Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Irish Defense Will Remain Elite with New Class

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2013

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

When national signing day was all said and done, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished with the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation, per

Among the many talented players that will join the Irish, there are some defensive studs who are certain to help Notre Dame maintain its elite status on the defensive side of the ball.

Top recruits such as linebacker Jaylon Smith, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and safety Max Redfield will all be vital to the future of the program's defense.

Let's take a closer look at each of these players and what they bring to Notre Dame.

*Note: Player height and weight courtesy of


Jaylon Smith, 5-Star OLB

While he does have some more room to add bulk to his frame (6'3'', 218 lbs.), Smith is already a sensational athlete with great speed and strength that will allow him to make plays all over the field.

He can turn on a dime to catch faster running backs and his speed makes him an ideal fit to drop back into pass coverage when necessary.

Smith also possesses great instincts and a nose for the ball, while his explosive first step will enable him to gain an edge on blockers at the line of scrimmage.

Tackling seems to be one of his weaknesses, but it isn't something that will be a huge issue. At worst, ball-carriers can gain an extra yard on contact, however, more experience and strength training should help solve that problem.

With his skills and overall versatility, Smith will be a stud who can play multiple linebacker positions for the Irish.


Eddie Vanderdoes, 5-Star DT

Great size (6'2'', 310 lbs.) will make Vanderdoes an immediate impact player at the college level.

The newest addition to the Notre Dame defensive line isn't the most explosive player out of his stance, but his immense strength allows him to hold his ground against blockers and create a traffic jam for opposing running backs to try to navigate through.

If he can gain a quicker first step, Vanderdoes has more than enough push to help him get into the backfield and make tackles for loss, as well as get to the quarterback for sacks.

Vanderdoes' technique is also an impressive part of his game. Not only can he bulldoze opposing blockers, but he also has a wide array of moves to help him get around offensive linemen.

With Vanderdoes on the team, opponents will be hard-pressed to do much up the middle against the Irish.


Max Redfield, 5-Star S

Redfield (6'3'', 195) has great size, and his experience as a receiver will no doubt help him in pass coverage. If opposing quarterbacks do throw the ball in Redfield's direction, his height will make it difficult if a jump-ball scenario should present itself.

His speed makes him an ideal fit to cover fast receivers, and he has excellent hands to intercept the ball. That same speed and an explosive first step makes Redfield a threat to make plays close to the line of scrimmage when the opposing offense decides to run the ball.

As a tackler, Redfield is solid and a hard hitter who can wrap up ball-carriers without an issue. Playing with physicality seems to be his biggest issue, and adding some bulk to his frame should benefit Redfield when taking on blockers.

Having a guy like Redfield deep will be a huge asset for Notre Dame and can ensure that nothing will get behind the Irish defense.