The dust has settled on another recruiting year in South Bend. It’s time to take a look back at what went right in the 2013 class for Notre Dame and what they have to do to keep momentum rolling in 2014. JC Shurburtt, 247Sports’ Director Recruiting, joined Blue & Gold to offer a national perspective.
Landing five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes sealed a very successful recruiting season at Notre Dame.
BGI: What were your overall impressions of the 2013 class for Notre Dame?
Shurburtt: “I thought it was a tremendous class and a great effort. They continue to stack the defensive side of the ball with guys like Jaylon Smith and Eddie Vanderdoes who are instant impact guys. Those are upgrades even from where Notre Dame was last year on defense, which was excellent.”
BGI:Where did Notre Dame make its biggest additions with this group?
Shurburtt: “I thought the offensive line class, in my personal opinion, was the best in the country. You’ve got Hunter Bivin, you’ve got Mike McGlinchey, Steven Elmer is already on campus. Those are three very good tackle prospects with good feet. McGlinchey is the upside guy. He probably won’t come along as quickly as the other two, but he may have the most potential. I really like him.”
BGI:Notre Dame has struggled in the past with hanging on to talent down the home stretch in January. How much of their ability to hang on to guys this year was the coaching staff changing their approach and how much had to do with a 12-0 regular season?
Shurburtt: “It’s both. It’s easy to recruit when you’ve had unprecedented success. I’ve never really bought into the fact that Notre Dame was not a good option for most of the top prospects in the country because it is, and it always has been.
“I think what Brian Kelly has done is recruit well before this year, not putting the cart before the horse. They’ve had outstanding classes that built to that championship game and now it’s a matter of taking it from good to great. I think this class would probably be considered great instead of the other good ones. They were already recruiting well and now they’re recruiting at an elite level.”
Shurburtt: “I think he’s an extremely important recruit. You’ve got two guys in this class now that have brothers at Ohio State [Smith and tight end Mike Heuerman]. Ohio State isn’t slowing down in recruiting. Indiana is an improving state talent wise. When you’re the flagship program located within that state, maybe the flagship program in the country, it’s important to sign the top Indiana players.
“They won that battle relatively easy and early. If you’re Notre Dame, you’re fired up about that, and that in my opinion is the single-most important recruit in the class.
That got the ball rolling.”
BGI:Every position on the field is represented in the 24-man class. Is that type of balance a good sign for the staff’s recruiting philosophy?
Shurburtt: “That’s good recruiting. So many schools lose track and oversign a certain position because they get greedy. Then their numbers at a crucial spot are down, and they have to move guys out of position or they have to play freshman. One of those things that’s paramount when you want to recruit at the highest level is you have to have balance.”
BGI:In what areas could they have done better? Or where do they need to improve in 2014?
Shurburtt: “They’ve got some good players coming in at wide receiver, but I think they need more gamebreakers. William Fuller, I think he’s a potential gamebreaker. If you’re going to be able to protect the quarterback and run the football maybe that speed at receiver isn’t something you have to have but it would be nice if they could get some really talented guys that can change the game like Michael Floyd was.”