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Junior Day kicks off 2015 recruiting cycle

Mar 8, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT

Property of St. Paul Pioneer Press Property of St. Paul Pioneer Press

After getting our first taste of spring ball, we’re going to have to wait two weeks for practice No. 3. While it’ll give South Bend a chance to thaw, it’s leaving all of us in a lurch. So let’s get caught up on some recruiting.

Notre Dame held its first Junior Day last weekend, entertaining a handful of recruiting targets for the 2015 class. With quarterback Blake Barnett and offensive linemen Jerry Tillery and Tristen Hoge already on board, it’ll be interesting to see how the Irish build the 2015 class.

One look at the potential 2015 roster shows you quite a few key fifth year players available. Everett Golson, DaVaris Daniels, Amir Carlisle, Nick Martin, Tony Springmann, Chase Hounshell, Ben Councell, Jarrett Grace, Eilar Hardy and Matthias Farley are just the first wave of players that the Irish would welcome back to play out their eligibility. That makes the scholarship numbers for this recruiting cycle more limited than the back-to-back classes in the 20s.

Still, if there are priorities in this class they are taking shape. One such player is Cincinnati linebacker Justin Hilliard. With elite offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State and USC, Hilliard is going to be a  hotly contested national prospect. But the Irish did some solid work with Hilliard and his father spending time with Brian Kelly and Brian VanGorder.

Kelly won a huge battle at St. Xavier in his first recruiting class, earning the signature of coveted left tackle Matt James. He’ll have to do so again, with Hilliard telling our friends at Irish Illustrated that the Irish got off to a good start.

“Coach Kelly just talked about a bunch of different things and how coach VanGorder is bringing in a more aggressive defense and it really makes for more versatile linebackers,” Hilliard said. “The linebackers will be more aggressive with some blitzing and stuff like that.

“I feel a lot better with Notre Dame from talking with coach VanGorder and meeting him after coach Diaco left,” Hilliard said. “I’ll probably come back up one more time for like a spring practice or something, just for a day, something like that, and just hang out here.”

Hilliard wasn’t the only visitor on campus with an offer. Defensive lineman Elijah Taylor was on campus as well, another Catholic school Cincinnati prospect from Archbishop Moeller. Less of a national prospect, Taylor earned an offer from the Irish staff and seems to fit Kelly and VanGorder’s new plans at defensive tackle.

Another defensive prospect that earned an offer was Indiana prospect Josh Barajas. Barajas moved to Merrillville after playing at Mt. Carmel in Chicago and has the Irish out from after an offer at Junior Day. The Irish are likely going to take three linebackers, making things interesting as to how this shakes out.

Tom Loy at tabs Hilliard and Barajas as two of the five linebackers the Irish have set their sights on, with Arizona prospect Cassius Peat on that list as well. (Notre Dame chased his older brother Andrus Peat, but the offensive tackle ended up at Stanford.)

No commitments came out of the Irish’s first Junior Day, though they weren’t necessarily expected. How Notre Dame builds its class this year will be interesting to follow, as the early commitments the Irish have pulled in appear to be elite, national targets.

In the past, Notre Dame tended to build their classes with “RKGs” commitments from pipeline schools or players that might be more “glue” guys than elite targets, though reaching any true conclusion is rather silly with the Irish coaching staff probably having a far better grasp on the players they offer than any recruiting analyst. Yet Barnett, Tillery and Hoge are among the top 150 players in the country nationally, and elite at their positions, people that don’t often commit early to the Irish.

Offers don’t seem to be as wide as they were in the past when Notre Dame planned to bring in close to the maximum of 25. But they are out to players at profile schools, safety Nicco Fertitta at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and Jashon Cornell at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul to name tw0.  

As we slowly build to Signing Day in 11 months, names with come, go, emerge, disappear and everything in between. All just part of the fun that comes with recruiting.

  1. dickasman - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    I’m like a dumba$$ illiterate saints fan with recruiting these days, running around screaming who dat who dat. Never felt better.

    • papadec - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      dick – sometimes you do get a chuckle, or two, out of me.

      • 1historian - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:09 AM


  2. deadman3020 - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    I say sign the “nudeman”

  3. mtflsmitty - Mar 8, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I read someplace our number will be 16 for the 2015 class. According to rivals, only 2 of the top 30 classes had fewer than 20 recruits in 2014 (USC 19, UCLA 18). Clearly, class rankings are driven in large part by volume of recruits. The rest is star rankings which are probably directionally accurate, but that’s all.

    For a top 10 ranking in 2015, perhaps a dubious goal, we’ll need to limit three star players to five or fewer.

    • bernhtp - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      Averages indicate a few extra spots from transfers and medical retirements. I do think the number will be under 20. With that said, I would rather have some quality fifth year guys that materially contribute than four-star recruits that break into the two deep. This is one of the reasons recruiting-service rankings don’t always reflect reality.

