Freshmen are starting to arrive on campus and the summer sessions about to begin. People, w'ere less than 3 months away from football lighting up our televisions and tailgates. As we inch closer the scholarship situation is beginning to clear up as Notre Dame tries to carry a full 85 bodies.
Let's get to the numbers!
Out of Eligibility Following the 2015 Season:
WR Chris Brown, WR Amir Carlisle, TE Chase Hounshell, C Nick Martin, DE Romeo Okwara, DT Sheldon Day, LB Jarrett Grace, LB Joe Schmidt, DB Matthias Farley, S Elijah Shumate, S Avery Sebastian
For now we are not counting defensive end Ishaq Williams until he officially is declared eligible and will play football this fall. Also, keep in mind that several academic seniors like Ronnie Stanley, KeiVarae Russell, and Jarron Jones will have an extra year to play but will face the decision of whether or not to enter the NFL Draft.
2015-16 Academic Classes
- 23 Freshmen
- 21 Sophomores
- 22 Juniors
- 12 Seniors
- 7 Graduate Students
There have been a lot of updates to the roster over the past few months.
QB Everett Golson, 5th Sr- Transferred to Florida State
WR DaVaris Daniels, 5th Sr- Did not come back to school, entered NFL
OL Matt Hegarty, 5th Sr- Transferred to Oregon
OL Connor Hanratty, 5th Sr- Retired due to injuries
LB Ben Councell, 5th Sr- Retired due to injuries
S Eilar Hardy, 5th Sr- Transferred to Bowling Green
DE Anthony Rabasa, 5th Sr- Not returning to Notre Dame
CB Jalen Brown, 5th Sr- Not returning to Notre Dame
DE Bo Wallace, Fr- Transferred to Arizona State
DE Jhonny Williams, RS Fr- Transferring
A lot of graduate student jockeying has worked itself out while transfers from a pair of young defensive ends opens up some breathing room for this fall and the 2016 recruiting class.
Note that as things stand right now Notre Dame is right up against the 85 limit but that doesn't include the aforementioned Ishaq Williams or walk-ons who have earned scholarships in the past such as QB Montgomery VanGorder or CB Connor Cavalaris.
List of Eligible 2016 Fifth-Year Seniors
OT Ronnie Stanley
CB KeiVarae Russell
DT Jarron Jones
WR C.J. Prosise
LS Scott Daly
OL Mark Harrell
S John Turner
As we've mentioned in previous posts on this subject the graduate students for next year will be a very small pool of players. For our own purposes let's just say 4 of the players above will play football for the Fighting Irish in 2016.
23 + 21 + 22 + 4 = 70 Scholarships
The initial projection right now is 15 scholarships for the 2016 recruiting class although another 8 months could bring further attrition with players leaving early, transfers, or medical retirements to get to 20 players. Anything more than a 20-man class would likely mean much more attrition than usual, even for Notre Dame standards.
Roster (3): Zaire RS So, Kizer RS Fr, Wimbush Fr
The coaching staff may be flirting with the idea of skipping quarterback for the 2016 cycle but that's likely not going to happen. Personally, I'd target someone with really good athletic ability even if the kid is going to be a bit of a project as a passer.
Roster (4): Folston Jr, Bryant RS So, Williams Fr, Adams Fr
Commits (1): Jones
Jones wasn't exactly a diamond in the rough but Notre Dame definitely moved swiftly with him and bought low before he began to ascend on the national scene. He's a real nice foundation for the class right now, and while no one seems to be writing in stone that the Irish will take another running back, it'll likely happen.
Roster (12): Fuller Jr, Prosise RS Jr, Brown Sr, Robinson Jr, Carlisle 5th Sr, Hunter RS So, Brent So, Holmes RS Fr, Sanders Fr, St. Brown Fr, Guyton Fr, Boykin Fr
Here's an interesting position for recruiting. If the staff believes in the young players this is the least important position to target on the roster. Then again, Fuller and/or Prosise could leave early and this group would be losing quite a number of bodies next year.
