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Entering with a bang, the time is now for senior class

Mar 17, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT

Michigan State v Notre Dame Getty Images

In college football, the twists and turns of every class tell an interesting story. Some gel together to form the nucleus of a winning squad. Others become an afterthought, decimated by injuries, attrition or coaching change.

Reading Lou Somogyi‘s terrific piece on the Irish’s recruiting class of 2011 ($) is an important reminder that things don’t always work out as planned.

Entering their senior season, this group was supposed to be the one that returned the Irish to glory. But Somogyi quotes filmmaker Woody Allen when accurately describing this group; “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Here’s a snippet from his excellent article at BlueandGold.com, breaking down the state of the 2011 recruiting class, now rising seniors on the Irish roster:

Three five-star prospects along the defensive front headlined Notre Dame’s 2011 recruiting harvest. Then there were three other complementary players added to the bonanza defensive line haul — and potentially a seventh star power prospect there who could play either offense or defense.

“Just wait until these guys enter their senior seasons at Notre Dame in 2014. Something special will be in the works.”

Well, here we are in the spring of 2014 … and suddenly the Fighting Irish with new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder are in a reconstruction phase, at least on paper, along the defensive line and front seven in general.

Notre Dame signed 23 recruits in 2011. Of that group, only 18 remain. Here are those that are gone:

George Atkinson: Declared for the NFL Draft.
Brad Carrico: Injury ended his career after sophomore season.
Aaron Lynch: Transferred to South Florida. Played one season before declaring for NFL Draft.
Stephon Tuitt: Declared for NFL Draft.
Troy Niklas: Declared for NFL Draft.

A quick time machine back to February 2011 would have Irish fans jumping for joy over their front seven haul. And as we hear similar excitement from Irish fans after signing the 2014 group, a quick reminder from three years ago gives us an idea of how quickly things can go pear-shaped.

Lynch and Tuitt only had ten games to play with each other before Lynch went home. Fellow five-star prospect Ishaq Williams is still waiting to become a full-time starter. Both Chase Hounshell and Tony Springmann, two key depth players, are coming off of serious injuries. So are linebackers Jarrett Grace and Ben Councell.

As we try and figure out what young talent will work their way into the lineup, the best guess might be someone not so young at all. Veteran Anthony Rabasa has an open road to playing time. The staff would love to get something out of Hounshell or Springmann. Joe Schmidt, a member of the 2011 class (but only awarded a scholarship last season), is in line for major playing time at inside linebacker.

Defense is hardly the only spot where opportunities arise. Veterans Conor Hanratty and Matt Hegarty should battle for time on the interior of the offensive line. Amir Carlisle will have his chance at slot receiver. But as we look at roster management, this is a make or break season for many players hoping to return to finish their eligibility.

After struggling to build roster depth, an astounding 15 seniors have a fifth year of eligibility remaining.

Rattling quickly through the positions, it’s easy to say that the Irish staff would welcome back Everett Golson, Carisle, DaVaris Daniels, Nick Martin, Grace and Matthias Farley without much question. Veteran depth on both the offensive and defensive fronts is essential to Kelly as well, so you can expect to see Springmann, Hounshell, Hanratty and Hegarty as well. It’s not crazy to think that 10 seniors will spend a fifth year in South Bend.

You wouldn’t have been called crazy if you predicted both Tuitt and Lynch would be gone after three seasons. You might have been if you predicted Niklas and Atkinson. But even with a large chunk of this group gone, there’s still time to have this class achieve its goals.

But the clock is ticking.

  1. NotreDan - Mar 17, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Glad to be first, just so we have something non-racist and non-political to read, also non-sexual, and non-drug related.

    • c4evr - Mar 17, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      Congratulations on your non-post, post.

    • danirish - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      Thank you!

    • dickasman - Mar 18, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      I’d say that in lieu of entering with a bang, they entered with more like “wham bam thank you ma’am” or “hit it n quit it”. Kids these days. They really need to learn the Asman lessons sooner.

  2. NotreDan - Mar 17, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    And for a football thought… my thing with the senior class is leadership. I’m really hoping one or more of those guys can be the emotional leader that we were lacking last year; not that it HAS to be a senior, but it just seems right if it is.

