Who should Irish fans expect to make early impacts? We look at five players who could be put in a position to take the field in 2013.
Jaylon Smith – Not only is Smith a camp and combine phenom, he also possesses two key traits necessary to play early, with great speed and athletic ability. With the ability to move Smith all over the field, the Irish defensive coaches will have a lot of options to get the in-state product early reps. While some may feel Smith is ready now, there are still a few things technique-wise he's working on that should allow him to make an early impact by the fall of 2013.
Mike Heuerman – Many have Tyler Eifert already slotted as the top tight end in the 2013 NFL Draft. If that is the case Heuerman could instantly come in and fill the void as a down-the-field pass catching tight end. The Irish are not hurting at the position, but Ben Koyack, Troy Niklas and the injured Alex Welch have yet to show a skill set that matches what Eifert does in the Irish offensive attack.
Isaac Rochell – In the Irish defensive scheme they love to rotate players in and out along the defensive line. Rochell has all the tools to enter Notre Dame and compete early with his physical size and ability to play on the edge. One area the Georgia native excels is in his backside pursuit, something that could be missing this fall with the loss of Aaron Lynch.
Alex Anzalone – When Anzalone arrives on campus all eyes will be focused on who replaces Manti Te'o at Mike linebacker. While many are praising the development of Jarrett Grace, the need to have competition at the position should push the Pennsylvania product into the mix.
John Montelus – The offensive guard position allows for a player with Montelus physical skills to come in and compete early. While the Irish class is full of high level offensive linemen, Montelus may be the one with the easiest road ahead of him.
Note: Next in the series, a look at incoming freshmen who'll have a chance to develop over the long haul in South Bend.