Roster (6): Smythe RS So, Luatua So, Weishar, RS Fr, Jones Fr, Hounshell, 5th Sr, Heuerman RS So
We've zeroed in on Heuerman this off-season as someone likely to leave school for another opportunity elsewhere but that has not happened. The odds are pretty high now that Hounshell will be able to come back for a 5th-year to offer some practice depth.
Roster (3): Martin 5th Sr, Mustipher RS Fr, Hoge Fr
If Mustipher is a long-term option at center and someone who can develop into a serious contender as a starter then there's not much need to target a 'true' center prospect for 2016.
Roster (6): Elmer Jr, Nelson RS Fr, Montelus RS So, McGovern RS So, Byrne, RS Fr, Ruhland Fr
Notre Dame is fully stocked at guard and can even lean on Alex Bars offering help at left guard if needed. This is really ideal depth with some very highly rated prospects leading the way and a couple of younger guys who can take their time to develop.
Roster (5): Stanley RS Jr, McGlinchey RS So, Bars RS Fr, Bivin RS So, Harrell RS Jr
Commits (2): Kraemer, Eichenberg
The Irish didn't recruit any tackles last year but I don't know why it's even a small concern for anyone. All they can do is add some nationally ranked freshmen to the mix (seemingly) with the snap of a finger. As is usually the case, they will recruit high school tackles and someone will move to guard down the road if necessary.
Roster (6): Okwara Sr, Rochell Jr, Trumbetti, So, Bonner RS Fr, Blankenship So, Randolph RS So
Commits (1): Okwara
With the loss of Wallace and Williams in recent weeks it should be an easy 2-for-2 replacement in recruiting which means at minimum 3 defensive ends in the 2016 class.
Roster (10): Day Sr, Jones RS Jr, Hayes So, Tillery Fr, Matuska RS So, Cage So, Mokwuah RS Fr, Dew-Treadway Fr, Taylor Fr, Tiassum Fr
I straight up forgot about all the bodies at this position. I would imagine that the staff sees Hayes and Tillery as the future multi-year starters from 2016 onward with plenty of young depth behind them. This is why tackle isn't much of a focus this recruiting cycle.
Roster (4): Schmidt 5th Sr, Morgan So, Grace 5th Sr, Barajas Fr
The battle during fall camp is going to be super fun.
Roster (3): Smith Jr, Coney Fr, Deeb RS So
There's some flexibility here where someone like Schmidt could play the weak-side if need be.
Roster (4): Onwualu Jr, Martini So, Hill So, Bilal Fr
I still don't understand moving Martini away from the weak-side, especially with the lack of playing time this position typically receives over the full course of a season. Even more so when a listed safety like Tranquill has dropped down in the box and played here before.
Roster (8): Russell 5th Sr, Luke Jr, Farley 5th Sr, Watkins So, Butler Jr, Crawford Fr, Coleman Fr, White Fr
Commits (1): Love
Farley could still help out in a traditional safety role but all signs point to him staying as the starting nickel corner.
Roster (8): Shumate Sr, Redfield Jr, Sebastian 5th Sr, Tranquill, So, Baratti, RS Jr, Turner RS Jr, Williams Fr, Fertitta Fr
When has safety not been a high priority in recruiting? It seems like years ago. The depth for this upcoming season could be fine if things in the health department break Notre Dame's way. But after next year there's likely to be 3 out of the 4 players in the two deep fairly inexperienced, especially if Tranquill doesn't settle in the back end.
Roster (3): Daly RS Jr, Newsome RS Fr, Yoon Fr
Commits (1): Shannon
Just a reminder that the super important 2015 season is leaning on two freshmen to kick and punt this fall. Kind of scary, sorry for bringing that up.
Remaining Priority Targets for 2016:
The Irish have 6 verbal commits right now and will add at least 9 more--and likely 12 to 14 more players by next February. Maybe as much as half of the remaining commits could come from the defensive backfield and defensive line, specifically at defensive end.
That won't leave much room for other positions where running back and offensive line may add only more body apiece, while quarterback and tight end definitely won't go over one body each.
Receiver and linebacker are lining up to be intriguing spots where numbers are going to get tight and you'd ideally like at least 2 bodies for each position, but anything more isn't likely in the cards.