clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Recruiting Notre Dame Quarterbacks--Past, Present, and Future

New, comments

Let's just start with the present.

In case you didn't hear, Notre Dame missed out on a 5 star in-state quarterback recruit by the name of Gunner Kiel. While some fans were disappointed, most had already moved on by the time the news became official last week.

OFD's own Eric Murtaugh put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) with his thoughts here.

Personally, I wonder how much Kiel's decision hinged on Molnar's leaving to take the head coaching gig at UMass.


I don't want to spend too much time re-hashing Eric's points, but one thing I will add is this--based on the way Brian Kelly ran his offense at Cincinnati, Kiel was an excellent fit for the system. I don't want to steal too much thunder for the off-season line-up, but I think Burger will tackle the Four Vertical offense that led to back-to-back BCS appearances in the Queen City.


My objective here is to read some tea leaves and see where this team/offense/system is headed based on the type of quarterbacks being recruited by the Irish staff.

The past after the jump.

For the record, the last 5 star QB to be successfully recruited by the Irish was Dayne Crist in 2008. Say what you will about DC, but he was the whole package coming out of high school, and the ranking was well-deserved.

Crist's commitment to then-coach Charlie Weis was the high-water mark for recruiting the position in recent history in South Bend. He was the second straight 5 star QB brought to Notre Dame and looked to be the heir-apparent to the starting role once Jimmy Clausen's career was complete.

After landing the the one-two punch of Clausen and Crist, Weis took a pass in the 2009 class that was headlined by Matt Barkley. Some of the other QBs in this class included Russell Shepard, Aaron Murray, Tajh Boyd, and Garrett Gilbert.

The following year Weis had two QBs lined up before being fired (Hendrix and Rees). Again, CW missed out on some of the big names of the class, which included Jake Heaps (ironic, since Heaps is now headed to Kansas to play for Weis), Blake Bell, Devin Gardner, Connor Wood, and Nick Montana.

When Brian Kelly took over in late 2009 for the deposed Weis, he was able to hold on to Hendrix's commitment even with Florida putting on a full-court press late in the cycle. Additionally, many Notre Dame fans were wondering which type of QB Kelly really wanted--the Tony Pike pocket passer or the Zach Collaros dual-threat.

QB Tony Pike Highlights/Lowlights 2009 Cincinnati (via ProDraftParty)


Zach Collaros Mix (via mopper309)

The change in coaching staffs led to a change of path in recruiting due to the schematic difference between the Weis pro-style offense and the Kelly spread offense. No longer was the staff looking exclusively at the pure pocket passers, but suddenly they were entertaining the idea of bringing in the dual threat QBs. After missing on Bubba Starling (who chose professional baseball over Nebraska), the staff appeared to be passing (excuse the pun) on taking a QB in 2011 until they secured the commitment from Everett Golson.

At this time I am contractually obligated to mention that you, the reader, must never sleep on EG.

With Brian Kelly successfully pursuing a dual threat quarterback, the pendulum had offically swung in the opposite direction, which leads us into the future of recruiting the position.

Once fans got a taste of what the Irish offense could be with the Voodoo Child's second half audition against Stanford over Thanksgiving weekend, top QB Gunner Kiel became an afterthought to many Irish fans. A true running threat was required, and one name rose to the top--Devin Fuller (Old Tappan, NJ).

With the coaching staff changes announced on Monday, it is becoming clearer that the Irish will not continue to pursue the pro-style, drop back passers fans have become accustomed to in recent years. With Chuck Martin taking over the offensive coordinator reins, a more balanced (read: not pass-happy) read option spread will likely become more prevalent. Starting now, the Irish staff should begin to focus on dual-threat QBs to run the offense.

One important point to keep in mind is that not all dual-threat QBs are created the same. In my opinion, the ideal QB moving forward has mobility, accuracy and excellent decision-making skills. I can't overstate that last point.

This opens the door for Golson and Hendrix to fight it out for the starting role in 2012, and should make South Bend a more desirable option for Fuller. The offensive shift may also help bring in more play-makers at the RB position and smaller, faster WR options.

Simply put, look for the offense and recruting to shift to more of an Oregon-type offense.

Looking into the future for the 2013 recruting cylce, the Irish staffers have already made a good impression on one of the top dual-threat QBs in Matt Alviti (Park Ridge, IL).

I will leave you with one final thought: many will be concerned with the size/height of some of the recruiting targets in the near future. I submit one piece of evidence in the contrary: Drew Brees. I am pretty sure he just tore up the NFL while standing at only 6'0"/205. Something tells me that ND fans don't have a lot to worry about with a change in recruiting philosophy at the quarterback position.