Kelly focuses on O-linemen
Under first-year head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has assembled a strong class of 2011 offensive line prospects thus far. The Irish could be on their way to stockpiling even more talent up front.
Offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood (Plant City, Fla.) saw his stock rise faster than perhaps any other tackle prospect in the country and ended his recruitment with a commitment to the Fighting Irish a couple of weeks back. This was not a surprise; Notre Dame was the team to beat throughout the process, even as Florida, USC and nearly every other major program stepped forward with an offer for the 6-foot-6, 260-pounder.
Earlier this week, ESPNU 150 Watch List member Conor Hanratty (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) committed to the Fighting Irish. Hanratty is one of the top prospects in New England and is an Irish legacy. His father, Terry, quarterbacked the 1968 Notre Dame national championship team and was a consensus All-American.
Offensive tackle Tony Springmann (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) is a 6-foot-6, 255-pounder who has plenty of upside. Notre Dame also brought him in the fold this month.
"Coach Kelly and the whole staff are great," Prestwood said. "They are doing a heck of a job with the offensive line for this class and are making great offensive linemen want to be a part of that great program. People can see that with the three early offensive line commits."
Those who follow recruiting can also see the possibilities of completing the class on an extremely high note. ESPNU 150 Watch List offensive lineman Matthew Hegarty (Aztec, N.M./Aztec) is a national-level recruit who has been bullish on Notre Dame for some time. The Irish are in great shape there. Offensive tackle Brendon Austin (Parker, Colo./Chaparral) is another prospect with the Irish under heavy consideration. Notre Dame would gladly take those two and call it a day on the offensive line.
It would also leave the Irish with one of the best classes at that position in the country.
Florida leads the way
When it comes to producing high-end football talent, the state of Florida led the way in the 2010 NFL draft.
Sunshine State high school football products accounted for 33 draft picks this year. Texas was behind Florida with 27, and California, which historically produces more NFL talent than any other state, had 26.
Georgia continues to make a strong case as the top talent-producing state behind that trio. The Peach State produced 15 draft picks, good for fourth place on the list. That number could grow in the future. According to an earlier report from ESPN SEC Blogger Chris Low, more products from Georgia signed with SEC programs than from any other state in the 2010 recruiting class.
Eval period in full swing
The spring evaluation period is in full swing. Assistant coaches hit the road for four weeks during a six-week period annually during this time of the year.
Assistants can check on a prospect twice -- once to evaluate academics and the other to evaluate athletic ability. Coaches are not allowed to talk to the prospect, other than a greeting. Head coaches are not allowed on the road during this time.
This time of the year, there are tons of scholarship offers issued and undiscovered prospects discovered.
Grimble with a final four
Defensive end Jalen Grimble (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) confirmed his final four of USC, UCLA, Nebraska and LSU earlier this week. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder is the cousin of incoming Trojans freshman tight end Xavier Grimble, so USC may be tough to beat here. Nonetheless, he's been very positive about the Bruins, Cornhuskers and Tigers at different points during the process.
Xavier Grimble committed to USC shortly after the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp last year. Will his cousin do the same? (The camp was Sunday.) Stay tuned.
LeMay decision coming
Under Armour All-American quarterback Christian LeMay (Matthews, N.C./Butler) will announce his leader on Friday during a news conference. LeMay is taking a different approach to recruiting: He is not going to make a public verbal commitment. Instead, he is going to name a leader and enroll at that particular school this coming January.
Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame and Texas A&M are his final five. The Bulldogs appear to be the front-runners, but the world will find out if that is the case Friday.
LeMay is one of the top quarterback prospects in the country, and threw for 44 touchdowns with only two interceptions last season.
Texans set announcement
Defensive end Nathan Hughes and tight end Max Stevenson (Klein, Texas/Klein Oak) will make their announcements live on local TV in Houston on Friday. Both have recently said that Oklahoma is their favorite. Hughes is a 2011 Under Armour All-American.
Oklahoma is the most recent offer for speedy athlete Miles Shuler (Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch). The Sooners were Shuler's childhood favorite and should play a big factor in his recruitment. Penn State also is showing strong interest and could be close to offering. Shuler, who runs consistently in the 4.4 second range in the 40-yard dash, will compete at the State College Nike Football Training Camp this Sunday on the campus of Penn State. Michigan is the latest offer for safety Sheldon Royster (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter's Prep). The Wolverines offered him this week. His teammate, offensive tackle Keith Lumpkin, picked up an offer from North Carolina. Pitt is coming in to check on ESPNU 150 Watch List athlete Terrell Chestnut (Pottstown, Pa./Pottsgrove) on Wednesday. The Panthers are one of several programs to offer the talented prospect. Most schools are recruiting Chestnut as a cornerback.
J.C. Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.