As I open this recruiting notebook and prepare to spin a tale for all of you Notre Dame recruiting nuts, I can't help but think what a difference winning makes for recruiting. As obvious as that sounds, it doesn't do the process justice. This 2013 recruiting class has been very tight and despite the Mattingly & James decommitments (which were very expected and almost hoped for) Irish fans really don't have much to worry about.
There is still some work left to do to finish the class out, so let's take a look at these scenarios…
Despite recruiting fanatics clamoring for "MORE SPOTS, MORE SPOTS, MORE SPOTS!!!!" like zombies out on the town looking for brains, football teams need veterans more than they need rookies. This staff has done a great job over the past few years in managing the roster and not just loading up to load up.
There are 10 players we can expect back in 2013 that are either seniors or have a fifth year of eligibility remaining; Rees, Jones, Martin, Watt, Schwenke, Jackson, Fox, Calabrese, Shembo & Spond. I doubt Tyler Stockton or Jake Golic will be offered another year, despite both having a 5th year option available to them.
Those 10 and the 21 verbal commitments that Notre Dame already has, means that the Irish have 82 of 85 scholarships full, so they have 3 more scholarships available.
Obviously, we have to wait for the official word from Notre Dame about the 5th year guys, but i do find it funny that Zack Martin is already OFFICIAL. There has been some debate across the web about Fox and Calabrese. Some seem to think that ND should only bring one of the two back- "MORE SPOTS, MORE SPOTS, MORE SPOTS!!!!" This is foolish. Fox and Calabrese combined for 103 tackles in split time. You offer them both and thank god you have this kind of senior leadership.
Five Player Focus
With only 3 spots left, according to my math, the main focus is on just a handful of recruits. Despite a lot of guys with "interest" in Notre Dame, it really comes down to these five recruits:
Both Folston and Redfield are considered to be HEAVY Notre Dame leans at the moment, and both are expected to announce their decision at the Under Armour All-American Game. It would completely shock me if they both didn't commit to Notre Dame at that game. Although Redfield is still considering USC, some of the news from both Redfield's and Leon McQuay's camps sound like Redfield has his mind made up. (Translation: McQuay will commit to USC. Book it.)
That would technically leave one spot available. That spot could get ate up the next day at the Army All-American game by Muhammed, who has been also reported to be another heavy lean to the Irish. If that doesn't happen, than Hollins would probably get pressed a bit more, but really I don't think Hollins is a serious candidate for this class.
Really, that leaves Eddie Vanderdoes, who is still a USC commit at the moment. Vanderdoes has been reported to give the Irish an official visit in January, but that could be after the Irish got its last 3 commits… MORE SPOTS, MORE SPOTS, MORE SPOTS!!!!
The return of Louis Nix to Notre Dame in 2013 is huge on many levels, but mainly because there is no one on the roster that even comes close to Nix in terms of what he does at the nose. There is also no one in this class that does either. So, if Notre dame can get Vanderdoes to flip his commitment (and that's still a very big IF right now) who won't be on the Irish roster in 2013? There are rumors about a player or two taking a medical hardship next year, but those are still rumors. Can Notre Dame afford to let Vanderdoes go if those 3 spots are full? You have to think that ND will find some way to get an athletic 6'3" 305 pound defensive lineman in this class if possible. There is also the possibility that current Texas commit A'Shawn Robinson flips to USC, so this numbers game that USC has to play could work in Notre Dame's advantage in more ways than one.
There is another option for the roster in 2013. Jamoris Slaughter could still get a 6th year of eligibility. For me, I see this as next to impossible given all of the circumstances, but there are those inside the program as well as Slaughter himself who seem very optimistic.
I just don't see this happening even though I would love to see Slaughter back with the Irish in 2013.
Closing It Out
Like I said, the difference is quite amazing. This "Irish Mob 13" has grown quite close over this recruiting cycle. I expect no surprises as it pertains to the 21 commitments the Irish have in place right now. In fact, I would be happy just to END with these 21 guys. As of right now, Rivals has Notre Dame as the #2 ranked class in the country. Add a couple of those names from the above list, and we could realistically be looking at the #1 class in the country on National Signing Day.
Irish Mob indeed.