  4. fnc111 - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Two stolen passports on that flight yesterday. It’s terrorism. No way it’s not.

  5. irish4006 - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Whoever came up with that 16 number is an idiot. I would like to see the math on that. I remember, last year Keith declared that 2014 recruiting class would be “smallish” (of course, I called him out on that), 17-18. We signed 23 and still had room for 1 or 2. Same thing will happen next year. If we only plan for 16, we will either have open spots or fill them with 2-3 stars in the end. Based on what I have seen over the years, I can guarantee that we will have room for 20.

    • mediocrebob - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      There weren’t almost 15 possible RS seniors available last year. A lot of good players with a 5th year possibility which would cut into this years class

    • dsharp86 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      I’m not the idiot, but here’s my math. Going into 2014, I count 23 freshmen, 23 sophomores, 13 juniors, and 15 seniors with a 5th year of eligibility, for a total of 74 potential returnees for 2015. So you’re starting with 11. I think a lot of 5th years will be invited back due to their talent and the small class behind them, with Brown and Rabasa the only 2 that jump out at not being invited back based on their contributions so far. So let’s say Daniels turns pro, and Brown, Rabasa, and 2 others don’t return, we’re at 16. So you’d need 4 medical hardship/suspensions/transfers to get to 20, things you do not want, but happen. So high teens to 20 is probably a reasonable number for now, and I’m sure the staff is on top of this.

      • 1historian - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        “I’m sure the staff is on top of this.”

        Very true

        Meanwhile we kings of the peanut gallery are having a ball.

        At least I am

        GO IRISH!!

      • irish4006 - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        We want the 5th years to come back no doubt, but the number is always a function of how many scholarships we have open *after* we are done recruiting the freshmen. Any time you drop below 20, you are looking at depth issues down the road. Do you think we would bring back calabrese (and fox, to a lesser extent) as a starter if we had depth at the position who could start right away. There are 5/6 good seniors with experience that should be automatic invites (Golson, Martin, Carlisle, Koyack, a couple other OL guys), I am not of the opinion that we should reserve scholarships for all those who are eligible but not 1st team material.

        We need quarterback, running back(s), linebackers and DEs (lots of them); assuming we are good at OL, WR and defensive backfield for now… after we fill our need, if we can’t bring back a Councell/Hounshell/Grace, I think that is an acceptable situation. If we start off saying we will only bring 17/18 and don’t go after guys aggressively enough, we will likely end up with 15 (after the dust settles post signing day) and award scholarships to walk-ons or other 2/3 star players that are still available. It has happened before. You can take a look at the official roster and see names you have never heard before or unlikely to hear on a gameday –

      • mediocrebob - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        I didn’t think Koyack had a 5th year?

  6. largebush - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    first time poster, long time reader…i am neither an irish friend or foe, just a guy in the middle. irish will go 8-4 again this year, if your trusting your year and future to a guy who barely got admitted then got booted out for cheating your in major trouble boys. just telling it like it is. over/under on # of games before he gets the boot again is probably 6

    • italianirish - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:10 PM


      • largebush - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        and that is your comeback? tells me you are more concerned with spelling than winning games.

    • papadec - Mar 9, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      Oh no – not another illiterate, ignorant, troll. More company for ph53. BTW – contrary to what you say about being in the middle, your post puts you squarely on the foe side of the fence.

    • mtflsmitty - Mar 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      8-4 is not out of the question. But if we’re going to go 8-4, it will be due to the insane schedule in front of us; not because of any academic challenges Golson may or may not have.

      9-3 would be a hack of a year against this schedule. And I think it’s not only doable, but the most likely outcome. 10-2, which would get us into the 4-team playoff, is more likely than 8-4. Our total offense will be top-20. I expect our rushing game will be top 10, and passing top 30.

      • largebush - Mar 9, 2014 at 7:01 PM

        i agree … 8-4 would be a hack of a year. nice one, boy. who is going to run the ball for this team … very weak at RB … who is going to cathch the ball … weaker … who is going to stop the other teams from running and throwing … weakest … you will actually be missing tommy reece before the year is over.

      • mtflsmitty - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:50 PM

        My bad, Bush, for taking you at your word. Your just here to stir crap. And you’re most likely a liar. No one so intent on creating a stir would be a long time reader without jumping in right away. Highly likely this is the first story you’ve ever read. See ya.

      • mtflsmitty - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:51 PM


    • danirish - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      The real question is who were you on this board. Sorry, not falling for the “I’m new here” stunt.

      Paul is that you? fnc111?

      • NotreDan - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        largebush = nudeman having a little fun I think.

      • mediocrebob - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        It’s not Paul. That is evident in many ways.

      • heartofgoldandblue - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        I agree….smells like Paul

  7. jerseyshorendfan1 - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Seems to me that the Golson experiment 1.0 resulted in a 12-0 regular season. I think he will only be better this year. As far as running the ball, I’m fine with Bryant, Folstan and Cam. This will likely be one of the more productive backfields in college football. Receivers have some talent and some deep threats are possible. In short, I’m not worried about scoring points but I am concerned with our ability to keep the other team from scoring. 8-4 is a baseline as I see it. If 10-2 puts us in the hunt, then I think we will be in the hunt.

