2017 National Signing Day just wrapped up, so theres not better time to talk about 2018...right? Of course. The general consensus on Notre Dame and its 2017 is that they made out pretty well. To go 4-8, have multiple coaching changes and to come out with a top 15 class is nothing short of miraculous. That being said, the Irish still have some holes to fill and with a new, fresh and rejuvenated coaching stay they can definitely do it in 2018.
After losing out on Paulson Adebo, Elijah Hicks and a last ditch effort for Russ Yeast the Irish came away without a corner in the 2017 class. This wasn’t the worst year for this to happen because of the haul of corners they brought in 2016, but next year they can’t afford for a repeat of this year to happen. They need to build more depth at that position and it can start next recruiting cycle.
Defensive Ends/Pass Rushers
This has been a weakness of Notre Dame for quite some time. For whatever reason they just can’t attract elite pass rushers to South Bend. This year they struck out on Robert Beal, Donovan Jeter and Josh Kaindoh. Nevertheless, they need to try their hardest to bring a few in next year. What should make fans excited is the new staff’s energy they bring to the recruiting trail. It will be exciting to see if they can real in a big fish or two with a full year to recruit. Three-star DE Justin Ademilola is already committed for 2018.
Darnell Ewell and Kurt Hinish were great pickups for the Irish, no doubt about it. But if Notre Dame wants to compete for national titles, they need talented interior lineman and they need a lot of them. Just look at the Alabamas, Ohio States and Clemsons of the world. They win because they are stout upfront. Justin Ademilola’s twin brother Jayson, a four star DT, is committed for 2018. It’d be nice to see Notre Dame pick up one or two more stud tackles on top of Jayson Ademilola.
It wasn’t too long ago that quarterback was a position of depth for Notre Dame, but with the departures of Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer it is not as deep as it used to be. Currently the Irish only have quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book on scholarship. The Irish brought in four-star quarterback Avery Davis this year and have a commit from four-star Phil Jurkovec for 2018. It’ll be important as ever to keep Jurkovec’s pledge because “worst” case scenario is that Wimbush has an all-world year in 2017 and leaves for the NFL draft. If that happened the QB situation would be one that causes some concern.
Brian Kelly spoke to this during his press conference on Wednesday. He said he’d like to focus on picking up some “home run hitters” on offense. The Irish have built pretty decent depth at running back and wide receiver, and its pretty young depth at that. There isn’t one senior running back or wide receiver on the 2017 roster, but there isn’t such a thing as being too deep. Injuries, early departures and guys who just don’t pan out happen all the time, so it’ll be important for Kelly and Co. to keep stocking the cupboard with skill players.
I alluded to this earlier, but this new staff under Kelly should have Irish fans excited. Just two weeks ago this class consisted of just 15 commits, but this new staff got after it and brought in six more, and those six aren’t just throw-ins either. It will be exciting to see what this staff can do in a full year.
I’m especially excited about seeing Mike Elko. He seems to be everything Brian VanGorder wasn’t. Not only with his scheme and coaching, but on the recruiting trail as well. In two and half years with the Irish, VanGorder was responsible for just bringing in two recruits — Pete Mokwuah and Jamir Jones. Judging by his efforts in the last two weeks, Elko seems to get after it on the trail.