Notre Dame football recruiting: Number of 2014 visitors will dwindle

TOM LEMMING
SBT Correspondent

For Notre Dame, almost everyone they’re going after came in for the USC game.

There might be one or two floaters who come in, but for the most part the 2014 targets were at the SC game. Beyond those kids, I think now they turn toward 2015.

For 2014, the key is to land defensive tackle Matt Elam because they’re weak there. Inside linebacker Nyles Morgan is also key because they’re weak there.

I think wide receiver Allen Lazard, who is committed to Iowa State, could be another Michael Floyd. A couple months ago I thought no way in terms of Notre Dame. When I saw him, he was with his parents and coach, and he said he was going to stick with the Cyclones.

Right now, however, it looks to me as if Notre Dame is leading. As a matter of fact, out of all the seniors that came in, I think they were leading with every single one of them. Some of that will change when these kids go to other schools, but they did such a masterful job with these guys.

Notre Dame has about eight scholarships left to give for 2014, and I think they could get just about anyone they wanted out of the group that just visited.

Back to Lazard, even though they need a game-breaking wide receiver, I think Lazard is Floyd-like. You wouldn’t call him a game-breaker, but you would call him super reliable, a big, strong kid who can break tackles, but runs OK. They don’t have that right now.

I think to really help their running game, they need a guy that can keep a defense honest. Lazard is very good, although I don’t know he’ll spread a defense, but at least a safety is going to have to lean toward him, and that helps the running game.

Wide receiver Erik Brown, who is committed to Washington, is a kid that can help a vertical offense. That would certainly help the offense.

With two home games remaining, there could be a couple more senior official visitors, but I think it’s for the most part done. There might be a couple guys who are committed elsewhere that could potentially visit — like Brown and Lazard. They’re still working on Fresno, Calif., defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood, who had been committed to USC, and he’s a teammate of athlete Michiah Quick, who visited for the SC game.

ND is desperate for a nose guard. There’s really no one there that can do what Nix can do, and if they can’t get Elam, they need some insurance. They don’t want to go into next year without bringing in a real good one this year. So that’s a priority.

At inside linebacker, not only Nyles Morgan, but possibly another who is committed elsewhere who has ND on his radar.

All in all, it’s just about done in terms of visits. From here, it’s committed players visiting and 2015 guys, and then guys who may have a coaching change at their school. That’s why Smallwood might still be an option.

This week I’m scheduled to visit with five-star offensive tackle Braden Smith. He’s still got Notre Dame on his list but hasn’t officially visited yet. Offensive line isn’t a priority anymore in this cycle for Notre Dame, but you don’t turn down a kid of that caliber. He’s one of the two best in the country.

I also plan to see former Irish coach Charlie Weis at Kansas last weekend. He’s doing better than last year. It’s a slow process because he took over a team with no talent. I would say he took over a team that was one of the one or two of the worst talented teams in Division 1. He brought in a lot of junior college players this year, which improved the team, but it’s a slow process.

Kansas has to keep a coach there four or five years so he has a chance to develop something.

And Bob Davie at New Mexico, there’s no talent in that state, so they’ve got to hit California and Arizona real hard. I think he’s doing OK in recruiting for New Mexico, but it’s a slower process. New Mexico needs time to develop an identity. I think with him there, we may not see results for another two or three years, if at all.

If athletic directors at some of these schools are smart, they should bring in a guy that they really have confidence in and let them go for four or five years.

What’s happening now is schools are only giving guys three years.

Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly leads his team onto the field for the Shamrock Series game between Notre Dame and Arizona State on Saturday, October 5, 2013, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN via FTP