  8. mediocrebob - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    I’m all for trolls but at least come with some good info. Gone are the days of mr Paul Hargis who at least would back up his insanity. These guys are hacks. Never thought I’d be asking for Hargis to come back, but these trolls , and I use that term loosely, are not fun or intelligent. Oh well.

    Go Irish

    • largebush - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      ok, you say you want some facts … no NC since 1988 … JV level qb last 4 years … best recruits leave like that guy who went to ucla and the other guy who went to a florida team 2 years ago… guys flunking out every day … and i wouldn’t be so quick buddy to dismiss harghis as a thing of the past … he’ll come back here and open up a can again on you medbob if you don’t be careful
      that any better?

      • mediocrebob - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:44 PM

        No. Not any better. Paul himself would most likely be insulted that you’re trying to troll.

        My favorite was the “jv QB for the last 4 years” comment. Are you 8 years old? I’m done with you. Turrible. Just turrible.

      • largerbush - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:12 AM

        Bob, I apologize for my girlfriend’s pathetic and annoying attempts at trolling this blog. She used to be a big Notre Dame fan until she was repeatedly rejected by Tommy Rees and then served with an anti-stalking order preventing her from going within 500 feet of Tommy or the ND Campus; leaving her with this bitter and jealous ax to grind against the football program. Please light a candle for her next time you’re at the grotto. Go Irish.

      • goirish0112 - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        That was amusing how quickly he folded from “neither friend nor foe, just a guy in the middle” to “you want some facts…..guys flunking out every day.” Largebush must a turrible poker player. Just turrible.

      • 1historian - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        as of 11:17 am edt you have 3 ups and 100 downs. Your percentage is a lusty 0.0291262

        keep up the good work

      • largebush - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        well mr historian lets add to that. mmaybe we can get to 200. anybody want to know something interesting about 1 historian? so does mrs. historian. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. idiots. sorry if i’m a bit churlish today but mr. rob roy and i had a run in last night. whew. anyway, looking forward to that big game against navy this year. and purdue too.

  9. davidosborne89 - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    I don’t think we’re going to have any problem scoring points as long as we stay committed to the run. We have to go into every game with that being the #1 priority! I think we have BIG DEPTH on the o-line and we will have the ability to run the ball down teams throats. I have a feeling the Irish defense is going to be alot better then what people think. I feel like there will be serious speed on that side of the ball! Look for a couple of guys to truly be”next guy in”! Just to many athletes on that side of the ball for someone to not step up with Jaylon Smith and make a big impact! GO IRISH!!!

  10. irishdog80 - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Anyone that says ND does not have any RBs must not follow college football and certainly does not follow ND. Greg Bryant is a 5 star Top 3 RB coming out of high school that has spent a year in the ND weight room getting healthy and ready for a big 2014. Over the second half of the season, Folston and McDaniel were our top two RBS and are only going to be better for 2014. Put those three together with an athletic, deep and massive offensive line with a running QB and you have the formula for a power running attack that can compete with any team in the country.

    On defense, do not under estimate the power of a change in philosophy coupled with a lot of talented players looking to make their move to elite status. ND’s defense will be a bit thin on experience on the D-Line, but everywhere else we have solid depth that is looking for their opportunity. Great defenses play with emotion and speed. ND will have plenty of both this year. Van Gorder will fire them up. Diaco was too conservative and analytical. Let them play.

    • largebush - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      disagree bud.

      • mediocrebob - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        That is the best post you’ve contributed thus far. Keep it up.

      • largebush - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        thanks you. i will surely try. i was going to quit until those words of encourgement. i don’t want to set too high if a standard for fear i will let some of you down at some point. go irish. beat navy.

  11. 4horsemenrideagain - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    this supposed new guy, large, should stop beating around the bush and just get to it. unload all of the nonsense at once, not in piecemeal fashion. right, we’ve already heard that the running back corps is weak, as is the receiving corps, and EG is going to flop.

    what else does he have left? BK is over his head and the spread offense is a passing fad? the front 7 can’t tackle anyone? brindza kicks like a girl? rudy was offsides? let’s hear it all so you can go away.

    • largebush - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      agree totally. your on a role. keep going man. i can’t beat that.

    • mediocrebob - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      Yes you’re on a “role”. Keep it up.

  12. fnc111 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Five people that were booked on flight 370 to Beijing on Saturday morning, never boarded the plane. Terrorism. That plane got blown up so much it’ll never be found.

  13. goirishgo - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Stop it, fnc. Real people have likely perished leaving orphans, grieving spouses, and widespread despair in their absence. Flippantly predicting the cause as you would a mere football game is a new low, even for you.

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