Notre Dame Football: Jacob Matuska

Class is back in session today. And that doesn't just mean that yours truly has returned from vacation. Notre Dame's summer classes start today, which also marks the first day of the rest of 18 football newcomers' lives.

The Irish reeled in ESPN's No. 4 recruiting class in the nation for 2013 prospects -- a ranking that had included No. 10 overall prospect Eddie Vanderdoes -- and a majority of that group officially begins their college lives today.

Steve Elmer, Mike Heuerman, James Onwualu, Corey Robinson and Malik Zaire already received head-starts, having enrolled this past semester and going through spring ball with their new teammates. Here's a refresher course on some of the new faces on campus today. (* denotes an ESPN150 member; ** denotes an ESPN300 member)
Our series continues with the wide receivers and tight ends.

Starters returning: T.J. Jones
Players returning: DaVaris Daniels, Davonte' Neal, Daniel Smith, Chris Brown, Justin Ferguson, Luke Massa, Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack, Alex Welch
Players departing: Robby Toma, John Goodman, Tyler Eifert, Jake Golic
Newcomers: James Onwualu, Corey Robinson, William Fuller, Torii Hunter Jr., Mike Heuerman, Durham Smythe, Jacob Matuska

The breakdown: The biggest hole will clearly be left by Eifert, who broke a number of records at Tight End U. Watching the development of the converted linebacker Niklas, along with the growth of Koyack and recovery of Welch (ACL tear), is important to keep an eye on.

Still, Notre Dame has to feel pretty good about what they return among their pass-catchers, especially in light of the Discover BCS National Championship. Jones and Daniels were two of the few who brought their A-games on Jan. 7 against Alabama, and both look like legitimate go-to options heading into 2013. Expect to see plenty of Everett Golson-to-Daniels connections over the next three years.

Neal is an interesting prospect considering he spent the majority of his freshman season simply waving the fair catch signal. He was ESPN's No. 8 overall prospect for a reason, and he should have the chance to show off his athleticism in the slot more now with Toma out of the picture. Brown, meanwhile, made arguably the biggest offensive play of the year for the Irish and, because of his speed, is someone defenders need to keep a close eye on whenever he takes the field.

Onwualu and Robinson enrolled in January and should have a leg up on the other newcomers when fall camp commences.

Folston stays with Notre Dame

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ESPN 150 athlete Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) made his pledge to Notre Dame official Wednesday afternoon, becoming the Irish's ninth ESPN 150 commit, 12th ESPN 300 commit and 23rd overall player to sign his national letter of intent with the program.

Our Corey Long rates Folston a 4 on the immediate impact scale , saying he should be able to contribute upon his arrival to campus, be it at running back, receiver or defensive back.

Notre Dame currently sits at No. 4 in RecruitingNation's rankings, and the school will wait like everyone else until 8 p.m. ET tonight to hear the announcement of Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer), the nation's top defensive tackle.

Here are the names that came through the fax machines for Notre Dame earlier today:
Durham Smythe was once committed to Texas. He was considered a Stanford lean. He had a trip to Michigan scheduled for next weekend.

On Sunday, he committed to Notre Dame.

Smythe, a four-star prospect, becomes the Irish's 23rd commitment for the class of 2013 and their third tight end prospect of this class.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder gave his word to head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin near the end of his official visit this weekend, our Max Olson reports , and he will look to become the next in line at Tight End U following the departure of record-setter Tyler Eifert. (Eifert's predecessor, Kyle Rudolph, was voted Pro Bowl MVP on Sunday night.)

“I talked to the staff and they’re stacked with three junior tight ends and then I know they have me and Mike,” Smythe told Olson. “They use a lot of tight ends in a way I’m familiar with, so hopefully we can continue that tradition.”

Notre Dame remains No. 3 in ESPN's class of 2013 recruiting rankings , trailing No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama.

Below, we break down the Irish's 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes. The 2013 class features nine ESPN 150 prospects (*), three ESPN300 prospects (**), one five-star commit, 18 four-stars and four three-stars. The class of 2014 consists of four players, all of whom are ESPN Watch List members.

