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Notre Dame’s toughest fit in this recruiting class? Most underrated player? In Kelly’s words ...

Chris Tyree Notre Dame

Since the NCAA pivoted to the early signing period two years ago, which Irish head coach Brian Kelly accurately now considers the National Signing Day, Notre Dame has stopped making its assistant coaches all available to the media on the highlight of the recruiting calendar.

Unlike some decisions relative to the media, this does make some sense: Those coaches are still preparing to face Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl in a week (Dec. 28; 12 ET; ABC). If put behind a podium, questions would likely turn to Cyclones concerns, taking some of the shine off the recruiting class.

RELATED READING: Elite offensive skill allowed Notre Dame to chase raw defensive potential

Instead, only Kelly and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian were on hand Wednesday. They still offered thoughts specific to some of the 18 signees, but not all of them. Some of those words, verbatim …

Kelly on five-star running back Chris Tyree’s weight, or lack thereof, as it relates to his speed:
“Whatever he is, 175 pounds, we’ll then begin that [strength and nutrition] process based upon when we do our testing and find out where that right number is. So it’s hard to say right now what it is, but we’ll develop him naturally from that number and continue to build a coat of armor on him once he gets in here.”

Kelly on convincing Tyree he would fit at Notre Dame:
“There were several of those guys that we had to stay with and continue to show that. Chris Tyree is a great example of that, that we needed to stay in there with him and continue to show the reasons why Notre Dame was the right place for him.”

“I don’t think he’s the only one. There are others that I could look down on this list that are part of that. So as much as we see it in them, sometimes they don’t see it and we have to be diligent and not be afraid of sticking with it and making sure they get that message.”

Kelly on three-star receiver Xavier Watts, arguably underrated by the recruiting ranking services:
“Just a serious, focused competitor. Just everything about his demeanor … You got to read into ballplayers a little bit more when it comes to their demeanor and how they can impact others. This is a serious individual that takes his craft, that takes being a competitor and a winner to the next level, and he’s going to influence others around him. That’s really what stood out.”

“Certainly, he’s got all the skills, but everybody’s got the ability to play at this level. We just love those other things about him.”

Polian on consensus four-star defensive end Jordan Botelho, who played linebacker in high school:
“The film would tell you the projection to defensive end is not as dramatic as we think it is. When you watch the tape, he’s rushing in a two-point stance and he’s very heavy-handed. When he strikes you, he’s punching you. He is a really unique combination of a high-intensity, violent football player.”

Kelly on the cornerbacks group as a whole:
“What we’re talking about are two things, makeup speed, the ability to run and length. The third is to have the ability to play the ball in the air. That’s three.”

“But first and foremost, length and speed are the two most important attributes at the position in where we were seeking this year.”

Kelly on German defensive end Alexander Ehrensberger’s appeal, ripe with potential:
“Two things: length, and just his ability to change direction, so where that end product would be. You’ve seen the development of our defensive line, where it came in and where it is. We want to continue to look toward that model where those guys can be looked at as elite players as they develop. We can see him as an elite player as he develops in the program. So for us to invest all that time [flying to Europe], we have to be able to see him develop in our program as an elite player down the road.”

“To do that, you have to have elite traits early on. It can’t be 6-foot-1, and somebody that can’t stand out in a crowd. 6-foot-7 with really good foot agility and quickness, that stands out early on.”

Kelly on international recruiting:
“This does not mean we are going to turn into an international juggernaut in the recruiting world, but it does mean that we won’t have our blinders on when it comes to recruiting. We will search and find the best fits for our football program wherever they may be.”

Kelly on pursuing graduate transfers, in reference to Ohio State graduate transfer safety Isaiah Pryor, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining:
“We would be very hesitant if we had injuries at a position that requires contact like that. If it was a shoulder at a wide receiver position, we would probably be less concerned. But a safety, if you have shoulder injuries, that would certainly be a red flag.”

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