Notre Dame finished off the 2015 recruiting cycle today by securing the 13th-rated class, according to 247's composite rankings, for the second straight year. The staff signed a group of 24 prospects that doesn't feature any consensus five stars but does feature a lot of very good players, many of whom should be able to contribute this year. In fact, despite the lack of five stars, this class ranks 6th by average recruit rating, so a pretty good class across the board.
Lost in the drama surrounding the respective endgames for the running back and safety positions is that it's a very rare occurrence for Notre Dame fans to wake up on national signing day with only two significant question marks left for a class. The staff did a great job of identifying talent early and securing commitments for the Irish. They also deserve a lot of credit for holding the class together down the stretch; I can't remember when I've seen a Notre Dame class, particularly one of this size, suffer only a single decommitment - and even that was a kid who wanted to get in and couldn't clear admissions. Very impressive job by the Irish coaches in bringing everybody home.
Here are Coach Brian Kelly's thoughts on this class from yesterday's presser:
Coach Kelly On WatchND Signing Day Show (via WatchND)
In the grand OneFootDown tradition, you are heartily encouraged to express your feelings about the class to all of us via a clever, insightful, and preferably hilarious GIF in the comment thread. Like this:
There were four early enrollees in this class who didn't need to fax in letters of intent because, you know, they're already here: Te'von Coney, Micah Dew-Treadway, Tristen Hoge, and Jerry Tillery.
Recruiting Class Rankings:
Click the class ranking to see the overall class ranks for that service, and click the breakdown in parentheses to see that service's list of Notre Dame signees.
ESPN: 13th (9 ESPN 300 players; 0 5 star, 15 4 star, 9 3 star)
Scout: 7th (5 Top 100 players; 1 5 star, 15 4 star, 8 3 star)
Rivals: 11th (12 Rivals 250 players; 0 5 star, 13 4 star, 11 3 star)
247 Composite: 13th (10 Top 247 players; 0 5 star, 13 4 star, 11 3 star)
247 Composite Team Rankings:
Now, on to the class. We'll use the LEGEN... wait for it... DARY OneFootDown grading scale.
Official OFD Recruit Grading Scale:
95-100: Elite impact freshman with All-American potential
90-94: Multi-year starter with All-conference level potential
85-89: Eventual starter with chance to play as underclassman
80-84: Raw prospect with decent potential but a couple years away from impact
75-79: Likely a backup
70-74: Reach by the coaching staff
Note: All Heights/Weights as listed on 247Sports.com
Our judging panel includes Eric, Jamie, Jim, ManorMan10, and yours truly. We'll break things down one position group at a time over the next week, but as a sneak peak, here are the class averages handed out by each member of the staff:
|Staff||Offense Grade||Defense Grade||Overall Grade|
Analysis: Jim and I share a pipe, obviously. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, JIM! And Eric and ManorMan are a couple of poopy pants who like pooping in their pants. Jamie will now be known as Mr. Median, which sort of rhymes with Canadian. Coincidence? I think not.
|Irish Offense Signees|
|.978||Brandon Wimbush||Hackensack, NJ||6-2/205||Quarterback|
|.969||Alizé Jones||Las Vegas, NV||6-5/218||Tight End|
|.956||Tristen Hoge||Pocatello, ID||6-4/276||Center|
|.955||Dexter Williams||Winter Garden, FL||6-0/192||Running Back|
|.929||Equanimeous St. Brown||Anaheim, CA||6-5/205||Wide Receiver|
|.918||Miles Boykin||Tinley Park, IL||6-4/220||Wide Receiver|
|.900||CJ Sanders||Sherman Oaks, CA||5-9/177||Slot Receiver|
