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Irish find ‘balance’ in recruiting

Talent everywhere, led by Luers’ Smith, for top 5 class

– Balance is one of the first words associated with the 2013 recruiting class for Notre Dame.

“You got your quarterback, OK, great. You got two running backs, great. You got four receivers, good. You got a tight end, check. You got five offensive linemen, check, a couple of defensive linemen, yep, three linebackers, four defensive backs. I mean the strength is completely balanced across the board,” said Scott Kennedy, Director of Scouting for FoxSports.com.

“This class is very balanced. If they are missing anything right now, I would say they need another defensive lineman in here, but other than that, come on. It’s balanced. There are talented players at every position.”

The Irish are projected to have a top-five signing class as recruits are able to send in their national letters of intent today for the first time this year.

One of the biggest prizes in the signing class is Bishop Luers linebacker Jaylon Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder had 75 tackles, 20 for losses and eight sacks in his senior season.

He was named Indiana Mr. Football and a Parade All-American, won the Butkus Award (top high school linebacker) and served as a captain in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“When you speak about players like this, you use a lot of superlatives, because he is one of the top five players in the country in a nation of a million football players,” Kennedy said. “If you are trying to pick him apart, where is his weakness? He can play safety for God’s sake. He’s great in coverage. He’s got flexible hips. He’s got long arms. He’s aggressive. He’s not afraid to go up and smack people. He’s so instinctive that he plays all over the field, so he has a very good feel for the game on what the offense and defense is trying to do. On top of that, he’s a great kid.

“I don’t like saying ‘can’t miss,’ but there (are) few of them that I feel as good about playing on the next level as I do Jaylon.”

On offense, the Irish did some of their best work on the offensive line and with the running backs.

Notre Dame’s offensive line recruits are 6-foot-6, 305-pound Steve Elmer; 6-7, 288-pound Hunter Bivin; 6-9, 280-pound Mike McGlinchey; 6-5, 284-pound Colin McGovern; and 6-5, 295-pound John Montelus.

“If you look at it, it is quiet a bunch of potential for the O-line in the future,” said JC Shurburtt, 247Sports national recruiting director.

At running back, Notre Dame will bring in Greg Bryant, a 5-11, 197-pound five-star prospect, and Tarean Folston, a 5-10, 195-pound four-star prospect. They have been compared with Georgia freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined for 2,144 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns last season.

“I actually think Notre Dame’s running game, if they can block, will be improved. That is crazy to say because you are talking about freshmen,” Shurburtt said. “Greg Bryant is one of the most physically ready backs coming out this year.”

Notre Dame’s class ranked No. 3 by Scout.com and was the fifth-best class in the 247Sports and Rivals.com rankings.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Irish had 23 members in their 2013 class with Elmer, tight end Mike Heuerman, quarterback Malik Zaire and receivers James Onwualu and Corey Robinson already enrolled.

tkrausz@jg.net

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