Class of 2013
Class of 2014
  • Watch List OLB Greer Martini (Woodberry Forest, Va./Woodberry Forest)
  • Watch List OT Jay Hayes (Brooklyn, N.Y./Poly Prep)
  • Watch List OT Jimmy Byrne (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius)
  • Watch List WR Justin Brent (Speedway, Ind./Speedway)

Bryant addition another boost

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Notre Dame has gotten quite the lift off the field following a 12-0 regular season on it.

Look no further than this past weekend, when four-star running back Greg Bryant pledged to the Irish, one day after the school beat out Ohio State for Class of 2014 Watch List offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne. Insider

Bryant, Notre Dame's 22nd 2013 commit, immediately becomes the Irish's second-highest rated prospect, beyond Jaylon Smith. And he will likely have the chance to step in immediately, with the Irish losing Theo Riddick and possibly Cierre Wood after this season.

With Bryant, George Atkinson III, Cam McDaniel, the yet-to-be-seen Amir Carlisle and freshman William Mahone, the Irish should have no shortage of backs to turn to next season, and the different styles each brings will create an interesting dynamic.

The addition of Bryant moved Notre Dame up one spot, to No. 3, in ESPN's class of 2013 recruiting rankings, behind USC and Florida. Insider You can read scouts' take on Bryant here. Insider

Below, we break down the Irish's 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes. The 2013 class features eight ESPN150 prospects (*), four ESPN300 prospects (**), 17 four-star commits and one five-star. The Class of 2014 consists of four players, three of whom are ESPN Watch List members.

Class of 2013
Class of 2014
The already-crowded Notre Dame famous parents section will have to make room for one more.

ESPN 150 receiver Torii Hunter Jr. (Prosper, Texas/Prosper) committed to the Irish following their primetime home win over Michigan, our Damon Sayles writes, making him the school's 21st commitment for the Class of 2013.

Hunter Jr. is the son of the MLB All-Star of the same name, and he joins the nephew of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (Danny) and the son of pro basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson (Corey) as Irish 2013 commitments looking to make their own names.

Hunter Jr. raved about Saturday's atmosphere to Sayles, an obvious strong sign for a program that has been looking to make its game day scene a little bit more electric. Coach Brian Kelly has said that will come with winning. And, as he found out by landing Sayles, Notre Dame can benefit beyond the scoreboard because of it, too.

Hunter Jr. is ESPN's 50th overall prospect, the No. 6 player in Texas and the No. 8 receiver in the nation.

Here is a breakdown of the Irish's 21-man 2013 recruiting class, which features 17 four-star prospects, six ESPN150 commits (*) and 12 ESPN300 commits (**)
For a few minutes, anyway, Will Fuller (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic) was just another one of us.

The three-star wide receiver and former Penn State commitment was among the gathered media members Saturday outside the LaBar Practice Complex, awaiting the start of Notre Dame's fall camp like everyone else.

Fuller got to stay when the rest of us were kicked out, and he clearly liked what he saw on the field and off, as he eventually became the Irish's 19th Class of 2013 commitment.

The 6-foot-1, 163-pound prospect caught 46 balls for 758 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and he tested well this spring on the Nike Combine circuit, posting an electronically-timed 4.53 40-yard dash, 4.25 20-yard shuttle, 33.9-inch vertical and 88.47 SPARQ Insider.

Fuller is ranked by ESPN as the No. 132 receiver in the Class of 2013, and as the No. 26 player in the state of Pennsylvania.

Here's a look at the Irish's 19-man 2013 recruiting class, which features 15 four-star prospects, four three-star prospects, five ESPN150 commits (*) and 10 ESPN300 commits (**)
Alex Anzalone will be going to Notre Dame. He will be going to Notre Dame early. And, if he gets his wish, he will be wearing jersey No. 5, too.

All of which led the current defensive owner of that digit to post Sunday night on Twitter: "I think I might have started something special at ND."

Replacing the production of Manti Te'o, a potential first-round NFL draft pick, is a tall task for anyone. But the future of the Irish's linebacking unit is in good hands. Anzalone's commitment Sunday at The Opening — two months after his decommitment from Ohio State after a sex offender, a Buckeyes fan, posted a picture of himself and Anzalone on the Web — rounds out a loaded corps in the middle for the 2013 class, as Jaylon Smith, Michael Deeb and Danny Mattingly have already pledged to Notre Dame since the beginning of June.

