The Nine?

DE Isaac Rochell is the most recent Irish pledge

With the recent additions of 5-star OLB Jaylon Smith and 4-star DE Isaac Rochell, Notre Dame has 74 scholarships filled for the 2013 season. In this two-part series, Irisheyes.com updates its list of projected positions to fill out the class of '13, as well as an at-present review of the prospective 5th-year seniors who'll remain in South Bend for a final season.

A quick rundown of Notre Dame's scholarship count entering the 2012 season:

Juniors: 20 (includes Chris Badger, returning from his religious mission)
Sophomores: 24 (Does not include Aaron Lynch but does include USC transfer Amir Carlisle)
Freshmen: 16
Incoming Freshman for 2013: 14 and counting
Total non-seniors returning for 2013 plus current verbal pledges: 74

Current Seniors Eligible for 5th-year in 2013: 9 - status explained below

Notre Dame's nine seniors with eligibility remaining can be broken down into four categories:

  1. Tyler Eifert - WIll not return unless he's injured or shockingly ineffective. Eifert, for the sake of this column, is NFL bound.

  2. Will be asked to return by the staff without hesitation - Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Cierre Wood, Dan Fox. Of the quartet, Wood is the most likely to depart for the NFL following this senior season next fall. Consider it a 50/50 proposition at present. For those that don't believe Fox will be asked back, check out this year's list of 5th-year returnees, then consider Fox is a returning 13-game starter that will start 13 more this fall if in good health, apply logic and the fact that the coaching staff is quite high on him, and voila - a healthy Fox returns without hesitation.

  3. On the Fence pending their play in 2012 - Carlo Calabrese and Nick Tausch. Tausch will basically kick his way into or out of a 5th. If he's great, you bring him back. If he's not, enter Kyle Brindza. Calabrese did not help his situation with an off-season transgression, but more important, he was a more productive football player in 2010 than in 2011. He'll need to be better than both seasons in 2012 to earn a 5th-year in 2013, though the loss of Manti Te'o to graduation offers opportunity at another inside 'backer position.

  4. A Long Road to Ho - Tyler Stockton and Jack Golic. Stockton/Golic have yet to make the necessary impact. The Irish would need to fall well short of their 85-scholarship limit for either to be considered.

For the sake of argument, let's accept the return of four 5th-year seniors from the nine above. That brings the filled scholarship number for 2013 from 74 to 78. Consider then the annual, inevitable transfer (back down to 77).

That leaves eight spots remaining for 2013. Then consider the inexact science of my projections, multiple transfers, unforeseen circumstances (medical scholarship leave, etc., etc.) and the more likely number remains a solid nine more pledges for 2013 - the equivalent of a 23-player recruiting class to help balance last year's low number of 16. (Giving Notre Dame 39 combined recruits in 2012/13 and 44 in 2010/11 as noted above.)

Confused? You should be, slightly, because no one has any idea how many recruits will be included in the '13 haul, and that includes a coaching staff that can't be sure of its transfer numbers long before the season begins and ends.

At Irisheyes.com, the number remaining for this cycle is 9 -- I'll update as needed.

Below is a position-by-position look of the Irish recruiting needs, beginning with the defense. The number in parenthesis indicates each players remaining eligibility beginning in 2013, when the current verbal pledges hit campus:

2013 Cornerback Scholarships

Bennett Jackson (1), Lo Wood (1), Josh Atkinson (2), Cam McDaniel (2) Jalen Brown (3), Devin Butler (4/5), Rashad Kinlaw (4/5)

Needs and Notes None of the above is a proven commodity, thus, if two/three solid cornerback prospects want to join the 2013 haul they'd both be welcomed with open arms...A single additional corner prospect is mandatory and the likely the end goal...Should the Irish bring in four total prospects for '13, McDaniel could move back to running back...Brown was rumored to be a safety prospect going forward, but with ample bodies there, such a move would indicate struggles on the corner rather than a necessary, or positive, switch to safety.

2013 Safety Scholarships

Austin Collinsworth (2), Matthias Farley (3), Eilar Hardy (3), Chris Badger (3), Elijah Shumate (3/4), Nick Baratti (3/4), C.J. Prosise (3/4), John Turner (3/4)

Needs and Notes Badger is a 2010 recruit returning from his mission to Ecuador. He'll have four seasons remaining barring injury...A former walk-on, Salvi earned a much-deserved scholarship over the winter...Shumate and Baratti could get an early look as hybrid Dog/Nickel players to backup 5th-year safety Jamoris Slaughter this season...No safety is necessary in the 2013 class though one top notch prospect would obviously be given a spot…Collinsworth is rumored out for the season after shoulder surgery. Should he sit, he'd be granted a 5th-year of eligibility for 2014.

2013 Outside Linebacker Scholarships

Prince Shembo (1), Danny Spond (1), Ishaq Williams (1), Ben Councell (3), Anthony Rabasa (3), Romeo Okwara (4/5), Jaylon Smith (4/5), Jacob Matuska (4/5)

Needs and Notes 2013 pledge Jacob Matuska could play OLB, DE, TE, or many of the above over his time in South Bend...Look for at least one true OLB or 2-3 "Big Skill" Profile players to join by National Signing Day; the latter was the initial focus of the 2013 recruiting cycle, though the staff has successfully addressed many other needs, first.

2013 Inside Linebacker Scholarships

Dan Fox (1), Carlo Calabrese (1), Justin Utupo (2), Kendall Moore (2), Jarrett Grace (3)

Needs and Notes Its a definite area of need, unless plans exist for Jaylon Smith to move inside. The 2013 unit would be without a proven commodity and the 2014 crew would feature the promising Grace and a pair of potential 5th-years (Moore and Utupo) who've yet to make a scrimmage impact, though both are solid special teams starters.

2013 Defensive Linemen Scholarships

Kona Schwenke (1), Stephon Tuitt (2), Louis Nix (2), Chase Hounshell (2), Tony Springmann (3), Sheldon Day (4/5 - likely 4), Jarron Jones (4/5), Isaac Rochell (4/5)

Needs and Notes The team's front line depth took a hit with the transfer of Aaron Lynch, and in the short-term, when graduated senior Sean Cwynar decided not to pursue a 5th-year for 2012…Current senior Tyler Stockton is eligible through 2013 but at present, is unlikely to be asked back for a 5th-year…After the addition of Rochell, two more bodies are a necessity after a two-man DL haul of 2012.

Note: Part II will review offense and special teams needs and offer a final breakdown of the (approximate) nine positions expected to be filled for 2013.

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