The 2014 recruiting cycle is winding down which means we're not that far away from turning our attention towards the 2015 class. The Irish staff has long been scouting these high school juniors and more offers are expected to be handed out over the next few days as the coaches travel the country talking to prospects and their families.
Today we have a preview of all the 2015 offers and some commentary on where Notre Dame stands with the (mostly) ELITE prospects they've handed out scholarships to. Both offense and defense will be lumped together in this post but when March rolls around after the 2014 National Signing Day we'll go back to separate posts for each side of the ball like we've been doing for the past couple months.
*Score is using the 247 Sports Composite rankings.
The early returns for 2015 at quarterback are shaping up to be very positive for Notre Dame with a cycle that is looking remarkably stronger at this position than the last cycle where the Irish have only given out 5 offers with 3 months to go.
Blake Barnett has come on strong with an impressive junior season. He's very athletic with a strong arm (in the mold of Johnny Manziel), visited for the USC game, and has very high interest in the Irish. Update: Barnett is coming with his family for the BYU game next weekend.
Jack Beneventi is an interesting case. Not too long ago many thought he'd verbal to Notre Dame but since then he's struggled in games, took a tumble in the rankings, and the talks with ND appear to have cooled considerably. He's a lanky pocket passer that isn't much of a threat to run and he also has a funky throwing motion. Beneventi no longer appears to be a priority for the Irish but he could be a good choice as a second QB in the class.
Torrance Gibson is currently the QB at American Heritage (same school as Michael Deeb & Isaiah McKenzie) and is more athlete than passer---but he's a spectacular athlete as the country's top dual-threat quarterback. He has shown some interest in ND but will be a tough pull from a school like Miami.
Kyler Murray doesn't look to be a realistic option and neither does Josh Rosen---although there's a glimmer of hope for the latter if the Irish could get past several California schools who are all over the consensus top pro-style quarterback.
In addition to the offers above there are at least a half dozen other quarterbacks who will get a serious look from Notre Dame. Those who have camped or visited South Bend include (GA) Kevin Johnson .860, (MO) Drew Lock .942, (WI) James Morgan .952, and (KY) Reese Ryan .895.
The Irish have also been scouting (CA) Kevin Dillman .960 and (CA) Brady White .963.
The sixth offer for 2015 quarterbacks is to Cass Tech's (MI) Jayru Campbell .900 who is committed to Michigan State.
The staff really liked Louisiana product Nick Brossette .983 but he gave a verbal to LSU back in August. Also, another target with an offer in (KY) Damien Harris .984 has already joined Michigan's class.
SoSo Jamabo was at this year's Shamrock Series game but will be a very tough pull out of Texas as the nation's top back. Taj Griffin and Jacques Patrick are a couple more players with the Irish on the outside looking in this early in the process.
Josh Adams is someone Notre Dame is in good position for, though. Another Pennsylvania product in Bishop Mcdevitt's Andre Robinson .962 is someone else who could enter the picture soon too. Adams is a bit of a long-strider with good open field speed while Robinson is a more compact power runner.
Terry Godwin received an offer in early October and there's plenty of room to make up as he's one of the most sought after players in the entire country. There are several other targets the Irish are looking to offer including (MI) Brian Cole .968, (UT) Osa Masina .942, and (MD) Jalen Christian .938. Masina and Christian visited South Bend during the summer while Cole came to Notre Dame back in the spring.
The top ranked athlete in the country (FL) George Campbell .994 also has an offer from Notre Dame but has been committed to Michigan since late July.
Notre Dame has really hit receiver hard over the past two cycles so it's not likely to be a huge priority for 2015. This is reflected in the lack of offers so far. The current 2014 class is sitting around 25 offers at receiver and I don't expect the Irish staff to give out anything close to that many for 2015.
Cordell Broadus (the son of Snoop Dogg) has shown some interest in Notre Dame but he'll be a tough pull from USC. Kaleel Gaines isn't highly rated right now but he has a nice offer list (Ohio State, Auburn, Miami, Wisconsin) and might profile to corner for Notre Dame. Christian Kirk is also someone who might project to corner as well and he has a ton of elite schools after him.
