Highly-regarded Cincinnati prep offensive tackle Matt James has signed with Notre Dame, spurning offers from in-state power Ohio State and Florida.

Just how important was James' signature to the Irish?

Along with Illinois offensive lineman Christian Lombard (a player who performed well during the recent Army All American game), James is one of only three offensive linemen to sign with Notre Dame in the 2010 class.

James' development will be key, as the Fighting Irish will need the coveted tackle to be ready to contribute early.

If James is not the biggest name or the most important recruit for Notre Dame, then that title belongs to defensive lineman Louis Nix. Nix, who was a one-time Miami Hurricane commitment, had offers from Florida and Florida State, among others. But with young linemen ahead of him, such as Brandon Newman, Hafis Williams and Tyler Stockton, Nix will not be rushed into action before he is ready.

Directing our attention toward the linebacking corps, the Irish landed a talented pair of players from North Carolina: Prince Shembo and Kendall Moore.

Shembo, a four-star player on both Rivals.com and Scout.com services, rebuffed advances from the in-state Tarheels and Wolfpack, along with a host of other schools, opting to join the Fighting Irish and Brian Kelly's 3-4 defense. Moore, who is also a four-star linebacker, should fit in nicely in the 3-4 scheme, where he will likely end up as an outside linebacker.

Notre Dame replenished its secondary with a pair of Florida cornerbacks: Spencer Boyd and Lo Wood.

The sleeper of the class of 2010 could well be Danny Spond, a multi-talented athlete from Colorado, who played quarterback and safety in the high school ranks. Spond, a four-star athlete on Rivals.com, was a nice late addition for head coach Brian Kelly, who snatched Spond away from the Colorado Buffaloes. At Notre Dame, Spond projects as a hard-hitting safety, perhaps even a hybrid safety/linebacker in Kelly's 3-4 defense.

All things considered, and given the limited time frame in which Brian Kelly had to recruit, the 2010 class should serve as a solid foundation for the football program.

Of course, we will not be able to fully evaluate the results until at least a few seasons.