Recruiting comes into focus

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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.