As an independent football program, it often feels as if the line between success and mediocrity for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is drawn just below what most would consider lofty goals and expectations. The Irish have no conference championship to play themselves into; it’s the College Football playoff (or a New Year’s bowl) or bust. There are no conference standings in which to move up by simply winning games; it’s the top 25 or nothing.
It’s a similar story on national signing day for the Irish, although less of an annual issue. Notre Dame often signs classes that are top 25 worthy, garnering plenty of attention on the way. With the help of 247 Sports, we can take a look at how Notre Dame’s 2017 recruiting class stacks up against ACC schools - the conference the Irish have agreed to play five games against per year.
Without further ado, here are your 2017 ACC Recruiting Class Rankings, plus Notre Dame.
2017 ACC Recruiting Class Rankings + Notre Dame
At first glance, the Irish stack up quite favorably. Notre Dame’s 2017 class ranks second among its counterparts in the ACC. From a national perspective, the ACC has four schools in the top 25 of 247’s composite rankings, Florida State Seminoles (6), Miami-Florida Hurricanes (13), Clemson Tigers (16), and Virginia Tech Hokies (25). The North Carolina Tar Heels are just on the outside, sitting at 27. Notre Dame sits at 11th nationally, just above the Hurricanes and a few spots ahead of the defending national champion Tigers.
One thing worth pointing out is that, according to the 247 composite, the gap between Florida State and Notre Dame’s class (and the rest of the ACC for that matter) is rather large. Florida State’s class includes two top-ten recruits in RB Cam Akers and DE Joshua Kaindoh, plus two more five-stars in all-purpose back Khalan Laborn and DT Marvin Wilson. Even so, the class isn’t top heavy; eight four-stars and 12 three-stars fill out Florida State’s 2017 recruiting class. Notre Dame’s highest rated recruit is four-star TE Brock Wright, who is ranked 67th nationally by the publication.
With a load of three and four-star signings on national signing day, Miami jumped Clemson to rank just below the Irish. The teams are two and three in the ACC and 11 and 13 nationally with very little differentiation; a similar distribution between four and three-star recruits.
Between the Seminoles, Irish and Hurricanes, the classes ended up being similar in size. Notre Dame signed 21, FSU 24 and Miami 24. On the other hand compare that to Clemson’s class, which has only 14 signees. Two of these signees, however, are five-star recruits, while nine are four-stars. Clemson’s five-stars are WR Tee Higgins, who is ranked 19th overall, and QB Hunter Johnson, 30th in the nation.
Florida State and Notre Dame next square off in 2018, and the Irish won’t see Clemson again until 2020. Interestingly enough, the Irish will play Miami - the team that recruited second-best in the ACC - in 2017 but not at all between 2018 and 2021, the years in which this year’s class will see the vast majority of their playing time.
All in all, the Irish more than held their own in recruiting as compared to the ACC. Notre Dame’s class is good enough (alongside a resurgent Miami) to sit in between the classes of two teams with three National Championship appearances, three College Football Playoff appearances and two National Championships between them.