    • onward2victory - Mar 17, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      You’re not wrong to say that the senior class lacks leadership.

      If I was naming captains, my first nomination would be for Jaylon Smith. He might already be the best player on the team, no exaggeration. And he plays with an intensity and passion that you want from your leaders, he’s fundamentally sound, and he seems to be a high character guy. Whether named a captain or not, I think we’ll see him emerge as the leader of the defense anyways.

  3. rossumnminor - Mar 17, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    This is a young team across the board. Unfortunately I don’t believe there will be any ’12 like leadership but there’s a strong chance for a lot of unity and wholeness to be built.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:53 AM

      that’s a fair statement, but how often does a team get a leader on and off the field like Manti? Once every 25 years?

      He said all of the right things off the field, he improved every year, and he showed up with big plays when it counted (minus the NC game).

      …all while dealing with two deaths (that turned out to be one death).

      Imagine the shoulders that it must have taken to do all of that….as a college kid….on a marquee program…while going undefeated

      Come to think of it, leaders like that come around once every 100 years.

      • rossumnminor - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:38 PM

        Yes you’re right. It wasn’t jus what teo brought. That team had a lot up upper class leaders that held the huddle together on both sides of the ball in some of those big/close games.

  4. shaunodame - Mar 17, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    This is EXACTLY why people get wayyyy too invested in each recruiting classes “ranking” by these services. No one, I repeat, NOONE can predict how these kids wil turn out, for any number of reasons. It’s exactly the same as how people react to their NFL teams draft class. And Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and all these other hacks with their “mock drafts”. Give me a break already!

    If you really want to know how good a recruiting/draft class is Rate them 3 or 4 years down the line. Not the day after! There’s just way too many things that can happen. For every 5 star or 1st rounder that becomes a star player there is twice as many that flame out inside two years.

    • italianirish - Mar 17, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      Yeah, but where’s the fun in that?

    • mediocrebob - Mar 17, 2014 at 6:45 PM

      But is Notre Dame the only program that consistently finishes top 10 in recruiting that isn’t consistently winning? Maybe Texas recently. In other words, for the most part if you’re recruiting well, you’re winning a lot more than you’re losing

      • ndirish86 - Mar 17, 2014 at 11:31 PM

        We’re “not consistently winning”? Um, really? We are 30-10 over the last 40 games… what exactly is winning consistently then?

        Not winning very convincingly, I grant you. But we are not going 3-9 or 6-6 anymore.

      • mediocrebob - Mar 18, 2014 at 6:59 AM

        Um consistently winning meaning 10 wins per season which would be consistent if you went by recruiting rankings. Bama, LSU , Oregon , Stanford , Ohio state. Those are programs that are consistent with winning and recruiting. Irish recruit this all of these programs and more than hold their own. Weis didn’t win much after his 2nd season. Still brought in top 10 classes.

        Point is that the people can say that recruiting rankings don’t mean anything, but Theresa reason why Ohio State dominates the big ten. Look at where Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, and Indiana are recruiting every year. You don’t see many programs that haven’t recruited well having a ton of success. The Irish have not been living up to their recruiting rankings. Top 10 classes typically don’t add up to a few 8 win seasons, a 12 win season and a 9 win season.

        To dumb it down for you, with the talent that has been brought to South Bend, 8-9 win seasons shouldn’t be the norm.

        I’m sorry for guys like jersey who don’t like when I add my opinions here.

      • irishohio - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:51 AM

        we have finished with at least 8 wins the last 4 seasons… compare our schedule with the majority of teams you listed…sub out 2 of our opponents with D2 and a cupcake as the other schools (ohio state specifically) and you have your “consistent 10 win” seasons…

      • mediocrebob - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        I’ll give you that. The Irish schedule is much more daunting than the others I mentioned. I guess my point is that if you look at the programs that recruit well, they’re wining a lot so the recruiting rankings aren’t complete crap. Teams that get the better players are better. Sure kids are going to be overlooked and over rated. But in general the recruiting websites are fairly accurate when you consider the amount of guys they’re right on.

