SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

‘Canes might be front-runner for transferring Irish WR Corey Holmes

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 07:  A member of Notre Dame Fighting Irish holds up his helmet on the opening kickoff during the game against the Stanford Cardinal on October 7, 2006 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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For the second time this week, Notre Dame is losing a player to transfer.

On his Twitter account Saturday afternoon, Corey Holmes indicating that he would be leaving the Fighting Irish and would be continuing his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  ND officials subsequently confirmed that the wide receiver will transfer out after the spring semester.

Holmes’ decision was triggered by a desire for a better shot at playing time.

According to the South Bend Tribune, Miami is expected to be the front-runner for Holmes’ services. The receiver also stated that Arizona State, North Carolina and UCLA “are some schools I’d be considering.”

Like it was with Malik Zaire, the quarterback who announced his transfer late last month, there will be no restrictions placed on Holmes by the university.

As it stands now, Holmes plans to graduate next August, which means he would have two years of eligibility remaining and would be eligible immediately in 2017 i he moves on to another FBS school.

A four-star 2014 recruit, Holmes was rated as the No. 27 receiver in the country and the No. 26 player at any position in the state of Florida. After redshirting as a true freshman then not seeing any action in 2015, Holmes caught 11 passes for 96 yards this past season. He had a career-high four receptions in what turned out to be his final game at the school in the regular-season finale against USC.

Notre Dame WR Torii Hunter Jr. ruled out vs. Army

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05:  Torii Hunter Jr. #16 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish attempts a reception during the game against the Navy Midshipmen at EverBank Field on November 5, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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As Notre Dame’s season continues tumbling into oblivion, and as they look to maintain some hope of bowl eligibility, the Irish won’t have one of their top targets in the passing game to help break the fall.

Prior to this afternoon’s game against Army, Notre Dame announced that Torii Hunter Jr. will not play in the game against the service academy.  The wide receiver has been dealing with a knee injury that ultimately forced him to the sidelines this weekend.

Hunter suffered the injury in the loss to Navy in week 10, but ultimately returned to that game.

The senior is currently second on the team in receptions (38), receiving yards (521). He’s also third yards per reception (13.7) and tied for second in receiving touchdowns (three).

With Hunter sidelined, Kevin Stepherson (16-335-3) is expected to take on an expanded role in the passing game.

DeShone Kizer throws 2 TDs in first half vs. Navy, Notre Dame leads 17-14

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05: Devin Studstill #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up before the game against the Navy Midshipmen at EverBank Field on November 5, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame and Navy have traded blows on the scoreboard in the first half in Jacksonville, with the Irish holding the edge at halftime with a 17-14 lead.

Notre Dame had a bit of a health scare for wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., who was assisted off the field with an apparent left knee injury, but he was later returned to the field and provided a key block on Notre Dame’s late first-half touchdown to take the lead.

Notre Dame opened the game with a well-executed offensive drive spanning 83 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. The drive included a fourth down conversion with DeShone Kizer completing a 23-yard pass to Hunter to move into the reds zone. Two false start penalties later, Kizer completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Hunter for an early touchdown lead. Kizer’s two touchdown passes in the half have gone to Hunter and Durham Smythe. Kizer has also contributed on the ground with 46 rushing yards, and Josh Adams leads the team with 47 rushing yards.

Notre Dame has committed four penalties for 30 yards so far, while Navy has yet to be flagged. Navy quarterback Will Worth leads all players with 101 rushing yards, which is pretty typical for Navy’s offense.

Notre Dame defense suffocating Miami in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 24:  DeShone Kizer #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Duke Blue Devils at Notre Dame Stadium on September 24, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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DeShone Kizer has thrown two touchdowns in the first half to help give Notre Dame a 20-7 advantage on visiting Miami. The defense of the Irish has played one of the best halves of the season against Brad Kaaya and the Hurricanes, holding Miami to just three rushing yards.

Notre Dame started off as well as they could have dreamed, with a touchdown drive to open the game for an early lead. Kizer connected with Torii Hunter Jr. from the five-yard line for the score. Miami’s offense then lost eight yards on a three-and-out on their first drive, setting Notre Dame up with a great chance to do some more early damage. Notre Dame was held to a field goal, but the defense then picked off Kaaya on Miami’s third down on the ensuing possession. This time, Notre Dame cashed in with a touchdown with Kaaya finding Equanimeous St. Brown from 14 yards out.

Miami did catch one break in the first half on special teams by recovering a fumble by Hunter Jr. that led to a Miami touchdown a few plays later (Kaaya completing a pass to David Njoku for the score). But that has been just about all Miami has managed to do against Notre Dame so far. Miami has been flagged six times for 55 yards too.