I’m admittedly a fan of prospects out of California that go on to become great college football players. I especially love it when they buck the trend and go out of state, and take a chance on Notre Dame. From my days of cheering on Kory Minor, I have always had a soft spot for guys on our roster from the Golden State.
Fresh off signing day 2016 and the anticlimactic Caleb Kelly announcement, I wanted to know how Brian Kelly has fared recruiting wise compared to his predecessor, Charlie Weis. My fuzzy memory tells me that Weis had better success in CA and landed a good number of kids from the state. With the help of my HLS compatriot, @andrewinn, I looked at the data. Here are some summary points:
Charlie Weis in California
- Through Weis’ years (2005-2009) Notre Dame targeted 45 prospects in CA.
- Weis had 12 commits during this period, representing a 27% hit rate on pulling guys from out west.
- 11% of Weis’ commits transferred or left Notre Dame, guys of note – Joe Fauria and Shaq Evans who went on to become good players at UCLA (note that Evans left after Weis was fired, and it seemed he never was in the good graces of the new coaching staff)
- Notable misses from CA: honestly? Looking at the guys we didn’t get and looking at star ratings and what they went on to become – the only guy that could be a ‘miss’ was Mark Sanchez.
Brian Kelly in California
- Obviously Brian Kelly has a few extra years on Weis, but if you just consider his first five years – ND offered 70 prospects. If you include through 2016’s class – a whopping 123 total prospects offered.
- Unlike Weis, we didn’t land as many guys out of our targeted prospects. BK only signed 13% through his first five years, overall through 2016 ND has signed 11% of its CA targets.
- Not a lot of transfers out of ND for CA guys – one guy of note, Tee Shepherd (only for the drama), and most recently Tyler Luatua. Not a transfer but kind of a bummer – Troy Niklas leaving early for the NFL.
- The guys we missed on reads like an all-star roster (or the starting roster for USC): George Farmer, Robert Woods, Anthony Barr (still irks me that we couldn’t get him), Arik Armstead, Eddie Vanderdoes, Deontay Greenberry, Su’a Cravens, Matt Dickerson. It would be an understatement to say that the recruitment of these guys (and others from CA) were eventful and came down to the wire, and then some.
So what can we say about ND’s presence in CA? It would appear that Weis had better success from a bottom line perspective, targeting fewer guys but landing all of our top targets in the state. I mean, the guy called Jimmy Clausen on day one of the kid’s recruitment. Weis had Brian Polian running CA for the most part if I recall, and Polian really worked hard in the state for the most part.
Brian Kelly, although not as successful, is targeting more guys in the state, and going toe to toe against USC, UCLA, and Stanford to a certain extent, for a lot of the in-state talent. We hear of Denbrock running recruiting for CA, which at first seemed iffy. But he’s had a good run in the state and the addition of Mike Sanford is a good sign for CA recruiting.
I’m a believer in hitting to win – and you can’t get guys from CA if you’re not offering. It’s a good sign that we are offering as many guys over time in California; if anything to keep our traditional opponents on their toes (USC, Stanford). I think as painful as these long recruitment sagas can go, I appreciate that ND is in it for a lot of guys late in the game. I think an energetic guy like Sanford could move the needle a bit for CA recruiting and we can have the best of Weis and Brian Kelly with regards to success out west.