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Irish recruits like where program is heading

With National Signing Day now only two months away, the Notre Dame coaching staff wasted little time jumping back on the recruiting trail following the Irish's victory over USC on Saturday.

After losing verbal commitments from coveted prep stars such as Jordan Prestwood, Justice Hayes and Aaron Lynch in the last four weeks, Irish coach Brian Kelly received good news in the last few days with the addition of Texas running back Cam McDaniel and South Carolina quarterback Everett Golson.

But what about the rest of a tentative class of 2011? ESPNChicago.com reached out to them this week to see what kind of impact Notre Dame's 3-0 regular-season finish made.

George Atkinson (athlete, 6-2, 194, Livermore, Calif.)

"I was very surprised on how we finished the year. Because of the injuries and other things going on there it was not expected, but coach Kelly is a great coach and got them through it with some big wins. I can't wait to be a part of the turnaround there. You just have to believe that it's going to happen and know it's the best spot for you and your future after football and that's what I did.

"I definitely saw the change of play on defense, making big stops, and that defensive play really helped the offense take more shots downfield because they get the ball back more often. Basically, it was a more aggressive team in November -- on defense and offense."

Josh Atkinson (cornerback, 6-0, 180, Livermore, Calif.)

"Yeah, I feel that everyone in our class is going to remain strong with ND. I was very impressed and excited about how Notre Dame finished the season, especially when they went through so much during the season. I was able to stay faithful because of the fact that I believe in coach Kelly and he's the type of coach you want to play for. I believe everyone in our class and on the ND team right now knows that we are going to do great things in the near future and that those last three wins are just beginning of what's to come because of the fact that everyone is on the same page -- and that's to win a national championship."

Brad Carrico (defensive end, 6-6, 255, Dublin, Ohio)

"To me, I'm staying at Notre Dame for a lot of reasons. Probably the biggest is the coaching staff though; they're all great people and they're proven winners based off all the places they've been and the way they have turned things around at Notre Dame already. The tradition and the academics are also a really big part of it for me. Regarding being 3-0 the last three games, I feel like that's just a small step for great things that are and will be happening for Notre Dame in the near future."

Conor Hanratty (offensive line, 6-4, 235, New Canaan, Conn.)

"I'm always going to remain faithful because I know that this is something special and it's something I want to be a part of."

Jalen Brown (defensive back, 6-0, 173, Irving, Texas)

"I never lost hope on my team. I knew it was coach Kelly's first year and I didn't expect a national championship yet."

Ben Councell (defensive end, 6-5, 225, Asheville, N.C.)

"Well, I think mainly because it’s the right fit for me. Also, I have faith in the new coaching staff and throughout the season I have seen a progression within the team itself."

Jarrett Grace (linebacker, 6-4, 235, Cincinnati, Ohio)

"I remain faithful because I'm committed to the program and the goals coach Kelly has set for Notre Dame, which is a national championship. I know this won't happen right away and will take a few years of hard work. Also, just the weight of the degree upon graduation and Notre Dame as a place to develop as a true man set it apart from any other school."

Matt Hegarty (offensive line, 6-5, 265, Aztec, N.M)

"I was very impressed at how the team rallied to finish in such a strong fashion at the end of the season. Everyone understood that the win against Army was the minimum for bowl eligibility, but they still went out and knocked [down] SC at the Coliseum. Really exciting to see. ND still has the same desirable things I've always seen in them -- a strong football tradition, a superb education and a coach and system that will bring them back to the top. There isn't any doubt in my mind that this staff is doing everything it takes to make them a championship caliber program. I can’t wait to be a part of it."

Here are the rest of Notre Dame's verbal commitments:

  • Kyle Brindza, K, 6-2, 195, Canton, Mich.

  • Davaris Daniels, WR, 6-3, 190, Vernon Hills, Ill.

  • Matthias Farley, Ath, 6-1, 185, Charlotte, N.C.

  • Eilar Hardy, DB, 6-0, 170, Pickerington, Ohio

  • Ben Koyack, TE, 6-5, 230, Oil City, Pa.

  • Anthony Rabasa, DE, 6-2, 220, Miami, Fla.

  • Tony Springmann, DE, 6-6, 257, Fort Wayne, Ind.

  • Stephon Tuitt, DE, 6-5, 260, Monroe, Ga.