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In his words: Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly on his recruiting class

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly talks about recruits during football signing day at Notre Dame Wednesday in South Bend. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly talks about recruits during football signing day at Notre Dame Wednesday in South Bend. (Photo by The Associated Press)

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For more on college recruiting, follow Justin Kenny on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/jkenny_ns
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Fighting Irish boss breaks down his latest commitments

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 07:14 pm
Notre Dame's 2014 recruiting class that was officially signed on Wednesday consists of 23 players from 14 different states. Each one brings attributes that Coach Brian Kelly and his staff identified and led to them being recruited by the Fighting Irish. Coach Kelly broke down each of his new recruits in detail during Wednesday's National Signing Day press conference. Here is some of what he had to say:

WR Justin Brent: “I got a chance to watch him work out (Wednesday morning) and the first thing that stood out to me is he does not look like a freshman. He had his shirt off this morning and he was running around and he looks like a senior. We were looking for a physical player at this position, somebody that can impose their physicality. His ability to run after the catch was very impressive.”

DE Andrew Trumbetti: “The thing that really put him over the top for us is when we were watching his film and he was returning kickoffs in high school. Not many times do you see a defensive lineman returning kickoffs, so we knew about his athletic ability right away.”

OL Alex Bars: “Alex has a great pedigree. He has a couple brothers that play college ball, his dad played here at Notre Dame. Alex is a young man who we think has all the gifts necessary to be a great student-athlete here at Notre Dame.”

DE Grant Blankenship: “Here is a young man who has just blossomed over the last couple years. We loved him in camp, had a hard time with anybody blocking him. He is a guy who just stood out right away for us when we saw him in our summer camp working out. He had a great senior year and a guy who just continued to grow. I think he is just starting to get to his potential level.”

DE Jonathan Bonner: “We really project him to be an outside player for us, an edge player, a rush player, a guy who gets after the quarterback. Really was impressed with Jonathan, his personality (and) his character. When you talk about the right fit to Notre Dame, Jonathan possessed all the right characteristics, academics, socially and then as a football player.

OL Jimmy Byrne: “Really love the way Jimmy has progressed, especially in his senior year. He is physical (and) moves his feet well, really excited about him. He is a great student, a great young man and a great fit for Notre Dame.”

DL Daniel Cage: “We got a chance to see him here last weekend on his official visit, has a great family. This guy is a ferocious player, he is an inside player and we love the way he got off the ball (with) his lower-body strength. He is a guy who can play (defensive tackle and nose guard). He is a guy who is very disruptive inside. A real good nose for the football and plays the game hard every snap.”

DT Jay Hayes: “One thing I'll say about Jay, probably one of our best recruiters in a sense from day one, he has talked about Notre Dame and why you make a decision about coming to Notre Dame. I remember one of his quotes when I was with him, he said, 'Some of these guys don't get it, they don't really understand why you would come to Notre Dame.' That said, he is a heck of a football player. He is long. Has got multi-position capability, can play inside, can play outside. A ferocious, attacking player.”

LB Kolin Hill: “Was a young man we offered when he didn't have a lot of action, but we saw a young man we thought we could develop into just an outstanding football player. Loved him as a person, high energy … all those things we really liked. After we offered him of course he got a million offers after that … but he saw the reasons he chose Notre Dame and fought through that late recruitment (by Texas). He will continue to develop. He has not even seen his ceiling yet.”

WR Corey Holmes: “Really a precise route runner. Really like his game. Very mature player in the way he handles himself in the classroom (and) off the field. I cannot tell you anything I don't like about this young man. He is just a great fit for Notre Dame. Very mature kid, one who wants to take on all the challenges at Notre Dame. This is a great fit for us … he has played great competition and is a great fit for our program.”

QB DeShone Kizer: “So many things to love about DeShone. He is 6-foot-5, I love that. He is 212 pounds, I love that. So you can see you have a tall, athletic quarterback that has good size. He's going to be able to do the multi-dimensional thing we love. One thing I loved about him, this kid loves to have the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. Extremely competitive and confident, confident kid.”

