That's it. That's all that is left before Notre Dame football. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I wish it was tomorrow.
There is a lot to be excited about if you're a Notre Dame fan with a team that many project to be a playoff contender (including me) and this week was a particularly exciting week in Notre Dame recruiting news as well with 5 stars Nate Craig-Meyers, Daelin Hayes, and Caleb Kelly all confirming official visits. Add that to 5 star Demetris Robertson who is visiting for the Texas game and it has the potential to be a nice shot in the arm for a not bad, but not great, 2016 recruiting class.
The optimist in me is excited that these four are going to be on campus. The realist understands that landing any of these four is probably a long shot. Craig-Meyers, Roberston, and Kelly will be making their first visits to Notre Dame so homeruns will have to be hit in order to land them. The player that Notre Dame currently has the best shot to land is Hayes and he is still committed to USC as of today.
Of course, a lot could change between now and after they visit Notre Dame and a big part of what could change is Notre Dame playing really well on the field this fall.
Since the Rivals.com era (2002), Notre Dame has signed seventeen 5 stars recruits. (I don't want to make anyone throw up in their mouth, so I won't even begin to tell you how many USC has signed during that same time.) They have signed multiple 5 stars in a class in five separate classes.
Three of those times were in the first full class of a new coach. Tyrone Willingham signed Victor Abiamiri and Greg Olsen in 2003, Charlie Weis signed Sam Young and James Aldridge in 2006, and Brian Kelly signed Ishaq Williams and Stephon Tuitt in 2011.
The other two times are a bit different. 2008 was a bit of anomaly with the after effects of two BCS bowl appearances helping Notre Dame get off to a great start and landing Dayne Crist, Kyle Rudolph, and Michael Floyd despite that season being the worst ever. The 2013 class was a whole different beast.
Notre Dame landed the jewel of all jewels when Jaylon Smith committed before the 2012 football season, but three other 5 stars joined him in the class later on and there is a pretty strong argument that none of them would have ended up signing if not for the undefeated regular season. Greg Bryant was a former Oklahoma commit that visited officially and committed shortly after. Max Redfield was a USC commit and ended up flipping later in the process. Eddie Vanderdoes was also a USC commit that Notre Dame came out of nowhere to land after a late official visit that ended up with a signing day win for the Irish. I don't think either of the last three happen without a great season.
Vanderdoes and Bryant didn't end up working out so well, but that is beside the point. Notre Dame ended up signing four 5 star players in a single year for the only time in the Rivals.com era and I don't believe it would have been possible without that great season.
As of right now the four players I mentioned earlier are the only 5 stars that plan on visiting Notre Dame this season in the 2016 recruiting class. I doubt that all four of them would end up signing with Notre Dame, but a playoff or national championship season would mean they have a pretty good shot at landing one or more of them. And if the Irish get hot this fall, then you never know if other 5 stars might be show new interest in taking a trip to South Bend.
Other recruiting observations
- If you read what I wrote a month ago on 2017 5 star quarterback Hunter Johnson, then you know that I don't think anyone needs to be freaking out about losing him to Tennessee. Yes, it would have been nice if he wanted to go to Notre Dame. It also would have been a lot worse if he committed early and backed out on Notre Dame later on like Blake Barnett. Notre Dame got lucky that Brandon Wimbush was interested later in the process.
For one, I really like 2016 commitment Ian Book. I think he's a good prospect that can be more than just a body on the roster. He would have been a multi-year starter at Washington State in my opinion and he'll compete to start with a talented position group at Notre Dame.
Secondly, there shouldn't be a rush to offer a bunch of new quarterback prospects right now. They should be recruiting and in contact with players, but why not wait for some junior film before jumping back into the pool? A good season this year from Malik Zaire wouldn't hurt Mike Sanford's resume as someone who develops quarterbacks either. There is a still a very good chance to land a top player at quarterback in 2017 and a lot of time to do so. After all, it is still actually 2015.
- September 1st is next week and that is a big deal for high school juniors. College coaches are allowed to reach out to the class of 2017 at that time and you can expect to hear about new interest and offers on that day and shortly after.