|.897||Josh Adams||Warrington, PA||6-2/208||Running Back|
|.870||Trevor Ruhland||Cary, IL||6-4/270||Offensive Line|
|.867||Jalen Guyton||Allen, TX||6-1/190||Wide Receiver|
|.835||Justin Yoon||Nashville, TN||5-11/185||Kicker|
Brandon Wimbush (Hackensack, NJ - St. Peter's Prep) - 6'2"/205: 94
Dexter Williams (Winter Garden, FL - West Orange) - 6'0"/192: 90
Josh Adams (Warrington, PA - Central Bucks) - 6'2"/208: 86
Equanimeous St. Brown (Anaheim, CA - Servite) - 6'5"/205: 91
Miles Boykin (Tinley Park, IL - Providence Catholic) - 6'4"/220: 89
CJ Sanders (Sherman Oaks, CA - Oaks Christian) - 5'9"/177: 91
Jalen Guyton (Allen, TX - Allen) - 6'1"/190: 89
Alizé Jones (Las Vegas, NV - Bishop Gorman) - 6'5"/218: 96
Tristen Hoge (Pocatello, ID - Highland) - 6'4"/276: 91
Trevor Ruhland (Cary, IL - Cary-Grove Community) - 6'4"/270: 84
Justin Yoon (Nashville, TN - Milton Academy [MA]) - 5'11"/185: 93
|Irish Defense Signees|
|.945||Shaun Crawford||Lakewood, OH||5-10/170||Cornerback|
|.938||Josh Barajas||Valparaiso, IN||6-3/215||Linebacker|
|.929||Jerry Tillery||Shreveport, LA||6-6/308||Defensive Tackle|
|.920||Asmar Bilal||Indianapolis, IN||6-2/205||Linebacker|
|.896||Te'von Coney||Palm Beach Gardens, FL||6-1/222||Linebacker|
|.895||Elijah Taylor||Cincinnati, OH||6-3/285||Defensive Tackle|
|.888||Bo Wallace||New Orleans, LA||6-5/213||Defensive End|
|.873||Mykelti Williams||Indianapolis, IN||6-0/198||Safety|
|.867||Brandon Tiassum||Indianapolis, IN||6-5/285||Defensive Tackle|
|.866||Micah Dew-Treadway||Bolingbrook, IL||6-5/275||Defensive Tackle|
|.863||Ashton White||Clinton, MD||5-11/182||Cornerback|
|.859||Nick Coleman||Dayton, OH||6-0/170||Cornerback|
|.847||Nicco Fertitta||Las Vegas, NV||5-9/175||Safety|
Bo Wallace (New Orleans, LA - John Curtis) - 6'5"/215: 86
Jerry Tillery (Shreveport, LA - Evangel Christian) - 6'6"/308: 86
A note on Tillery, which you'll see more about in our detailed position group breakdowns... We all believe he's a better offensive tackle and will eventually end up there, so we wrestled with how to rate him; ultimately we included him in the defensive rankings because that's where he is right now. We rated him a 92 as an OT, but adding him to the offense or removing him from the defense doesn't really change the overall numbers.
Elijah Taylor (Cincinnati, OH - Archbishop Moeller) - 6'3"/285: 87
Brandon Tiassum (Indianapolis, IN - Park Tudor) - 6'5"/285: 81
Michah Dew-Treadway (Bolingbrook, IL - Bolingbrook) - 6'5"/275: 83
Josh Barajas (Valparaiso, IN - Andrean) - 6'3"/215: 91
Asmar Bilal (Indianapolis, IN - Ben Davis) - 6'2"/205: 89
Te'von Coney (Palm Beach Gardens, FL - Palm Beach Gardens) - 6'1"/222: 90
Shaun Crawford (Lakewood, OH - St. Edward) - 5'10"/170: 94
Ashton White (Clinton, MD - Bishop McNamara) - 5'11"/182: 82
Nick Coleman (Dayton, OH - Archbishop Alter) - 6'0"/170: 85
Mykelti Williams (Indianapolis, IN - Warren Central) - 6'0'/198: 87
Nicco Fertitta (Las Vegas, NV - Bishop Gorman) - 5'9"/170: 80
What the Heck Happened at Safety?
There's a lot of sturm und drang on the web about how the staffed failed miserably in their quest to get two game-ready safeties in this class, but really the story is more about bad luck and bad timing than anything else. Back in October, the Irish had a commitment from Prentice McKinney and looked to be in the driver's seat for Ben Edwards. They were poking around some other safeties, like Stanford signee Frank Buncom, after Baratti was injured against Purdue, but the panic button had not yet been hit. Then McKinney's academic situation took a sinister turn and the staff jumped on Mykelti Williams, who they knew would commit immediately if offered. Phew, right?
