Kelly expresses excitement over 2018 recruiting class
Tobias Hoonhout | Thursday, February 8, 2018
For Brian Kelly on Notre Dame’s 2018 Signing Day on Wednesday, it was all about fit.
“[I’m] very pleased with today in terms of what we were hoping for, we were extremely intentional in going into this second phase of signing day,” Kelly said in a press conference Wednesday. “ … We were very intentional in terms of what we were looking for to round out this class … relative to where we wanted to be we are extremely pleased.”
After adding 21 recruits this past December during the recently-instituted early signing period, Kelly said the program’s focus to round out the class with versatility and depth, particularly with the offensive line, defensive secondary and wide receiver positions. With much of the class filled out heading into NSD, Kelly said his staff’s ability to focus on a few recruits paid off in the Irish landing five additional recruits on the day.
Despite the departure of offensive line coach Harry Heistand to the NFL this offseason, new hire Jeff Quinn and the 2017 Joe Moore Award winning unit still added two pieces in Luke Jones, who committed to the Irish on Dec. 27, and Jarrett Patterson.
“With Luke Jones and Jarrett Patterson, we get great versatility in both of them,” Kelly said. “Luke Jones, four-time state champion, he’s a winner, and Jarrett Patterson, obviously a winner, state champion as well. Luke gives us great versatility, can play the guard position, can play center, we were looking for that in particular—an inside guy that had that versatility. And then Jarrett Patterson, a guy that’s long, but can play both guard and tackle as well.
“So versatility at that offensive line position augmenting the depth there. I think we did an incredible job of adding two offensive lineman that are going to shape this class quite well.”
Notre Dame also added two athletes in offensive skill positions — running back C’Bo Flemister and wide receiver Lawrence Keys.
Kelly said he was excited about how well both fit into Notre Dame’s future plans.
“The running back position was obviously a need for us, and C’Bo Flemister is a guy that was really attractive to us with his running style,” he said. “From a football standpoint we loved the fact that we had a north-and-south back here that played with low pads, and that was what we were looking for: a guy that could really hit it inside/out for us, and extremely productive at the position. Great fit for us, really solid student that fits here at Notre Dame.
“… Lawrence Keys, wide receiver out of New Orleans, really gives us an explosive playmaker. He really adds to the depth of that class; Braden Lenzy, who I didn’t talk about last time — was a signee after the signing day. When you add two guys like Lenzy and Keys, extremely athletic with the ball in their hands, it complements really well the entire receiving class, with Micah Jones, who is already here, that really talks about the balance of the class in terms of what we were able to assemble there at the wide receiver position.”
Notre Dame’s biggest Signing Day surprise came perhaps in its biggest area of need. A major focus for the Irish was in the secondary, where Notre Dame focused heavily in the fall.
On Wednesday, Kelly and his staff landed two more recruits, both from Washington D.C., DJ Brown and surprise commit Noah Boykin.
“DJ Brown, out of St. John’s College, we really think we’ve got somebody here that’s a true corner. He’s long at 6-foot-1, very smart player,” Kelly said. “What stood out for us was his football intelligence, the way he played the game, and again, comes to us with a great background in terms of coming from a school like St. John’s, he’s prepared for the academics here at Notre Dame as well.
“This is a lot about fit as well, and we’re reminding so many times about all the good players out there, but there has to be both, a strong commitment to the culture here at Notre Dame and their workload academically. It’s not just about the football things.”
“…We love the intangibles about Noah. Comes from a school that’s not a predictor, a school we wouldn’t normally recruit at Notre Dame, but I will tell you that one of things that we were so impressed with, we weren’t certain about Noah and his ability to come to Notre Dame and be a great fit until after his admissions meeting, and the feedback that we got from admissions on his interview really sold us that this was the right place for him.
“Here’s a young man who wanted to reach for the best and not settle, and that’s what really for us drove this. Todd Lyght did an incredible job staying with this process with Noah, and again, what we know about his football ability; he was one of the best players at the All-Star game, has a confidence about him at that corner position, he’s a natural corner, gives us great flexibility and depth at that position that we’ve been lacking for so long here. Here’s a young man that chose Notre Dame for the right reasons, and we’re really excited about having him here.”
All in all, Kelly was very happy with his program’s haul, and how it can impact the season ahead.
“When you’re only recruiting about eight players from the middle of December through February, you really can be on each one of those players individually.” Kelly said. “That’s what’s required to finish the way we finished, I have a great staff that set it up, remember I still only get one home visit. So I think our coaches did a great job of setting it up for me to go in there where we had a number of opportunities.
“…We need to get better from [scholarship] 65 to 85, this will strengthen our football team at that area, which sometimes goes unnoticed in the length of your season. We have to play better football in November, that’s my job, and part of this recruiting class is going to address some of those needs in November.”