ESPN rates Anzalone as a four-star prospect, the No. 5 player at his position in the nation and the 66th-best player overall from the 2013 class, one that is shaping up this offseason to be very special for Brian Kelly and the Irish staff.

Here is a breakdown of the Irish's 17-man 2013 recruiting class, which is composed of 14 four-star prospects, five ESPN150 commits (*) and 10 ESPN300 commits (**)

Deeb commit keeps Irish rolling

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What was once a gap at linebacker has been filling up pretty quickly lately, with four-star inside linebacker Michael Deeb (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) committing Friday to Notre Dame, becoming the Irish's 16th Class of 2013 commit.

Deeb's pledge comes three days after three-star athlete Danny Mattingly (Spokane, Wash./Mead) committed to the Irish and nearly four weeks after four-star outside linebacker Jaylon Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) announced his plans to go to South Bend, Ind.

There is likely one inside linebacker spot remaining in this class, one everyone associated with Notre Dame hopes is eventually filled by Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing). His future remains unclear, but the Irish's looks brighter by the day after landing another big prospect in the month of June.

Here's a breakdown of the Irish's 16-man 2013 recruiting class, which is composed of 13 four-star prospects, four ESPN150 commits (*) and nine ESPN300 commits (**)
The combination of Don Mattingly and David Robinson could make the family section the most popular spot in Notre Dame Stadium in the coming years.

For now, the Irish will revel in commitment No. 15, three-star athlete Danny Mattingly (Spokane, Wash./Mead), who is the nephew of the former Yankees star and current Dodgers manager. Much more importantly, he is the second linebacker commit for Notre Dame, having recorded 62 tackles and four interceptions last season while also hauling in six scores as a tight end.

A Catholic with Indiana roots, Mattingly reportedly had his eyes on Notre Dame for some time, with his high school coach, Sean Carty, telling colleague Erik McKinney that "it's something he's been thinking about his whole life." Insider

Here's a breakdown of the Irish's 15-man 2013 recruiting class, which is composed of three four-star prospects, four ESPN150 commits (*) and nine ESPN300 commits (**)
When the names "Jimmy Clausen" and "Manti Te'o" are brought up in comparison, you know Notre Dame had a good weekend.

Whether "Jaylon Smith" is a bigger name than either is a debate for another time -- like, in five years. For now the Irish can rejoice in the news they got from the four-star linebacker Saturday at the inaugural R.A.S. Football Camp, where Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) announced that he'll be heading 90 minutes West, to South Bend, next year.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Smith is a huge get for the Irish. He is ESPN's No. 46 overall player in the Class of 2013, is its No. 3 linebacker in the nation, and is the state of Indiana's top prospect. He will arrive just as Te'o is leaving, after he is done playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next January.

Perhaps most importantly, between now and then he may go to work as an extension of Notre Dame's staff, saying he will sell the program to top uncommitted prospects Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) and Vernon Hargreaves (Tampa, Fla./Wharton). Anzalone is a four-star outside linebacker, ESPN's No. 65 overall prospect. Hargreaves? He's a five-star corner, No. 4 overall.

On Sunday, uncommitted linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield), who currently has the Irish second behind Ohio State, didn't shy away from the potential impact of having Smith in South Bend. Insider

"They just got Jaylon Smith on defense, and that defense is about to be really good," Garrett said. "They have a great defensive scheme, they send a lot of players to the NFL and that's my No. 1 goal. I'm trying to get to the NFL, so I feel like they can help me if I go to that school."

A slow winter and disappointing end to the 2012 recruiting season have given way to a strong spring -- one punctuated by the commitment of a prospect who immediately had his name thrown around with those of the great Notre Dame pledges of recent history.

Here is Notre Dame's 13-man 2013 recruiting class, which consists of 11 four-star prospects and three ESPN 150 players. (*)
Notre Dame added verbal commitment No. 12 on Thursday, as Barron Collier (Naples, Fla.) four-star tight end Mike Heuerman pledged to the Irish. Heuerman is the school's 10th four-star commit, and he is ranked as the nation's No. 5 "Y" tight end for the 2013 recruiting class.

Heuerman's brother, Jeff, is a member of Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class.
"I wanted to get back there and spend more time with the players in the program," Heuerman told our Corey Long. "When I took my first visit in March I mostly hung out with Aaron Lynch, who is a close friend of mine.