      • ndgoldandblue - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        Stop…Bob makes a really good point. If you recruit in the top-10 to top-15 every year, you should finish the season in that range. If you don’t, it’s because of one of three things (or a combination thereof): 1) Bad coaching, 2) Transfers/Players declaring early for the NFL, 3) Athletes not playing up to their star ranking. In Notre Dame’s case, I don’t think it’s number 1. I don’t think Kelly is a bad coach at all even though he does make some head-scratching decisions. I think Kelly’s problem has been a combination of numbers 2 and 3. The transfers/early defections have really hurt the Irish over the years. You made a good point, Bob. Don’t worry about it.

      • mediocrebob - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        Someone name a team/teams that are elite that don’t recruit with the big boys. I’ll admit I’m wrong and leave it alone.

      • irishdog80 - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        Recruiting rankings are a funny and evolving business. In the past, a recruits rating went up based upon the schools that were offering him. No one can tell me that other than Tyrone Willingham’s class with Brady Quinn, Tommy Z and others that he recruited even a Top 100 class. Yet, if you look at the rankings for his last two classes…I consider the Brady Quinn class to be his first true class…they were considered Top 40 classes. The reason…the kids we signed got a bump due to ND recruiting them–other schools noticed and also looked into them and the result is inflated rankings for the players and the class overall.

        That said, I agree that great recruiting goes hand in glove with success on the gridiron. It is a unique skill to be able to project future success for young athletes. Dave Dombrowski is someone that comes to mind. He regularly identifies the top talent in baseball whereever he goes. He sees it. Others don’t.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        There IS a team that wins more than almost anybody in the nation, and does it with routinely subpar recruiting classes…

        Over the last 12 years, they’ve had 10 seasons with double digit win totals and averaged almost 11.5 wins a season.

        Their recruiting classes over that same span ranged from a low of 100th (according to rivals) to a high of 53rd. Their average rivals recruiting rankings over those 12 years was 74th

        BOISE STATE

        So, what does that tell us? Maybe it’s the best indication that strength of schedule is a far greater influence on wins/losses than recruiting rankings.

      • mediocrebob - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        I knew that someone would pull the Boise St card. Boise St has had success. They also play very sub par schedule and out recruit their conference before switching? And how have they done since upgrading to a conference just a little bit better? How would Boise have done with a schedule comparable to ND during that time? Playing other programs that recruit better than the Wyomings and Utah St.’s.

        Even using Boise st as an example, could you name another? That’s one out of a lot of programs.

        I agree that recruiting websites aren’t always right but I don’t think that they claim to be. They get it right quite a bit. And like what was mentioned before, what is done once they get to college and who is coaching has a lot to do with it.

      • mtflsmitty - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        1. It’s become popular lore the ND is consistently a top-10 recruiter. According to Rivals, at least, ND’s classes have been 14th, 10th, 20th, 3rd and 11th in the last five years.

        2. Bob’s point about teams who recruit higher ranked classes tend to perform better, is supported by the facts.

        3. I believe you’re incorrect that ND is consistently an outlier. I strongly suspect about half of the teams who finish in the top-10 for recruiting, do not finish in the top-10 of rankings.

        4. Of teams that have finished in the top 15 of recruiting ranking over the last five years, how many have appeared in a NC game? I suspect less than 1/3.

        5. Baylor is not an elite recruiting institution. In fact, they haven’t even been in the top-30 in the past 3 years. Yet, they consistently outperform in BCS/AP rankings.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        Bob,

        Look at the other side of the coin…there are LOTS of teams that are very similar to ND when you compare recruiting success to success on the field. Especially if you focus on the entire history of recruiting rankings (which basically goes back to 2002).

        All of these teams have been in the top 20 in recruiting nearly EVERY year, but don’t have any greater success than Notre Dame…

        Ole Miss
        UCLA
        Florida State
        Tennessee (which is probably the worst when you compare the two metrics)
        Miami
        Washington
        North Carolina
        Penn State
        Clemson

        Major program, great recruiting rankings, marginal success over the last 12 years. Notre Dame is NOT an outlier here.

        Unfortunately, we’re just as good as the rest on that list.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:53 PM

        Bob,

        You also make a good point about Boise “out recruiting” their conference. Look at the teams that “out recruit” their conference and you find the success on the field. I’d say that is true nearly 100% of the time.

