So let’s see how this class is doing compared to last years class at the same time. Needs for each year are different. Scholarship numbers change; however, by looking at the quantity and quality of the recruits we can get a better idea of how this class is shaping up.
So in May of 2012 where did we stand?
Well we had 12 verbal commitments. Eight 4 star recruits, and four 3 star recruits. We hit the Offensive side of the ball early, in particular the line. Five of twelve were OL, with two more being TEs. Our lone QB, 2 WRs round out the offensive side of these recruits. The only defensive recruits were a pair of defensive backs.
With the offensive line and defensive backfield being the primary concerns in 2012 most of the holes were filled early.
12 commits with a 3.67 star average, 10 Offensive, 2 Defensive.
What does May of 2013 look like?
We’ve got 9 verbal commitments. One is a 5 star recruit, five are 4 stars and three 3 stars. Again, it seems offensive early and often with a target on the line. Three lineman, a TE, RB, and a WR. Only three defensive prospects, a LB as well as two very welcome additions to our burgeoning stock of elite defensive lineman.
This year we had less holes to fill than in 2012, and no real area that is a glaring need. The areas of need include TE, OL, and maybe DL if you had to choose them. The needs again seemed to have been addressed early.
9 commits with a 3.78 star average. 6 Offensive, 3 Defensive.
There are some interesting similarities to these classes. 2012′s class ended up with 24 players, meaning half of the players were already in the fold at this time. Due to scholarship restrictions I believe this next class of 2013 may only have around 18 players, and maybe less depending on who leaves or stays with the program for various reasons. So it seems the target for the staff is to be half way home in May.
Both classes went after the offensive side of the ball early, in particular the lineman. A deep, experienced line that keeps reloading is the hallmark of a great program. This is true on both sides of the ball. It seems that this staff understands that and has addressed lack of depth on the offensive lines the past two recruiting cycles as early as possible. While in 2012 we didn’t have much on the defensive line early, we already have 2 commits for 2013. It looks like the area of emphasis early in cycles for this staff is the line, and I for one wholeheartedly support this, as games are won and lost in the trenches. (see-all of last year)
2012′s IrishMob13 demonstrated what I’d call the most visual impact of the “twitter era” on recruiting I’ve seen. I’m not sure if the coaches had much to do with this (they may have after the Tee Shepard/Deontay Greenberry debacle) but the way the previous class stuck together, as well as recruited each other seemed to be unique. As communication has become easier, it is interesting to see how this impacts recruiting. Maybe this has gone on to this extent before, only it was next to impossible to see unless you were in the all star camps.
This year’s “GoldenArmy14″ is beginning to do the same. As mentioned by Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish Elijah Hood in particular has begun to recruit. This is a good sign about the strength of his commitment as well as the ability of the staff to sell a recruit. After a few de-commitments and transfers of elite prospects in early years, the coaches seemed to have reined in all of those issues. When you convince a recruit to not only commit, but to preach his convictions to other elite kids making the same type of decision then you are doing something very well.
Last year’s recruiting class was one of the best in the country. In recent recruiting history we’ve had trouble, or been perceived to have trouble landing big defensive difference making recruits. That idea has been slowly laid to rest after we’ve consistently grabbed top tier defensive recruits, with last years class of Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield, and Eddie Vanderdoes perhaps being the most star studded defensively in a very long time.
So where do we stand? I’d say with respect to last year we stand in about exactly the same place, with slightly better talent. However, this year we’ve got less holes to fill. As we move forward in this cycle it will be interesting to see not only how many recruits we get, but the overall quality. I believe if we do well we will see an equally or more impressive class than last year. We may also strike out going after elite talent and not fill up the class. The way things have been going leads me to believe the former is more likely.