Notre Dame adds 23 players during early signing period
Joe Everett | Saturday, December 22, 2018
Brian Kelly and Notre Dame wrapped up the early signing period with 23 members officially joining the Class of 2019, all of whom signed throughout the day on Wednesday.
Thus far, four linebackers, four defensive backs, four defensive lineman, four offensive linemen, three wide receivers, one quarterback, one running back, one punter and a kicker have signed with the Irish. Kelly said Notre Dame’s 2019 class, while still able to add one or two more players, met the goals the coaching staff set out to achieve.
“I think we addressed some important needs. Offensive and defensive lines were obviously the immediate focus, and then we were looking for length and athleticism on defense, and then from an offensive standpoint to continue to build the speed on the perimeter,” Kelly said. “You’ve got state champs in this class, you’ve got captains, you’ve got guys that really fit Notre Dame in terms of how we do things on a day-to-day basis … when you look at this class it starts with having the ability to begin this process further out than we ever have in the past.”
This is the second year since the December early signing period was introduced in college football. The Irish have taken full advantage of the change, especially when it comes to getting commits to enroll on campus early. In the Class of 2019, the Irish have 10 individuals enrolling early on campus — up from seven last season — a development Kelly believes is great for those individuals and the program as a whole.
“The mid-year enrollment, we feel, has obviously been very effective for us because it gives us those young men with [strength coach Matt] Balis in the offseason, gives them that summer workout, gives them that preseason camp and we feel that with that we can get them ready to play as true freshman,” Kelly said.
With another good haul from the December signing period, the Irish have had back-to-back classes with at least 20 players committing early. Notre Dame recruiting coordinator and special teams coach Brian Polian feels the quality of this class is another step in the right direction for the overall health and longevity of the program.
“From our perspective, one of the thing’s that is really exciting is that we’re starting to stack some really good classes on top of each other — classes that we’re really confident in and excited about,” Polian said. When you do that, the sustainability, the ability to keep competing at a high level, becomes a much more realistic scenario. I think if we keep doing that, it’ll allow us to stay good for a while.”
Perhaps the biggest key to forming such a high-profile class, in Polian’s eyes, was the group effort it took among the coaching staff and the quality relationships that they were able to cultivate with each individual player.
“I think one thing that stood out this year was that there were more collective recruiting efforts across the staff. The area coach being involved, the position coach being involved, the coordinator being involved … we were wise enough to get as many people involved with each young man as we could. I thought that paid dividends,” Polian said.
The Irish still have their sights set on adding two defensive players from California to complete the Class of 2019. Four-star linebacker and All-American Asa Turner is currently committed to Washington, but Notre Dame has not given up recruiting him and trying to sway him from the Huskies. Turner was set to sign on Wednesday, but wavered and announced that he needed more time — a decision that Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst Dave McKinney believes bodes well for the Irish.
“Local reporters said Wednesday that he’d make his decision in the next couple of days, and we still don’t have anything,” McKinney said. “Clearly Notre Dame has made this tough on him. If Notre Dame hadn’t given him pause, he would’ve signed with Washington … so I think it looks good for Notre Dame right now.”
If Turner were eventually to choose Notre Dame over Washington, McKinney believes he fits exactly what Kelly said the Irish are looking for on defense: length and athleticism.
“He’s a versatile guy. Washington has him committed as a safety, Notre Dame likes him at linebacker, and I think he’s good for that Rover spot,” McKinney said. “He’s one of those lanky, rangy athletes that Notre Dame likes to bring in, so he’s just another long linebacker and athlete that Clark Lea would be able to work with.”
Aside from Turner, four-star defensive end and All-American Isaiah Foskey is the only other individual the Irish are pursuing. Notre Dame is the favorite to the land the De La Salle product and aim to add him to an already prolific defensive line class and wrap up the Class of 2019 on a high note come February.
“The two guys left right now in 2019 are Asa Turner and Isaiah Foskey,” McKinney said. “Foskey will make his decision on the February signing day on ESPN, so that’ll be [some] drama Notre Dame will be a part of in February. If they close out with those two guys they’ll be extremely, extremely happy.”