Class of 2014: Offense
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, February 6, 2014
6’6” • 285
Montgomery Bell Academy
Alex Bars is a four-star recruit, according to multiple outlets, and ESPN ranks the 6-foot-6 lineman as the No. 2 prospect in Notre Dame’s class of 2014 and the No. 7 offensive tackle in the nation.
Bars received offers from a host of schools, including Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Stanford and Ohio State, before committing to Notre Dame.
He adds size and quickness and is a skilled blocker who adjusts well mid-play and has the quickness to get into the second level.
In his senior season at Montgomery Bell Academy, Bars anchored the offensive line as the team posted a 10-1 record and made a postseason run to the state semifinals, and Bars earned a spot in the Under Armour All-America game.
6’1” • 197
Speedway High School
Justin Brent adds needed depth to Notre Dame’s receiving corps and punt-return unit, both of which have been depleted by the graduation of TJ Jones. Brent’s 40-yard dash time of 4.51 does not account for his lateral quickness and sure hands in the middle of the field.
The Indianapolis native averaged more than 170 all-purpose yards per game in his senior season while earning all-state honors and was ranked No. 11 among the nation’s receivers by Rivals.com. Brent is a strong player who can fight through traffic and stretch the field vertically. He will join a talented Irish receiving corps, but one in which he will have a chance to contribute early on. He is also an dangerous returner, averaging 27.7 yards on kicks and punts.
6’2” • 176
St. Thomas Aquinas High School
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
With a decent-sized frame and a 4.4-second 40-yard dash time, Corey Holmes brings the Notre Dame receiving corps both size and speed. He uses his size to his advantage, leaping above defensive backs to make catches even when double-teamed, but can blaze down the field to grab long catches in wide open spaces. The four-star recruit out of Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas also brings a strong sense of awareness to his game and is able come down with tough catches along the sideline. Holmes does not shy away from contact and often gains more ground after contact. Holmes is the 77th-best player in the ESPN 300 and the No. 8 receiver in the country, according to the network.
6’3” • 243
La Mirada High School
La Mirada, Calif.
Tyler Luatua was the second tight end to join the incoming class and follows in the Notre Dame tradition of great pass-catchers at the position.
Luatua is a big target for the Irish, with some speed as well. His high school drew up screen plays and play-action passes designed to get him the ball in space underneath coverage, and once there, Luatua has proven himself shifty enough to evade smaller corners and safeties.
Landing Luatua was a big win for the Irish over Alabama, where Tyler’s brother Isaac is an offensive lineman. However, with Notre Dame’s emphasis on using the tight end in the passing game in recent years, Luatua elected to become the next enrollee at “Tight End U.”
6’5” • 302
Red Bank Catholic High School
Red Bank, N.J.
Quenton Nelson is a four-star recruit and rated the 175th-best player in the ESPN 300. According to Rivals, Nelson is a five-star recruit and the No. 29 player in the nation.
At 6-foot-5, 302 pounds, Nelson already has the size to fit in among Notre Dame’s other linemen. He played most of his high-school snaps at offensive tackle, and Nelson could project as an offensive guard, as well. He chose Notre Dame over a long list of other offers, most notably Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and Stanford.
One of three Irish commits to find a spot among the national Lombardi Award nominees, Nelson enters as a U.S. Army All-American and a USA Today second-team All-American. A physical force, Nelson has the athleticism and drive to finish blocks well downfield.
6’4” • 275
St. Ignatius High School
The life-long Buckeyes fan was the first player from the state of Ohio to receive a verbal offer when Urban Meyer took over as the head coach at Ohio State, but Jimmy Byrne announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame way back on Dec. 12, 2012.
Byrne played as an offensive tackle at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland and is a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, but he is likely to play at guard for the Irish. Scout.com rated Byrne as the No. 19 recruit from the state of Ohio and the No. 12 offensive guard in the nation.
6’5” • 216
Central Catholic High School
Standing at 6-foot-5, Notre Dame commit DeShone Kizer will be the tallest quarterback on the Irish roster. While he needs to add weight to his trim frame, his skills have been put on display throughout his high school career in Toledo, Ohio.
A dual-threat quarterback, Kizer relies on his spectacular downfield vision to make plays. He is a clear pass-first quarterback, always looking for options even while scrambling. Although his movement away from the pocket is somewhat slow, he always keeps his feet moving to make a play. Arm strength will also be a key factor for Kizer, especially as he grows.
6’3” • 294
Our Lady of Good Counsel HS
Sam Mustipher projects as an interior lineman at the next level. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 12 guard and the No. 3 player in the state of Maryland, coming out of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.
Mustipher chose the Irish early, committing in April over offers from Alabama, Michigan and Northwestern, among others.
Mustipher will have to continue to add size, but he was listed as a “Pleasant Surprise” by ESPN in regards to his performance at the Under Armour All-America game in January. He is strongest in run blocking, where he gains leverage and has fantastic hand positioning against defenders as he drives to the second level. Mustipher also does a good job of moving his feet.
6’5” • 210
Marist High School
Standing at 6-foot-5, Nic Weishar had no problem making the tough catches as a receiver while playing for at Marist (Ill.) High School. A four-star recruit, Weishar had a storied career for the Red Hawks, breaking the Illinois state record for career receptions with 256. He also compiled 3,284 receiving yards and 28 touchdown receptions during his career.
Weishar projects as a tight end for the Irish. Though he doesn’t possess blistering speed, Weishar’s high-flying ability and knack for making tough catches are reminiscent of other tight ends that have come through the Irish ranks, including current NFL players Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert, as well as Troy Niklas.