        Now consider Notre Dame’s “conference”…which for the sake of this argument has to be the teams that we play regularly…Mich, Mich St., Stanford, USC, Purdue, Navy,

        So, maybe your argument has some weight to it.

        If a team “out recruits” their opponent, that team tends to win.

        Apply that theory to ANY team in the nation and I think you’ll find that to be true the majority of the time. BUT…doesn’t that only lead us back to strength of schedule?

        If that theory is true…consider this…

        1) Notre Dame should become increasingly successful on the field if they can “out recruit” the ACC teams

        2) When you’re Jack Swarbrick and you’re compiling a schedule, maybe you should schedule teams that are perceived to be tough opponents, but don’t recruit well

        …I’m done, my brain hurts…too much Football Theory…but it is fun to have an intelligent debate. So, thanks for that Bob (and others)

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        bob,

        as much as I hate to admit it, Stanford seems to fit the bill as a team that isn’t a perennial recruiting giant and underperforms in this arena (according to metrics that measure recruiting) yet they have had a nice run going of late.

        now is that because Stanford maximizes potential, excels at developing players while they’re at Stanford and never has guys who leave early or it that because the PAC-10 has been a fairly crappy conference during Stanford’s recent golden age and so it’s easier for them to beat up on the weak sisters? i’d say a little bit of both, but who knows?

      • mediocrebob - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        I agree with a lot of what you’re all saying. I guess this all goes back to the people who are quick to rip all of the recruiting websites. I don’t think that’s necessarily fair.

        There are a lot if factors that go into a winning program obviously. Recruiting is a big part of it which is why we all get trapped inside of all this when we all wish we wouldn’t. I don’t know how many times I’ve said tht I’m done following recruiting until the class is signed. Guess who visits 247 daily? It is what it is. Bottom line, agree or disagree, you can have the greatest coach in the history of the game, but if you don’t have talent and you’re playing a bunch of teams where there’s a big talent gap in their favor, talent USUALLY wins.

        Thanks for chiming in with some football talk, folks. I’m just ready for fall.

        Go Irish. Beat everyone.

      • irishdog80 - Mar 18, 2014 at 6:39 PM

        On one level, recruiting is about playing the percentages…More 5 Star players find success than the average 3 Star so you should try to have more highly rated players as part of your recruiting class.

        With respect to scheduling, I know someone does not know that much about college football when they say ND has an easy schedule or the tired comment about joining a conference. As many have noted, ND is in a de facto conference made up of quality programs from major conferences. Our “cupcakes” are perceived to be teams like Navy that drilled Missouri in a bowl game a few years ago and gave South Carolina and Ohio State all they could handle before losing.

        It will be interesting when the Committee meets to decide the Final 4 Football teams and a team from the SEC or Big Ten or other big conference does not make it due to a weak schedule. Ultimately, it will be good for college football with a lot of interesting matchups in the future.

      • ndfaithful - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        I’m not sure where you’re going with this…? Are you saying it’s a good sign that we’re recruiting well? Your facts and conclusions are a bit of a mess though.

        In the last 6 years, ND only had a top 10 recruiting class twice according to rivals. The opinions vary, but we haven’t “consistently finished in the top 10″ for many many years.

        On the other hand – there’s quite a few teams that don’t meet your 10 win criteria and still recruit in the top 10. 10 wins consistently is pretty rare air these days.

        Florida recruited in the top 10 four out of the last five years. They’ve lost 22 games in that span.

        Michigan had three top 10 recruiting classes in 5 years. They had 26 losses.

        Even FSU, who has been in the top 10 all five of the last five years, have lost 16 games during that stretch and only won 10 or more games 3 times during that time.

        You mentioned Texas. They’re a mess. They had four straight TOP FIVE recruiting classes in the last five years. They put up 22 losses.

        I could go on. The numbers don’t support you.

        Besides that, I have a subjective issue with the recruiting rankings. They’re kind of bogus in my opinion. Schools do well, like Alabama. So then everyone they recruit for the next five years gets 4 or 5 stars because Bama recruited them. It’s a joke. It happens with LSU, Texas, even ND.

        In my opinion:
        Good recruiting is only visible in the rear view mirror.
        Player development is much the same, but has a lot more to do with the win/loss record over time.

