We open the recruiting notebook as we race towards the proverbial finish line that is National Signing Day. Nothing is more vital to the success and health of a program than the recruitment of new talent. This doesn't just mean signing as many 4 and 5 star prospects as possible, although it certainly does help quite a bit. No, it's signing the best talent available that fits your school, your team dynamic, the schemes, and needs within the roster.
Brian Kelly and his staff seem to be doing just that, and doing it well. This is that crazy and tricky time of the year that can make or break a program. Let's jump headfirst into this wormhole...
An Awkward Decommitment
Although this 2013 recruiting class is one of the closest and strongest classes that we have seen in the internet recruiting age, it honestly came as no real shock to those that have followed the recruitment of Alex Anzalone, that the Pennsylvania linebacker decommitted from Notre Dame, and is now enrolled at the University of Florida.
This came during the Kelly dilemma, as BK was speaking with the Philadelphia Eagles. So, of course, this was the greatest reasoning given by most people; Alex decommitted because of the possibility of Kelly not being there. I find all of that a bit convenient. Anzalone had already committed to Ohio State, decommitted, committed to Notre Dame, wavered on his committee, had Florida as a leader, recommitted to Notre Dame- and now this. So... this really wasn't that surprising.
I will say this about the possibility of Kelly leaving as Anzalone's reasoning... It's not out of the question and the fact that Anzalone was enrolling early could have hastened the decision. There would have been no way Notre Dame would have signed Tuitt, Lynch, and Ishaq Williams in 2011 if the same circumstances were involved. However, according many, Anzalone was leaning this way for a while and was emboldened while at the Under Armour All-American game.
Any way you slice it, this was all very awkward and a loss for the Irish. That doesn't mean the Irish are anywhere near the disaster of last year or some other years, but these things do suck.
Leave Recruits Alone
Now that I discussed the Anzalone decommitment, we need to talk about something.... Leave recruits alone. I won't get into here, but you can find my full thoughts (and thoughts of a lot of others) HERE. Above all else, just don't be this guy:
@alexanzalone_24 your making a big mistake going to florida i hope you have a horrible college career and blow your knees out!— Carl Walck Jr. (@BigDaddy2380) January 12, 2013
Slaughter, Wood, And Numbers
It wasn't much of a surprise that Jamoris Slaughter got denied a sixth year of eligibility, and Cierre Wood decided to enter the NFL draft instead of seeking out a 5th year of eligibility. The 6th year eligibility cases are always weird- both the ones that get accepted and the ones that get denied. In a lot of cases you can say that the opposite ruling would be more appropriate, but then again... NCAA y'all.
Wood's decision was an easy one (family, money, mileage, draft projection), and no one should ever blow a player shit for trying to go pro with a degree in hand. Ever.
What these decisions, along with the Anzalone decommitment, do for the Irish in their recruiting efforts is keep a few spots open. This doesn't mean we should be overjoyed by this point, but it does at least give Kelly and the staff some wider options with 3 weeks to go until National Signing Day.
Casting A Wide Net
As I stated earlier, there at least 2 spots available in this 2013 recruiting class, and possibly 3 depending upon other variables (I won't speculate just yet). The Irish are casting a fairly wide net in closing this class out. The proof is in these final official visits that Notre Dame will host.
The key date is January 25. Notre Dame will be hosting 6 recruits for the 2013 class:
DL Eddie Vanderdoes (former USC commit)
DL Kylie Fitts (former USC commit)
WR Sebastian LaRue (former USC commit)
LB Torrodney Prevot (USC commit)
LB Deon Hollins (UCLA commit)
LB Jaylon Smith (ND commit)
Notice anything familiar with all of these recruits? 4 former USC commits, a current USC commit, a current UCLA commit, and Notre Dame's number one commitment. How important do you think this day is? Also, according to reports, current USC commit and 5 star running back Ty Isaac is still letting Notre Dame recruit him. Notre Dame and his current pledge USC are the only schools he is listening to right now. Could a visit be in the works for Isaac on the same day? Perhaps.
The most important recruit in this mix (not committed to ND already) is Eddie Vanderdoes. Although USC is still in the mix, Vanderdoes seems more likely to choose between the Irish, Alabama, and UCLA.
I won't sit here and speculate which of these 5 recruits (and possibly Isaac) are leaning towards Notre Dame, but if the Irish can finish the class out with 2 or 3 of them, than you can pretty much pencil in the Irish as having the number one recruiting class in the nation on National Signing Day.
If it wasn't obvious by now, the Notre Dame staff does a damn fine job of recruiting and closing on recruits. Last year saw a special blend of disaster, but that stemmed mostly from targeted recruits that didn't fit the Notre Dame "profile." I think we have seen the opposite this year and is evidenced by the "Irish Mob 13" mentality the recruits have developed.
So, keep a close eye on the 25th and perhaps we some big news shortly afterwards. Keep this in mind though, The health of the program lays within the 85 man roster that Notre Dame has struggled to fill with scholarship players for over a decade. Without oversigning, forced gray shirting, and JUCO transfers, Notre Dame has done a tremendous job of getting to this point. The fruits of these labors will be seen in the depth chart that sees the players get developed to their full potential.