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Coach Kelly Plays the Numbers 60+16+9=85

Charlie Weis spent his entire Notre Dame tenure trying to restock the Irish roster with 85 scholarship players. It would appear that his successor will spend his entire tenure with the exact opposite problem.

Brian Kelly and the rest of the Notre Dame coaching staff had a huge day on the recruiting trail Friday and picked up four more verbal commitments for the 2011 signing class. Running Back Justice Hayes, Outside Linebacker Anthony Rabasa, Cornerback Jalen Brown and Defensive End Aaron Lynch all gave verbal commitments to the Irish in the last 24 hours. I will talk more about the players themselves in a follow up post. But at present I am more interested in the numbers.

The four pledges bring the total number of commitments in this recruiting cycle up to 16. This is significant as there are 69 other scholarship players currently on the roster that will be eligible for the 2011 season. So as of today the Irish are already at the maximum 85 scholarships for 2011 if all 5th years of eligibility are granted and there is no other attrition. The end result is that in order for Brian Kelly to take any additional recruits in the class of 2011 it will require the use of a scholarship that currently belongs to someone else. Some difficult choices might have to be made.

Before I go any further let me explain how I came to these numbers. Like many others I like to maintain my own eligibility chart which can be found at the link below.

2010 ND Roster Breakdown

There is a key at the bottom of the chart that explains how to read it. In short, I keep the players in columns with their original signing class. A pound sign (#) after a player’s name indicates that he will have a 5th year of eligibility. Players in BOLD were 4-5 star recruits per Players in BLUE are those that I expect to see in the 2 deep or see significant reps. The overall number per class are as follows.

16 Current Commitments
20 Freshmen (SS Chris Badger will now be a frosh post mission in 2012)
18 Sophomores
22 Juniors
9 Seniors eligible for a 5th year

I anticipate that Coach Kelly would like to take at least 3 and perhaps as many as 5 more in this class. Another Safety, an interior offensive linemen and a receiver would round the class out nicely. So where will he make room? Will he have to?

I think it is reasonable to expect that 1-2 spots will be opened up by natural attrition. Freak injuries, personal issues, grades, Indiana State Excise Police Raids or other such things will likely free up 1-2 scholarships by February.

It is also very possible that junior Tight End Kyle Rudolph and junior Wide Receiver Michael Floyd will declare for the NFL draft following the 2010 season. I personally think that Rudolph will stay for his senior season and Floyd will opt to enter the draft.

In total that will create 2-3 more spots for a class of 18-19 players to sign in February of 2011. If Coach Kelly decides to take any more than that he will have to deny a 5th year of eligibility to one of the 9 current seniors that will be eligible. My take on the priority for keeping those 9 players at ND is reflected in the list below. I did it based on a combination of how the player has performed to date and projected depth at their respective position. So if Coach Kelly were going to trim this list of 9 I would expect him to start from the bottom up.

CB Gary Gray
SS Harrison Smith
TE Mike Ragone
OT Taylor Dever
DE Emeka Nwanko
OG Andrew Nuss
OT Matt Romine
LB Steve Paskorz
K Brandon Walker

How do you think this will play out?

No matter how it goes this will be an interesting scenario to keep an eye on as we move into the season. We will take a closer look at the current class in a follow up post.