Now that the season is officially behind us I just wanted to update our eligibility chart and take a quick look at how many scholarships are still available to round out the current recruiting class.
In the time that has passed since we last visited this topic in late November Dayne Crist has officially removed himself from consideration for a 5th year by transferring to Kansas and Offensive Tackle prospect Ronnie Stanley has committed to the Irish. That minus one, plus one scenario leaves the current 2012 scholarship commitment at 88 if all of the current seniors eligible to apply for a 5th year are granted one. That obviously isn't going to happen as scholarships are capped at 85.
So how many recruits can we take?
Before I go any further let me explain how I derive these numbers. Like many others I like to maintain my own eligibility chart. The current version can be found at the link below. I have removed all of the current seniors that are not eligible to apply for a 5th year.
Details after the jump.
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 to apply for a 5th year of eligibility. Players in BOLD were 4-5 star recruits per rivals.com. Players in BLUE are those were in the 2 deep this fall or at least saw significant reps. Players in RED missed significant portions of the 2011 season due to injury.
So what do we know? Let's start with the current overall numbers per class.
13 Seniors that are eligible to apply for a 5th year this spring
17 Current Commitments (Includes Chris Badger who is returning in Summer 12')
So as of today Coach Kelly is already beyond the point where scholarships are free due to the 85 limitation.
So if all 17 of these commits sign LOI's in February only 10 of the 13 current seniors that are eligible to apply for a 5th year will be able to. The other 3 will be done playing football at Notre Dame. The staff obviously plans on adding more players to this signing class so the number of players that don't get the opportunity to play that 5th year will continue to increase between now and February.
Also keep in mind that the maximum number of scholarships in a given year is capped at 25. Early enrollees can count towards the previous season but since we took 24 last year we can only do that with one early enrollee this year. So at an absolute maximum this class is capped at 26.
That will not be a factor for us in this cycle as it would eliminate all but one fifth year option and I don't see that happening. I see Braxton Cave, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Jamoris Slaughter and Sean Cwynar as definite locks to come back. The rest of the seniors eligible for a 5th year are susceptible to being denied a 5th year option in favor of a new recruit.
At this point I expect that the staff will take 3 to 6 more commitments in this class for a total class size between 20 and 23. That will allow for a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 7 current seniors to exercise their 5th year option.
For this iteration of the discussion I simply divided the potential 5th year candidates into three groups. This is obviously how I see this so feel free to disagree in the comments.
Locks to come back
1. C Braxton Cave
2. DE Kapron Lewis-Moore
3. S Jamoris Slaughter
4. NT Sean Cwynar
Pending additional commitments
5. C Mike Golic Jr.
6. OG Lane Clelland
7. WR John Goodman
8. DE Hafis Williams
9. FS Dan McCarthy
10. NT Brandon Newman
11. ILB Anthony McDonald
12. ILB David Posluszny
13. WR Deion Walker
Additional wildcards include Tyler Eifert's pending decision on entering the NFL Draft and any significant injury updates that would preclude a current player from returning to the field. I haven't heard anything that leads me to believe that we will have any such cases.
This is something that we will continue to keep a close eye on as we progress towards signing day.
What are your thoughts as of today?