Recruiting Week: Kelly’s Litmus Test

So now that the lights are back on (our bad) and Super Bowl XLVII is in the books, we can devote the next forty-eight hours to the run up to Signing Day. Signing Day is a remarkable moment in the secular holiday calendar, coming as it does in such close proximity to our greatest expression of national unity, the aforementioned Super Bowl. It, too, is another excuse to take the day and inundate yourself in sports analysis and discussion. It’s also a ritual as anachronistic as pulling a groundhog from its den to prognosticate the weather: how many of these young men will send another fax in their lives? How long before the word “facsimile” loses whatever connection it still has to the physical world? Who cares. Let’s talk recruiting.

As we know, next year’s Irish will be the first manisfestation of a “top-to-bottom” Brian Kelly team. Wednesday, then, will be his fourth turn on the merry-go-round of national recruiting and I, for one, am looking forward to the results. Certainly, Brian Kelly and his staff have done a very good job plucking elite talent from the clutching hands of the SEC, e.g. Louis Nix and Gunner Kiel. They’ve also written their own chapters into recruiting lore, to wit Bob Diaco’s 4:00 a.m. visit to Ishaq Williams. Finally, they’ve shown enormous creativity in putting talent where it needs to be on the field, as evidenced by Cierre Wood and Troy Niklas.

The 2010 recruiting class is a bit of challenge to evaluate, given that Coach Kelly was only in control of it for a few days. Regardless, he was able to keep it together and the combination of his staff’s work and certain players’ “ND or bust” mentality resulted in a Top Twenty finish.

2011 saw the Irish fall just short of a concensus Top Ten finish. Of note, ND landed elite defensive signees in Stephon Tuitt, Ishaq Williams and the erstwhile Aaron Lynch. 2012, with 17 signees, could be considered a slight slip, down to #17 according to at least one site, but was noteworthy in at least one regard: the eleventh-hour defection from LSU to ND by billion-star QB, Gunner Kiel.

2013 holds the promise of being Coach Kelly’s, and Notre Dame’s, best recruiting class in a long, long time. With #IrishMob holding court, and strong, on Twitter, this class has an identity that could not have existed, thanks to technology, in years past. That being said, the late defection away from ND by elite recruit Alex Anzelone is a big loss to this year’s class and the direct result of Coach Kelly’s flirtation with the NFL. What effects the Te’o saga, the NCG blowout or the availability of deer antler spray at other schools will have on the Class of 2013 remains to be seen.

At the end of the day, none of our commits, other than the early enrollees, are signed. The same holds true for every other recruit at every other school. Buckle up for Wednesday, Loyal Readers.

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  • GB

    I hope everyone that is supposed to sign does sign and hopefully Vanderdoes alsoand maybe a 5 * surprise. Personally I thought Wood was underused this year as he averaged 2 more YPC than Riddick. I don’t think anyone knows why except for Kelly and Wood.

  • Hal Lindley

    Anzalone was never coming. Another great effort by Kelly and his coaches.

  • JT

    Next years team is not Kelly’s first full team! Most of the players were recruited by Weis. When Weis was let go, the recruiting class mostly held together and Kelly added a few additional last minute recruits. So we will have to wait an additional year for the team with that is fully Kelly’s. (You could argue that the recruitment of Juniors means we have to wait 2 more years).