It happens every year, to every program — recruits that were on the cusp of committing, but ultimately had a change of heart. This year was no different for Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They missed on several big time recruits, especially on the defensive line. The thing about this year’s misses are that all of them went to rival schools both on the field and on the recruiting trail. Here are the biggest misses of Notre Dame’s 2017 class.
Robert Beal - 6’3”, 230 lbs., No.8 DE
It was a pleasant surprise when Beal committed to the Irish back in November of 2015. He looked to be a cornerstone of a stout defensive line and would have provided the pass rusher Notre Dame has lacked since Stephon Tuitt’s departure. His commitment to Notre Dame only lasted 3 1⁄2 months as he de-committed in February of 2016. He ultimately decided to remain in his home state and play for the Georgia Bulldogs. Beal is part of Georgia’s third ranked recruiting class per 247Sports.com.
Donovan Jeter - 6’5”, 250 lbs., No.13 DE
Everyone around ND Nation was ecstatic when Jeter committed to the Irish after the Michigan State game in September. Like Beal, Jeter would have filled a gaping hole on Notre Dame’s d-line. Because of his size he would have had the ability to inside and out. But as we all know, a month after his commitment to Notre Dame he took a visit to Ann Arbor and immediately flipped to the Michigan Wolverines. On his way out he took some parting shots at Kelly, which made this miss hurt that much more. Jeter has already enrolled at Michigan.
Paulson Adebo - 6’2”, 180 lbs., No.14 CB
Even though Notre Dame brought in a haul of defensive backs in 2016, it never hurts to accumulate talented depth. Adebo would have brought versatility to the Irish. He could have either been a DB or he could have played on the offensive side of the ball as a wide receiver. Adebo seemed locked into the Irish, but about three weeks ago he switched his tune and backed out of his pledge. Since then Adebo has committed to his reported “dream school” the Stanford Cardinal.
Pete Werner - 6’3”, 220 lbs., No.14 ILB
Werner’s de-commitment really stung, mainly because he was an in-state kid from one of the Indiana’s premier Catholic high schools in Indianapolis Cathedral. Kids like Werner should be automatic locks for Notre Dame, and it seemed to be that way until late November. Werner’s back out could be chalked up to Notre Dame’s 4-8 campaign. Just spitballing here, but if Notre Dame would have had a successful season Werner probably would have stuck with the Irish. He has since committed to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Oliver Martin - 6’3”, 188 lbs., No.28 WR
Martin would have been coming into a fairly crowded receiving corps, but it is disheartening to see the Irish had to lose another recruit to the Michigan Wolverines.
Elijah Hicks - 6’0”, 185 lbs., No.40 CB
The loss of Hicks stung because it came soon after Adebo’s de-commitment and left Notre Dame with just one DB recruit. This miss is probably for the better as the coaching staff thought he wasn’t fully committed to the Irish. Hicks signed and enrolled early with the Cal Golden Bears.
Russ Yeast - 5’11”, 185 lbs., No.21 CB
Mac Hippenhammer - 6’0”, 170 lbs., No.61 WR
I’m grouping Yeast and Hippenhammer together because they are both Indiana kids — Yeast is from Greenwood and Hippenhammer is from Fort Wayne. The word on these Hoosier state prospects is that Notre Dame was too late to the party. Notre Dame’s recruiting philosophy is more of a national focus, but they should be all over the top talent in the state, especially since Indiana is not a football hotbed. The Irish struck out on all of the top players in Indiana this cycle — QB Hunter Johnson (Clemson Tigers), Werner (Ohio State Buckeyes), Yeast (Louisville Cardinals) and Hippenhammer (Penn State Nittany Lions).