Even with National Signing Day a few days past us, the excitement for the future still envelops every football program across the country like no other time of the year. However, the reality is that some of the recruits will indeed be stars, while some never even get on the field for their chosen program.
Here is a look at the 2013 recruiting class for Notre Dame and how those Fighting Irish signees ultimately panned out.
Hunter Bivin (offensive line, Owensboro, Ky.)
Has played in 29 games over the last three after redshirting his first season with the Irish. This past year, Bivin played in 11 games as a back-up guard and tackle and started against Stanford. He is expected to return for a fifth year in 2017.
Greg Bryant (running back, Delray Beach, Fla.)
After appearing in three games as a true freshman, he sustained a season-ending injury. Bryant bounced back with a solid sophomore year, in which he was the team’s second-leading rusher and played in 12 games. However, his athletic career, and ultimately his life, took a turn for the worse at that point. He was ruled academically ineligible for the 2015 season and he transferred, eventually committing to UAB. But he was tragically killed in a shooting last May.
Devin Butler (defensive back, Washington, D.C.)
He started in 37 games with an occasional start over his first three seasons. He missed the 2015 Fiesta Bowl after breaking his foot and was expected to return to the lineup in 2016 at some point in the season and contribute to a very, very young secondary. However, he was arrested in an incident in which he was charged with battery of a public official when he was involved in a skirmish with police at a near-campus bar in August of 2016. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of resisting arrest and missed the entire 2016 season, as he was suspended from the team. He transferred to Syracuse in December and will play his final season in 2017.
Michael Deeb (linebacker, Plantation, Fla.)
After not playing as a freshman, Deeb saw action in two games as a redshirt freshman. That proved to be the last of his activity with Notre Dame as he retired due to injury following the 2014 season.
Grade: Incomplete (I won’t give an injured player an F)
Steve Elmer (offensive line, Midland, Mich.)
After playing in 10 games as a true freshman and starting four, Elmer built on that strong start with 13 starts as a sophomore. His junior year ultimately turned out to be his final year of playing the sport. After starting all 13 games that season, Elmer announced that he was graduating in May of 2016 and retiring from football to start his career as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton in the Washington, D.C. area. Though the offensive line could’ve used him greatly in the disappointing 2016 season, this is exactly why a young person goes to college is to prepare themselves for their professional career and educate themselves, as they grow into adulthood.
Tarean Folston (running back, Cocoa, Fla.)
After having the most productive freshman year by a Notre Dame runner ever, Folston built on that season by starting 10 games as a sophomore and playing in all 13. He rushed for nearly 900 yards and then started the opening game of his junior season, but suffered a season-ending knee injury. He came back in 2016 and played a reserve role starting two games and playing in nine. He totaled just 356 yards and announced recently that he was entering the 2016 NFL Draft.
William Fuller (wide receiver, Philadelphia)
Saw action in 13 games as a true freshman and started three times. He blossomed as a sophomore, as he caught 76 passes for nearly 1,100 yards and 15 scores. He was named as the Irish Offensive Player of the Year following that season. He hauled in 62 passes as a junior in 2015 for over 1,250 yards and 14 scores and then turned pro. He was a 2016 first round pick of the Houston Texans and caught 47 passes this past season for 635 yards and a pair of scores.
Mike Heuerman (tight end, Naples, Fla.)
Did not see any action as a freshman and then missed his sophomore year after having hernia surgery prior to the start of the season. He announced prior to the 2015 season that he was retiring due to injury.
Torii Hunter Jr. (wide receiver, Prosper, Texas)
After redshirting his first season, Hunter Jr. played in 10 games as a sophomore after missing the first three games due to injury. He caught just seven passes that season, but emerged as a bigger threat as a junior. That season, he caught 28 passes (third on the team) before starting nine games this season (missing three due to injury). He closed his career with nearly 40 receptions this season (second on the team). While at Notre Dame, he also played baseball and was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels and signed with them last summer. He is going to pursue a career in baseball.
