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.
On Monday Sam Mustipher made himself the 6th member of the 2014 recruiting class. One of the better additions to the class, he’s ranked #2 as a Guard in more than one service. With a couple of good looking prospects on both sides of the line of scrimmage, as well as a wide receiver and an inside linebacker; the class is off to a great start. Below is a list of the class members and their positions, with a link to their bios. The bios include ranking in each major ranking services, a little of our own opinion, vitals, and a video link if available.
Sam Mustipher OG/OT
Andrew Trumbetti ATH/DE
Greer Martini ILB
Jay Hayes DT/OT
Jimmy Byrne OT
Justin Brent WR
Well, it’s been a bit of a rough ride for the 2012 recruiting class. Last year, Tee Shepard was only on the roster for a few hours. Aaron Lynch departed after the 2011 campaign. Gunner Kiel decided to head elsewhere. And this week, Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson decided to depart as well.
Attrition has definitely set in. These days, it’s an annual expectation. Thankfully, the Notre Dame Football program is healthy enough to handle it.
That may sound a little strange, especially since we (1) aren’t used to that line of thinking these days and (2) Brian Kelly has made several references to a lack of depth in 2012. However, it’s the truth.
Consider the fact that after Lynch left, our defensive line was still a dominate force in 2012. Despite not having Tee Shepard to fill some huge holes in the secondary, the Irish still managed to hold it together. We still have three more years of Golson with Malik Zaire waiting in the wings, softening the loss of Kiel. While our WR corps isn’t as stocked as I would prefer, I have little doubt Kelly and company will be able to use the talent available to compensate.
Further consider the recruiting mindset of Kelly. He wants to land a QB every year. He is constantly looking for what he calls “big skill” players that could possibly fill a couple of different roles if needed. A solid group of starters at any position isn’t enough — he wants them two-deep for constant depth and to keep his roster in a state of constant competition.
This season, we have seen the fruits of those three years of recruiting labor. Despite the attrition that has hit the Irish, we still find ourselves only able to offer well below 20 scholarships to the class of 2014 because we are so close to the maximum of 85 scholarships for the entire roster. While every player that leaves the Irish is definitely a disappointing loss, it now opens up a precious roster spot for a potential fifth-year, an extra offer to an elite recruit, or even the chance to reward a deserving senior walk-on.
So as far as attrition goes, I’m going to use a rather infamous Kelly quote: “Get used to it.”
Some guys might leave for personal reasons, but we are also seeing our former blue-chip recruits leave simply because they don’t think they’ll get the playing time they want. That speaks volumes for the level of talent Notre Dame now has. A couple of years ago, if a huge get in the recruiting class had a guaranteed three or four years of playing time. That simply isn’t the case anymore.
So bring the attrition on. “Next man in” as Kelly would say. This is exactly where we want to be.
I guess this counts as WAC attrition. Idaho and New Mexico State are fleeing the WAC for the Sun Belt. The Sun Belt is also grabbing Appalachian State (HEY MICHIGAN) and Georgia Southern from the FCS. Care to take a stab at which group is the better get?
And the 2014 National Championship game will transfer to… DALLAS! Win-win for me. Either Notre Dame makes a title run in my backyard or I’m renting out my house, making a mint, and going on vacation.
Johnny Football is gone. From Twitter. Wait, what did you think I was going to say?
Southern Cal has lost another player. This time, due to injury.
The NCAA might be able to use a little attrition themselves. Someone else has apparently dropped the ball in the Miami case.
This qualifies as what I like to call “Saban-style attrition”. Four players are gone from UCLA. One for violation of team rules and the other three…well, this article outright calls it “roster maintenance”.
My beer choice is also suffering from some attrition because I’m still cleaning out my beer fridge of brews that have been donated for one reason or another. Considering I have a Vegas trip coming up to save money for and because I’ve been ridiculously busy for work (because of the Vegas trip, the main reason I’m there is because of work), I have had little motivation to go buy more beer as of late.
Ok, it’s probably not attrition, it’s being lazy and cheap as hell, but I don’t care.
On the chopping block this weekend: Dos Equis.
Stay thirsty, my friends.
Last week, we looked at the offensive recruiting plan for the 2014 class. This week, we will look at the defensive side of the ball.
Again this will be a slim class as most projections have the scholarship number at about fourteen about fourteen scholarships available. With this in mind, even though Notre Dame has offered nearly everyone in the top 50, we have only listed the “Top Targets” below as those believed to have the most interest in Notre Dame.
*Denotes available 5th year
|Junior||Jones* (could move to DE)|
Commits: Jay Hayes
Need level- Medium to High
Top Targets-Enoch Smith Jr., Thomas Holley, Khairi Clark
Assessment- The linchpin of the 3-4 defense, this should always be an area of need. We have a lot of people that could be moved here, and one commit already. We should hit this every year, and have been able to get elite talent here the past few years.
