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Coach Kelly Plays the Numbers 56+20+11=87

Now that a great finish to 2010 is in the books, Coach Kelly and the Notre Dame staff are entering the final phase of solidifying the 2011 signing class. One of the most commonly asked questions as we approach signing day is always "how many recruits can we sign?" Well here is where we are as of today.

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 # after a player’s name indicates that he will be eligible for a 5th year of eligibility. Players in BOLD were 4-5 star recruits per Players in BLUE are those that are in the 2 deep or see significant reps.

So what do we know? Let’s start with the current overall numbers per class. Changes that have happened since the last time we discussed this are noted.

20 Current Commitments- OT/OG Nick Martin committed this week
19 Freshmen- No changes
15 Sophomores- OG Alex Bullard transferred to Tennessee
22 Juniors- TE Kyle Rudolph declared for the NFL Draft (Floyd did not = Awesome!)
11 Seniors are eligible for a 5th year- Center Dan Wenger applied for a 6th year and Kicker David Ruffer says he would consider returning for a 5th if granted a scholarship

So as of today Coach Kelly is already beyond the point where scholarships are free. Before we go any further there is one wildcard. Nate Montana was granted a schollie for 2010. I have no idea whether or not he has one guaranteed for 2011.

So all of this means what?

We will assume that Montana will keep his scholarship. That means that of the 11 seniors currently eligible for a 5th year (6th for Wenger) that 2 of them have already lost their slot. It also means that for every additional recruit the staff takes going forward someone else is going to lose their slot.

My take on the priority to keep those players is reflected below from top to bottom. Thus if Coach Kelly were going to trim this roster tomorrow I would expect that he would do it from the bottom of this list up.

CB Gary Gray
SS Harrison Smith
OT Taylor Dever
OG Andrew Nuss
OT Matt Romine
K David Ruffer (While amazing 3 scholarship kickers is a LOT)
TE Mike Ragone (Rudolph leaving MIGHT help him)
C Dan Wenger
DE Emeka Nwanko
LB Steve Paskorz
K Brandon Walker

Gray, Smith and Dever will be returning starters and as such I think they are safe. Everyone else is vulnerable to being bumped in favor of a new recruit. That said the numbers along the offensive line are not great, especially after the Bullard transfer so for Nuss or Romine to get bumped I think it would only be for a replacement offensive lineman.

One final discussion point. 15 of the 22 players that will be seniors next fall will be eligible for a 5th year in 2012. Will the staff leave themselves a little wiggle room in this class to accomodate more of them and prevent being limited to signing a miniscule class in the next recruiting cycle?

Expect more in the coming days and weeks on which recruits are still on the board and what we think the priorities for landing them might be.

We will continue to keep an eye on this situation as we move towards signing day.

What do you think?