Notre Dame football finalizes 27-man recruiting class on Signing Day
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame football is well into the offseason, but the staff has still been hard at work.
Wednesday marked National Signing Day for young athletes across the country, as high school seniors made their college decisions official, and Notre Dame was a top destination.
The Irish received signed commitments from six players on the second of two signing days. Offensive linemen Jarrett Patterson and Luke Jones, defensive backs Noah Boykin and DJ Brown, wide receiver Lawrence Keys, and running back C'Bo Flemister are added to the 21 players who signed early in December.
"It's probably from an across the board depth standpoint on the back end of our defense and at the wide receiver position, an area that I feel is good about as any class that we've recruited here at Notre Dame," said Kelly. "Look, they're all young players, and they've got to prove themselves. But I think when I walk away at the end of the day and take a step back, those two areas I feel really good about relative to what we've done there."
That depth was a main focus for Kelly and Brian Polian, who doubles as recruiting coordinator in addition to coaching special teams.
"We're coming out of today with a pretty good feeling because we got some guys at the end that decided to join the family ... so that obviously sends you into the rest of the day with a good feeling," said Polian.
Kelly emphasized that the class is expected to improve the middle pack of the Irish roster. He hoped that the talent in those 27 incoming players will push others on the team to step up due to increased competition. After a late fall during the 2017 season, Kelly thinks that could change.
“We have to play better football in November and that’s my job," he said. "Part of this recruiting class is going to address some of those needs in November. It has to be addressed in how you work your team and so this will be that first stage of addressing that.”
The Irish welcome a balanced class with 14 defensive and 13 offensive players. While that balance, and depth, have the coaches excited, they know some holes may have been filled in the secondary.
2017 saw a large improvement on the defensive side of the ball, but there was room to grow. The safety position was a spot of uncertainty, as the group failed to register an interception.
Now, there are seven defensive backs headed for South Bend, including Penn High School standout Paul Moala, who was a member of the early signees in December. As a group, the Irish defensive staff is excited about the opportunities to mold these young playmakers.
“A lot of [returning] guys played quality snaps, so going into the spring I think it’ll be great for me to get an evaluation of exactly where they are," said new defensive backs coach Terry Joseph. "That way I can feel even better about the guys that we just signed.”
But no matter the position, from quarterback to defensive line, the Irish feel the team simply got better in the 2018 cycle.
"When you step back and look at the class as a whole, including the 21 that signed in December, [our staff is] really, really excited about it," said Polian. "It's a really good group, and no matter what happened today, that was not going to change our feeling."