Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 23, 2015 Issue

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

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FOOTBALL RECRUITING Beal, Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny Rivals250 offensive tackle Josh Lugg, Arlington Heights (Ill.) St. Viator three- star tight end Cole Kmet and St. Peters- burg (Fla.) Northside Christian School three-star offensive tackle Dillan Gib- bons. That is five pledges from five differ- ent states. "The process has accelerated greatly, which is more of a challenge for aca- demic programs like Notre Dame," Ri- vals national recruiting director Mike Farrell said. "So to be off to such a quick start for the Irish in 2017 is impressive. "Brock Wright could be the next great tight end in South Bend, and Robert Beal has upside as either an outside hy- brid or a down defensive end with his frame. I also really like Lugg's frame as a younger guy. "It's one of the better starts for 2017." Kelly appears to agree, although NCAA rules prohibit him from speak- ing directly about prospective student- athletes. "We've just got a great team that is now in place long enough, and that has allowed us to really start to make the inroads that we needed to make," Kelly said when asked about the class. The biggest headway, however, has come with getting prospects on campus and seeing them on the road. Since the end of February, when Elston was promoted to recruiting co- ordinator and Kearney was brought on board in a supporting role, the Irish have hosted roughly 30 juniors ranked inside the Rivals250. The coaches have visited the high schools of at least 50 more top prospects in that same time frame, as well. "One of the biggest changes that we have tried to go through — and I don't mean changes, just improvements and trying to do a better job — is that we have to do a better job of getting them here earlier," Elston said back in March. The numbers say so far, so good, but

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