Weekend recap: schedules & stars

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Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and had a chance to step away from the computer for a few days. There’s been little news to report on the football front, and hopefully everyone enjoyed some time with family and friends celebrating the unofficial start of the summer. With everyone back to work and catching up, let’s do the same thing here.

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Friend of the blog Bruce Feldman ran down the country’s toughest schedules. Not surprising, Notre Dame ranks first after Feldman awarded points for various levels of opponents. (A cupcake was worth 1 point, a decent team gets 2 points, 3 for a top 40 caliber team, 4 for a top 25 team, and 5 for a top-five heavyweight.)

Here’s Feldman’s rationale for putting Notre Dame at the top:

1. Notre Dame: Wait, where are the cupcakes? Notre Dame is one of the few programs that doesn’t play any FCS programs. The closest things to “cupcake games” are the opener against Navy in Ireland (the Midshipmen have won 24 games the past three seasons); Purdue (a Big Ten team which won seven games in 2011); at BC (who did beat both NC State and Miami last year) or against Wake Forest (which has beaten FSU four of the past six times they’ve met.) More impressively, the Irish face five teams that have a good shot to be in the top 15: at Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, at Oklahoma and then the Irish finish at arch-rival USC. Perhaps the best proof of how hefty this route is for the Irish, consider that Miami–after BYU (a team that may win 10 games this fall)–could prove to be the seventh toughest game on the schedule. Points: 42

The Irish rank just ahead of a top five rounded out by Washington (they’ll face potential Top 5 teams Oregon, LSU and USC), Oregon State, Michigan, and Kansas. Former Irish quarterback Dayne Crist will get to open with South Dakota State before facing a conference schedule that includes away dates against Oklahoma and rival Kansas State, and non-conference games at Northern Illinois and West Virginia*, not to mention a home game with TCU.

* Former Irish flamethrower Drew Duff reminds me that West Virginia will be in the Big 12 next year. This conference realignment stuff takes some getting used to.

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Rivals just announced an updated Top 100 and there are plenty of Notre Dame targets on the list, topped by outside linebacker Jaylon Smith. The 6-foot-3, 218 pounder from Fort Wayne has visited Notre Dame numerous times and many believe the Irish are the team to beat.

Other players the Irish are in good shape with include:

No. 9 — CB Vernon Hargreaves III — Tampa, Florida
No. 39 — WR Laquon Treadwell — Crete, Illinois
No. 42 — LB Trey Johnson — Lawrenceville, Georgia (Committed to Auburn)
No. 49 — LB Alex Anzalone — Wyomissing, Pennsylvania
No. 50 — RB Ryan Green — St. Petersburg, Florida
No. 58 — LB Chans Cox — Lakeside, Arizona
No. 79 — John Montelus — Everett, Massachusetts
No. 86–  LB Doug Randolph — Richmond, Virginia (Committed to Stanford)
N0. 88 — DE Isaac Rochell — McDonough, Georgia
No. 94 — DE Jordan Sherit — Tampa, Florida

Here’s Rivals rationale for Smith making the huge leap up to No. 4 in the country:

“Smith dominated several offseason camps on a level we have not seen in the Midwest for years. His length and athleticism at 6 foot 3 and 218 pounds is unreal,” said Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt. “Not only does he own the middle of the field from his linebacker position, but we saw him drop down to defensive end and destroy offensive tackles in pass rush scenarios as well as bounce out to a cornerback role and lock down some of the region’s top wide receivers in man coverage. The kid is just a freakish specimen at the linebacker position.”

Landing Smith would be a monumental deal for the Irish, and the best defensive prospect to sign with Notre Dame in ages. Landing any of the other guys in the list above would be huge additions to the class as well. Expect quite a few of the current Irish commits (other than Montelus, who is at No. 79) to show up in the Rivals250, a place where Steve Elmer is now likely listed after being bumped down by the current Rivals staff.

The Irish will likely add eight to ten more names to the class before things are all said and done.