Recruiting: Irish re-enter RB market after Hood decommits
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 23:08
With six talented and capable running backs jockeying for playing time in 2013, there is plenty of uncertainty in the Irish backfield. After elite running back Elijah Hood de-committed from Notre Dame on Aug. 20, that uncertainty carried over to recruiting.
According to Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank, Notre Dame will be forced to reopen its recruitment of ball carriers.
“Obviously the first order of business is to find a running back,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily. “Notre Dame hasn’t been recruiting a lot of running backs because they had Elijah Hood. He had a change of heart and now you’re going to have to go look at some other possibilities. And I don’t know exactly where they’re going to go with that because they had Hood locked up and they weren’t planning on taking another running back.”
According to ESPN, Hood is ranked as the No. 47 player in the nation and the seventh-best running back. Frank predicted Notre Dame would start targeting other high-end backs, including Sony Michel, Donte Thomas-Williams and Joe Mixon. ESPN ranks those three as the second-, eighth- and ninth-best running backs in the nation, respectively.
Hood, who hails from Charlotte, N.C., released a statement shortly after reports of his de-commitment surfaced. In part, the statement read that Hood’s decision had nothing to do with football or academics but had everything to do with his family. Hood committed to nearby North Carolina on Tuesday.
Aside from the running back position, Frank said he expects the Irish to focus on securing an elite cornerback, an interior defensive lineman, a speed receiver who could play in the slot and an inside linebacker.
Frank highlighted Nick Watkins as the possible answer at cornerback. Watkins, the 62nd-best player in the nation according to ESPN, has already visited Notre Dame unofficially and is expected to make an official visit.
As far as nose guard-type players, Frank said he believes the Irish have narrowed down their wish list to three players: Anthony Moten, Thomas Holley and Matt Elam. Moten and Holley are both ranked in ESPN’s top 150, while the 6-foot-6, 350-pound Elam checks in as the 37th-best defensive tackle in the nation.
Behind the defensive line, Frank said he thinks the Irish would love to have another inside linebacker, especially considering graduate student inside linebackers Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox are in their final seasons of eligibility.
“They don’t have a lot of heir apparents right now to the inside linebacker position,” Frank said. “That’s going to be a big question mark heading into the season. Who’s going to be that guy?”
Fort Wayne, Ind., native Drue Tranquill could be in the mix to fill that void. Tranquill committed to Purdue on July 23 and received an offer from Notre Dame soon thereafter. Frank said Tranquill’s fit on the Irish defense is likely holding up what would otherwise be the 17th commitment in Notre Dame’s class of 2014.
“If he’s going to commit to Notre Dame, I think he’d be the next most likely guy to pull the trigger because I think he’ll try to get this out of the way fairly soon,” Frank said. “But I think the battle Notre Dame has with him right now is he may believe he’s a safety and Notre Dame likes him at linebacker, probably more specifically at inside linebacker.”
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