Team Talent Trends: Playing Math

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Though I've posted some of this info in random recruiting post comments, I thought in light of National Signing Day I'd do a more thorough treatment. What follows is a statistical analysis of our recruiting of four and five star talent over the past few years. While no single recruit's ranking can guarantee a stellar or poor career, there is an overall correlation between high school recruit rankings and player success. Thus while it is admittedly only one factor, I like to keep an eye on the number of players for each class, and on the team as a whole, that were ranked as four or five star recruits. This, while guaranteeing nothing, provides a global picture or how Notre Dame's team makeup is trending.
* All rankings are based off 247 Composite rankings (when not available I defaulted to Rivals).

EDIT: For background discussion showing that on the whole there is a correlation between star ratings and success see this article, or this one.

By Class

All classes are identified by their recruiting year (vs. their projected graduation class). Also the numbers are for merely the number that signed, see the section below on overall team makeup to see how this played out after transfers, suspensions, medicals, etc.


In Weis' last strong class ND brought in 23 recruits with 19 of them being 4 star or above, a stellar 83%.


Starting with this year there became a trend of limited talent signing in each class. This small class of 18 had 10 four stars or above: 56%


The "coaching change" class, mostly recruited by Weis but brought in by CBK. 23 total recruits, 10 at 4 star+ status: 43%


Another large class, 24 signed but for the third year in a row only 10 at 4 star+: 42%


This was a smaller class but being recruited during CBK's 2nd year it actually marks where recruiting talent begins to have a slight uptick percentage-wise. 17 signed, 9 at 4 star+: 53%


As we all know, a great class when it comes to talent. 24 signed, 20 who were 4 star+: 83%


Another very strong year, the class appears done at 23 young men, with 16 who earned 4 stars: 70%


Notice how the percentage of 2-3 star recruits went up at the end of Weis' time at ND and has been generally on the decrease since.

Overall Team Makeup

Now signing is only the first step. Additions, losses and 5th year retentions also cause the numbers to change.



Let's begin by looking at Notre Dame's 2012 team - this is the team that included CBK's first class that started to inch upwards in recruiting, and was the team that went 12-0 to make it to the National Championship game. There were only 35 total 4 star+ players on the roster that year. With only 79 scholarship players on the roster, this means 44% of the team came in as 4 stars or above. Furthermore nearly 60% of them were underclassmen in 2012. So we were at 44% in the National Championship, how does this compare to top teams? While it's impossible to compare precisely with Alabama who doesn't make known their scholarship players, an attempted assessment of their 2012 team showed they had approximately 65% of their team at 4 stars or above. That's half again as much 4 star+ talent (about 20 more players) than us. Luckily things are on the upswing.


After a stellar recruiting class this past year's team started moving in the right direction. With 81 scholarship players on the team, 42 were 4 star+: 52%.


Assuming we have a quiet off-season (please!) the 16 four stars that joined our team today will bring us up to 50 four stars+, out of 85 players that makes: 59%.

2015 ?

Of those players who will be seniors or grad students in 2014, six (Golson, Carlisle, Daniels, Hegarty, Councell and Hardy) were 4 star+ recruits and have another year of eligibility. If merely 2 of them return and we are able to bring in 15 more 4 stars+ in the 2015 class (both conservative/reasonable estimates IMO), we would end up with 58 total 4 stars+: 68% - better than Alabama when we played them.

Clearly the depth of talent on our team has been and is still in the process of increasing. If we continue to recruit at a high level things should only improve. What's that? You want to know about 2016? I don't want to project actual numbers that far out, but I will say the team makeup allows for the numbers to potentially improve even over the 2015 projections.


So there you have it. Hope y'all had fun playing math with me!

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