Notre Dame in search of difference-makers for 2015 recruiting class

TOM LEMMING
NDI Correspondent

With Blake Barnett’s decommitment from Notre Dame this spring, quarterback remains a big need in this football recruiting class.

For sake of depth, I think they need to bring in a guy this year, but a talented guy. There’s no need to bring in a guy who isn’t that great.

One of the few quarterbacks remaining in this class is 6-foot-4, 200-pound Torrance Gibson, who is a great athlete but not a polished passer. I still think if they can get him, you bring him in and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur could do a good job with him after he sits behind the current guys.

With Notre Dame’s offense, they need an athletic quarterback, preferably one with height. If they can get a mix between Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton, they’re going to win a national title. I think Gibson has that height and he can run. I also think LaFleur can do a good job of developing him, if he sits out a year.

At running back they’ve got Josh Adams, who has had injury problems, but when healthy he’s a good back. You’d like to see them bring in an impact back. Jacques Patrick has visited Notre Dame. Soso Jamabo is a real good back, but he also had injury problems during his junior year. Damien Harris is a big-time guy. Cameron Scarlett is a guy they have offered.

At wide receiver, they have a prototypical receiver in Miles Boykin. To me, he falls in the Jeff Samardzija/ Michael Floyd category, in that he’s a big receiver. C.J. Sanders can run a 10.6 100 meters and could be a major surprise. He’s small but explosive. I’d still love to see them land a Rocket Ismail-type, and Ryan Newsome is one of those types. Christian Kirk is going to visit in September. If they can get one of those elite guys, it will really help spread defenses. They’ve lacked that.

They’re done along the offensive line. Harry Hiestand has become an ace recruiter, and they have three linemen committed. I think offensive line is their best position in terms of depth and talent. Tristen Hoge is the best center in the country. Trevor Ruhland is 6-3 and 270 pounds, but he’s a mean, tough son of a gun. Once people see him at guard, they’ll understand why Hiestand was so high on him. And Jerry Tillery has as much potential as any tackle in the country. He’s got size (6-6, 315) and length, it just comes down to an aggressive mentality, which he does not have yet.

They do not have a tight end, and most of the greats have committed. With their success, it’s hard to believe they can’t get one. Devonaire Clarington could be a great one. He’s from Miami, and when I met with him, I thought he was one of the Hurricanes. He’s an impressive looking kid with a great wingspan, and he looks like a power forward.

I think at quarterback and tight end they could possibly poach another school because most of the top guys are gone.

Along the defensive line, Micah Dew-Treadway is a good, solid prospect but not yet a great player. Same deal with Elijah Taylor and Brandon Tiassum. They’re all fairly tall. You’d like to see them land a shorter defensive tackle. Last year there were a lot of them, this year there aren’t.

There are still great defensive linemen out there though. Byron Cowart looks exactly like Bryant Young, the former ND star. Another great one is fellow Floridian CeCe Jefferson. And then you’ve got Keisean Lucier-South, and he would be the pass-rusher ND is looking for. They’ve also offered Josh Sweat. He came to meet me at his high school, and I stopped at a convenience store and I saw a kid that I thought was Jadeveon Clowney, and it was Sweat. All that was different was that he was 20 pounds lighter. Both are impact pass rushers.

At linebacker Josh Barajas is a blue-chipper. An impact guy is Osa Masina, and another is Porter Gustin. Mike Elston has done a heck of a job with Asmar Bilal from Indiana. Elston has put himself among the elite recruiters this year.

I’d say they’re done at safety and corner. Shaun Crawford and Nick Coleman are two of the better defensive backs. Nicco Fertitta is a guy who can hit. Prentice McKinney is also a pretty good player.

Kicker Justin Yoon is very good. Kickers are almost like a coin flip whether they’re going to be good. I think it’s a good pickup.

They’re got good, solid players but there aren’t a lot of impact players. What they need is immediate difference-makers, like Jaylon Smith was last year. I’m thinking if recruiting ended today they’d probably finish between 15 and 25 in the country. Without impact players it’ll be tough to break into the top 10.

Linebacker Josh Barajas of Andrean High School is a 2015 Notre Dame commit. (Photo courtesy of Times of Northwest Indiana)