Rashad Kinlaw (defensive back, Galloway, N.J.)
Didn’t see action as a freshman, and was expected to battle for playing time as a sophomore, but he was kicked off the team by Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly in the spring of 2014. He landed with a junior college program (ASA College) in New York, but there was no indication that he ever recorded any statistics or played elsewhere.
Cole Luke (defensive back, Chandler, Ariz.)
After playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, Luke started all 13 games as a sophomore in 2014. He finished the year sixth on the team in tackles and had the most pass break-ups (12) for a Notre Dame player in six seasons. He again started all 13 games as a junior and finished ninth on the team with 41 tackles. Luke started all 12 games this past season, which gave him 38 career starts. Luke finished this season with 48 tackles, a pair of interceptions and eight pass deflections.
Jacob Matuska (defensive line, Columbus, Ohio)
After redshirting as a freshman, he saw limited action as a defensive lineman in 2014 and 2015. He played in seven games as a sophomore and just one as a junior. He moved to tight end this past season and played in 11 games, but never caught a pass. He will not return in 2017, according to a recent statement by Kelly.
Mike McGlinchey (offensive line, Philadelphia)
After redshirting as a freshman, he played in 13 games as a redshirt freshman, mostly on special teams, but started at right tackle in the 2014 Music City Bowl. McGlinchey started 13 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2015 at right tackle and the Irish were one of the best running teams in the country. This past season, the Notre Dame offensive line was inconsistent, but McGlinchey started all 12 games. He is being counted on to play just as significant of a role in 2017 to close out his career.
Colin McGovern (offensive line, New Lennox, Ill.)
After redshirting his first season, McGovern saw action in a couple of games as a reserve in 2014. His third year he did get in eight games between special teams and as a back-up offensive lineman, before playing in 11 games this past season with eight starts. He battled injuries this past season and announced recently that he will close out his career by playing 2017 at Virginia.
John Montelus (offensive line, Everett, Mass.)
After not getting action as a true freshman, he played in one game as a redshirt freshman in 2014, but mostly spent time on the defensive scout team. In 2015, he played three games as a reserve offensive lineman and then this past season, he was moved to defensive line for a bit, but ultimately played in just two games. He will play his final season along the offensive line with McGovern at Virginia.
James Onwualu (wide receiver, Saint Paul, Minn.)
He began his career as a receiver and played in 12 games as a true freshman, including four starts. As a sophomore, he was moved to linebacker in 2014 and played in all 13 games with eight starts. He finished with 24 tackles, including 13 solo. As a junior, he started nine games (not against option teams) and played in 11 and registered 38 tackles (21 solos). He injured his knee late that season, but returned for the Fiesta Bowl. To close his career, the team captain started all 12 games in 2016 and finished the season third on the team with 75 tackles, including almost a dozen for a loss.
Doug Randolph (linebacker, Richmond, Va.)
After redshirting his first year, he played in six games in 2014, but also worked on the Irish scout team extensively. As a redshirt sophomore in 2015, he played sparingly in 13 games before having to retire due to injury prior to the 2016 season. He remained with the program as a student-assistant coach this past season.
Max Redfield (defensive back, Mission Viejo, Calif.)
Had a star-crossed career after coming into the program with a lot of hype. He showed flashes of ability, but never got over his immature behavior, which ultimately got him booted out of the program. He played in 12 games as a true freshman with one start, and built on that in 2014 with 11 starts in 13 games as a sophomore. That season, he was the most productive defensive back with 68 tackles, which was second on the team. As a junior, he was productive again, totaling 64 tackles (fourth on the team) in 11 starts, but missed the Fiesta Bowl when he was suspended shortly before the game due to a missed curfew. This past season, he was kicked off the team during training camp when he and four other players were arrested and charged with gun and drug charges. He had entered a plea agreement to avoid jail time, but that was rescinded in December when Redfield failed a drug test. He is awaiting sentencing later this month and finishing his degree (from Notre Dame) at CSU-Fullerton in California and working as an intern with a real estate firm in southern California. He is planning on playing his final collegiate season in 2017 at a yet-to-be-determined college. In the end, he was productive for the Irish for three seasons and he graduated, albeit with a lot of baggage.
