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Recruiting comes into focus

Jun 29, 2010, 1:34 PM EST

As high-profile recruits descend on South Bend for Notre Dame’s football camps, we’re starting to get a better idea of how recruiting will shake out for the 2011 signing class. After reading plenty of reports on targets, prospects, and scholarship limits, let’s take a look at what to expect from this recruiting class, and a wider view at the 85 scholarships available to the football team.

Currently, the Irish have commitments from 12 prospects for the 2011 class:

     Kyle Brindza — K
     Clay Burton — DE
     Brad Carrico — DE
     Ben Councell — OLB
     Matthias Farley — DB
     Jarrett Grace — LB
     Conor Hanratty — OL
     Eilar Hardy — DB
     Matthew Hegarty — OL
     Ben Koyack — TE
     Jordan Prestwood — OL
     Tony Springmann — DE

According to IrishSportsDaily.com, Notre Dame has offered recruits Christian Jones, a safety, quarterback Justin Worley, running back Savon Huggins, and athlete Richard Rodgers, all in town looking at the Irish, in addition to other prospects hoping to earn an offer. The Irish would be happy to say yes to all four of the recruits, pushing their total to 16.

If you had to wage a guess at the size of the Irish recruiting class, the best would be somewhere between 18 and 20 recruits, leaving a relatively small amount of space on a somewhat crowded bus even before this week.

Those numbers come from a estimated breakdown of what the roster is going to look like next year. While there is always turnover when a coaching change takes place, it seems for the most part the roster has stabilized for the time being. Here’s my best guess at what the roster will look like next year by class:

     5th Year: 5 to 7
     Seniors: 21
     Juniors: 18
     Sophomores: 21
     Freshman: 18 – 20
     (85-man scholarship limit)

There are eight seniors on the roster with eligibility remaining, but it’s highly doubtful that all of them come back for a final season, and I guessed somewhere between five and seven guys will return. The junior class will likely fluctuate depending on the seasons of Kyle Rudolph and Michael Floyd and whether or not they are tempted by the NFL.

Either way, this is pretty exceptional roster balance, something the Irish didn’t have when Charlie Weis took over the football program from Tyrone Willingham. That balance, as well as a nice base of established recruits, allows the coaching staff to aim high at the remaining recruits, swinging for the fences on national recruits like Ray Drew, Cyrus Kouandjio, and George Atkinson III.

Expect to hear something out of a few campers after this week, and then the Irish focus will get much tighter as they hone in on a few select recruits, specifically at positions of need like safety and defensive end.  

  1. Brad - Jun 29, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    Any chance we could see a breakdown by position (or tentative position for the young kids)?

  2. Keith Arnold - Jun 29, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Positions of recruits are after the 11 commitments names.

  3. Brad - Jun 29, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    No no, I meant a breakdown of the roster by class AND position, to better see where the weak spots will be in the future.

  4. Eric - Jun 29, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    You keep saying 11, but I’m counting 12. ????

  5. jarious - Jun 29, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Keith, minor math note — there are 12 commitments (as correctly noted in story below). Good read, thanks.

  6. GooseTranio - Jun 29, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    Christian Jones? Perhaps you mean Chris Jones, safety from Alabama?

  7. borromini - Jun 29, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Irish Sports Daily has his name listed as Christion Jones.

  8. Irish Pete - Jun 29, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    Keith,
    First let me say i love following your blog it rocks, but i have a question to ask and hopefully you can give me a great answer. I went to the spring game this year and have had a starting lineup in my head since we let weis go and i believe we have a very special team with potential to do GREAT things so with out further ado keith from 1 MEGA MEGA Irish fan to you i ask this. I believe and will defend till the death that the Irish will go undefeated this season, if they do should they play for the whole enchillada? If this scenario comes to be what would you vote for if you had a say in it?

  9. NDFTBL - Jun 29, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Obviously the first draft of the article was written before the 12 addition. So I was just able to do my own math from there.
    Not a big deal.

  10. TLNDMA - Jun 29, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    Keith, another name that might have a spot saved for him is Aaron Lynch, DE from Fla.
    As you stated earlier and I agree, ND might have only one or two Qb’s left on their wish list and may pass on the position, if they don’t get one of them already offered.
    I do expect to see a couple of defections after this season. It seems to be how these coaching changes work.
    In all, they seem to be in a very good standing at this time, as they have multiple players at each position that are showing interest. You can be sure that most of these players know that spots are limited. It is a position of strength for Kelly and his staff.
    It seems to me that Kelly and his staff extended more offers earlier than previous staffs. I wonder if this can be attributed to hard work and a staff that was already mostly familiar with each other? I also have read that the NCAA (USC’s friends) have suggested that the date for offers to Jrs. be pushed back from the beginning of their jr. year to the end of it. If that were the case this year, the proccess would be just starting. Any thoughts?