      • mediocrebob - Mar 19, 2014 at 7:40 AM

        Nd faithful,

        Those teams you mention have also all won national championships in the last 10 years minus Michigan. Texas had a ridiculous streak of 10+ win seasons. Florida dominated for a few years under UM.

        Coaching is a big part of the equation. Talent is a big part as well.

      • ndunbound - Mar 19, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        Bob, let’s look at two of your elite teams, Stanford and Oregon. Here are their recruiting rankings since 2007, according to Rivals:

        Oregon
        (year-recruiting ranking)
        2014-25; 2013-22; 2012-16; 2011-9; 2010-13; 2009-32; 2008-19; 2007-11
        Average: 18
        Mean: 17.5

        Stanford
        2014-14; 2013-64; 2012-5; 2011-22; 2010-26; 2009-20; 2008-50; 2007-51
        Average: 32
        Mean: 24

        Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/footballrecruiting/football/recruiting/teamrank/2014/all/all

        Note: calculations done on the back of a cocktail napkin, so you might want to verify.

        Quote: “Someone name a team/teams that are elite that don’t recruit with the big boys. I’ll admit I’m wrong and leave it alone.” -mediocrebob

    • upthera44 - Mar 17, 2014 at 9:31 PM

      I’d be interested to hear some statistics on players in the draft and their h.s. recruiting grades. I wonder what percentage of the drafted players weren’t highly touted. I’m always interested in people like Mariota who go from 2-stars to unexpected heisman candidates.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:06 AM

        Ask and ye shall receive…

        Rivals.com’s five-star recruits from 2002 through the 2010 class…

        » There were 262 recruits given five-star status. There were as many as 38 five stars in one class, in 2002, and as few as 25, in both 2003 and 2004. The average number of five-star recruits in a class was 29.

        » Of those 262, 116 were drafted (44.3 percent) and 42 went in the first round (16 percent); 38 percent of the five stars who were drafted were first-rounders.

        » Two former five-star recruits in that span, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton, have been the overall No. 1 draft pick.

        » There are 18 former five-star recruits from the 2002 to 2010 class who will be in the 2014 draft, and there are another seven who will be seniors in college in the fall. (Counting the 11 five-star recruits in the 2011 class, there will be 29 former five-star recruits in the 2014 draft.)

        For the full list of recruits….

        http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000320664/article/yearbyyear-look-at-fivestar-college-football-recruits

      • upthera44 - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        Thanks idrather, good stuff

      • mtflsmitty - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Thanks, Idrather. Very good stuff, indeed. By these numbers, 85% of 1st round picks were not 5-star recruits. Wonder how many were 3-star or lower?

  5. papadec - Mar 17, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Speaking of non-football posts – HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY EVERYONE!!!!!!!! (trolls included). I have a nice corned beef going low & slow on the stove & I’ll probably have a cold brewski with it. The sun actually came out in the Seattle area, today – we had rain & hail too.

  6. fnc111 - Mar 17, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    There aren’t a lot of players left from the 2012 class either. This is a great article on why you shouldn’t follow recruiting. It’s pointless. You should follow ND hockey and lacrosse during the football off season!

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      amen! ND hockey and lacrosse are both a joy to follow! hockey beat BC twice this season and lacrosse knocked off UNC in chapel hill and UVA at loftus (for those of you not following lacrosse, beating UNC and UVA is like beating Oregon and Alabama in football in the same year). if you want to watch something, check out highlights for ND lacrosse player Matt Kavanaugh. this kid is 5′ 8″ and just dominates.

  7. davidosborne89 - Mar 17, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    We can talk about this class not living up to the ranking however, there could be 7 players or more out of this class going to the league! That’s a pretty damn good recruting class and keep in mind not all of them are done in South Bend! GO IRISH!!!

  8. maroon77 - Mar 17, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    An aside, not directly about the post, but related, about the men who ARE at ND. All you guys should go to the UND.com site and watch the piece on Mathias Farley talking about his tatoos. I’m not a fan of tats, but after watching this video, I’m a fan of Farley. I’m proud to have ND represented by such an articulate, head-up, heart-strong, soulful really lovely young man.

