With the 2011 season looming the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have very high expectations. The squad looks to improve upon an 8-5 season that saw the team racked with injuries to key players and adjusting to a new spread offense instituted by coach Brian Kelly.

The season has started off on a shaky note with a question at quarterback, the loss of TE Kyle Rudolph to the NFL, and the uncertain playing status of star wide out Michael Floyd due to his team infractions. 
The 2011 recruiting class is a bright spot for the Irish however. Lets take a look at the five most important players of the 2011 recruiting class.
1. Aaaron Lynch (6’6”, 245 pounds  Island Coast (Florida) High School)
Lynch is a huge asset that will certainly bolster the Fighting Irish defensive line. His blazing speed (4.66 in the 40-yard dash) makes him a strong candidate for defensive end. The standout is expected to make an impact immediately this fall.  

2. Ishaq Williams (6’6”, 230 pounds, Abraham Lincoln High School (Brooklyn))
The projected hybrid linebacker/defensive end is considered one of the most highly sought after prospects on the east coast. Williams is similar to Lynch not only in size but speed as well (4.65 in the 40 yard dash). This game-changer will be a welcome addition to Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense. 

3. Stephon Tuitt (6’5”, 260 pounds, Monroe (GA) Area High) 
The sky is the limit for this 18-year old nose tackle. Already at an imposing weight and height Tuitt has not yet stopped growing. His bulk will be bolstered with the aid of Notre Dame Strength and Conditioning Coach Paul Longo. Scouts have already been comparing him to NFLers Marcus Stroud and Richard Seymour.

4. George Atkinson III (6’2”, 195 pounds  Granada High (Livermore, CA))
Atkinson was originally recruited by Kelly as receiver. But due to the lack of depth at running back he will be tried out at the position. A running back in high school Atkinson could make an easy transition to back up Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray on the depth chart. Atkinson would serve as a speed back in Brian Kelly’s offense considering his 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. 

5. Everett Golson (6’0”, 170 pounds, Myrtle Beach High)
Golson was the only quarterback recruited by the Irish this year. Despite his diminutive size he has very impressive numbers.  He completed 774 of 1,234 pass attempts for 11,717 yards, 151 touchdowns, and only 26 interceptions.  Add to those stats two state football high school championships. He is already drawing comparisons to Michael Vick.

Aaron LynchGoogle Images