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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Notre Dame's top 5 recruits since 2006

By Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert

Notre Dame is one of the most storied programs in college football, with a recruiting reach that spans nationwide. Since the beginning of the ESPN Recruiting Nation era in 2006, the Fighting Irish have experienced their fair share of ups and downs, but they have continued to make their presence known on the recruiting trail and brought some good talent to South Bend, Ind.

Below are Notre Dame’s top five recruits over this eight-year span, based on the prospect’s projection out of high school along with his actual college impact and production. Moving forward, the Fighting Irish could have some of their more recent recruiting targets compete for a spot on this list.

From the 2014 class, which ranked 11th nationally, there are a pair of tight ends to keep an eye on. The position has been traditionally strong at Notre Dame in recent years -- Ultimate ESPN 300 TEs Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert starred for the Fighting Irish --  and two prospects with the ability to potentially flourish are No. 3 TE-H Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and No. 5 TE-Y Nic Weishar (Chicago/Marist). Luatua is a good athlete and presents a big target down the seam to create vertical production and also open up the underneath game. Weishar has good height along with good hands, receiving skills and the ability to make the over-the-shoulder grab when running vertical routes. Both stretch the field and make plays in the passing game, which could lead to big production during their careers in South Bend.

Defensively, the tough, high effort and scheme-versatile defensive end Andrew Trumbetti (Demarest, N.J./Northern Valley) could develop into a productive player for new coordinator Brian VanGorder.

Manti Te'o
Manti Te'o was No. 7 overall in the Ultimate ESPN 300, living up to his lofty ranking at Notre Dame.
While a bit premature to speculate on the future production of Notre Dame's current 2015 class, Irish fans could have an Ultimate ESPN 300 sleeper on their hands with current ESPN Junior 300 dual-threat QB Blake Barnett (Corona, Calif./Santiago). Notre Dame needs to hit on this position, and we feel they have with Barnett. The confident signal-caller could be a difference-maker in this offense with his arm inside the pocket and the ability to keep defenses honest with his legs.

Notre Dame's top five recruits since 2006:

1. LB Manti Te'o: On the field, Te’o met or exceeded expectations the moment he arrived on campus. He was a three-year starter, an All-American, a Bronko Nagurski Award winner and helped lead Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season in 2012. Te’o was always a “see ball, get ball” type of player with some range limitations, but he sure could play between the tackles. The San Diego Chargers linebacker was a top-five prospect in the 2009 class and he played like one in college.

2. WR Golden Tate: Tate arguably was the most explosive offensive weapon Notre Dame had in more than a decade. He was the ultimate playmaker as both a wide receiver and return specialist and was a significant vertical threat for Charlie Weis’ offense at that time. Not only was he named an All-American, but he also won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver. Tate has taken those talents to the NFL, where he is now a Super Bowl champion with the Seattle Seahawks.

3. WR Michael Floyd: While Floyd might have had his fair share of off-the-field issues, his talent level and playmaking ability were never in question at Notre Dame. He set several records at Notre Dame for receptions, receiving yards, TDs and most 100-yard receiving games. Needless to say, he was awfully productive before heading to the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals.

4. DT Louis Nix: We would argue that Nix made more impact on his own than Te’o because when Nix wasn’t in the game, Te’o was not the same player. Nix was a bull in a china shop and could not only collapse the pocket from his tackle spot, but could anchor against the run with the best of them. By the end of his career, we believe he was one of the premier tackles in all of college football.

5. TE Tyler Eifert: One of the most under-recruited, yet highly productive players to come through Notre Dame in a long time. By the time he was finished, he was one of the biggest mismatches for opposing defenses because he could line up inside and outside. He won the John Mackey Award and was voted the FBS Independent offensive player of the year. He defines what the H-back position is in football today.