As an unbeaten, ranked and favored Stanford comes to town, let's examine their recent recruiting battles. For the most part, these have pitted their current coaches, Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has been quite aggressive with his offers, seemingly having worked through their Admissions Office acceptance processes, to make hundreds of offers nationally over the past two years. Here's how the head to head battles have been won over the past two classes.
Notre Dame Wins (3)
Tai-ler Jones (WR, GA) - After an initial verbal commitment to Stanford, Tai-ler flipped to the Irish after an Official Visit for the USC game. He has earned a starting spot this year.
Tate Nichols (OL, KY) - Another Stanford verbal commit, Kelly convinced Nichols to come to Notre Dame this past January. Nichols was a TE coming out of high school. He has put on about 20# under the Irish strength and conditioning program. He is listed as third at the Left Tackle position on the depth chart. Stanford had four OL commits last year besides Nichols.
Chris Badger (S, UT) - Chris decommitted from Stanford in June (2009) choosing the Irish. He is a hard-hitting safety. While he would have provided needed depth at Safety this year, Chris chose to go on his two year Mormon mission.
Stanford Wins (2)
Devon Carrington (DB, CA) - Devon committed to Stanford on the same day that Badger decommitted. Though he was an early Irish target, Carrington was a solid commit to Stanford. He is not listed on their depth chart and may redshirt.
Blake Lueders (DE/OLB, IN) - Blake was a June commit to the Irish and a target for the Kelly staff. He is an Indiana native, who played in the Army All-America bowl. But he decommitted after a January trip to Stanford. He is listed as second team OLB behind Thomas Keiser.
This year provides a truer measure of the Kelly vs. Harbaugh staff recruiting battles. The Irish have concentrated on OL and Defensive front seven needs and been quite successful.
Notre Dame Wins (5)
Matt Hegarty (OT, NM) - A top OT, Matt chose Notre Dame and has been solid. Rivals ranks Matt as a four star and the #5 OT in this class.
Conor Hanratty (OG, CN) - Conor had Stanford in his favorites, but when ND offered, he accepted.
Clay Burton (OLB/DE, FL) - Clay will play the position Lueders would have taken.
Tony Springmann (DE/OL) - This Indiana native stayed home, choosing the Irish. Stanford was one of his top choices, though.
Jarrett Grace (ILB, OH) - An April commit to the Irish, this Cincinnati Colerain prospect will be a solid addition to the Irish LB core and ranked the #22 ILB.
Stanford Wins (2)
Brendan Austin (OT, CO) - The Irish hotly pursued Brendan for our remaining ROT slot, but he has chosen the Cardinal. Brendan is a four star and the #22 ranked OT in this class.
James Vaughters (ILB, GA) - James was offered early by the Irish, but we did not make his top 5 favorites. He is a four star prospect, ranked the #5 ILB in this class.
Wayne Lyons (S, FL) - One of the top Safeties in this class, Wayne would be a terrific addition to the Irish class at a position of need. Both ND and Stanford have made his top 7, which also include the three Florida schools, Nebraska and UCLA. Wayne has made two Official Visits (ND and UCLA) with one set up for Nebraska.
Troy Niklas (TE, CA) - Troy has narrowed his list to Notre Dame and Stanford. Troy was initially considered a DE prospect for the Irish until commitments from two top DEs. Will the Irish have room?
Miles Shuler (Ath, NJ) - Miles plays QB in high school, but his 4.4 speed projects him as a WR in college. His top seven include Notre Dame but not Stanford.
Brennan Scarlett (DE/OLB, OR) - Brennan has offers from both schools, but ND has probably filled up at his position. He has yet to narrow his list, but may remain on the West coast.
While the recruiting battle for the 2011 is far from over, from Stanford's perspective, the Cardinal want to get an Official Visit from Lyons, secure Niklas from ND, and make Scarlett's list of favorites. Notre Dame would love to fill out their class with Lyons and Shuler among a few others.