The biggest surprise in Kiel's recruitment was that he committed to LSU in the first place, not that he flipped to Notre Dame. Distance from home was the No. 1 priority for Kiel in picking a program, which made the Irish tough to turn down in the end. Kiel gives the Irish their third five-star quarterback commitment in the past six recruiting cycles, tops in the nation.
Big, strapping pro-style quarterback with the mobility and strength to make an impact in the ground game. Locks and loads football high and quickly, and has a nice, tight, quick release. Also shows a good touch over linebackers and underneath the secondary. Will need to work on his flexibility, particularly while throwing on the run, his touch on the deep ball, and his footwork when throwing deep outs to his left. The fact that he'll get an extra spring to work on his game/knowledge of the system should help tremendously.
Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh and Penn State for Mahone to get a commitment in late September, although it's hard to imagine the Irish would have had much to overcome here considering the controversy at those other programs. Mahone didn't pick up much interest from Ohio State, which probably helped Notre Dame's cause with the power back with good vision.
Offers a nice combination of power and speed, both assets he seems to embrace, depending upon what the defense gives him. A beautiful long stride in the open field despite his compact frame. Shows excellent feet and elusiveness in traffic. Shows a knack for cutting corners tightly, and has the ability to be a pass-receiving threat out of the backfield. Lacks elite speed, although he compensates with other assets. Has an opportunity to make an immediate impact by filling the power back need left by the departure of Jonas Gray.
A running back with slot receiver potential, Russell committed to Notre Dame on the day of the Champs Sports Bowl over finalists Washington, Cal and USC. The Irish jumped on Russell early in the process and stayed on him throughout with Mike Denbrock. Russell played receiver at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which is a position he could fill at Notre Dame too.
An elusive, slithery combo athlete with running back/slot receiver skills. Aesthetic running style with forward lean and high kick-back follow through. Nice side-stepping ability in traffic, and turns the corners sharply. Good hands out of the backfield with north-south tendencies after the catch. Possesses a very narrow frame, which leaves questions about his ability to be an every-down running back and as a blocker. May fit best in a slot (Z receiver) position.
Maybe the surprise of the class considering Brown popped during the Michigan State weekend, catching even his father off guard. Brown was unsettled in his commitment for about a month, before firming things up with Notre Dame during the USC weekend. The Irish beat out an eclectic group of contenders that included Alabama, Virginia Tech, LSU and South Carolina.
An outstanding athlete who bounces around the football field like he's on a pogo stick. Wins jump balls with his athleticism and length. Excellent body control with the football in the air, displaying the ability to make catches in traffic. Nice vision and ability to weave through traffic. Shows an extra gear after the catch. Needs to add some pounds to his frame, protect the football after the catch better, and also must prove he is a precise route runner. All that being said, this may be the real diamond in the rough in the Class of 2012.
Notre Dame beat Florida head-to-head for Ferguson, who committed last May. Alabama stepped up with an offer later in the process, but the Floridian never wavered. A three-star receiver on Rivals.com, Ferguson is ranked as a Top 100 talent on another service. At a minimum, he's an intriguing piece of the puzzle as the Irish try to rebuild their skilled talent on offense.
Will arrive as one of the most physically prepared players in the class. A strong, powerful workout warrior-type athlete who is just as content trying to run over a defender as he is trying to run by him. Also shows the ability to weave through traffic. Has soft hands and does a nice job of catching the football in stride. Not a particularly aesthetic runner who tends to stay on the ground to make catches. Good not great speed. Also must protect football better after the catch.
Harrell won't go down as an elite offensive line recruit, but he was a no-fuss get for the Irish following a junior day visit and commitment not long after. Harrell had been getting plenty of interest from ACC programs. He'll slide to center in South Bend and will probably need a few years in the weight room to transform his body from a tight end in the Wing-T scheme.
A tight end by trade who is expected to move to the interior of the offensive line, likely center. Excellent drive-blocking skills. Explodes into defenders with superior pad level. Churns his feet and a play-to-the-whistle blocker. Possesses a non-stop motor. Has no experience as an interior-line blocker. Will need upper body strength amidst the behemoths. Can be stood up at times. Another diamond-in-the-rough candidate, but will need all five years to maximize his development.
A blue chip offensive tackle that Notre Dame recruited as a potential three-year replacement for Zack Martin. Stanley was targeted by the nation's elite with offers from Oklahoma, USC, Florida and Florida State. The Irish wowed Stanley during his official visit in early December. He committed barely a week later and rounds out Notre Dame's offensive line haul.
An imposing frame with a good center of balance and an explosive nature. Shows nice balance after contact, which allows him to sustain blocks longer. Good pad level, especially for a young man of his stature. Absorbs and initiates contact well. Recovers well as a pass blocker, extending his arms to re-direct pass rushers away from the quarterback. Foot speed would appear to be the greatest concern. He has a tendency to lumber, which makes a match with the spread offense a question mark.