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2016 National Signing Day Update: Irish Play Waiting Game in Year of the Big Finish

Notre Dame hasn't closed strong like other top tier programs. Will that change soon?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It's now the afternoon of National Signing Day 2016 and the flurry of signings is beginning to slow down. For Notre Dame, they've added the 23rd member of their class in linebacker Jonathan Jones today and have not lost any players at the last minute to other schools. 

As we publish this the Irish 2016 class has now fallen to 15th after starting the day in 9th place in the country and the big storylines right now for Notre Dame are a quiet National Signing Day and playing the waiting game on a couple of 5-star prospects.

Fresno, California linebacker Caleb Kelly is set to make his decision tonight at 8:30 PM ET but it's the mysterious decision timetable with Georgia receiver Demetris Robertson that especially hasn't allowed Notre Dame to close the book just yet on the 2016 class.

The decisions of these 5-stars will have a big impact on the always valuable desire to close out a class with a bang, to say nothing of the effects of adding elite talent to your roster and their development for the team down the road.

Using the current national layout (which will change significantly to close out the day as more kids sign) the additions of both Kelly and Robertson would push the Notre Dame class up to 10th in the country, while the addition of just Kelly would make it 13th and just Robertson would also move it up to 13th nationally.

Without signing either 5-star the Irish class could potentially fall outside the Top 15 and would all but guarantee a third straight cycle with a recruiting haul no better than 10th nationally.

The Year of the Big Finish

Some have postulated that recruiting decision making is getting pushed back further and further as the years progress. Whether that's true or not the 2016 class is especially last-minute with over a quarter of the elite Top 100 still to decide as of this past Monday morning.

As such, several blue-blood programs have gone for insanely big finishes today:


The Tide were ranked 7th nationally on Monday with 16 commits. They've now moved up to 1st place and have added 7 more commits.. Alabama's streak of the No. 1 class for the 6th straight year is on the line!


The Bulldogs were ranked 8th nationally on Monday with 16 commits. They've since added 4 more and moved up one spot and should close with one or two more big-time recruits.


The Tigers were ranked 10th nationally on Monday with 10 commits and have made a move up to 8th after doubling the size of their class. Any time you think it's easy to sign a Top 5 class just remember how much talent the Tigers just added and barely moved up the rankings.


The Tigers were ranked 14th nationally on Monday with 16 commits and are now up to 12th after adding 4 more commits.


The Trojans were ranked 20th nationally on Monday with 13 commits and have added 6 commits to bring them up to the No. 10 ranked class. The Trojans are expected to close with at least a couple more top West Coast prospects.


The Longhorns were ranked 33rd nationally on Monday with 15 commits and as few as 6 days ago were sitting on just 13 commits. No one has made a move like Texas as they've added 9 new recruits and jumped 24 spots to No. 9 in the country.


How real is recruiting momentum? While Notre Dame should be given a lot of credit for grinding until the end of this recruiting cycle--driving the equipment truck down South will always be memorable--the effects of losing your last 2 games can still be lingering.

In the Year of the Big Finish it will be disappointing if Notre Dame closes out this class with a whimper. It's this lack of finishing that can allow some grumbling about recruiting to come to the surface. Many will still think this is a good class, and they certainly wouldn't be wrong with that assessment, but back-to-back classes outside the Top 12 nationally really isn't anything to write home about at Notre Dame.

With Brian Kelly recently signing a 6-year extension and seemingly solidifying the Notre Dame program with stability for the foreseeable future it'll be interesting to see how much of a microscope the Irish recruiting goes under in the coming months. The roster depth and eye for talent by Notre Dame has proven to be very commendable in most respects. However, the inevitable push for more may cast a skeptical eye on the recruiting at a program that has the potential to be pushing 5 or 6 spots higher in the national rankings.

Missing out of a pair of 5-star prospects--even without a lack of effort--can be one of those things to tip the balance in the future where fans will start to believe someone else can do better. And make no mistake about it that when it comes to stable regimes, like the one Brian Kelly has built in South Bend, they typically begin to rot in the arena of recruiting and raised expectations.

Major Recruits Still to Decide

WR Demetris Robertson .989

CB Jack Jones .985

LB Caleb Kelly 983

DE Auston Robertson .949