Attrition in college football has always been prevalent. It's just that Twitter is around now for people to give out immediate hot takes whenever a player gets injured, transfers, or becomes ineligible. It's just added to the message board fire that has been around for awhile and magnifies every personnel loss for a program even more than it did before.
Instant (over)reactions might have increased as of late, but the education of fans of the ins and outs of a program has also increased along with it. Now there seems to be as much talk about scholarship numbers in a respective recruiting class as there is talk about actual recruits. Fans don't just worry about the current roster or even the specific prospects who are going to join that roster. They think about the total number of recruits needed and how many the program is going to sign at each position.
With the recent losses of Michael Deeb (medical), Mike Heuerman (medical), Greg Bryant (academically ineligible), Kolin Hill (transfer), and the kind of recent losses of Jhonny Williams (transfer) and Bo Wallace (test score?) there seems to be more talk about what this means for the current recruiting class than what it means for the 2015 season. (I don't need to dive deep into what the losses mean for the team this season as only Bryant was considered to be a candidate to be a significant contributor.)
I figure it would be best to break it down by position and whether the losses will affect what Notre Dame is doing this year in recruiting other than the added scholarship numbers. Let's start with what could potentially happen because of Greg Bryant.
Even though Bryant has made a decision to stay at Notre Dame and try to regain his eligibility, there are no guarantees that it will happen. Of course, I hope for the best and that he gets his life and academics back in order. But if I'm the coaching staff at Notre Dame, then I can't count on that happening.
Notre Dame already has one running back committed in Tony Jones Jr. and still have some other names on the board that they are pursuing at running back. With the potential loss of Tarean Folston after this season if he has a good year and the same possibility with CJ Prosise, they may want to push a little harder for that second running back in this class to make sure they have their bases covered for 2016.
There always could be a scenario where Folston and Prosise return, Justin Brent thrives with his position switch to running back, and Bryant is able to rejoin the team as well, but this is college football. It's better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. There could be some new running back offers out there in the coming weeks.
This is a spot where nothing should change. Heuerman has unfortunately been hurt most of his career and because of that was never really in the mix for playing time. Notre Dame looked very likely to pass on a tight end in 2016 with four of five tight ends that are still on the roster (the fifth is Chase Hounshell) having at least two years of eligibility remaining after this season. There's also the outside chance that someone like Miles Boykin or current commit Chase Claypool end up there eventually as well.
With Notre Dame already having the top tight end in the class of 2017 committed (Brock Wright) and pursuing a second commitment in that class as well, it's safe to say that this medical scholarship situation with Heuerman wasn't unexpected and shouldn't affect tight end recruiting.
Maybe it was the injury that held him back, but Deeb never really got into the mix at inside linebacker despite having a pretty good opportunity to grab playing time last season with the lack of depth at the position. Nyles Morgan, Te'Von Coney, and Greer Martini could all be considered candidates at Mike for 2016 so I'm not sure losing Deeb affects anything they planned on doing in 2016 recruiting.
There are a few names on the board, but it might not be make or break to land one this cycle and they could wait until the next class to add another option.
Sam linebacker and defensive end
I'm listing these two together for a reason. Hill and potentially Wallace, if he was to ever make it to campus, were both Sam linebackers that I would consider nickel pass rushers more than defensive ends. Williams was obviously a more traditional end with his hand in the dirt, even if he might not have ever developed into more than a pass rusher as well.
In a nutshell, Notre Dame is looking for more players to get after the quarterback off the edge. They have two defensive ends already part of the current class in Julian Okwara and Ade Ogundeji, but need more. Jamir Jones, Jarron's brother, is also someone who could potentially be considered a defensive end, although they took his commitment at linebacker.
There are names out there that are planning to take official visits to Notre Dame, but I would be surprised if there wasn't more offers either soon or after some senior film gets in the coaches' hands. If they miss out on adding one or two more edge players this cycle, it could mean bad things for depth next season and then again for 2017.
Other recruiting observations
- With Hill now gone, that means he, Williams, and Nile Sykes all have left the program before their sophomore year. These were all late offers during their senior seasons. They were considered late bloomers and players with high ceilings, but all needed time to develop.
All three are examples of how diamonds in the rough don't always end up being what everyone hopes them to be. There's also a lot less time to evaluate a prospect at that time. It's a risk/reward situation and the risks didn't pay off in these cases for Notre Dame.
- A quarterback commit! It's not Hunter Johnson either! For anyone worrying about Ian Book potentially affecting Johnson, don't. It won't have any effect on Johnson's decision.
I know the storyline for most people is that Johnson fills the void as a stop-gap in between Malik Zaire, DeShone Kizer, Brandon Wimbush, and potentially Johnson, but I do think he can be more than just depth at the position. With someone like Tommy Rees, there were limitations with his athleticism that prevented him from running the offense exactly the way Brian Kelly wanted to run his offense. I don't see those limitations being an issue for Book with what Kelly and Mike Sanford want to accomplish.
He may not fit the true dual-threat label, but he has plenty of mobility. He showed a ton of it and did a great job of escaping the rush during his sophomore year.
He doesn't have a cannon for an arm. He doesn't have a noodle for an arm either. Most importantly, he has solid footwork in the pocket and is an accurate thrower. I think he'll legitimately compete for the starting job at some point during his career and could at the very least be a solid option as a backup if he doesn't become a starter.
- The SI cover and Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame all in the same week. It won't help as much as making the playoff would for recruiting, but it certainly can't help but be a selling point. Much better than a bad Beyonce photoshop.
IRISH UP! Jaylon Smith & Ronnie Stanley are featured on Sports Illustrated's College Football preview issue. pic.twitter.com/qjPluimJzC
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 5, 2015