Brian Kelly and the Irish pulled in a top-ten recruiting class in 2011. The 2012 class got off to a great start when Gunner Kiel, Sheldon Day, and tee Shepard enrolled early. But amidst one of the smoothest signing days in recent history, the Irish ended up with a surprise after all. And not a good one. Notre Dame lost four-star recruit Deontay Greenberry to Houston.
The 6'3", 187 lbs Greenberry had been committed to Notre Dame since May 27, but signed Wednesday with Houston after a visit on Friday. The change of heart is interesting given Houston's recent change at head coach.
While Kelly undoubtedly would have loved to land Greenberry, he indicated during his signing day press conference that he had a feeling the receiver was wavering Tuesday night, but is not upset with the recruit's last-minute switch.
"It's hard for me to be disappointed about something I never had," he said.
Kelly, of course can be delighted now about something he thought he wouldn't have but ended up with: Gunner Kiel. The prized quarterback recruit enrolled at Notre Dame in an 11th-hour move that sent the Indiana product to South Bend rather than Baton Rouge (LSU).
Kelly feels that Kiel ultimately chose Notre Dame with his final decision because that is where he really wants to be--a feeling Kelly felt and never gave up on during the recruiting process.
Over all, the 2012 recruiting class represents a shift in strategy from last season. "This class represents needs we have in our program," he said. "Last year our needs centered around the power positions. This year it was about the skill level.
Next year? Well that might be a whole different beast. The relatively small recruiting class (16 recruits, one transfer) may allow the Irish a little flexibility with the next class, according to Kelly.
"2013 has already begun–I made about 15 calls today to recruits for next year‘s class."
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Signed National Letter of Intent:
Nicky Baratti of Spring, Texas
The 6'2", 215 lbs athlete is a three-star recruit.
Chris Brown of Hanahan, SC
The three-star wide receiver is 6'2", 185 lbs. "If this was the NFL draft, this would be the steal of the draft," Kelly said of Brown's potential.
Scott Daly of Downers Grove, Ill.
The 6'4" offensive lineman weighs in at 230 lbs and is a two-star recruit.
Sheldon Day of Indianapolis, Ind.
The four-star, 6'2", 286 lbs defensive tackle enrolled early at Notre Dame. "Great personality. Dynamic player. He will immediately be able to compete right away," Kelly said of Day.
Justin Ferguson of Pembroke Pines, Fla.
The three-star wide receiver is 6'1" and 210lbs. He is a three-star recruit.
Mark Harrell of Charlotte, NC
The 6'5", 270 lb three-star recruit plays offensive line. Kelly called Harrel a "very versatile lineman who can bend. Flexible. Intense competitor. He will fit in very well with our line."
Jarron Jones of Rochester, NY
The four-star defensive tackle weighs in at 308 lbs and measures 6'7".
Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Ind.
The five-star quarterback is 6'4", 220 lbs and is already enrolled at Notre Dame. "He has seen us play a number of times," Kelly said. "He has seen our offense. He’s confident he can run our offense—he feels comfortable in the system here."
William Mahone of Austintown, Ohio
The 5'11", 205 lbs, four-star recruit plays running back. "He understood Notre Dame and recognized what was his ultimate goal--to get a degree and win a national championship," Kelly said of Mahone.
Romeo Okwara of Charlotte, NC
The defensive end measures 6'5", 240 lbs and is rated a three-star recruit.
CJ Prosise of Woodberry Forest, Va.
The three-star defensive back is 6'1", 202 lbs.
Tee Shepard of Fresno, Calif.
The 6'1", 180 lbs defensive back is a four-star recruit and enrolled early at Notre Dame. "We believe he is the best cornerback in the country," Kelly said.
Elijah Shumate of West Orange, NJ
The four-star defensive back stands 6'1" and weighs 205 lbs.
John Turner of Indianapolis, Ind.
The defensive back is a three-star recruit and measures 6'2", 205 lbs.
KeiVarae Russell of Everett, Wash.
The 6'4" athlete is 177 lbs and is a four-star recruit. "Always upbeat, always has smile on his face and he's a tremendous player," Kelly said.
Ronnie Stanley of Las Vegas, Nev.
The four-star offensive linemen is 6'7", 285lbs. "As gifted as an offensive lineman as we have seen in many years. has all things necessary to be left tackle."
Committed, but not yet signed:
The Irish have no more unsigned commitments.