SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame finished off a top-10 recruiting class by filling positions of need.
After signing 21 players in the early period just before Christmas, the Fighting Irish received six more signed letters of intent Wednesday in areas where the team was thin after player departures at offensive line, running back, wide receiver and defensive back.
In particular, coach Brian Kelly was excited about cornerbacks DJ Brown of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and Noah Boykin from Fairfax, Virginia, and wide receiver Lawrence Keys of New Orleans.
“From across the board depth standpoint at the back end of our defense and at the wide receiver position,” Kelly said, “it’s as good as any class we’ve recruited at Notre Dame.”
Brown and Boykin brought to seven the number of defensive backs in the class where cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght got late help from new safeties coach Terry Joseph, whose hiring became official on Jan. 30.
“DJ (Brown) is a true corner (and) we love the intangibles about Noah (Boykin),” Kelly said. Boykin had de-committed from Maryland and Brown was at one time a Virginia commitment.
Keys, whom Kelly called “an explosive playmaker,” is the fourth receiver signed in the class that also includes a pair of tight ends. The receiving corps was decimated late in the season and in preparation for the bowl game by injuries and suspensions, including the eventual dismissal of wideout Kevin Stepherson.
Also sending in signed letters of intent Wednesday were offensive linemen Jarrett Patterson of California, and Luke Jones of Little Rock, Arkansas.
The four offensive linemen will have some opportunities to get on the field after the losses of All-Americans Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, who are expected to be first-round choices in the NFL Draft. Notre Dame also lost long-time offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who is returning to the NFL Chicago Bears. New Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn helped keep Jones in the fold and joined Kelly for an in-home visit that turned Patterson away from new UCLA head coach Chip Kelly.
C’Bo Flemister, a 5-foot-11, 197-pound back from Zebulon, Georgia, an hour south of Atlanta, is a “north/south running back,” according to Kelly. Notre Dame’s leading rusher, Josh Adams, left early for the NFL.