Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly likes to say that when deciding whether to attend Notre Dame, a player is "shopping down a different aisle" given the school's demanding academics and Catholic tradition. But when assembling his Class of 2014, there was little mystery where Kelly was shopping — the beef aisle. Notre Dame's 23-player class, which placed 10th in 247sports.com's composite rankings, included six defensive linemen, five linebackers and four offensive linemen. Kelly cited a need to fill out his roster along those fronts, which saw their fair share of injuries in 2013. "If you really boil it down, it's about the (defensive) front seven and the offensive line," Kelly said. "Yeah, there are some great skill players, but you're winning up front, and building that depth in the front seven and the offensive line really stands out in this class." Helping in the front seven are two Chicago-area recruits whose names are sure to cause confusion during practices: Crete-Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan and Montini lineback Nile Sykes. "Every time (Morgan) is with me, he just wants to talk about football. He is a student of the game," Kelly said. "(Sykes) is a versatile player. He can play inside, he can play outside. He is a physical player. He's got very good ball skills." As far as signing days go, Wednesday was a relatively drama-free one by the Irish's standards. All 20 recruits who were committed entering the day — in addition to two players already enrolled — dutifully signed their letters of intent without any fuss. But it also lacked the oomph of a high-profile "get." The Irish did awake to a pleasant surprise Wednesday morning when Daniel Cage, a three-star defensive tackle from Cincinnati according to Rivals.com, chose them over Michigan State after Notre Dame recruited him hard late in the process. But other targets Notre Dame was aiming for on signing day signed elsewhere. Terrence Alexander, a three-star cornerback from Park Ridge, La., picked Stanford over Notre Dame and Ole Miss. Five-star safety Juju Smith of Long Beach, Calif., who had Notre Dame in his group of several finalists, chose USC, while Michiah Quick, a four-star athlete from Fresno, Calif., chose Oklahoma over Notre Dame and UCLA.
Notre Dame bulks up on offensive, defensive fronts
Chicago Tribune | Feb 6