As The Subway Domer awakes from a week and a half hibernation (man, I really wish I was just sleeping that entire time), I figured it was time for another Recruiting Refresher to be published. This Fighting Irish class of 2010 has been very volatile.
After a coaching change- especially as one as deep as the firing of the Head Coach and its recruiting coordinator taking a job elsewhere, recruiting can and will be a bit rocky and unpredictable. Notre Dame has been sitting with 18 verbal commitments for quite some time, but that number has had some drastic changes in its molecular makeup.
The pattern is a little awkward. Recently, CB Toney Hurd Jr. decommitted from Notre Dame and all of a sudden, the Fighting Irish got a commitment from WR Austin Collinsworth. This same sort of thing just happened a few weeks back when DE Chris Martin decommitted and shortly thereafter DT Louis Nix committed to Notre Dame.
Here is closer look at how the current incoming class of 2010 looks like, and how it may shape up by National Signing Day…
The recruiting misses of 2009 are rearing its ugly head. If you remember, Notre Dame struck out completely in signing a quarterback in 2009. They offered some elite prospects, but after the Irish had gotten verbals from Jimmy Clausen and Dayne Crist (both 5 Star QB’s) in consecutive years, the elite QB’s saw quicker playing time elsewhere. By then, the solid 3 star kids that ND targeted had already been courted by a number of schools and they left ND wanting.
Notre Dame needed two quarterbacks in this class, as only Dayne Crist is on scholarship for 2010, and got them. Rees is still likely to enroll at Notre Dame early, and would be available for spring practice. Hendrix has been rumored to be possibly looking elsewhere. Most signs, however, have Hendrix still heading to ND. Nate Montana is scheduled to come back to Notre Dame as well, after playing for Pasadena Community College this year.
Other Prospects: None known.
It was thought, that Notre Dame would only take one running back- if any at all in 2010 after landing both Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick last year. The roster will still have Robert Hughes and Armando Allen in 2010 and with Jonas Gray and Theo Riddick, the running back additions in 2010 may allow a strategic move of Cierre Wood crossing the line to play safety (just a possibility).
Bernard and Roberson make a nice combo addition to an Irish backfield that is already talented. While Roberson looks solid in his commitment, Bernard has been rumored to be looking around at other schools. Most indicators call for both commits staying on board.
Other Prospects: None known.
Although Notre Dame has been known as a recruiting juggernaut as it pertains to tight end recruiting, it has failed to keep its roster intact at the position. Will Yeatman, Konrad Reuland, and Joseph Fauria are 3 players that were at one time in an Irish uniform that have transferred to Maryland, Stanford, and UCLA respectively. Mike Ragone is talented, but has had a hard time remaining healthy. Kyle Rudolph is an elite TE, but he could leave ND after the 2010 season for the NFL.
Alex Welch adds to the tradition of great recruiting at this position. With Jake Golic and Tyler Eifert on board from last years class, Notre Dame was only looking for one TE in this class and locked up Welch very early.
Other Prospects: None known.
Wide Receiver has been another position of strength (as all of the offensive skill positions have been) for Notre Dame. Notre Dame had 3 commits in the 2008 class and 2 commits in the 2009 class. Notre Dame is on target to sign 4 in 2010. 2010 will be the last season for Duval Kamara and it might be the last for Michael Floyd as well.
The additions of Jackson, Smith, Jones, and Collinsworth is as an eclectic mix of WR’s as you are going to find in a recruiting class. Only Jones really projects as a player that could contribute right away, but with the depth on hand- that certainly isn’t a knock on the other three. Jones is more polished at this point, and he will enroll early for spring ball.
Robinson currently a sophomore WR with the Arizona State Sun Devils, has been rumored to be interested in transferring to Notre Dame amongst other schools. Robinson was at one time an Irish prospect that was very close to committing to ND until Deion Walker gave Notre Dame his pledge. Robinson would have to sit out a year if he does transfer and he could also be a possibility at safety.
I normally would like to divide this grouping up into tackles, guards, and centers- but with only one commitment, what’s the point? The cupboard isn’t bare at Notre Dame, but some people think Notre Dame lacks a “true” left tackle. The Irish have definitely missed out on a few of those prospects both last year and this year, but that isn’t the “end all” either. Names like Taylor Dever, Matt Romine, and Andrew Nuss have seemed to have been around forever, but all three have two years of eligibility remaining.
Lombard’s commitment is solid and despite his low ranking with Rivals, he has been considered one the top 5 offensive lineman in the country by Lemming and Scout.
