Early last week, the following question was asked of Notre Dame football fans: Signing Day is three months away. If you had to pick one recruit that Notre Dame could get, who would it be?
No expenses were spared in running the poll and it was performed in the most scientific of manners - Twitter.
After the tweeps tweeted and the results were tallied, running back Keith Marshall emerged the clear winner, earning 32 percent of the votes. He was followed by wide receivers Nelson Agholor (16) and Dorial Green-Beckham (12), running back/safety Shaq Thompson (12) and quarterback Gunner Kiel (8).
Linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo, two-way lineman Arik Armstead, wide receivers Jordan Payton and Ian Thomas, and offensive tackle John Theus each earned 4 percent.
Brian Kelly will no doubt sign more than one of the players remaining on the ND big board. In fact, we’ll project that he could sign eight when Signing Day is celebrated on Feb. 1.
Why eight? Excluding David Perkins, who will begin visiting other schools, 15 players are currently committed. Twenty-three members of this year’s team will be sophomores in 2012, 19 will be juniors and 15 seniors. Add in Chris Badger and you’ve got 73 scholarships accounted for, leaving 12 to fill the 85 allowed by the NCAA.
For argument’s sake, let’s say four scholarships are granted to fifth-year seniors. Braxston Cave, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Jamoris Slaughter would figure to be locks, leaving one to go from a group of current seniors who retain a fifth year of eligibility. That brings the total number of scholarships to 77, leaving eight for current high school seniors.
What could that eight look like? The following is one wish list based on availability, needs, conversations, rumors, the reading of tea leaves and, of course, the following of Twitter. In other words, it’s nothing more than a wish list.
-- Keith Marshall, RB, 5-11, 190, Raleigh, N.C. (Millbrook): Notre Dame wants two running backs in this class, with Will Mahone already committed.
Mahone is considered more of a between-the-tackles back, while Marshall has been compared to Reggie Bush. That means he’s very fast. And very, very good.
Marshall visited for the USC game last month, and an ESPN report recently stated that he’s looking at Florida, Georgia and ND. Marshall is pondering early enrollment, so Irish fans won’t have to sweat this one out until February.
-- Nelson Agholor, WR, 6-2, 180, Tampa, Fla. (Berkeley Prep). Michael Floyd is gone after this season. Agholor is considered a game-breaking receiver. See where we’re going here?
The connection to Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation’s top receiver, appears to be weakening. According to the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Green-Beckham is believed to have Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Alabama among his finalists.
Agholor was one of the few big-time targets who did not visit for the USC game (maybe that’s a good thing), but he has visited. He took in the Air Force game two weeks prior, a gorgeous afternoon on which fans could be heard chanting his name late in the rout.
Agholor acknowledged the ND stadium cheers that day. It would be a major victory if he’s acknowledging them for the next four years.
-- Brian Poole, CB, 5-11, 190, Bradenton, Fla. (Southeast). Poole too was in the ND Stadium stands for the loss to USC, and in a strange way maybe that could be a good thing.
Think he didn’t notice Trojan Robert Woods slipping behind the Irish secondary to score a critical touchdown? And if he wasn’t thinking then that he could step in and immediately help in the secondary, his thoughts may have been nudged in that direction before he left South Bend to go home.
Poole is committed to Florida, and despite ND already having commitments from two cornerbacks - Tee Shepard and Ronald Darby - there isn’t a lot of depth at the position.
Making ND attractive here is that starters Robert Blanton and Gary Gray are gone after this season, meaning a quick rise up the depth chart is possible.