  9. knuterocknesghost - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:15 AM

    I was curious as to just how well can an individual CFB recruit’s star ratings predict his eventual accomplishments on the field, even though it does seem to be demonstrated that schools rated as having had the top recruiting classes have a greater chance of success on the field. Amazingly, nine of the past 12 teams to finish No. 1 in Rivals.com’s rankings played for the national title within three years, and seven won the title. The only Rivals No. 1s not to play for the title within three years were USC in 2006 and 2010, and Alabama is still within its three year window for its top rated recruiting class of 2013.

    With far fewer athletes being rated at 5 stars, injuries can begin to explain why relatively few of these prized recruits eventually achieve success and recognition. The greater number of 3-star athletes can explain why there are so many more of these players than one might expect to be named on to all-conference teams or even as All-Americans.

    Still, the good news for a lot of recruits with less star power is that being a three or even two star recruit does not stop you from one day becoming a football stud. Perhaps among the top recruiting programs in the country, the final tipping point in beating out your rivals on the field is in knowing which 3-star or even 2-star athletes have been overlooked, and less so on how many 5 star athletes you are able to recruit to your program.

    Since the SEC is the be all and end all, here’s a look at the All SEC First Team for 2013 –
    http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/NEWS/tabid/473/Article/248305/2013-associated-press-all-sec-team-announced.aspx

    And their ratings as CFB Recruits –
    Offense: Seven players out of 13 position players (excluding the kicker) ranked 3-stars by both of Scout and Rivals; the rest: Four 4-star recruits, and at most only two 5-star recruits.

    WR – Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, 6-3, 205, Sr. / Scout **; Rivals *** (rating 5.5)
    WR – Mike Evans, Texas A&M, 6-5, 225, So. / Scout ***; Rivals *** (rating 5.5)
    L – Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State, 6-4, 340, Sr. / Scout ***; Rivals *** (rating 5.5)
    L – Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama, 6-6, 310, Jr. / Scout *****; Rivals ***** (rating 6.1)
    L – Jake Matthews, Texas A&M, 6-5, 305, Sr. / Scout *****; Rivals **** (rating 6.0)
    Lt – Justin Britt, Missouri, 6-6, 315, Sr. / Scout **; Rivals ** (rating 5.4)
    Lt – Greg Robinson, Auburn, 6-5, 320, So. / Scout ****; Rivals **** (rating 5.8)
    Lt – Anthony Steen, Alabama, 6-3, 309, Sr. / Scout ***; Rivals *** (rating 5.7)
    C – Travis Swanson, Arkansas, 6-5, 315, Sr. / Scout ***; Rivals *** (rating 5.6)
    QB – Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, 6-1, 210, So. Scout ***; Rivals *** (rating 5.7)
    RB u – Tre Mason, Auburn, 5-10, 205, Jr. / Scout ****; Rivals **** (rating 5.8)
    RB – Jeremy Hill, LSU, 6-2, 235, So. / Scout ****; Rivals **** (rating 5.8)
    K – Marshall Morgan, Georgia, 6-3, 200, So. / Scout ***; Rivals *** (rating 5.5)
    All – Purpose Odell Beckham Jr., LSU, 6-0, 193, Jr. / Scout ****; Rivals **** (rating 5.9)

    Defense: Six players out of 12 position players (excluding the punter) were ranked 3-stars or less by either or both of Scout and Rivals; the rest: ___ 4-star recruits, and two 5-star recruits.

    E u-Michael Sam, Missouri, 6-2, 255, Sr. / Scout ** (position rank 118th); Rivals ** (rating 5.2)
    E Dee Ford, Auburn, 6-2, 240, Sr. / Scout ****; Rivals *** (rating 5.6)
    T Kelcy Quarles, South Carolin, 6-4, 298, Jr. / Scout ***; Rivals **** (rating 5.9)
    E t-Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, 6-6, 274, Jr. / Scout *****; Rivals ***** (rating 6.1)
    E t-Kony Ealy, Missouri, 6-5, 275, Jr. / Scout ****; Rivals **** (rating 5.8)
    LB u-C.J. Mosley, Alabama, 6-2, 232, Sr. / Scout ****; Rivals **** (rating 5.9)
    LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia, 6-2, 232, Jr. / Scout ***; Rivals **** (rating 5.8)
    LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, 6-2, 243, Jr. / Scout ****; Rivals **** (rating 5.8)
    CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri, 5-11, 195, Sr. / Scout ***; Rivals *** (rating 5.7)
    CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, 5-11, 192, Fr. / Scout *****; Rivals ***** (rating 6.1)
    S Cody Prewitt, Mississippi, 6-2, 220, Jr. / Scout ***; Rivals **** (rating 5.8)
    S Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt, 6-1, 205, Sr. / Scout ** (position rank 105); Rivals *** (rating 5.7)
    P Cody Mandell, Alabama, 6-3, 213, Sr. / Scout ***; Rivals ** (rating 5.1)