Not really - right before the dead period Ben Edwards surprised everyone, including by all accounts the Irish staff, and committed to Stanford. If you believe the recruiting services, the Notre Dame staff had good reason to think that Edwards would commit to the Irish eventually, but it was not to be. Then the scramble for a second safety began in earnest; at that point, though, it was just too late to gain traction with Justin Reid, Nate Meadors, or Arrington Farrar. We lost Reid to Stanford, which is about five minutes from where his older brother Eric is a Pro Bowler for the 49ers, Nate Meadors to hometown UCLA, and Arrington Farrar to Wisconsin. I mean, if you can visit Wisconsin and Notre Dame in January and pick Wisconsin, you just don't want Notre Dame. Which is fine, just saying.
Now it turns out that Nicky Baratti might not actually be done - Kelly didn't list him among medical casualties in his presser yesterday - which would be some help. And it sounds like we may be pursuing a graduate transfer safety, although all that is very foggy now. So 2015 is not lost at the safety position yet, but the staff better hit it very hard for the 2016 class.
Addressing Needs: A-
This is an extremely well-balanced class that very nearly deserves an A, but the scramble at safety and ultimate lack of results bring it down a bit.
Home Run Factor: B-
A seemingly endless string of five-star and high four-star talent dabbled with the Irish at different levels of seriousness before moving on, from Byron Cowart to Soso Jamabo to Mekhi Brown, and ultimately Notre Dame signed zero consensus five-stars. I'm still giving a respectable HRF score for this class, though, because the top end of it - which includes a couple of guys who just barely missed five-star status - can be very special players for the Irish. Brandon Wimbush (who is 10 spots away from a fifth star in the 247 Composite rankings), Alizé Jones (who is a Scout five-star and ranked just 17 spots behind Wimbush in the 247 Composite), Shaun Crawford, Jerry Tillery, and Josh Barajas should all be significant impact players in South Bend, and there are loads of other guys with high upside. That's pretty solid.
Immediate Impact: B-
I dinged this grade a bit because of the two positions that absolutely, positively needed at least one game-ready freshman next year, only one was definitely addressed. Dexter Williams will probably be the third running back in the three-man rotation next year and Josh Adams is a very good back as well, so that position looks to be shored up. I like Mykelti Williams a lot and I think he can be an excellent player for Notre Dame, but I'm not as confident in him as an elite instant impact freshman as I would be in, say, Alabama's Deionte Thompson or Michigan's Tyree Kinnel. And that's it for true safeties in this class, as one after another prospect kicked us in the collective fruitstand. Tough one to swallow.
Alizé Jones will be a weapon from day 1. Shaun Crawford, Josh Barajas, and Te'von Coney should all see significant time as well, and I wouldn't be shocked to see Equanimeous St. Brown focus himself and earn some time too. Finally, there are two specialists who will be very good instant impact guys - kicker Justin Yoon and athlete CJ Sanders, who I expect to return the opening kickoff against Texas. Remember Allen Rossum? Sanders would lose a sprint to him, but not by much. He'll be fun to watch. So while there wasn't that much of a need for instant impact, I think there are a number of guys who will push their way onto the field anyway. Nice problem to have
Most Likely to Be a Household Name by October: Alizé Jones
This is a no-brainer - given his athletic ability, polish as a receiver, and physique, Alizé will probably be one of the most game-ready freshmen we'll have had in a long time. While I like the guys on campus now at his position, none of them matches Jones's ability as a receiver today. He'll find a spot quickly and will impress early.
Biggest Sleepers: Jalen Guyton and Mykelti Williams
I don't know if you can call a guy a sleeper when he had 22 touchdowns for the state champion at the highest level of Texas football - but there are still many who feel Guyton's success was more a product of five-star teammate Kyler Murray, the future Texas A&M signal caller, than of his own ability. Well, count me among those not in that group. Murray is very good, but so is Guyton. He'll have a tough time breaking into a crowded depth chart at receiver, but I think eventually he'll be an elite performer for the Irish. His upside is as a faster version of TJ Jones, which I think we'd all sign on for right now.
Above I said I'm not sure how ready Mykelti Williams is to make an instant impact, and here I'm calling him the biggest defensive sleeper. So what gives? I think Williams is criminally underrated by the services, although he was injured in his junior year and he never made the camp circuit, so it makes sense. He has the physical tools to become an eventual starter at Notre Dame, possibly as early as 2016. He might not be fully ready to make an elite impact now, but I think a lot of people will be presently surprised at his development once he gets on campus.