition of producing elite tight ends.

Between Weishar and Luatua, Notre Dame could really not have asked to do any better at the position.  247 Sports recently ranked the duo as the nation’s strongest tight end class in the class of 2014.  Luatua was an Under Armour All-American while Weishar was an Army All-American and Max Preps 1st Team All-American.

Weishar is the type of tight end that can stretch a field down the seem just the way that Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, and John Carlson have done in recent years for Notre Dame.

Measureables

  • Height: 6-5
  • Weight: 230
  • Hometown/High School: Midlothian, IL / Marist HS
  • 40 Yard Dash:

Competition: Boston College, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin

Rankings & Stars

  • Rivals: 4-star, #7 TE
  • Scout: 4-star, #13 TE
  • 247 Sports: 4-star, #5 TE, #213 overall
  • ESPN: 4-star, #5 TE-Y, #274 overall

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14 Comments

  1. just a tiny asterisk here, Jack. regarding the offensive line:
    this haul augments the fivepack that was recruited in 2013, and with
    Hoge and Tillery already committed to early entry in 2015, we may have a pleasing trend underway. the depth and eligibility here are nicely balanced.

  2. First of all lets get off of the coordinators, it’s getting old. BK has his staff like it or not. If the staff doesn’t perform they will be gone and BK with them in 2 years. This class did one thing that CW couldn’t address, DL and OL. As far as the difference between 1-10 in recruiting, it’s not that much. I can name you some five star talent that did not become the greatest player of their generation. The first one being Sam Young, he was suppose to be that bookend first round draft pick. He has bounced around the league and was an above average Olineman at ND. I can list a long group of three and four star talent that produce and are good college football players. We will see in the next four years if 8-4 is the norm or 10-2. If the beginning is the case bj you will get your wish and a new coach.

  3. Bj do you really admire people who beat their wives? Orgeron joins your other favorite candidate, oft recommended by you, Mike Haywood, as a wife beater.

    Notre Dame has some standards here. Ask Jimmy Black, McLeod’s former assistant hoops coach.

  4. This class is ok given what we have to deal with. Don’t forget ND lost both coordinators late in the game. It is a miracle that we held onto the kids we did have verbals from with Cage being a bonus get at the end. We will never be able to recruit with the SEC, USC, or Ohio State because Kelly has to take kids that can read and write, plus ND doesn’t oversign… See Tenn’s 36 member class this year for more on that.

    The overall landscape has changed since your Dad or Grandad’s ND teams of decades past. Notre Dame isn’t the dream destination it once was for most highly touted kids. There is a give / take here. For those who say “We are ND we do it the right way”, well that is fine, but realize that “doing it the right way” has consequences, such as the ND / Bama game result and no titles since the eighties. Realize what we are up against. Recruiting is a dirty dirty game and while I do applaud ND for letting Kelly get some “borderline” kids into the school, the cards are still stacked against us. Realize the money that changed hands on NSD, the jobs offered to kids’ parents, the rent being paid, the degrees promised without ever having to attend a class…. These things are happening at other schools and are appealing to a lot of kids with a lot of talent and not much intelligent support around them at home. Combine that with the fact that ND is currently the North Pole of the midwest right now and the perceived or real allegations of there not being much to do in South Bend socially and the lack of wild cute girls, and what do you get ? Not a dominant, deep, and relentlessly talented recruiting class consistently. If you think the girls and weather doesn’t matter don’t kid yourself. It does. The majority of the elite talent we do get is normally because the kid has a decent family who can appreciate ND as a 40 yr decision not a 4 yr one. Which is fine, but when our kids are writing papers, studying and doing community service while our opponent’s players are sleeping in, working out, practicing and studying their playbook all week with no school worries, I no longer ask myself why we seem sluggish out of the gate 10 games out of the year.

    So we have 2 choices. Lower expectations given the changed landscape. Or hope ND becomes more like the other schools when it comes to football but do so with an understanding that some of your core values must be chipped away to go this route. It is one or the other. It can’t be both. We can’t be that naive. Pick a lane friends. Soon enough we will be approaching 30 years removed from a title. How much more time has to pass before we as ND fans give up the dream of ” We can win a title and contend consistently while doing it the right way? “…88 was a longgggg time ago my friends and results do not lie.

    GO IRISH

  5. HIRE FORMER U.S.C. COACH , ED OGERON. as a recruiter, COACH O IS A MASTER RECRUITER. MAYBE HE COULD HAVE SWUNG SOME WEST COAST RECRUITS
    a good idea i see outstanding guys on west coast going to oregon, usc, stanford that went to catholic prep schools and at one time would have gone no where else but to the dome

    1. Oregon’s class is ranked lower than ours so can’t be that many guys going there. I guess your man crush on the OC out there is all hype.

    2. Oregon didn’t exactly have a steller class by any means. Standford was ranked very close to us but behind a few spots.

      Kelly and Co. put together a solid class. Morgan may be the only “flashy” commit but the Offensive Line and Defensive front seven was handled well. IMO

  6. AS NOTRE DAME FANS WE MUST BE REALISTIC IN OUR RECRUITING EXPECTATIONS. AS LONG AS THERE ARE NO ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS TO BE MET AT THE SEC SCHOOLS AND HIGHER INSTITUTES OF LEARNING SUCH AS FLORIDA, AND OHIO STATES, THE IRISH CANNOT COMPETE. THAT BECAME PAINFULLY HONEST TO ME AS I WATCHED SOME OF THESE STUDENT ATHA LETES SPEAK TODAY. COACH KELLY HAD ANOTHER GOOD CLASS. OBVIOSLY IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO HAVE GOTTEN A LATE COMMITMENT FROM JUJU SMITH OR ISIAH MACKENZIE.ONE THING COACH KELLY SHOULD HAVE DONE IS HIRE FORMER U.S.C. COACH , ED OGERON. COACH O IS A MASTER RECRUITER. MAYBE HE COULD HAVE SWUNG SOME WEST COAST RECRUITS TO NOTRE DAME. IT IS TIME TO OPEN THE PLAY BOOK NEXT YEAR, NO MORE EXCUSES. WE HAVE THREE MOBILE Q.B.’S NOW. DEFENSIVELY, NO MORE BEND BUT DON’T BREAK PHILOSOPHY. PLAY MICHIGAN STATE STYLE DEFENSIVELY, APPLY PRESSURE AND PRESS COVERAGE. HOPEFULLY OUR NEW DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHANGES THE SCHEMES!

  7. This class stinks!
    Where are the difference makers? Guys like Bettis, the Rocket, Joe Montana, Coley O’Brien, Page, Golic and Olson?

    Swarbrick doesn’t get it, he’s only interested in jumbotrons and fake grass. Go to the grotto and pray.

    Where is the offense?

    Notre Dame our mother pray for us. What a tragedy!

    – Bruce Johnson

  8. And 2015 is already under way with three studs, all of whom are coming in early (less than a year until they arrive)

    Blake Barnett, QB
    Jerry Tiller OT
    Tristen Hoge OC

    They will arrive to the deepest Notre Dame team in over 20 years.

    Sure we need some difference makers, but the foundation has been built, and there is size and depth, sometimes young, in the OL and the front seven. We have moved far beyond the roster-and coaching staffs-of 1994-2009. Fasten your seat belts lads!!

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