This year’s haul might not equal 2014’s, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and head coach Brian Kelly are likely proud owners of one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
Notre Dame owned the No. 11 class in the nation in 2014, according to ESPN’s rankings, and though it dipped slightly to No. 13 in 2015, Kelly landed players that filled some leaky holes on both sides of the ball during National Signing Day Wednesday.
The Irish and Kelly secured signatures from 22 of the country’s top high school players, including 13 four-star recruits and one five-star potential game changer in Alize Jones.
The biggest questions of the day revolved around nationally ranked 6-foot-5 tight end Jones, a superstar out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada who made only two official visits to South Bend and UCLA’s campus.
Jones signed on with Kelly and the Irish, making him the biggest prize of the day. Citing Jones’s propensity to make big plays, Kelly appeared ecstatic when he called his top recruit the “best tight end in the country.”
Notre Dame put up a solid 32.8 points per game last season, 40 th in the nation, but it needed a playmaker to pair with sophomore and leading receiver William Fuller, and someone to spread the field and create lanes for sophomore running back Tarean Folston.
After Jones, Kelly was able to pluck several top players from the SEC’s clutches. The Irish will bring in running back Dexter Williams, the No. 3 back in all of Florida, and the state’s No. 2 middle linebacker in Te’Von Coney.
Kelly also landed John Curtis Christian High School stud outside linebacker Bo Wallace and 6-foot-6, 317-pound Evangel Christian Academy offensive tackle Jerry Tillery, both out of Louisiana. Tillery will join Indiana’s top guard Tristen Hoge, who stands at 6-foot-4 and 291 lbs. but runs a 5.15 40-yard dash.
This year it seemed Kelly was determined to add more weapons to the Irish attack, so he also went out and picked up Saint Peter’s Prep quarterback Brandon Wimbush from New Jersey, the sixth-best at his position in the country according to Scout and the top player in the state, as well as Illinois’ top receiver in Providence Catholic’s Miles Boykin.
Adding some more depth behind Folston and Williams, the Irish further bolstered their backfield with Pennsylvania’s No. 3 running back Josh Adams, a product of Central Bucks High School South.
A number of defensive studs from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states join Wallace and Coney in this year’s defensive class. There’s outside linebacker Asmar Bilal, who finished second in Indiana at his position, Maryland’s top cornerback Ashton White, and Ohio’s No. 1 corner and defensive tackle in Shaun Crawford and Elijah Taylor.