Another prospect to watch for is (IL) Cameron Green N/R who camped at Notre Dame over the summer and recently visited for a home game. He's the son of former Irish player Mark Green, has some good size at 6-2, and is unrated at the moment but is expected to be one of the top receivers coming out of Illinois.
As per usual, Notre Dame has already offered the top two tight ends in the country. Devonaire Clarington comes from Palmetto Bay in Miami-Dade County and is considered a heavy Miami lean but he does go to a private school so there could be some hope for the Irish.
Aliz'e Jones is the number one target for Notre Dame out of Bishop Gorman (Ronnie Stanley's former school) and he got an offer this summer after camping in South Bend. He also visited for the Oklahoma game and is very interested in the Irish.
A few other players to watch are (AR) Will Gragg .946, (MO) Hale Hentges .919, and (FL) Garrett Williams .915. Gragg visited for the ASU game in Dallas, while both Hentges and Williams camped at Notre Dame this past summer.
The Irish have also offered (TX) Jordan Davis .934 but he committed to Texas A&M shortly after his sophomore season. Davis was at one time a verbal to Florida State.
The Irish already have the Jerry Tillery in the class and Tristen Hoge has been on commitment watch for the past 6 months but still plans on sticking to his word and taking a visit to Florida later this month. Nevertheless, every indication from all the insiders say Hoge is absolutely in love with Notre Dame and should be part of the the Irish class by the end of winter.
A pair of high 4-star prospects in hand means Heistand & Kelly are going to be very picky for any more linemen which is a shame because the Irish could once again load up on linemen if there was room. Damn you, scholarship limitations!
Jake Fruhmorgen camped at Notre Dame this summer and picked up an offer a month ago. He's mentioned his two favorite schools are Notre Dame and Alabama but he has a bunch of elite teams after him as well. Zach Okun is showing some interest and is trying to plan a visit to South Bend. Reno Rosene visited twice back in 2012 and likes a lot about Notre Dame.
Other players to keep an eye out for are (IN) Evan Mallory N/R, (IN) Matt McCann .880, and (NC) Mason Veal .924. All three of these prospects have camped at Notre Dame while Mallory and McCann have also visited for the Oklahoma game this season.
Can you tell where Notre Dame's looking for numbers in 2015?
The Irish have plenty of work to do with Austin Bryant, Darrion Daniels, Rasheem Green, Tim Settle, Keisean Lucier-South, and Shy Tuttle all whom have not visited campus yet and are not expressing a ton of interest although Daniels and Lockhart were visitors for the ASU game in Dallas.
Jashon Cornell is from Cretin-Derham Hall (same school as Michael Floyd and James Onwualu) and is likely the top overall target on Notre Dame's board. He's been on campus several times and the Irish have been in great shape with him for quite some time.
T.D. Moton has put Notre Dame among his favorites, visited for the ASU game, and is expressing some interest in leaving the state of Louisiana. He'll still be a tough pull, though.
Elijah Taylor visited for the USC game this year and was offered that same weekend. He's from Archbishop Moeller High School (same as Andrew Hendrix) and it appears the Irish have an early lead in his recruitment.
Notre Dame has also offered (TX) Daylon Mack .995 and he saw the ASU game this year but recently gave a verbal to Texas A&M.
You can't blame the Irish coaching staff for aiming too low with their initial offers at linebacker for 2015. Jeffery Holland was one of the first offers in the class but he's visited Miami, Florida, and Florida State almost exclusively so far and he'll be tough to pull out of the Sunshine State.
John Houston was offered by Notre Dame about a month ago and as a Junipero Serra product is going to be difficult to pry away from USC. He also likes UCLA, Florida, and Florida State early on.
Malik Jefferson is one of the top prospects in Texas with Baylor, A&M, and the Longhorns out in front.
Justin Hilliard has become a top priority for Notre Dame and the Irish are in good position heading into winter. Hilliard camped this past summer, visited for the Michigan State game, and will likely return at some point in the future. Iowa (his brother goes there), Ohio State, and Michigan are all in the picture.
