Notre Dame football recruiting: D-line tops ND wish list

South Bend Tribune

Seven months remain until national signing day, and Notre Dame has 12 verbal commitments secured, including a quarterback and another nice haul of offensive linemen.

The biggest remaining need? With Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix possibly gone after this season to the NFL, and February signee Eddie Vanderdoes now at UCLA, defensive line appears to be it.

"Without a doubt," CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "They've got to constantly improve depth. That's their biggest weakness. Notre Dame improved by leaps and bounds last year, and a lot of it had to do with their defensive line. To keep adding to that depth is the secret to keep your defensive line going great."

Elizabeth Ky., standout Matt Elam, a 6-foot-6, 325-pounder, was the latest elite defensive lineman to visit the ND campus.

Elam's Monday visited impressed him enough to be the Irish in his final five, along with Alabama, Ohio State and homestate teams Louisville and Kentucky.

Another defensive lineman on ND's target list, Matt Nelson, will reportedly announce his college decision on Thursday. The 6-7, 249-pounder from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is also being recruited by some schools as a tight end.

His three finalists are Iowa, Stanford and the Irish.

Defensive line, however, isn't the only remaining area of need.

Notre Dame recently gained the commitment of quarterback DeShone Kizer, but the depth chart in 2014 will be without Tommy Rees, who will have exhausted his eligibility. Andrew Hendrix also will be a senior in 2013 but it's not yet known if he will use a fifth year of eligibility in 2014.

In an ideal world, Notre Dame would bring in an additional quarterback in the current cycle.

"I do think they need to still maybe add some depth," Lemming said. "It's going to be tough to get another real good one. It'll be tough to get another big name now, but they'll work on it.

"Notre Dame does a great job of going after guys who are committed elsewhere and landing them, so they've got until between now and February to get a Kyle Allen (a Texas A&M commit), or somebody that's committed elsewhere."

Other areas of need? Another running back would be nice, although it's not vital with the Irish already having a commitment from standout Elijah Hood. And with no safeties or cornerbacks committed, secondary would figure to be on the priority list.

Name to watch?

Lemming believes an offer could soon be extended to Jonathan Bonner, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end/outside linebacker who recently visited. Bonner plays at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Mo.

It's early

Lemming has the Irish as a top-10 team right now in recruiting. He likes the commitments Brian Kelly and his staff have been able to secure, and says there are a number of quality players still in play.

"It's still early in the ballgame," Lemming said.

Michigan lands kicker

Michigan has the No. 1 ranked 2014 class, and now the Wolverines are starting on 2015.

They got their first commitment for the 2015 class when Massillon (Ohio) Washington kicker Andrew David committed. Reported by the Canton Repository and ESPN's Wolverine Nation among others, added that David was a camper at U-M during its recent kicking camp.

Listed at 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, he should compete for the job immediately given U-M's expected roster situation.

U-M will lose current senior and three-year starter Brendan Gibbons after this fall and his backup, Matt Wile, after the 2014 season. That will leave only walk-on J.J. McGrath as a known roster commodity at that time. McGrath arrives this fall as a freshman.

That will leave the job open for competition.

Staff writer Bob Wieneke: