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Football

No last-day surprises as Irish ink 24 recruits

| Thursday, February 5, 2015

Often a time of suspense and intrigue, National Signing Day proved relatively uneventful for Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts, as the Irish inked all 24 expected signees.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly introduced the 24-member class of 2015, including the four early enrollees already taking classes and working out with the team in South Bend, on Wednesday afternoon.

The Irish had already compiled 22 public pledges entering Wednesday, and Notre Dame rounded out the class with the additions of running back Dexter Williams and receiver Equanimeous St. Brown on Wednesday.

Williams is slotted as the No. 12 running back in the country, according to Rivals. The Orlando, Florida, native joins fellow signee Josh Adams in the Notre Dame class of 2015.

“We were looking to get a second back in this class, and we felt like Dexter gave us that breakaway back that we wanted,” Kelly said. “His second-level speed, his quickness into the hole and then his acceleration were the things that separated him from the other backs that we recruited.”

St. Brown, like Williams, is another four-star offensive skill-position prospect. The Anaheim, California, product is the No. 15 receiver in the nation.

“He’s just a great kid,” Kelly said. “He’s got great range, 6′-5”, another rangy wide receiver who can run. He gets in and out of his breaks. Another matchup guy that I think you’re gonna have problems with now.”

The Irish are expected to return 19 of 22 starters from the 2014 team, which finished 8-5 following a 31-28 victory over LSU in the Music City Bowl.

“These are guys that we believe can help us win a championship, and that’s how we recruit,” Kelly said. “And they’re guys that fit here at Notre Dame. So that’s the lens that we recruit through.”

Notre Dame’s class ranks around the edges of the top 10 nationally, according to various recruiting services. In addition to Adams, Williams and St. Brown, the Irish hauled in three more receivers — Miles Boykin, Jalen Guyton and C.J. Sanders — tight end Alizé Jones and quarterback Brandon Wimbush.

Wimbush is pegged as the No. 60 player in the country. The former Penn State commitment flipped to the Irish in October.

“We were gonna be okay if we didn’t take a quarterback until I saw Brandon on film in his first couple games, and that changed my mind,” Kelly said. “He just did so many of the things that I think a complete quarterback needs to do. And as we went to work in the recruiting process, I just thought we had to take a quarterback.”

On the defensive side of the ball, three four-star linebackers highlight the Irish class. Indiana natives Josh Barajas (No. 180) and Asmar Bilal (No. 246) and Florida product and early enrollee Te’von Coney (No. 118) all cracked the Rivals 250.

Kelly said cornerbacks Shaun Crawford, Nick Coleman and Ashton White offer Notre Dame “crucial” flexibility in sub-packages. Kicker Justin Yoon filled Notre Dame’s other “must-need,” per Kelly. The Irish hosted multiple safety prospects on official visits during the past few weeks, but Nathan Meadors (UCLA), Arrington Farrar (Wisconsin) and Justin Reid (Stanford) all chose to sign elsewhere Wednesday.

“We think when it all plays out, we’re gonna be all right at safety,” Kelly said. “But we needed the three in-and-out corners, and we needed the kicker.”

Notre Dame begins spring practice March 2.

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out BlueandGold.com. Email Andrew Owens at aowens@blueandgold.com and tell him The Observer sent you.

About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike