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Notre Dame Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Fighting Irish

Back in December, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said that he now believes it is possible for Notre Dame to assemble top-five recruiting classes. During his tenure at Notre Dame, recruiting rankings in the teens have become the norm but now Kelly is eyeing for higher finishes after signing day.

On the surface, this year's class appears to be the same old same old. In the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings, the Irish check in at No. 17. But there is a slight difference this time around. The Irish signed just 17 players with one being a long snapper that always adversely affects ratings. Also, their top-rated players are offensive skill position guys, something that has been unusual in recent Irish recruiting classes.

Here are four guys from the Class of 2020 and a transfer that could make an impact in the fall due to their skill sets and the opportunity that their positions allow.

Jordan Johnson, WR

For much of the 2019 season, and especially as the season developed, Irish quarterback Ian Book relied heavily on senior receivers Chase Claypool and Chris Finke. In 2020, new targets must emerge and Johnson comes in as one of the highest-rated receivers in America. He may not have one trait that stands out, but the St. Louis native is a polished pass catcher that does everything well.

Chris Tyree, RB

Running back is another spot with available playing time due to Tony Jones' decision to test the NFL waters. Tyree may not currently have the size to be an every-down back, but what he has is speed to burn. The offensive staff will look to get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways, including in the passing game and on reverses as well as traditional running plays. Because of an injury during his senior season, Tyree saw his ratings slip a bit, but he is an elite talent that was heavily pursued by the likes of Alabama and Oklahoma.

Michael Mayer, TE

Mayer is the highest-rated incoming Irish player on the 247Sports list and he also plays a position with a departing starter. Tommy Tremble will most likely receive the bulk of the tight end minutes but Mayer will see plenty of action as well. The Kentucky product shined in all-star competition against the nation's best players, using his size and speed to make plays.

Jordan Botelho, DE

From Manti Te'o and Roby Toma to Alohi Gilman and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, the Irish success rate on players from Hawaii has been very high and Botelho looks to be another quality player from the islands. A linebacker in high school, Botelho will slide down to weak-side end for his college career. While there is talent at that position already on campus, the four-star prospect may be too good to keep off the field.

Isaiah Pryor, S

Coming in from Ohio State with two years of eligibility remaining, Pryor will be playing the same position as the departing Gilman, another transfer that excelled in South Bend. Pryor was a heavily recruited prospect coming out of high school, but had difficulties earning playing time in Columbus. The Irish coaches believe that he is a better fit in their system and will provide a young secondary some needed experience.

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.