If it was still alive, the myth that Brian Kelly would shy away from highly-touted recruits to bring in the “right kind of guys” was given another beating yesterday when Tom Lemming unveiled his top 100 football players for the class of 2011.
Lemming, the godfather of modern recruitniks, released the first edition of the MaxPreps Top 100, which is filled with Notre Dame recruiting targets, and a trio of Irish commitments.
The highest committed Irish recruit is Oil City, PA tight end Ben Koyack, who comes in at number 53. Right behind him is Matt Hegarty, a left tackle out of Aztec, New Mexico ranked 55th in the country. Another tackle prospect, Plant City, Florida’s Jordan Prestwood rates 65th on Lemming’s list, giving the Irish three of Lemming’s top 100 prospects. Only LSU, Texas, and Alabama have more committed recruits than the Irish do right now, putting into perspective how well Kelly’s been able to do after getting an admittedly slow start to recruiting 2011 players this spring.
More importantly, the Irish are in the running for a large group of Lemming’s Top 100.
At quarterback, Kelly has offered the top five on Lemming’s board, with offers to Braxton Miller, Christian Lemay, Kiehl Frazier, Bubba Starling and Marquise Williams.
Even more impressive, here’s a look at the Top 25 players on Lemming’s big board, with respect to Notre Dame scholarship offers.
3. Cyrus Kouandjio — DE — ND offer
5. Kenny Hilliard — RB — ND offer
9. Karlos Williams — DB — ND offer (Florida State commit)
10. Malcolm Brown — RB — ND offer
11. Jeoffrey Pagan — DE –ND offer (Florida commit)
12. Christian Lemay — QB — ND offer (Georgia commit)
13. Aaron Green — RB — ND offer
14. Ray Drew — DE — ND offer
15. Kiehl Frazier — QB — ND offer
16. Wayne Lyons — DB — ND offer
17. Jermauria Rasco — DE — ND offer
20. Antonio Richardson — OL — ND offer
21. Bubba Starling — QB — ND offer
22. Christian Westerman — OL — ND offer (Texas commit)
25. Marquise Williams — QB — ND offer
It’s incredibly rare to see Notre Dame on the offer lists of 15 of the top 25 recruits in the country, especially considering the challenges of getting players cleared academically. Even more interestingly, it could also signal a clear difference in Kelly’s recruiting philosophy from that of the previous regime.
Even with limited numbers available, Kelly and staff have already offered approximately 70 scholarships. If we do the math as it relates to scholarship limits, the Irish have at most a dozen scholarships remaining, making it clear that Kelly understands that it’s a numbers game first and foremost. For all the recruiting victories Charlie Weis had, he also got burnt after putting all his eggs in the baskets of a few key recruits, leaving no backup plan or leverage among recruits as the process went on. Weis’ clearly stated recruiting priorities were incredibly noble, but hinging your long-term roster balance on a 17-year-old’s definition of commitment is high-stakes gambling.
While recruiting rankings and reported offers leave much to be desired when it comes to vetting data, Kelly and recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin’s early offers continue to provide evidence that Notre Dame is more than willing to compete for the very best players in the country.