TE Tyler Luatua: Our people said, 'Well, he didn't talk enough. He wasn't engaging enough.' I said, 'Weel, you don't know him well enough. Because once you get to know Tyler Luatua, he is just like Justin Utupo, you can't shut him up.' It was clear to me we just needed to spend a little more time with him. A pass-catching tight end. No, he is not the 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 tight ends we've had, but he is a really good tight end. He can catch the football, he can block for us, he'll be able to do all the jobs we have at the tight end position for us.”

LB Greer Martini: “One of the smarter defensive players we signed. You have to have leaders. He is a really good player and he is a really good leader. He will be a very good linebacker for us at Notre Dame and also a guy who makes others around him better. Good size at 6-3, 225 and only going to get bigger and stronger while he's here. Be an inside linebacker for us, a position of need for us moving forward.”

DL Pete Mokwuah: “Peter was a great fit for us. In looking to augment our defensive line position, we wanted to find the right profile. At 6-4, 315 pounds, a pretty good fit right there.”

LB Nyles Morgan: “Every time I am with him he just wants to talk football. He is a good student and his mom and dad want him to just talk about academics. A great nose for the football, plays downhill and plays fast (with) great instincts. When he arrives he arrives with a bad attitude when he gets to the football.”

OL Sam Mustipher: “Here is a powerful guy inside. What stood for us with Sam was his ability to move his feet.”

OL Quenton Nelson: “Physically one of the stronger kids we got. One thing that stands out is here is a guy who is relentless, he is going to come after you play after play after play. His desire to want to be great is what always stood out about Quenton, he is always pushing himself. He is a guy who is so focused on what he needs to work on, that's what we loved about him.”

K/P Tyler Newsome: “We had Tyler up here this summer … got a chance to see him work out. Was really impressed with his versatility. He is a guy who doesn't come along very often. We love the pop that he had as a kicker, but we were most intrigued by his punting. That's an area he is going to continue to work on and continue to develop, but he is such an intriguing young man. When we saw him punting, there was nobody even close in terms of the potential upside he has.”

LB Nile Sykes: “He is a versatile player. He can play inside, he can play outside. He is a physical player with very good ball skills/instincts. Another versatile player in the front seven that is going to add to the depth of our football team.”

DB Drue Tranquill: “We saw Drue (at camp) and we weren't looking for his position at the time, because we were full and he was playing safety. But he kept jumping out at us, this kid was making plays. He was always on our radar but we were not ready to offer a scholarship at that point at that particular position. Got to the point where I watched more film, watched more film, I loved his attitude, loved the way he played the game. I said, 'We're gonna offer him as a head coach's offer.' The head coach can offer anybody, right? People have asked does he play safety, does he play running back, I don't know where he is going to play, but he is going to play somewhere here at the University of Notre Dame because he is a darn good football player.”

DB Nick Watkins: “This is a long (cornerback). This kid is an exceptional football player. We feel like we got one of the best corners around. Long, athletic, can really do a lot of things for us. Can play man, can play zone. I just think he is an outstanding player that is going to develop here.”

TE Nic Weishar: “We could argue about this all day, he is the best pass-catching tight end we saw. You could argue about who it is, but we think he is. We love his ball skills. We love his ability to use his body to control defenders. Has a knack for catching the football in the air and taking it away from people. He is going to be another in a long line of very good tight ends here at Notre Dame.”

DE Jhonathon Williams: “Here is a young man who just started playing the game, who knows what his future is going to be, there is no ceiling. He recognizes he has a great opportunity at Notre Dame and we're excited to provide him that. From our perspective, we have one of those guys where you could call him a sleeper or whatever you want to call it. Didn't play great competition (in high school), but he is going to get an opportunity to play against some of the best competition here.”

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For more on college recruiting, follow Justin Kenny on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/jkenny_ns


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