I’m assuming the Louis Nix III will be going pro, even though he will have one year of eligibility left. He’ll have his degree, and his senior day, leaving him very little motivation to hang around for another year.
A strikeout on elite talent wouldn’t be terrible considering some of the current talent and current DEs that could shift to DT if need be. However, not land a DT in this class would make this a large area of need the following year.
|Junior||Day Hounshell* Springmann*|
|Sophmore||Matuska* Rochell* (could move to DT)|
Need level-Low to Medium
Top Targets- Deondre Clark, Malik McDowell, Andre Trumbetti, Andrew Williams
Assessment- Even if we lose Tuitt to the draft, we’re still pretty deep at DE. But, as football is won in the trenches, I expect the Irish to be after very elite talent here, and be OK with a miss if it happens.
There is some talent in the linebacking corps that could be mover here if they don’t find a home because of young talent, or if we strike out and need it. Justin Utopo comes to mind.
|5th Year||Moore* Utopo*|
Commits – Greer Martini
Need level- High
Top Targets- Nyles Morgan, Raekwon McMillan
Assessment-While Smith could slide inside to fill this gap, we’ll assume he stays at OLB until we know different. Being 2-deep at this spot isn’t ideal. The three that will be left all have a good deal of eligibility left, but I think this will be the biggest position of need on the defense. We wouldn’t be immediately hurting if we missed, but it would be a gap that would show up down the road if we missed in this cycle.
|Senior||Williams Councell* Rabasa*|
Need level- High
Top Targets- Dillon Bates, Clifton Garret
Assessment-Very interesting looking ahead this far to think about what Williams, Councell, and Rabasa will turn into after four years in the program. Same as ILB, there’s a good deal of eligibility here but you just don’t like to risk injury problems. Further, if one of these gentleman needs to be moved to OLB then it will strain the ILB corps more. We’ll hope to get elite talent, but we’d take a RKG with a lower rating I think.
|Sophmore||Kinlaw Butler Luke|
Need level- Medium
Top Targets- Parrker Westphal, Jalen Tabor
Assessment- There’s a chance Lo Wood might not take his 5th year(or even have it offered). Even if we lose him, the Irish are 2-deep at the CB spot. However, the staff has been known to move players to and from this position and you simply don’t pass up elite talent if you can get it. Further, great CBs allow for more blitzes, exotic coverages, and other high risk/high reward defenses. Although this position not necessarily a major area of need, the value of the raw talent at this position makes landing recruits here quite desirable.
|Junior||Shumate Badger Baratti Prosise Turner|
Top Targets- Quincy Wilson, Jamal Adams
Assessment- Several of these young men were highly touted recruits and I expect one or two of them to step up and live up to their billing. Several of these young men have a lot of eligibility left.
This year the secondary finally evolved into no longer being a liability, but, with these kids, it may be able to make the leap to strength. Elite talent like Redfield might even struggle to press for time, although I’d be shocked to not see him on the field somewhere in the secondary. I think a few of these gentleman will live up to their billing, and Redfield is so physically talented, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got moved over to CB.
We can miss here and be ok for a year, but if we can get another Redfield its a no-brainer.
Overall it is exciting to look at the names on this list. This is who’s left after next year.
Attrition to people going pro is a problem you get with having great talent on your team. The coaches have gotten some “6 Star” recruits before, so maybe we can hold on to some hope of these kids staying longer than expected.
That said, the defense is in a similar position to the offense. Outside of linebacker we don’t have any specific needs. We don’t have highly rated recruits everywhere, but we’re close. We lack a true “shut down” corner, but I thought we did pretty good with the secondary last year, and have some recruits coming.
Overall I say we’re loaded for at least two years right now, and have the opportunity to add to the spoils. With this comes the ability to practice harder, substitute more, and continue the tradition of excellent defenses. If anything keeps us a contender for the next few years, its the names on this defense.
I’m really excited to watch these kids in the next few years. I just wonder when the defense will start to score more… or is that greedy??
Aah, the world of college football recruiting. A never ending process. The 2013 class is signed and looks primed to fill the gaps and make an instant impact. We also already have four commitments to the 2014 class: Greer Martini, Jay Hayes, Justin Brent, and Jimmy Byrne.
Let’s take a look at each offensive position group to try to gauge what we need and who our top targets currently are. Given our last few recruiting classes were near full, (barring transfers or early departure for the pros) I’d say around 14 spots will be left for the rest of the class. This is a good problem to have, one we haven’t had in ages. Top targets listed here are the targets believed to be the most “gettable”, targets that have interest in ND and an offer from ND.
