Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2014

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BY LOU SOMOGYI W hen assessing which mem- bers of the incoming 23-man freshman class might have the best chance to contribute in 2014, the needs on defense are more pronounced. Among the nine players signed this February on offense, the one with the best opportunity to earn a monogram is wide receiver Justin Brent, who joined defensive end Andrew Trum- betti as Notre Dame's two early enroll- ees in January, thereby enabling them to partake in the 15 spring practices. Providing reinforcements along the defensive front seven was a recruit- ing priority in the last cycle with the departure of three of the four starting linebackers (Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox and Prince Shembo) and two of the three mainstays along the line (Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt), plus top reserve Kona Schwenke. Among the 13 defenders signed, 12 were linemen or linebackers (we in- clude "athlete" Drue Tranquill as a linebacker instead of safety) to com- pensate for the shortages in the 2012 and 2013 hauls. The Fighting Irish picked up only four defensive line- men — juniors Sheldon Day and Jar- ron Jones and sophomores Isaac Ro- chell and Jacob Matuska — those two seasons. They also inked only four linebackers — junior Romeo Okwara, now a defensive end, and sophomores Jaylon Smith, Michael Deeb and Doug Randolph — although 2013 receiver James Onwualu also was moved there this spring. We do two annual forecasts of in- coming freshmen. The first is after spring practice to get an idea of where help might be most needed. The sec- ond is in August after evaluating the first two weeks of practice. Here is the initial projection: MOST LIKELY TO PLAY Wide receiver Justin Brent, line- backer Nyles Morgan, defensive end Andrew Trumbetti and cornerback Nick Watkins are the best bets to see action in 2014. For Brent, a star running back his senior year at Indianapolis Speed- way High, there was a sharp learning curve this spring while re-acclimating FRESHMAN FORECAST The defense is in greater need of 2014 rookie assistance

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