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Notre Dame Recruiting: We’re 87 Percent Sure That Recruit You Like Is Going To Stick

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The data suggests that when a recruit commits has little predictive power on if he’s going to de-commit.

Army v Notre Dame Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish received three commitments from student-athletes in the class of 2018 this week, a question was raised: Does when a commitment occurs impact if that verbal ultimately turns into a signature?

(This is why we can’t have nice things.)

The answer is: No. There seems to be no discernible correlation between the time a recruit commits and his decision to stick or decommit in the future, at least in the Brian Kelly era.

To arrive at that conclusion, I broke the recruitment period down into five chunks: Guys who made a verbal commitment more than 1 year before their National Signing Day; 9 months to 1 year before; 6 months to 9 months before; 3 months to 6 months before and less than a month to 3 months before. (One student-athlete, Davonte Neal, signed his National Letter of Intent after Signing Day and was not included in this analysis.)

UTSA v Houston Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

I learned that student-athletes who make their decision in the last three months before Signing Day have the highest probability of sticking with that commitment. Of the 49 individuals that have committed to the Irish during that time period in the Brian Kelly era, only one has ultimately reconsidered.

Bennett Okotcha, a high school classmate of Irish running back Cam McDaniel, flipped from the Wisconsin Badgers to Notre Dame in December 2010. The cornerback was subsequently a signing day flip to the Oklahoma Sooners. Okotcha left the Sooners after two seasons and joined the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners. He is now on the Tennessee Titans practice squad.

Retention Rate By # of Months Committed

Period of time Number Percentage
Period of time Number Percentage
Verbals 1+ (commit) 13 87%
Verbals 1+ (de-commit) 2 13%
Verbals 9-12 (commit) 39 85%
Verbals 9-12 (decommit) 7 15%
Verbals 6-9 (commit) 51 81%
Verbals 6-9 (decommit) 12 19%
Verbals 3-6 (commit) 21 88%
Verbals 3-6 (decommit) 3 13%
Verbals 0-3 (commit) 48 98%
Verbals 0-3 (decommit) 1 2%
1 verbal after Singing Day

HARD TO HOLD ONTO STARS

It’ll probably come as no surprise that it’s harder to hold onto 5-star commits than it is to hold onto 4-star commits, to hold onto 4-star commits than it is to hold onto 3-star commits and so on.

Notre Dame has had 6 five-star commits during Brian Kelly’s tenure. Four - Aaron Lynch, Max Redfield, Jaylon Smith and Ishaq Williams - kept their pledge to the Irish. Two - quarterback Blake Barnett and cornerback Ronald Darby - flipped to the Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida State Seminoles, respectively. (Barnett is now with Arizona State.)

That’s a 66 percent retention rate for that small sample size.

Notre Dame has held onto 89 of its 103 four-star athletes (86.4 percent) and all but nine of its 86 three-star commits (89.5 percent). It’s never lost a two-star commit in the Brian Kelly area, although that’s hardly eyebrow-raising.

DECOMMITS BY POSITION GROUP

Under Kelly, Notre Dame has recruited 79 guys who were primarily offensive players in high school, 79 guys who were defensive players, nine “athletes” and six special teams players.

Kentucky v Florida Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Irish have sustained more decommits on defense (15) than offense (10). Alex Anzalone (recruiting class of ‘13), Danny Mattingly (‘13), David Perkins (‘12), Pete Werner (‘17) and Richard Yeargin III (‘14) made linebackers the position group most likely to go back on their word. There were four running backs and four defensive ends that also decommitted.

Kelly has never lost a commit which 247 Sports categorized as an “athlete” or a special teams player (kicker, punter, long snapper).

DECOMMITS BY STATE

Texas and California, which have an abundance of excellent Power 5 schools and warm weather, are the home states of the largest percentage of decommits.

Notre Dame has kept 14 of 19 commits who hail from California during the Brian Kelly eraa, the worst retention rate (73.7 percent) of any state with more than 10 commits. On the flip side, the Irish have kept all 14 of their Illinois commits and 20 of 21 commits from the state of Ohio (95 percent). Taylor Decker - who you may recall from the scene of Jaylon Smith’s devastating knee injury - was the only Ohioan to first commit to Notre Dame and ultimately sign with another school.

Some other notable states:

  • Florida: Kept 25 of 30 (83 percent)
  • Georgia: Kept 4 of 5 (80 percent) - Four-star Robert Beal was the decommit.
  • Indiana: Kept 12 of 15 (80 percent)
  • Pennsylvania: Kept 7 of 9 (77 percent)
  • Texas: Kept 12 of 16 (75 percent)

CONCLUSION

Despite the chaos of a coaching change in 2010 and the disastrous 4-8 season last year, Brian Kelly has done a pretty good job keeping his commitments from straying. Overall, the staff has a 87 percent retention rate.

This article has suggested there are some variables that can lessen that probability. So the next time you hear of a 3-star offensive guard from Illinois recruiting to Notre Dame, rejoice! Historically speaking, he’s a sure thing. If it’s a 4-star outside linebacker from Texas, well...it was nice while it lasted.