Simply put, this class is special; there is no denying that. Forget the stars, forget the names, the camps, the scouting reports, and simply look at the bond between these guys. Never before have I seen a class that was as close as this one, they simply fit together, and consistently remind each other of why they chose Notre Dame.
When looking at the class, you see a top 5 class (which could be #1 by NSD). But one thing is certain: every single player in this class could be considered underrated, from top to bottom, whether as a 4 star player instead of a 3, the top player in their state or at their position, or perhaps even being the best player in the country. Let’s take a look at this list!
Alex Anzalone – At 6’3 230lbs Alex projects to play inside linebacker at Notre Dame. Alex is currently a consensus top 50 player, and is considered one of the top linebackers in the nation. However, the fact that he projects inside in our defense, there are many people who say he is the #2 player at that position behind only Reuben Foster. Alex brings discipline, technique, instincts, and the ability to cover to the WILL position, and I would not be surprised to see him get plenty of interceptions playing in the middle of our defense for 4 years.
Hunter Bivin & Steve Elmer – At the tackle position there is a plethora of talent. Laremy Tunsil is the consensus top player at the position, but after him the opinions vary greatly. However, Bivin & Elmer are both in consideration for this spot. They both did a lot of camping and impressed services over the summer, but they each have a chance really move up the rankings at the All-American games. I can’t stress it enough how important it is that we have these two bookends, both who have college All-American potential. Bivin is an Under Armour and Elmer is an Army All American.
Michael Deeb – This is my pick for the big time sleeper of the defense. Deeb gets no love at all from the recruiting services, but let me tell you something: they are flat wrong. Deeb is a flat out monster; at 6’2 240lbs he drinks protein shakes with raw eggs, rusty nails, and motor oil in it. All joking aside, the kid has great instincts, a huge frame, and is clearly a vocal leader. I think he will make an awesome MIKE linebacker for Notre Dame. He will play in the Semper Fi All-American bowl, and could see a huge bump with a good performance, similar to what happened to Ben Councell.
Devin Butler – Our current starting cornerbacks are both converted to that position due to the need to have them there, and for depth purposes. They have performed greatly, but have not played the position for very long. Devin Butler however, has. At 6’1 180lbs, he has prototypical Bob Diaco size for a corner on the defense. He performed very well at The Opening, and is extremely underrated by the services. Butler is incredibly talented, and will showcase his talents at the Semper Fi All-American Game, and have something to prove.
William Fuller – Will is an interesting prospect. He projects to play slot receiver for the Irish. Will is a very quick receiver and at 6’1 170lbs he has adequate size. He has great hands however, and is an extremely crisp route runner. He could turn into a very reliable target from the slot position, and could get a lot of balls thrown his way. Will is a Semper Fi All American.
Mike Heuerman – A top 250 player, and top 10 at the tight end position, Mike is very talented. He comes from an athletic family (you may have seen his brother saving OSU time and again with big catches) and of course he wanted to come to “Tight End U.” What stands out to me about Mike though is his athleticism. He is hard to bring down, not just because of his size but because he is agile as well. He is also a punishing blocker and when he finishes a guy, he really makes him hurt. Mike is who I consider the glue of this class; all the other guys love him. He also has some pretty eye-popping weightlifting numbers, which means he could be ready for Longo when he steps on campus. Definitely a top 100 player in my opinion.
Torii Hunter Jr – The son of a professional baseball player, Torii is a top 250 player by all the services. He is rated highest by ESPN, but he also plays high school football in Texas and puts up very solid numbers. The most impressive achievement by Torii though is that not only was he invited to The Opening, but he was the MVP of the 7on7 tournament. Torii is an Army All-American, and will have a chance to have the other services move his rankings to match ESPN as a top 50 player.
Rashad Kinlaw – Kinlaw is a bit on an enigmatic recruit. He was very highly rated as junior and watch list player, but injuries have really plagued him in the last year. He has had 2 broken legs (separate occasions) but at 6’2 185lbs, he will bring size to a secondary that Diaco prefers. Not only does he have elite size for a cornerback, he has the ability. Kinlaw could very well be the most athletic recruit we have coming in if healthy. This could turn out to be an absolute steal.
Cole Luke– Cole is considered a top 150 player, and was a major pick up from the state of Arizona. His coach is former Notre Dame player Steve Belles. Cornerback may be the deepest position of quality depth of all positions on either side of the ball. There is not much that separates the #5 Cornerback and the #15 Cornerback this year, it is that close. Cole is an elite talent and great cover corner. He will be playing in the Semper Fi All-American game.
Jacob Matuska – Big skill player who will play Defensive End for the Irish. Matuska doesn’t get talked about much, and his ratings vary depending on the service you use. When you are talking big skill though (Troy Niklas types) you look at the offer sheet. Matuska has offers from a Who’s Who of the Midwest and an absolute steal right out from under Urban Meyer (Matuska lives in Columbus, Ohio).
