Notre Dame making its mark

With less than two months left until national signing day, it's time to take a look at the recruiting classes of a few high-profile schools not in BCS conferences -- Notre Dame, Boise State, Utah and TCU.

Boise State Broncos

What's happened: A move to the Mountain West has lost a lot of steam with the defections of Utah, BYU and TCU, but Boise State continues to expand its recruiting base and is finding lots of interest everywhere it goes.

What's next: With limited talent available in Idaho, coach Chris Petersen and his staff must search far and wide for the players who will help the Broncos compete at the highest level. California and Texas are popular spots for the Broncos' staff, and the 2011 class has 12 of its 17 commitments from those two talent-rich states. The top-rated player in Idaho, linebacker Cody McCarthy (Boise, Idaho/Bishop Kelly) didn't have an offer from BSU at last check, but the Broncos are keeping an eye on him. Boise has found it tough to breakthrough in Florida outside of signing defensive back Antwan Murray (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen) a couple of years ago. However, three-star defensive back Jamie Byrd (Dade City, Fla./Pasco) says he wants to visit Boise State despite not having an official offer yet. (One appears to be coming). Another Florida prospect, defensive tackle Chris Jones (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) doesn't have an official offer from Boise but is considering an official visit in hopes of changing that.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

What's happened: The Fighting Irish were off to a very good start, especially in the trenches, but in October they lost defensive ends Aaron Lynch (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast) and Clay Burton (Venice, Fla./Venice) as well as offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood (Plant City, Fla./Plant City). Then last week, running back Justice Hayes (Grand Blanc, Mich.) decommitted from Notre Dame as well. Still, Brian Kelly and the Irish have the 11th-ranked class in the nation. To fill its need of linemen, Notre Dame received a commitment from Matthew Hegarty (Aztec, N.M./Aztec), who is No. 24 in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 4 offensive tackle in the country. Other commitments include Tony Springmann (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) and ESPNU 150 defensive ends Stephon Tuitt (Monroe, Ga./Monroe) and Anthony Rabasa (Miami/Columbus).

What's next: Beating Utah and USC to end his first season in South Bend was critical for Kelly and his staff, particularly with prospects in the class of 2012. It solidified the staff's message to recruits: Although there will be some growing pains, Notre Dame has a plan and will be successful. Defensive end Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln), running back Savon Huggins (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter's), athlete Miles Shuler (Long Branch, N.J.), athlete Christian French (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/John F. Kennedy), tight end Troy Niklas (Anaheim, Calif./Servite), and defensive end Brennan Scarlett (Portland, Or./Central Catholic) are all main targets of the Irish. French likely will announce this week whether he's selected the Fighting Irish or the Hawkeyes.

TCU Horned Frogs

What's happened: TCU's success on the field has carried over to the recruiting trail with a very solid class. The Horned Frogs have 19 commitments (14 from Texas) led by four-star outside linebacker Deryck Gildon (Arlington, Texas/Martin), who is the No. 9 outside linebacker in the country. Three-star quarterback Dominic Merka (Crosby, Texas/Crosby) can make plays with his arm and his legs. This class also is littered with three-star recruits such as offensive tackles Bobby Thompson (Midland, Texas/Midland Christian) and Jamelle Naff (Del City, Okla./Del City), wide receiver Cameron White (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) and athlete David Bush (Tyler, Texas/John Tyler). Fourteen TCU pledges are from the Lone Star State.

What's next: TCU coach Gary Patterson has done a masterful job building this program. The Horned Frogs are getting to the point where they are on the radars of the big-time recruits, something that is never easy for a non-automatic qualifier program, and joining the Big East will make things even better with recruiting. ESPNU 150 members Greg Townsend Jr. (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills), an Under Armour All-American, and LaDarius Brown (Waxahachie, Texas/Waxahachie) both list TCU as one of their favorites. So does defensive tackle Chuck Hunter (West Monroe, La./West Monroe).

Utah Utes

What happened: With a move to the Pac-10 coming in 2011, Utah continued to battle BYU for the state's top recruits while increasing its profile in California. Of Utah's 18 verbals, 14 are from California. The Utes always have run a quarterback-driven offense and have 6-3 230-pounder Derrick Brown (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) as their arm of the future.

What's next: The Utes are in contention with BYU for the top player in the state, running back Harvey Langi (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), and they would love to get a verbal from the 5-11, 225-pound, bruising back. Schools like UCLA and Cal also might jump into the race for Langi. Not surprisingly, the Utes will go into the junior colleges for players who can make an immediate impact as they upgrade competition. Running back John White (Los Angeles/Harbor Community College) took an official visit to Utah, and the Utes are on the short list with Purdue, Houston, Cincinnati. Another junior college prospect Utah is keeping its eye on is 6-4, 290-pound Miles Mason (El Camino, Calif./El Camino Junior College), a former basketball player who is learning to translate his skills to football. Utah also might get a visit from wide receiver Anthony Denham (East Los Angeles Junior College), a 6-5 200-pounder who has offers from Ole Miss, Arizona and Oregon.