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Mailbag: The usual set of Notre Dame recruiting questions

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It will be another low-stress signing week for Notre Dame, the second in a row eased by December’s early signing period. That does not mean there are not questions to be answered. Let’s begin with the immediately pertinent …

What are the odds of landing the final two prospects? Who are the most likely to not be with the team in September? domers88

Consensus four-star linebacker/safety Asa Turner (Carlsbad, Calif.) doubled down on his commitment to Washington on Thursday, leaving only consensus four-star defensive end Isaiah Foskey (De La Salle; Concord, Calif.) on the horizon. There is no reason to think Foskey will not be announced as the 22nd member of this Irish class come Wednesday.

That will push Notre Dame’s roster to 89 scholarship players, though the leeway provided by incoming freshman linebacker J.D. Bertrand’s recruitment can make that 88. To find those 3-4 pieces of attrition, this space does not focus on names, but rather overloaded position groups.

The roster includes 12 receivers, an unnecessary glut including two upperclassmen yet to warrant genuine playing time. The same can be said among the 16 offensive linemen, although extra bodies in the trenches is a wonderful luxury to have. That luxury is not as necessary at defensive back, also filled with 16 players, though 10 underclassmen make a transfer less likely.

There are always surprise departures, but if hedging expectations, those three position groups are logical spots to start.

Why can the Irish not recruit five-star athletes anymore? Why can some programs, such as Texas Tech, change coaches and all of a sudden they become a recruiting powerhouse? — Rob O.

Rob, we have never met. I do not mean for this to sound like a personal attack. You are most likely a nice guy who abides by logic throughout his day, is courteous while waiting in line for his coffee and probably even orders a drink at 5:05 with appropriate manners. All that said …

This is a question with no answer to satisfy the irrational.

First of all, five-star recruits are relatively rare. In this year’s class, rivals.com rates a total of 30 prospects as five-star quality. All but one of those have signed or committed to 15 different programs, with only eight teams signing multiple, led by LSU’s and Oklahoma’s four apiece.

Of those 29, 12 stayed in-state. Care to guess how many came from Indiana? None.

Nine signed with programs in bordering states. Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky produced as many five-stars as Indiana did, while Ohio yielded one; defensive end Zach Harrison signed with Ohio State.

Of the remaining eight, all but one came from south of the extended Mason-Dixon line or California. Defensive tackle Antonio Alfano, coming from New Jersey, can hardly be faulted for heading to Alabama. Those seven from the south and the southwest all stayed in the south and southwest with the two exceptions heading to Michigan.

Location matters in recruiting. The southeast produces the most talent. That talent stays close to home, making those teams better and therefore more appealing to the pockets of talent elsewhere in the country.

As for Texas Tech, presumably Rob does not mean the program bringing in the No. 70 recruiting class in this cycle. Perhaps you mean Texas A&M and its No. 6 class, including three of the aforementioned five-star recruits. Two factors play distinct roles in that surge: A year ago, the Aggies hired one of three active coaches to win a national championship. Oh, wait, Kansas hired Les Miles in November. Make that four active coaches.

Secondly, well … location, location, location. All three of those five-stars are from Texas, as are 15 of A&M’s 23 other commits in this class. The Midwest simply does not produce that quantity or quality of football talent.

As always, more questions are welcome at insidetheirish@gmail.com.