* indicates fifth year option.
|Freshman||Zaire (If he redshirts this year)|
Top Targets- Brandon Dawkins, John Wolford
Assessment- Coach Kelly said he’d take a QB with every class. Not taking one is always a risk considering injuries and transfers. Whether or not taking a QB every year contributed to Kiel’s transfer is debatable, but having Zaire makes his transfer much more comfortable. Golson will have two years of eligibility left, and Zaire four (assuming a redshirt) after next year. I believe that still keeps us in pretty good shape.
|Senior||Atkinson McDaniel Carlisle*|
|Sophmore||Bryant Folston (redshirt year this year?)|
Need level- Low
Top Targets- Sony Michel, Jalen Hurd, Elijah Hood
Assessment- Atkinson, McDaniel and Carlisle* will all be going into their Senior year. Not sure if all of the first three will still be RBs after next season, but the eligibility will be there. This bunch of backs gives us the chance to really only go after the elite talent. RB is another position you like to take every year, but considering the depth and the lack of available scholarships in this class we may not take anyone with less than 5 stars. If we don’t take anyone this will become a position of need the following year.
|Junior||Ferguson Brown Neal|
|Sophmore||Onwualu Robinson Fuller Hunter|
Need level- Low to Medium
Top Targets- Mark Andrews, Terry Googer, Corey Holmes, Josh Malone, Jacob Mcrary, Michiah Quick, Artavis Scott, Thadeus Snodgrass
Assessment- Similar to the rest of the skill positions, we are relatively deep at all the receiver positions. However, Massa is a converted QB and hasn’t seen much action. Let’s say 1 or 2 of these young men don’t pan out. We’d still be okay at the position, but we’d like to have some security. I’d expect us to take one or maybe even two WRs if the right kids join, but wouldn’t be panicked if we didn’t. Some of the younger WRs seem to have pretty good potential. We’ll see how they turn out.
|Senior||Koyack Niklas Welch*|
Need level- Medium to High
Top Targets- Nic Weishar, Jeb Blazevich, Tyler Luatua, Ian Bunting
Assessment- I believe we will have a very good starting TE out of these five, possibly even two really good TEs. The potential is there to have an elite tight end, as we’ve grown accustomed to over the last few years. However, not having a backup at any position is a risk we shouldn’t afford. Welch is recovering from a season ending injury, sometimes you never make it back. Furthermore, there were more than a few times we reaped the benefits of the mismatches this type of athlete can create. Niklas and Eifert on the field last year had to be a nightmare to try to gameplan against, even if we didn’t do it that frequently. A miss here isn’t the end of the world, but it’d make TE a huge need the following year with the gaps left by three leaving.
Need level- Low to Medium
Top Targets- Mason Cole, Jamarco Jones, KC Mcdermott, Orlando Brown, Braden Smith, Bentley Spain, Natrell Curtis, Alex Bars
Commits- Jimmy Byrne
Assessment- The loss of Nichols hurts a bit at this position. We have one commit, but expect this to be hit harder. We’d like to get at least one more in this class. The ability to redshirt players in the trenches helps immensely. Further, being able to go live without being concerned about injuries can be a factor in late season games, as was recently touched on by Coach Kelly. This looks a little bare, but if some of the interior lineman are versatile enough to slide outside we would be able to fill any holes left by injuries/going pro/graduation etc.
|Senior||Martin Hanratty Hegarty Heggie*|
|Sophmore||McGovern Bivin Montelus|
Need level- Low to Medium
Top Targets- Same as outside lineman.
Assessment- Three Seniors on the inside, and another potential 5th year. With three spots inside (two Gs, one C) and four seniors this would look to be pretty ideal. We’d have experience across the board and a sub if the unthinkable happened. After that, it seems to dwindle a bit. Just one junior, but this years strong class of three will be sophomores. I’d say we need to take at least one here, possibly two. It’s the same arguments as the exterior lineman with regard to redshirting/going live.
Losses of Kiel and Nichols create a little more need, but nothing that becomes an immediate need. For the offense it seems that we have got to the point that we have the luxury of targeting only the elite talent at the skill positions. The best teams are often at this point and this allows them to target the “difference makers”, that top level athlete that can win you football games almost by themselves. On the OL C/G maybe an issue, but we just hauled in a great class of OL so it’s not panic time if we strike out this year. With the small # of spots available and a nice full depth chart, we should compete for only the best of the best this year. The other side of the coin is keeping the depth chart nice and full requires full recruiting classes if you can get quality players. I believe it will be easier to fill any perceived needs for this class, and give us the chance to really get out there after the blue chips.