There's typically a sweet spot for complaining about the lack of bodies in recruiting that encroaches on conversations sometime in the rainy transition from spring to summer. After the successful Junior Day coordinated by the Fighting Irish staff that complaining will be pushed back into the late summer or fall. Who knows, maybe that complaining never takes hold this cycle? Nah, it's an annual rite.
It's only been about a month since our last scholarship update but it's been an eventful past few weeks. Let's get to the hard numbers.
Out of Eligibility Following the 2016 Season:
OL Mark Harrell, DT Jarron Jones, S Avery Sebastian, LS Scott Daly, WR Corey Robinson, DE Isaac Rochell, LB James Onwualu, CB Cole Luke, CB Devin Butler, S Max Redfield
We've recently learned that safeties John Turner and Nicky Baratti are no longer with the team and will seek their final graduate seasons elsewhere. They had no effect on the future scholarship numbers but have been removed from the above eligibility list nonetheless.
The good news for 2017 and beyond is that Notre Dame doesn't appear to be losing a huge chunk of veteran presence after this fall. There's about 4 or 5 impact players/starters above--possibly two captains which is nothing to scoff at--but there may not be too much worry about replacing anyone except Jones and Rochell. The flip side is that this isn't super news for this fall as many young and unproven players will have to take on large roles.
2017-18 Academic Classes
- 9 Verbal Commits
- 23 Sophomores
- 21 Juniors
- 19 Seniors
- 9 Grad Students
81 Total Scholarships
The addition of 5 new verbal commits for the 2017 class really pumped up the numbers as spring ball continues to roll on. As I'll talk about in more detail below the roster and scholarships present a situation for Notre Dame that can allow them to focus on quality over quantity in the coming months.
List of Eligible 2017 Grad Students
QB Malik Zaire
OL Mike McGlinchey
WR Torii Hunter
RB Tarean Folston
TE Durham Smythe
OL Colin McGovern
OL Hunter Bivin
TE Jacob Matuska
DT John Montelus
Right now this is looking like a high quality and high impact graduate haul. However, we usually frame the scholarships in terms of "who will we have room for" or "who will we want to bring back" when that discussion is often a two-way street. The odds that McGlinchey leaves for the NFL are decent and the odds are even higher for Folston. Out of those bottom 4 players I'd bet at least a couple will choose to play football elsewhere in 2017.
Nine returning grad students could become as few as 4 players, and honestly with this streak of 20+ member recruiting classes I don't know if the program wants or needs any more 5th-year players than that.
Bringing back 4 graduate students opens up space, at this very moment, for 9 more recruits in the 2017 class. Sitting at a class with a minimum of 18 players in late March is a very good place to be in for another large class.
Roster (4): Kizer r-SO, Zaire, r-JR, Wimbush SO, Book FR
Commits (1): Davis
Roster (6): Adams SO, Folston r-JR, Williams SO, Brent r-SO, Jones FR, McIntosh FR
Roster (9): Hunter r-JR, Robinson SR, St. Brown SO, Holmes r-SO, Sanders SO, Boykin r-FR, Stepherson FR, McKinley FR, Claypool FR
Roster (4): Smythe r-JR, Jones SO, Weishar r-SO, Matuksa r-JR
Commits (2): Wright, Kmet
Roster (5): McGlinchey r-JR, Bars SO, Bivin r-JR, Kraemer FR, Eichenberg FR
Commits (1): Lugg
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Roster (8): Nelson SO, Mustipher r-SO, McGovern r-JR, Hoge r-FR, Harrell r-SR, Byrne r-SO, Ruhland r-FR, Boudreaux FR
Commits (1): Gibbons
STRONG-SIDE DEFENSIVE END
Roster (5): Rochell SR, Bonner r-SO, Hayes r-SO, Kareem FR, Ogundeji FR
WEAK-SIDE DEFENSIVE END
Roster (4): Trumbetti JR, Blankenship JR, Hayes FR, Okwara FR
Roster (4): Tillery SO, Taylor r-FR, Dew-Treadway r-FR, Tiassum r-FR
Commits (1): Hinish
Roster (4): Jones r-SR, Cage JR, Montelus r-JR, Mokwuah r-SO
Roster (3): Onwualu SR, Martini JR, Jam. Jones FR
Commits (1): Werner
Roster (3): Morgan JR, Barajas r-FR, Jon. Jones FR
Commits (1): Adams
Roster (2): Coney SO, Bilal r-FR
Commits (1): White
Roster (9): Luke SR, Butler SR, Watkins JR, Coleman SO, Crawford r-FR, White r-FR, Pride FR, Love Fr, Eliott FR
Roster (8): Sebastian r-SR, Redfield SR, Tranquill r-SO, Fertitta SO, Studstill FR, Perry FR, Vaughn FR, Morgan FR
Roster (4): Daly r-SR, Newsome r-SO, Yoon SO, Shannon FR
Remaining Scholarship Priorities for 2017
These are the only positions right now where I'd argue at least two more recruits need to be added to the fold. As things stand right now neither position has a commit.
What's funny is that neither position feels like a huge need especially since the Irish went heavy at both spots in 2016. However, I'm not sure Kelly likes operating with just 9 receivers--he seems to like at least 11 bodies there.
Safety brought in as many as 4 recruits in 2016 but who knows how many stick back there. Plus, the transfer of Mykelti Williams make this position an important one to hit again for seemingly the 5th year in a row.
Weak-Side Defensive End
Interior Offensive Linemen
Strong-Side Defensive End
For today does one body at each of these positions sound about right? Notre Dame could be done already at linebacker but an elite-type of weak-side prospect would be welcomed with open arms.
It appears Harry Heistand is understanding he's very comfortable at Notre Dame working with just 13 offensive linemen to which I enormously agree! In a world where the Elmer's, Nelson's, and Kraemer's of the world are not going to develop properly on the third-team as freshmen a smaller group is necessary. Whether they grab one or two more O-linemen depends upon who of McGlinchey, McGovern, and Bars are going to return for 2017.
The Irish would be fine without taking anymore of these positions but they'll probably add one running back and another defensive tackle as the scholarships open up.
Based on 18 scholarships I'd recruit:
- 1 QB
- 1 RB
- 2 WR
- 2 TE
- 3 OL
- 1 SDE
- 1 NG
- 1 WDE
- 1 SLB
- 1 MLB
- 1 WLB
- 1 CB
- 2 S
With more room I'd focus on additional defensive linemen, and another corner or secondary player. Notre Dame can and should be picky through the summer and wait on most positions.
Safety is a notoriously low-rated position from the services with just 1 Composite 5-star prospect and 22 more 4-star recruits right now for 2017. Picking up a 3-star there can be as much about necessity as anything else.
Receiver should have room for a non-elite recruit to commit if the staff really likes him. But, if you check out the latest Big Board installment they are showing no signs of dipping below the 4-star ranks right now.