No one can predict what's in the mind of 17 year old kid. That's why it's never the best bet to predict where a recruit with dozens of scholarship offers to play college football is going to choose to go to school.
So I'm not going to bother to predict how Notre Dame's 2016 recruiting class is going to be completed. Instead, I'm going to create a perfect finish to the class. (Because if we're going to try and create the perfect schedule, then I don't see why we can't build a perfect finish to the recruiting class as well).
Are all of these players going to sign with Notre Dame? It's probably not likely. But who cares, it's more fun this way.
I'm not going to go crazy. I did create rules to not make this too ridiculous.
1) The thirteen recruits already committed are already included. I'm assuming all of them will stick.
2) I'm going to add seven more for this class. It would be great to have a full twenty five, but that's not the number Notre Dame is going to be at. Not even close. Twenty commits could be pushing it as well, but considering defections always seem to happen. I'm going to roll with twenty and let Eric figure out the numbers later.
3) It can't be too perfect. If they haven't visited Notre Dame, have a visit scheduled for the future, or have expressed serious interest in Notre Dame as a school they are truly considering, then they aren't an option for this. What could be more perfect than having Rashan Gary be a part of this class? Unfortunately, he has never visited, continues to take several visits to other schools, and his interest in Notre Dame seems to be flimsy at best. So no go on Gary. (Prove me wrong, Rashan. Prove me wrong.)
4) No players who are currently committed to other schools. It seems to happen every year where the Irish are able to flip a commitment from another school, but it's only fair to not go that route if I'm saying that all of the Notre Dame commits are going to stick. So even though someone like Florida cornerback commit Chauncey Gardner already has plans to visit for the USC game, he won't be included because of this.
Okay, enough with the rules. Let's go with two safeties, one corner, one linebacker, one defensive end, and two more wide receivers to complete this class.
4 star slot receiver Damian Alloway
Does Notre Dame need to take another slot receiver this cycle? That's debatable, but Alloway brings added value in the return game as well. He completed his first visit to Notre Dame and I would say the Irish are in a pretty good spot for him.
4 star wide receiver Javon McKinley
McKinley is the kind of prospect that, if he says he wants to commit, you take it no matter what your scholarship situation is. The USC coaches might feel different, but the Trojans loss would be a huge gain for Notre Dame. This kid is phenomenal after the catch and could be a future number one receiver.
5 star defensive end Oluwole Betiku
A long shot? Maybe. Like I said, I'm not predicting. I'm just giving this class a hypothetical perfect finish and it could not be perfect if Betiku wasn't involved. He's now a 5 star prospect and may actually have the biggest upside out of any player out of any recruit in the nation (including Gary). He's barely even played the game and already shows ridiculous flashes of dominance. Betiku has the potential to become a dynamic pass rusher with his freaky athleticism and strength.
5 star inebacker Caleb Kelly
Kelly's first visit to Notre Dame is coming up next week and hopefully it's a great one. It would be great if Notre Dame could add two linebackers, but with tight scholarship numbers, I'll stick with one and there are none better on their board than Kelly. He is a fast and physical athlete that would be in line to compete for playing time immediately at either Sam or Will.
4 star cornerback Damar Hamlin
Hamlin will be back visiting Notre Dame again next week and is one of my favorite players this cycle. There are superior athletes at the position, but not many better football players. He does a lot of things really well and should be a multi-year starter.
4 star athlete (safety) Jordan Fuller
Fuller is a safety prospect with corner skills who is also going to be visiting Notre Dame the same time as Hamlin. After seeing him at The Opening, I believe he's a strong safety candidate, but not one that is just limited to playing in the box.
4 star safety Brandon Burton
No visit to Notre Dame yet, but Burton is another southern California prospect who is planning on being in town for the USC game. Burton tracks the ball exceptionally well and has great range as a free safety. He also isn't afraid to lay the wood in the run game either. He could play receiver too, but I think he can be an exceptional free safety for the Irish.
What are the chances of all of these players actually ending up signing with Notre Dame? Probably not great, but we should have a much better idea after they take their next visits. If they went four for seven out of this group, I'd be pretty happy. Seven for seven and I can't imagine a more perfect scenario down the stretch for this recruiting class.
Other recruiting observations
- The one thing that is really going to sting in recruiting later on is if Notre Dame has the kind of season they expect to have, but don't have the scholarships to take some great prospects. It could very well play out that way. If ND is winning and other coaches are leaving for other jobs or being let go, they will have a shot to flip some kids. It always happens. Even when the Irish aren't that good they still seem to be able to get in with some of these kids. This year I could see some recruits getting in touch because they are now interested and Notre Dame having to tell them they are pretty much full.
Of course, this is all predicated on them having that great season. I think it will happen and if it doesn't pay off in 2016 because of low numbers, that means 2017 recruiting could end up being great.
- Absent from the perfect finish to this class was a tight end as it seems like they will pass on one this year and go for two in 2017. They already have the top one in the nation in Brock Wright, a player who is already showing signs of being a dominant in-line blocker based on his sophomore film. He can be a weapon in the passing game as well, but the other player they are heavily pursuing, Cole Kmet, should be more of threat down the seam. They'd compliment each other well in Notre Dame's offense if Kmet jumps on board.
- We're starting to get a better idea of when recruits are going to be in town for official visits, but there is still quite a bit more time before it all gets sorted out. I know that USC is once again going to be a huge official visit weekend, but I'm going to be very interested to see how many recruits they have in for the Texas game.
It's a night game and a game against a respected program, even if the program is currently down. If Notre Dame wants to make a serious play for Texas recruits, it would help a lot if they put a beating on the Longhorns to kick off the season. I don't know if that is going to happen because Charlie Strong is going to have his defense ready to go, but it certainly would make a great selling point for Mike Sanford, who recruits the state for Notre Dame.