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Notre Dame may be just a few weeks removed from inking its Class of 2014 recruits, but the Fighting Irish have already grabbed momentum with their 2015 targets.
Coach Brian Kelly and his staff have three verbal commitments for the next recruiting cycle, including a pair of offensive linemen and one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
Notre Dame's offensive line recruiting has been nearly without equal in the country over the past two cycles. The program has signed nine prospects at the position, and eight of those players have been ranked four-star or higher by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service.
That trend appears to be continuing as offensive line coach Harry Hiestand has already snagged a pair of four-star commitments.
Jerry Tillery is a 6-foot-7, 332-pound tackle out of Louisiana who committed to the Irish last June. He would be the first player to sign with Notre Dame out of that state in over a decade.
Tillery has yet to receive offers from Deep South powers Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU. The recruitment of the elite tackle – ranked No. 11 at his position by Rivals.com – will likely carry on right up to signing day next February.
Also onboard along the line is four-star center Tristen Hoge. The 6-4, 285-pound lineman from Idaho committed to the Irish in December over offers from 14 other schools, including Florida, LSU, Stanford and UCLA.
Hoge is ranked the No. 7 center prospect in the country.
Most schools like to ink at least one quarterback prospect per cycle, and Notre Dame already has its man for 2015 in Blake Barnett out of California. The 6-4, 200-pound signal caller threw for 2,332 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior for Santiago High School while also rushing for 695 yards and 13 scores.
Barnett is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the class by Rivals.com. He is ranked the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country, the No. 6 prospect in California and the No. 64 overall recruit in the Rivals100 2015.
There is probably no bigger prospect on the board for the Irish than Jashon Cornell. The 6-3, 238-pound defensive end is rated by ESPN.com as the No. 1 overall prospect in the country in this cycle. He attends Notre Dame pipeline school Cretin-Derham Hall in Minnesota, the same school that produced former Irish players Michael Floyd, Rashon Powers-Neal and Ryan Harris, among others.
Defensive end is always a position of need, especially for Notre Dame, which has trouble pulling elite defensive line talent out of the South. Cornell is a must-get at the position.
Other need positions this next cycle include wide receiver, running back and the defensive backfield.