Corey Robinson (wide receiver, San Antonio)
How ironic is it to wrap up Max Redfield and move onto Corey Robinson? The talented and lanky wide receiver was everything that any athletic program and university could ever hope to have represent it, but his athletic feats were limited due to concussions. As a freshman, he played in 13 games and started three times and caught nine passes. He built on that year with 40 receptions in 13 games (two starts) in 2014 and was named as the Notre Dame Rockne Student-Athlete Award winner, as well as a First Team Academic All-American. As a junior, he played in 12 games and caught 16 passes, and that would finish his career. In the off-season, two things occurred, which diverted his career. He was elected as the Notre Dame Student Body President (a first for an Irish football player), and he suffered a concussion in the spring, which forced him to ultimately announce his retirement. He served as a student-assistant coach during the 2016 season.
Isaac Rochell (defensive line, McDonough, Georgia)
Got off to a solid start by making 10 tackles in 11 games as a true freshman and his ability rose from there. Rochell started 37 of his last 38 games over three seasons and finished this season as fifth on the team in tackles with 55 overall, including seven for a loss and 10 quarterback hurries.
Jaylon Smith (linebacker, Fort Wayne)
Brian Kelly said upon watching Smith early on in training camp that the only question about the former Bishop Luers High School star was where to play him, not if to play him. The Irish defensive staff moved him around a bit, but it was always at linebacker and Smith was as good as any that has ever played for Notre Dame. He started all 39 games in his career and amassed nearly 300 tackles. He earned the Butkus Award (nation’s top linebacker) following his junior season. Sadly, in his final game with Notre Dame, he injured his knee severely in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. That dropped his NFL Draft stock from being a sure top five pick to a second round pick by the Dallas Cowboys.
Durham Smythe (tight end, Belton, Texas)
After redshirting his first season, Smythe played in 13 games in 2014. Injuries reduced his third year to just four games, but in 2016 he started all 12 games and caught nine passes for four touchdowns. He is expected to join Alize’ Jones as a two tight end package next season.
Eddie Vanderdoes (defensive line, Auburn, Calif.)
A tremendous amount of drama surrounded Vanderdoes brief stay with the Fighting Irish program. He originally signed with Notre Dame, but later changed his mind and asked to be released. Kelly wouldn’t do it, but Vanderdoes appealed to the NCAA and won his appeal for immediate eligibility at UCLA. He had an injury-riddled, but productive career with the Bruins and declared for the 2017 NFL Draft following last season.
Malik Zaire (quarterback, Kettering, Ohio)
After redshirting his first season, Zaire played in seven games in the 2014 season, including an impressive start in the Music City Bowl win over LSU. He carried that momentum into the next season and was very good in an opening rout against Texas, but suffered a season-ending injury in the second week at Virginia. At that point, he was “Wally Pipped” by back-up DeShone Kizer, who played very well throughout the 2015 season. Kelly made Kizer and Zaire share the quarterbacking chores early in the 2016 season despite the fact that Zaire played terribly and Kizer was emerging as a legitimate NFL prospect. Zaire’s career with Notre Dame came to a disappointing end in a loss against Virginia Tech to close out the game for an injured Kizer and he wasn’t even aware of the game situation (time, down, etc.), according to Kelly.
Overall: This class had a little bit of everything from absolute stars (Smith, Fuller) on the field to stars off of it (Elmer, Robinson), to really good players such as Onwualu, Luke, and Rochell. Even disappointments such as Redfield and Vanderdoes could play; Irish fans have to admit that. So overall, I’d give this class a pretty solid assessment.