National Signing Day 2017 has come and gone. To be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised at where the Irish finished the day. Credit that to a staff that weathered significant turnover and new arrivals who hit the recruiting trail running. Credit, too, to an Athletic Director who took an active, and rare, personal role in the success of #IRISHEL17E.
Notre Dame finished somewhere in the top fifteen, nationally, depending on the service to which you subscribe. ESPN has ND ranked 16th overall, while Rivals has us at 13. Coach Kelly spoke about class rankings during today’s press conference and recognized that Notre Dame would always fall somewhere between “five and fifteen” “based upon what our distinctions are here.”
Everyone’s top three classes from this National Signing Day appear to be Alabama (4.11 star average), Ohio State (4.10 star average), and Georgia (3.Gronkowski star average). Georgia, who will be Notre Dame’s third opponent in the 2017 season, in fact pipped the Irish for defensive end Robert Beal. With phenomenal talent and four stars, Beal is Notre Dame’s biggest loss this cycle, although a strong case could be made for Kobe Buffalomeat. Buffalomeat, who signed with Illinois State, has the greatest name ever. Buffalomeat.
As for the names Notre Dame landed, Robert Hainsey, Josh Lugg, Aaron Banks, and Dillan Gibbons stand out. O-linemen all, Coach Harry Hiestand has plenty of, dare I say, buffalomeat to feed the machine he has humming in South Bend. Darnell Ewell, a defensive lineman, is mentioned in the same breath as Louis Nix, III. Only time will tell if he lives up to the hype. Brock Wright, a tight end, may be the best in his position. Avery Davis is the future at quarterback.
Geographically, the Irish pulled four players from Pittsburgh, three from Florida, two from Texas, two from Virginia, and a phenomenal wide-receiver from down Highway 90, Michael Young, Jr. Late in the day, relatively, the Hawai’i-an connection turned back on when Myron Tagovailoa signed. Tagovailoa is, obviously, Hawai’i-an for “catfish.”
Personally, it’s great to see Notre Dame pulling multiple recruits out of Florida, Texas, and California. Great to see Hawai’i back in the mix. Disturbing is the absence of anyone out of Ohio. Also disturbing is anyone who went to Michigan. Given all that happened in and beyond 2016, landing 21 quality recruits is remarkable.
Where this puts the Irish, though, is anyone’s guess. In my spins around the sun, I’ve seen the Irish pull more stars than a red carpet and have it all come to naught. I’ve seen signed commits get the scareds. We’re lucky to be sitting where we are, frankly. The onus is now on Coach Kelly and his staff to get the most out of these guys, as individuals and as a team. It’s also on the veteran leadership to step up and lead these recruits in the first year of their forty year journey.