A fifth offer at linebacker has been extended to (FL) Cecil Cherry .913 but he's been a member of Tennessee's class since mid-June.
Notre Dame has already sent out a lot of offers to defensive backs but just about everyone on this list should be considered a long-shot as things stand right now, except for Marshall.
Iman Marshall has mentioned he'd like to visit South Bend at some point and improving with him would be absolutely huge for the Irish.
The Irish offered (TX) Justin Dunning .934 in late September and were trying to improve their standing with him after the Texan saw the Arizona State game this season, but Dunning recently committed to Texas A&M.
|.949||Jerry Tillery||LA||6-5/315||Offensive Line|
HERE is a Reddit AMA with Notre Dame's lone 2015 commit Jerry Tillery.
So let's take a walk down the ridiculous path of trying to predict what the scholarship numbers might look like by 2015 which in turn means doing some math for the 2014 cycle first.
There are 23 members in the current freshmen class, 13 members in the current sophomore class, and 22 (soon to be 23 with Golson coming back) in the current junior class.
Let's say Tuitt goes to the NFL after this season, one student-athlete transfers, and four 5th-year graduate students return for 2014. That leaves Notre Dame with 61 scholarships heading into the New Year.
There are 18 verbals in the 2014 Irish class as it stands today (if you count McKenzie) which means Kelly & Co. have room for an additional 6 more recruits---for a total class size of 24---to get to the maximum 85 limit.
Here are the prospective 5th-year eligible players from the 2011 class:
- QB Everett Golson
- RB Amir Carlisle
- WR DaVaris Daniels
- OL Matt Hegarty
- OL Nick Martin
- OL Connor Hanratty
- DL Tony Springmann
- LB Jarrett Grace
- LB Joe Schmidt
- LB Ben Councell
- LB Anthony Rabasa
- CB Jalen Brown
- S Eilar Hardy
- S Matthias Farley
Yup, that's a huge amount of bodies and the deepest collection we've seen in a very long time. For now let's take the players above who have been or will likely have played starter minutes although a couple more might come back because of roster attrition over the next year: Golson, Carlisle, Daniels, Martin, Springmann, Grace, Councell, and Farley.
By now you've probably realized the 2015 class will initially be on the small side. Projected scholarship numbers for January 2015:
- 5th-year: 8
- Seniors: 13
- Juniors: 23
- Sophomores: 24
Using those numbers and without figuring in any further attrition the 2015 class for now is going to be 17 players. Here's a projected look at the depth at each position:
The customary one quarterback will be taken but if more room in the class opens up it's a good time to take 2 quarterbacks.
I'm projecting Notre Dame to sign a back for 2014. If they don't they'll definitely want to sign 2 for 2015.
Also projecting another recruit for the current cycle (Quick?). As you can see the numbers here are very solid so 2015 might be a very picky year with maybe just one receiver taken. If McKenzie ultimately doesn't get in or Quick signs elsewhere we'd be looking for at least 2 receivers for 2015.
This projects a second tight end for 2014 (Luatua) and even with that the numbers are pretty low here. Very likely targeting two for 2015.
Adding in the commitment of Tillery and the program should have 13 offensive linemen. This will be a small class with likely 2 more prospects joining Tillery.
Notre Dame should have room for another '14 prospect here which would make this number 9 strong, but there's also the possibility that the Irish strike out too. Either way, the staff is going to target at least 3 bodies for 2014 and ideally even more than that if room opens up.
If someone like Drue Tranquil comes to Notre Dame and grows into a 'backer the numbers here will be pretty solid at 11 strong, and if it's not Tranquill the staff seems hell bent on adding another linebacker for 2014 anyway. Obviously the way the positions within the linebacker corps shake out will affect the recruiting but we're looking at about 2 prospects here.
2015 will probably be a class where corner is hit pretty hard by the staff.
I am projecting another safety recruit for 2014 with this number. I would imagine the staff will want to bring in 2 more safeties for 2015.
For a class of 17 with Tillery included: QB (1), RB (1), WR (1), TE (2), OL (3), DL (3), LB (2), CB (2), S (2).