Mike McGlinchey & Colin McGovern – These are two absolute behemoths. McGlinchey stands a daunting 6’9, and McGovern 6’6 and both pushing 300lbs. They do not get the publicity that Elmer & Bivin get, nor do they get as high of ratings as the other two, but the ceiling on these two prospects is sky high. They both have absolute elite offer sheets, and when all the top programs want you, there is a reason why. I’m very anxious to see the offensive tackle competition when all of these guys step on campus, coach Hiestand will have his hands full. Mike is a Semper Fi, and Colin is an Under Armour All American. If either of these monsters hit their ceiling, we could look back in 5 years and say that they were the best offensive tackle in the entire 2013 class.
John Montelus– John is a top 150 player and is quite possibly the top interior offensive lineman in the nation. He has absolutely dominated camps he has gone to, but because he plays in Massachusetts, he doesn’t get as much ratings love as other players. The thing I love about Montelus, besides the fact that he is an absolute road paver, is the way he sounds. Watch an interview with him, he sounds scary as hell! I would not want that man yelling at me in the trenches. John has a chance to solidify himself as the top guard in the nation with an elite performance at the Army All American Game.
James Onwualu- James is the latest of the Cretin-Derham Hall pipeline. He stands 6’1 205lbs, and is a consensus 3 star wide receiver. He was offered by the entire B1G, and almost the entire Pac 12. James is a playmaker, as is evidenced by his film. Although he may be a 3 star prospect, he was invited to The Opening, where he performed well, and was nominated for the Army All American Game. So while he may be a 3 star prospect, his resume, offer sheet, and performance say otherwise. Keep an eye on James; the last wide receiver we had from Cretin-Derham Hall now plays for the Cardinals on Sundays.
Doug Randolph- Another absolute stud at the linebacker position, there is a lot of speculation as to where Doug will play exactly. Randolph is built like an monster, much the same way Alex and Michael are. Doug was present at The Opening where he stood out for his athleticism. When I watch the film on Doug, one word comes to mind. That word is talent. He is a top 250 player, and one of those rare big linebackers who can cover the athletic tight ends. He is very good in all facets of his game. He will be showing off his athleticism at the Army All American Game.
Corey Robinson – The son of the Admiral, David Robinson. Corey is an absolute mismatch at 6’4 200 pounds (right now) and a 31 inch vertical. Corey showed off his skills at The Opening having a great showing in the 7 on 7 tournament. He has very solid numbers for playing high school football in Texas, but the more impressive part of his numbers are that he usually only plays one half of football before they have a huge lead and take him out. On film he looks like an absolute terror to cover. Like Michael Deeb, Corey gets zero love from the services but will be playing in the Army All American Game. He is my big sleeper on offense.
Isaac Rochell – Isaac is very quietly one of our best recruits. He plays great competition in Georgia and puts up solid numbers. During the summer he was a consensus top 100 player in the nation, but has since dropped a bit because he did not go to any camps over the summer. If he was a top 100 player then, no reason he shouldn’t be now. Right now he is about the same size Stephon Tuitt was his senior year. This guy is simply a football player, and his rating is entirely based on what he has done on the field, not at a camp or in a drill. That is extremely promising, and Isaac could have a freshmen year very similar to Sheldon Day.
Jaylon Smith – The crown jewel of the class. He is arguably the top player in the country. We will know for sure after the All American games, if Nkemdiche can live up to his billing. Jaylon will play the DOG linebacker for the Irish, with his 4.4 speed and elite coverage ability. He is the best coverage linebacker in the country and he has been the only person who was able to cover O.J. Howard at all this year at camps. Jaylon has worked diligently trying to bring top talent to the Irish Mob this year, and he is the leader of the top position group in the country (ND linebackers). Jaylon will be looking to become the first Notre Dame player since Jimmy Clausen to be #1 recruit in the country. He will be playing the Army All American Game, and was just awarded the 2012 prep Butkus Award.
Malik Zaire – Malik is a top 150 player, and top 10 Quarterback in the country. Let me tell you what stands out about this guy: his confidence. When asked what Notre Dame would be getting out of him, he simply replied “A Winner.” He is a lefty, and plays in an option offense in high school, but he qualified for the Elite 11 and almost won the entire thing. Trent Dilfer was raving about him and his ceiling. The most impressive thing about Zaire, which could make him the best QB in this class, are his intangibles. He has that Drew Brees work ethic, always taking extra notes, watches extra film, and arrives early to get a head start. He is a winner because he was born with talent, but works to use every ounce of it. This guy could win a Heisman one day. He will be representing the Irish in the Semper Fi All American Game.