SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Nothing is finalized yet, but a day after Notre Dame confirmed talks with Georgia about a future series coach Brian Kelly offered a reason why playing the Bulldogs would make sense for the Irish.
For Kelly, it mainly has to do with a talent-rich area in which Notre Dame hopes to make more recruiting in-roads.
"We're looking for matchups down the road that geographically make sense to us," Kelly said. "That Atlanta area, that SEC area -- and Atlanta is a big area -- we've hit Dallas, obviously, we know that's a great area for us. We're going to keep looking for geographical areas that make sense for us. We gotta look at geographical areas that we're recruiting, Atlanta's one of the areas that we gotta keep getting in."
Notre Dame has pulled some top talent out of Georgia in the past -- Stephon Tuitt was a five-star recruit, while T.J. Jones and Isaac Rochell had four-star ratings by Rivals -- but with so many blue-chip prospects in the area Kelly sees a chance to make a recruiting impact there.
For 2015's recruiting class, Georgia has 31 prospects with four or five-star ratings by Rivals, including the nation's top player in defensive tackle Trenton Thompson. It's far more of a battleground state than neighboring Alabama (Rivals' top 11 prospects in the state committed to either Auburn or Alabama this year) or other SEC states like Mississippi and Louisiana (in which only one four or five-star player committed to a school outside the SEC in 2014).
Ohio State landed Georgia's top-rated player in 2014's recruiting class, while Cincinnati, Kentucky and Missouri all landed four-star recruits from the state as well. And Notre Dame did land three-star Georgia kicker Tyler Newsome -- who was ranked by Rivals as the state's 75th-best player -- 2014's recruiting cycle.
The potential is there, and Kelly hopes to capitalize on it. Playing Georgia, as well as Georgia Tech as part of Notre Dame's annual five-game ACC agreement, in the future would go a long way toward helping those efforts.
"We're gonna play Georgia Tech, so by process of elimination, if we're talking SEC and we're talking Atlanta, the next team that would pop up would seem to be Georgia," Kelly said. "But we haven't talked any specifics about contract or years or anything like that."