    College football’s 2013 Associated Press All-American team had nearly as many five-star recruits (four) as two-star recruits (three), based on recruiting rankings at the time by Rivals. Among the 25 first All-Americans, 13 were not ranked among the top 20 players at their position coming out of high school. On offense, out of 12 position players (excluding the kicker) six were rated as 3-stars or less by Rivals, and only two were rated 5 star prospects. On defense, out of 11 position players (excluding the punter), five players were rated 3-stars or less by Rivals and two were rated as 5-star prospects.

    ND’s most recent three star CFB recruits of recent notoriety: Zach Martin, Tyler Eiffert.

    • maroon77 - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      I think your statistic on #1 recruiting classes winning national championships is extremely suggestive of a few things; first, that teams who win the national championship have a tendency to draw ever more top notch players to themselves, so that the dynamic becomes mutually reinforcing; second, that there is a tendency, as in many things these days, for the ‘haves” to become “super-haves” with quality not really as evenly spaced as the ordinal rankings suggest (for example, it always seems to me that Ohio State, Alabama, USC, for example, have WAY more REALLY HIGHLY ranked candidates than ND) and that top ten or twenty recruitment does not put you into the same level pool all together, but rather in the kiddie end with only a great deal of luck needed to swim in the deep end with the big boys; and third, that even this lack of parity at the top being noted, things aren’t a lock, with 1/4 of the championships up for grabs.

      I am curious to know, though, what the class ranks were for the three breakthrough classes. If you say #2’s, then all seems completely pre-determined.

  10. yaketyyacc - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    a better word for recruitment is “potential”. the young men recruited have the potential for great accomplishments; after all, that is why they were recruited. how they develop, depends largely on who coaches them. this is the biggest factor in the final result.
    in the past few years, our defenses have done well, our offenses have not. in both cases, excellent talent on both sides of the ball. doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the flaw exists.

  11. upthera44 - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    On another topic, didn’t spring practice resume yesterday? Will there be und and blog coverage?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:14 AM

      It depends upthera44

      -If you are within 500 nautical miles of South Bend
      OR
      -If you have a Notre Dame bumper sticker
      OR
      -If you’re cable TV provider is feuding with Notre Dame
      OR
      -if your IP address is in the same zip code as any other one human being

      …then you might not be able to see any coverage due to black out restrictions

      oh, wait, this isn’t Major League Baseball

      Coverage should resume shortly :)

    • dillonbigred - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      An earlier KA post said they would resume practicing Wednesday.

  12. simmel65 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Notre Dame consistently plays one of the toughest schedules of any team int he country. I would love to know how Notre Dame’s weakest opponents compare to any other schools weakest opponent. The fact of the matter is, unless we have a miracle season (like 2012), we are always going to be around 8-10 wins. You just can’t play Michigan, Purdue, Mich St, SC , Stanford, Oklahoma, etc and then think that you won’t lose a game to a Pittsburgh… Our schedule is also a product of being independent.

    Most other teams also have byes or patsies before a big game. Before Notre Dame played Oklahoma, we played Michigan State the week before! Before Stanford, our patsy game was BYU. BYU, not Georgia State or Chattanooga..

    Unless they recruit like Alabama, they won’t really ever get that consistent of a win count and Alabama even schedules light or has byes before tough games.

    Yes, there are things that are maddening about Kelly’s decisions and loyalty towards certain players (really interested to see how the RB plays out with no drama this year. Think its not going too…), but overall we are in a way better place than 5 years ago. I hope he stays and continues to get better.

    Life is pretty good ND nation.

