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Smith, Bivin headline weekend visits

Chris Allen | Thursday, September 6, 2012

As the Irish return to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since Nov. 16, do not look for a throng of eager recruits trailing the current team on the traditional player walk. Instead, look for the faces that have made up the list of commitments for the growing recruiting class of 2013 so far.

The Irish coaching staff will return a number of commitments from future classes to campus for this weekend’s home opener and hope to further sell them on Notre Dame.

“Right now, the visit list for this weekend is looking a lot like a bunch of the 2013 commitments, and there will certainly be some 2014 commitments as well,” Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said. “[Offensive linemen] Hunter Bivin, Steven Elmer, [outside linebacker] Jaylon Smith and [receiver] Justin Brent are all guys who are expected to be in town.”

With 19 commitments already secured in the 2013 class, the Irish recruiting staff can now focus in on targeting specific needs, including bringing in some top talents in the defensive backfield. Frank said the Irish will host several top cornerbacks in a marquee recruiting weekend Sept. 22 against Michigan.

“I think if there is any specific place that the staff is looking where they still need to do some work, it is in the defensive backfield at the cornerback position,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily. “They will be hosting some of the better cornerbacks in the country on Michigan weekend when [corners] Priest Willis and Cole Luke take their visits. If there’s any other spots beyond that they are looking to pick up commitments, it’ll be at pass rusher and probably a speed receiver.”

One evolving aspect of the Irish program that will be on display for young recruits this season is a group of modern initiatives embraced by Notre Dame for the first time. The public address system will institute more widespread music throughout the stadium, the team will play its first full season with enhanced gold helmets and the program has unveiled ultra-modern uniforms for the Oct. 6 Shamrock Series contest against Miami in Chicago.

Irish coach Brian Kelly has also floated talk of a future JumboTron and FieldTurf in Notre Dame Stadium – to the chagrin of many alumni. Frank said these elements are becoming necessary to attract top talent in the college game.

“While I think kids do value the tradition of Notre Dame, it is also one of the programs in the country where you will get the most exposure,” Frank said. “I think kids view this as … the bigger and brighter the lights, the better it gets. There’s a reason you see new and different uniforms for the Shamrock Series, and it’s certainly not for adidas to pump money into it. It’s to attract the younger generation.

“It’s for the kids. I can’t tell you how many times during a football game I’ve seen a bunch of recruits just sitting on their hands. You want to see smiles on their faces, and the bigger the stage, the more you’ll see them smile. That’s why even though the alums may not like it, I think you’ll see a JumboTron.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com

Email Mike at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.

Contact Chris Allen at [email protected]