Both James and Henderson have been on the minds of Irish fans for well over a year. Both are elite prospects, and the Irish are still very much in the hunt for both signatures. While both prospects committing would be a dream- it is also highly unlikely. Getting one or the other is very probable and one would have to give the edge to James being the best bet of the two to be Irish.
As with the offensive lineman, I normally would split this up into defensive tackles and defensive ends. However, with Notre Dame going from a 3 man front to a 4 man front, and now most likely back to a 3 man front… the projections for some players may still be a little hazy. There are 11 players that still have eligibility for 2010 that are already in uniform. So, with a 3 man front, the numbers are solid with the addition of the 3 verbal commits.
Nix, Utupo, and Leuders are all solid commits in both their ranking and their status. Chris Martin was a huge loss, but it was somewhat expected- but I expected Florida to be the next stop and not Cal. There is more talent in South Bend on the defensive line than the 2009 performance would lead you to believe and the additions already committed are filling up the depth chart nicely.
Notre Dame is still looking to add to the position grouping and have two prospects in their sights. I’ll dispense with the bullshit now, and say that I think there is almost Zero chance that Ferguson ends up Irish. On the flipside, I also think that there is almost Zero chance that Gaston ends up anywhere else but Notre Dame.
How do you top the commitment of Manti Te’o on National Signing Day? Well… you don’t. However, you can make his commitment the springboard to help the position group to reload. The Irish have 8 linebackers that are already in uniform for 2010 and 7 of those current players have eligibility to be on the roster in 2011. (If Te’o chooses to wait to take his Mormon Mission).
Since the coaching change, Moore has been looking around at other schools, but has remained an Irish commit. Shembo has a visit scheduled for Miami in January but is still committed to the Irish. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this will all play out, but Notre Dame has some room for error here considering the talent and eligibility in South Bend already.
So this is where I pencil Anthony Barr in at. He projects all over the field in college, but I think his most likely destination would be at linebacker or running back. The previous Irish staff liked him at LB, but Kelly may want him at RB. First things first though- get a commitment. It’s a UCLA / ND battle and it is truly uncertain at the moment. Jones is a longshot and will probably end up at FSU.
Notre Dame had some serious issues with their pass defense in 2009. The position was considered a strength before the season, but underperformed all year. However, I think there is still a lot of talent at the position and should be for the next couple of years. Only McNeil is departing for the 2010 season (Walls is expected to stay for his 5th year), and he was replaced in the rotation by Gary Gray midseason. 2001 will have 4 players that are currently on the roster.
Both Wood and Boyd are solid commitments and both will be enrolling early for spring ball. The Irish just lost Toney Hurd and missed out on Joshua Shaw and Cody Riggs (both are going to Florida) after being the leading school early on for both. Wood and Boyd will provide instant competition, although I think they could both redshirt.
Ponder has yet to receive a scholarship offer, but Brian Kelly is very interested in this Florida DB that he was recruiting while at Cincinnati. Keep your eyes and ears open for this one. If the Irish offer- he could very likely commit.
Finally, the position I have been freaking out about. I mean, I got current running backs switching to safety, a possible WR transfer moving over to safety- hell I might even at some point suggest Anthony Barr playing a little bit of safety. The truth is, is that the position is in dire need of a talent infusion. Notre Dame has signed only one true safety in the past two classes in Danny McCarthy. EJ Banks and Jamoris Slaughter were safeties in HS but moved over to CB at ND. The Irish were shutout last year, and it looked really bad when both Byron Moore and Jawanza Starling spurned the Irish at the last minute for U$C- a school that had 7 safeties on the roster at the time.
Chris Badger was at one point, a Stanford commit, but he had a change of heart and chose the Irish and continues to stick by them, even after the coaching change. Badger is going to be enrolling early and will play spring ball.
Of the three names left for the Irish, only Riley can be considered a true safety. Cooper and Flowers are both athlete’s that project at both WR and S, although Safety is where they would play under the Golden Dome. I have a bad feeling about the chances of getting any of those three, but the best bet would probably be Corey Cooper. If ND could add two of these players with Badger, than the position would be in a lot better shape.
Wrapping it Up…
As you can see in the Eligibility Chart below, there are 4 spots remaining with all of the 5th year guys staying. You can probably count on at least 3 possible 5th years not being retained and open that number up to 7 spots. There may be one more spot than ND will need after the class is all signed- and that’s on the positive end of the scenario.
As with all things in recruiting, the situation is fluid. Keep watching…
(Note: The Eligibility Chart has not been adjusted for the change from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and it has all the possible 5th year guys listed.)