    Go Irish!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      Since the advent of the 12 game season (2002), here are our non BCS opponents including 2014’s schedule…

      Navy x 13
      Air Force x 4
      Army x 2
      and once each for Rice, Temple, Western Michigan, Tulsa, Nevada, and San Diego State

      25 games out of 156, without the service academies, just 6 games

      Bama had 39 such opponents…

      Southern Miss x 5
      Western Carolina x 4
      Hawaii x 3
      North Texas x 3
      Florida Atlantic x 2
      Florida International x 2
      Georgia State x 2
      Louisiana Monroe x 2
      Middle Tenn St x 2
      Tennessee-Chattanooga x 2
      Utah State x 2
      Western Kentucky x 2
      Arkansas State x 1
      Colorado State x 1
      Georgia Southern x 1
      Houston x 1
      Kent State x 1
      Northern Illinois x 1
      San Jose State x 1
      Tulane x 1

      Oregon had 20 such opponents, but their conference scheduling required them to play every team in their conference until they expanded.

       Portland State x 3
       Boise State x 2
       Houston x 2
       Idaho x 2
       Nevada x 2
       Arkansas State x 1
       Missouri State x 1
       Montana x 1
       New Mexico x 1
       Nicholls x 1
       South Dakota x 1
       Tennessee Tech x 1
       Utah State x 1
       Wyoming x 1

      In summary, our cupcakes go to war, their cupcakes can’t qualify for the FCS playoffs :)

    • onward2victory - Mar 18, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      Spot on Simmel, couldn’t agree more.

      And idrather, impressive how you can gather college football data so quickly. Good stuff man.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:59 PM

        impressive, or do I have a problem LOL?

  13. fitz79 - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    To me Aaron Lynch was the biggest frustration out of the ’11 class, ditching Notre Dame for a girlfriend, Hope he’s still happy playing at USF, one of the worst programs in all of FCS.

    • papadec - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:20 PM

      fitz – didn’t he declare for the NFL Draft this year? It will be interesting to see which team, if any, drafts him.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 18, 2014 at 5:38 PM

        he did declare, but I heard that he won’t sign unless it’s close to his girlfriend’s house :)

      • dickasman - Mar 18, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        He also said he would consider near any wet seal, forever21n Abercrombie stores.

  14. getsome99 - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    The 2012 class was a total disaster and left a lot of holes for the ’13 and ’14 guys to fill. Losing the 2011 players to the draft is what we should want – 2-3 seasons on the field contributing at a level worthy enough to leave school early for the NFL. Hopefully, every draft class can produce like this.

    But the 2012 class was just a total bomb. It wasn’t that great to begin with and our top 4 recruits never even made it past one season. We got no production out of them whatsoever. The future is now for the ’13 and ’14 recruits.

    • ndfaithful - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      Yeah, it’s weird that we’re looking at the top recruits in 2012 as being:

      Sheldon Day
      Jarron Jones
      CJ Prosise
      KeiVerae Russell
      and Elijah Shumate

      Who would have thought that Gunner Kiel and Davonte Neal wouldn’t make the list and that Tee Shepard wouldn’t even be playing football yet. (rumor has it he’s enrolling at OU).

      • getsome99 - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        Exactly. Hopefully, it’s just the growing pains of a program in transition. Gotta give Kelly some credit because he’s had literally everything thrown at him his first four years and we seem to still be on track. With a 12-0 season to show for it no less.

  15. ndirish86 - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Here’s one more thought about consistently recruiting vs consistently winning: first you need a full roster. That means elite talent across the major position groups in multiple classes. Then when someone gets hurt or bolts to the NFL, there is elite talent backing him up and ready to step in. That’s where the consistent winners get their consistency.

    Kelly has undeniably upgraded recruiting results and results on the field. But if you want consistency, as in 10 wins each and every year, you have to let him stock the roster first. We are close – last year we had multiple QB losses and essentially won 9 games with our 3rd string QB. That’s remarkable considering how recently we were losing 9 games with our 1st string QB. So the signs he can get the job done are there.

    Bottom line, you can set the bar at 10 wins every year if you want – but if you do it’s too early to throw stones and say the staff isn’t developing the talent, can’t make the right game day decisions, etc etc. Consistency is another level of success and takes time to build.

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