"However when he said he was going to transfer I wanted to meet more players, and I developed a good bond with Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas. They were very cool, answered all my questions but they never pressured me or pushed me to make a decision. I really appreciated that."

Notre Dame's 2013 class now consists of tight end Jacob Matuska (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Hartley,) athlete James Onwualu (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham), quarterback Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter), athlete Rashad Kinlaw (Galloway, N.J./Absegami), receiver Corey Robinson (San Antonio/San Antonio Christian) and cornerback Devin Butler (Washington D.C./Gonzaga), along with offensive line commitments John Montelus (Everett, Mass./Everett), Steve Elmer (Midland, Mich./Midland), Colin McGovern (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West), Hunter Bivin (Owensboro, Ky./Apollo) and Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn)

As for the rest of the weekly Irish recruiting roundup ...
Notre Dame didn't resolve its quarterback situation Saturday, but the Irish likely won't need to worry anytime soon about who is protecting their signal callers.

Four-star offensive line prospect John Montelus (Everett, Mass./Everett) committed to Notre Dame following its spring game, becoming the Irish's fifth, and likely final, offensive line commitment from the 2013 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-5, 293-pounder hails from the birthplace of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, and he is Notre Dame's 11th commitment for this class. Montelus is ESPN's No. 1 player from Massachusetts, No. 21 offensive tackle in the nation and the ninth four-star commitment for the Irish.

Montelus joins fellow offensive line commitments Steve Elmer (Midland, Mich./Midland), Colin McGovern (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West), Hunter Bivin (Owensboro, Ky./Apollo) and Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn). McGovern and Bivin are ESPN 150 players.

The rest of Notre Dame's 2013 class consists of tight end Jacob Matuska (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Hartley,) athlete James Onwualu (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham), quarterback Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter), athlete Rashad Kinlaw (Galloway, N.J./Absegami), receiver Corey Robinson (San Antonio/San Antonio Christian) and cornerback Devin Butler (Washington D.C./Gonzaga).
Receiver Corey Robinson (San Antonio/San Antonio Christian), son of basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson, committed to Notre Dame late Tuesday, becoming the Irish's ninth commitment for the class of 2013 and, more importantly, their sixth since Saturday.

"On the trip, I felt it myself. I felt the connection," David Robinson told our Damon Sayles. "I felt this could be a place where I could leave my son and feel good about it. The decision wasn't all mine, so I wanted him to be sure, too."

How quickly things have changed. Notre Dame entered the spring on the heels of Tee Shepard's de-commitment, the school's fifth from the 2012 class. Momentum was gone and then, with a strong Junior Day showing this past weekend, it suddenly shifted back in Notre Dame's favor.

To recap the past four days ...
  • Saturday: Offensive tackles Colin McGovern (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West) and Hunter Bivin (Owensboro, Ky./Apollo), the latter a Watch List member, commit to the Irish following Junior Day.
  • Sunday: ESPNU 150 Watch List quarterback Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter) and Watch List offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn) commit to Notre Dame, giving the Irish four commits in a two-day span after entering the weekend with a three-man class.
  • Monday: Athlete Rashad Kinlaw (Galloway, N.J./Absegami) commits, giving the Irish their first cornerback in the last two classes.
  • Tuesday: Robinson commits following a trip to Wake Forest.

Watch List tight end Jacob Matuska (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Hartley,) athlete James Onwualu (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham) and Watch List offensive tackle Steve Elmer (Midland, Mich./Midland) are the Irish's other commitments.
Athlete Rashad Kinlaw (Galloway, N.J./Absegami) committed to Notre Dame on Monday, giving the Irish their eighth verbal commitment from the Class of 2013 and their fifth since since Saturday.

Kinlaw, who was recruited as a cornerback, joins ESPNU 150 Watch List quarterback Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter) and Watch List offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn) -- who committed Sunday -- and offensive tackles Colin McGovern (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West) and Hunter Bivin (Owensboro, Ky./Apollo), the latter a Watch List member as well.

Watch List tight end Jacob Matuska (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Hartley,) athlete James Onwualu (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham) and Watch List offensive tackle Steve Elmer (Midland, Mich./Midland) are the Irish's other commitments

To read more on Kinlaw, click here Insider.

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