  11. Keith Arnold - Jun 29, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Math corrected. Thanks gents.

  12. terry - Jun 29, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    I for one would be surprised if they get a primo QB this time around. Crist will be there for 2 more years and they have 3 good ones coming in and Montana ain’t no slouch.
    Meanwhile – Nice to see them stocking up on D and the OL with RKGs, and you heard it here first – mark your calendar for Saturday November 27, 2010. Before a (mostly) unhappy crowd in the stands and the usual bunch of sycophants, stars, wannabes and never-weres on the USC sideline – the streak will come to a crashing halt.
    And it is only fitting that it come to a halt in L.A. and THIS YEAR so that USC will have no excuse for the righteous butt-whipping that they are in for.

  13. Luke - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    ….sycophants… LOL, terry breaks out a $3 word for the win. Awesome!

  14. TLNDMA - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    Terry, all those on the sidelines for SC games and practices, now have to be cleared by the NCAA. I suppose only the wannabes and never-weres will make the cut. :)

  15. Ray McConaghy - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    Brad,
    I tried to project strengths and weaknesses in the future by analyzing the last two recruiting classes, February 2009 and 2010. I did so with a posting of February 10, 2010, A Look at Notre Dame’s Two Most-Recent Recruiting Classes. You can find it under Archives on my Web site, http://www.ndfantofan.com. All are invited.
    P.S. It wouldn’t hurt to sign one or two ready-made defensive linemen, guys who don’t need to add 40-80 lbs. to contribute. A Kevin Hardy, Mike McCoy, Mike Fanning, Steve Niehaus, or George Williams would be nice.

  16. terry - Jun 29, 2010 at 10:53 PM

    TLNDMA & Luke – Too many times I have endured watching ND get its ass kicked in LA (2002,2004,2006,2008)and they ALWAYS have Hollywood types and alums on the sideline.
    Ergo – (That’s for you Luke) You must admit it will be nice to watch whoever they let on the sideline – be they sycophants or not watching SC get whipped.
    La plume de ma tante est sur la table. (That’s for you Luke)
    You now owe me $9
    p.s. – Does anyone out there remember “Ara stop the snow!”?
    my work here is done

  17. JP - Jun 30, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    In regards to the positions being highly recruited…Kelly and his staff have done a great job pulling linemen on both sides of the ball. However, I think now that they have a pretty strong base, lay off the linemen for a bit and focus on the anemic secondary. Both safety and cornerback will need depth after this year, so that would be my priority right now. As for a quarterback, I think Worley is a great player, but is he really a necessity at this point? Keep in mind that, besides the 3 freshman QB’s that were picked up, two more “atheletes” were picked up that played QB in high school. After the secondary, go for a good RB. Savon Higgins seems like a good prospect to focus on.

  18. Noel - Jun 30, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    I would like to see more interior DL, thers tones of ends but we need strenght up the middle, a nice big NT to stop the run and plug the middle up. The secondary needs some help, it is stretched thin, as is right now. Besides, Teo, another good ILB would be great. Imagine that, 2 inside LBs cracking heads every play.. I agree with some more RB’s, Ceire Wood is great but we’ll need someone else too
    Irish Pete, 12-0 sounds freaking great, however, Lets give Kelly a year to fix all the problems that Weis didn’t address, poor tackling bad coverage….etc. He is a get teacher of football and all the pieces are there to succeed. It is possible thou,if the guys are motivated enough it could happen. I bet no one picked Cincy to go 12-0 last season.

  19. OJ=USC most famous alum - Jul 1, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    I would be happy to see ND off to a good, not great start in recruiting. I’m not really too worried about this years class. Recruiting is all about building momentum on the field to sell players that they have a shot to compete for a national title. ND needs to start winning big time games, BCS games, in order for them to pull in the 5 star players from Texas, Cali, and Florida. If Kelly starts to win at ND in his first year expect next years class to be a top 5 class but if he struggles it will be a top 20 class.

  20. terry - Jul 4, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Coach Kelly (I like it that he has a daughter named Grace) has won wherever he went. Last year his Cincy team replaced 10 out of 11 defensive starters, went 12-0 regular season and finished in the top 5. True they got smoked by Florida in the Sugar Bowl but it was a team of 2 and 3 stars playing a team of 4 and 5 stars who had just gotten a nationally televised butt-whipping from eventual NC Alabama in the SEC championship game. Florida was pumped and Cincy was in the dumps because they had lost their coach.
    (If there is anyone out there who can suggest a better way of making the transition please speak up.)
    As I said before it comes down to this – Can Coach Kelly step up to the big time?
    I think he can and I think we’ll see a good demonstration of that on September 4th against Purdue.
    ND 38-10

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