Analyzing the '14 Recruiting Classes for the Notre Dame Football Opponents

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Southern California closed with a bang. Michigan, did not.

This time last year we were all having a good time at the expense of the USC recruiting class. This year, not so much. And beware the Trojans are poised to bring in another strong haul in a year full of California talent for 2015.

Here's a look at how Notre Dame's opponents this upcoming fall fared for 2014.

*Using 247 Sports Team Composite Score

RICE

Rice_medium

No. Recruits: 19

Class Rank: 93

'13 Class Rank: 93

If there's one thing head coach David Bailff is good at it's consistency. Back-to-back 93rd rank classes is a fun coincidence. As you would expect, the Owls class is humble and local. Only one of the players signed comes from outside of Texas and wouldn't you know he is from North Pole, Alaska.

Watch out for running back Samuel Stewart he's the highest rated recruited of the past several years for Rice. The Owls lose Charles Ross (1,280 yards, 15 touchdowns in 2013) so there might be ample opportunity to see some early playing time for Stewart.

MICHIGAN

No. Recruits: 16

Class Rank: 20

'13 Class Rank: 4

Michigan's class is small and fizzled to the finish line (zero additions to their class over the final 5 months of the cycle) but it's still fairly solid overall thanks to the 3rd best national recruit in athlete Jabrill Peppers.

An interesting note from their class is the 7 players who signed early and have been at school since January. A couple of them include the highly touted wide receiver Drake Harris and defensive tackle Bryan Mone both of whom could make an impact this fall.

The Wolverines have done well at offensive line in recent classes but were able to pull only 2 O-linemen for 2014. Look for Michigan to hit this area of need hard over the next year.

PURDUE

Purdue_medium

No. Recruits: 18

Class Rank: 72

'13 Class Rank: 62

The Boilermakers class was a disappointment but that was to be expected following an 1-11 season. They were unable to sign a single 4-star player and the one that they did have committed (Drue Tranquill) ended up flipping to Notre Dame in late November.

Purdue's top ranked recruit is quarterback David Blough and he enrolled early this winter. He might not make an impact as a freshman but he raised a lot of eyebrows during the most recent Elite 11 camp.

The Boilers' classes continue to have a national flavor as 12 out of their 18 commits for 2014 came outside of the Midwest.

SYRACUSE

Cuse_medium

No. Recruits: 24

Class Rank: 50

'13 Class Rank: 73

Scott Shafer put together a really strong class for the Orange this winter. In fact, it's the highest finish in the national rankings by Syracuse in a number of years.

The skill positions were a big focus for the Orange. From their 24-man haul there are 15 players recruited at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, or defensive back. According to the folks in upstate New York you can expect one of the receivers, probably the highest rated of the class in K.J. Williams, to make an impact as a freshman this fall.

STANFORD

Stanford_medium

No. Recruits: 20

Class Rank: 13

'13 Class Rank: 51

Stanford was able to rebound nicely from a small and mediocre class a year ago with a strong finish down the stretch in 2014. The Cardinal grabbed 4 out of their top 5 recruits in late January or later significantly boosting their class rating.

Irish target DE Solomon Thomas is the crown jewel of their class and is surely to be an early impact player. The Cardinal also signed the country's 3rd best pro-style quarterback in Keller Chryst while electric athlete Christian McCaffrey might see the field as a true freshman too.

NORTH CAROLINA

Unc_medium

No. Recruits: 22

Class Rank: 29

'13 Class Rank: 28

The Heels signed a nice class with a lot of players but just 3 players with Composite 4-star status. The top rated player by far for North Carolina is running back Elijah Hood the one-time Notre Dame commit. Hood joins highly rated offensive lineman Bentley Spain and 3 others as early enrollees.

The other 4-star player is Virginia quarterback Caleb Henderson. He's got great size (6-3, 230) and should have a nice career in Chapel Hill.

FLORIDA STATE

Fsu_medium

No. Recruits: 29

Class Rank: 4

'13 Class Rank: 10

As expected the Seminoles brought in the top class in the ACC and received a nice bump in exposure following their national title in January. They signed 14 Composite 4-star players and inked a couple of 5-stars as well in running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Ermon Lane.

This class is all about receivers and backs plus loading up on the lines. There are several skill guys who are talented enough to grab some playing time in 2014 meanwhile Florida State ended up signing 15 linemen--7 on the defense and an absurd 8 on the offensive side of the ball.

NAVY

Navy_medium

No. Recruits: 15

Class Rank: 130

'13 Class Rank: 117

A small class for the Middies drop their national ranking almost to the very bottom of division one football. Obviously recruiting rankings for Navy are almost meaningless (4 players are completely unranked) but they did sign a pair of 3-star prospects, the highest being Georgia running back Josh Brown.

ARIZONA STATE

Asu_medium

No. Recruits: 27

Class Rank: 23

'13 Class Rank: 40

Todd Graham went heavy on the JUCO recruits in the 2013 cycle while only bringing 1 player with 4-star status to the Sun Devils. This year Graham signed 'only' 6 JUCO recruits and was able to reel in 8 players with 4-star Composite status. Even though this class finished just 5th in the Pac-12 a top 25 finish nationally by ASU is a really good job.

The class has a definite skilled player flavor to it as 15 recruits are targeted at running back, quarterback, wide receiver, or in the defensive backfield.

NORTHWESTERN

No. Recruits: 15

Class Rank: 46

'13 Class Rank: 52

The Wildcats brought in a very small class but they took advantage of some key in-state talent to finish with one of Pat Fitzgerald's best classes ever. Northwestern inked 4 total 4-stars with the top three players in the class coming out of the Land of Lincoln.

Two cycles ago quarterback Matt Alviti was the top player in Northwestern's class and they've now followed that up with another quarterback, Clayton Thorson, who is even more highly ranked.

LOUISVILLE

Ville_medium

No. Recruits: 21

Class Rank: 47

'13 Class Rank: 36

The Cardinals brought in 3 more recruits than last year but fell 11 spots in the national rankings. For sure, Louisville's class fell apart quite a bit once Charlie Strong left for Texas.

Bobby Petrino had some work to do once he took over on January 10th by adding nearly half the class (9 players) from late January until National Signing Day. However, after signing 10 players of 4-star status over the prior 3 classes, Louisville was unable to sign a single 4-star for 2014.

USC

Usc_medium

No. Recruits: 19

Class Rank: 11

'13 Class Rank: 12

USC continues to recruit at a high level finishing just one spot below Notre Dame in the national rankings with 4 fewer players signed. They also hit the offensive line hard bringing in 5 new recruits--2 of whom are already on campus among the 5 early enrollees.

The Trojans benefited immensely from a strong finish. They picked up the country's second best tight end in Bryce Dixon in January and then swept National Signing Day picking up corner Lamont Simmons, guard Damien Mama, safety JuJu Smith, and corner Adoree Jackson--the latter two being 5-star prospects and Mama not far off that status.

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