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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: The Scholarship Numbers Crunch For 2019

Looking ahead to some moves for 2019.

Kurt Hinish, Tommy Kraemer, and Robert Hainsey Notre Dame
Kurt Hinish, Tommy Kraemer, and Robert Hainsey
Mike Miller/One Foot Down

Now that the regular season is over for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, we can really start to take a much closer look at the Notre Dame roster and 2019 recruiting class.

Staying within the 85 scholarship limit was going to be a huge challenge for the Irish this recruiting cycle after signing 27 players in last year’s class. That aggressive move made it tight this past summer, but it also was the reason that Notre Dame entered the 2018 season with 85 scholarship players for the first time in at least 15 years.

Why is that so important? Well, forgetting about the constant need for quality depth and the advantages of developing players into steady contributors as upperclassmen — a major college football team needs quality practice players to help compete against the best in the country.

Despite the love affair most of us have with Notre Dame’s walk-on program, it will never be as solid as Big State U for obvious reasons. It’s critical for the Irish to maximize its 85 spots and supplement as best they can with the preferred walk-on program. Practice players make a team better, and you don’t need to watch Rudy to come to that realization.

Think about this... Phil Jurkovec, a blue-chip freshman quarterback that many see as the next BIG thing at Notre Dame was relegated to the scout team quarterback this year. His job was to give the Irish defense the best possible look they could receive each week as they prepared for their opponent.

I’d venture to say that Notre Dame’s rise in pass efficiency defense ranking from 79th in 2017 to 4th this season was helped by Jurkovec. In 2017, the scout team quarterback was now running back Avery Davis.

All of that was the long way of saying that roster management is important.

As of right now, Notre Dame has 93 players for 85 spots in 2019. That’s 8 spots over the scholarship limit, and the Irish still seem to be recruiting Asa Turner and Isaiah Foskey very hard.

So... let’s take a closer look at what might happen.

2019 Notre Dame Football Scholarship Chart

Position/Year Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior 5th Year
Position/Year Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior 5th Year
Quarterback Brendon Clark Phil Jurkovec* Ian Book*
Running Back Kyren Williams Jahmir Smith*, C'Bo Flemister* Jafar Armstrong* Tony Jones Jr.*
Tight End ⭐️ George Takacs*, Tommy Tremble* Cole Kmet, Brock Wright
Wide Receiver Cam Hart, Kendall Abdur-Rahman Micah Jones*, Kevin Austin, Braden Lenzy*, Lawrence Keys III*, Joe Wilkins Jr.* Michael Young, Isaiah Robertson Chase Claypool, Javon McKinley* Chris Finke
Center Zeke Correll Jarrett Patterson* Trevor Ruhland
Guard John Olmstead John Dirksen* Dillan Gibbons*, Aaron Banks* Tommy Kraemer*
Tackle Andrew Kristofic, Quinn Carroll Cole Mabry* Robert Hainsey, Josh Lugg* Liam Eichenberg*
Defensive Tackle Jacob Lacey, Hunter Spears Jayson Ademilola, Ja'mion Franklin* Kurt Hinish, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa*
Defensive End Howard Cross, NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Isaiah Foskey Justin Ademilola*, Ovie Oghoufo* Kofi Wardlow* Ade Ogundeji*, Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, Jamir Jones
Linebacker Jack Kiser, Osi Ekwonu, Marist Luifau, JD Bertrand Matt Bauer, Jack Lamb*, Shayne Simon, Paul Moala Drew White*, Jordan Genmark Heath, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah* Jonathan Jones* Asmar Bilal
Safety Litchfield Ajavon, Kyle Hamilton D.J. Brown* Jalen Elliott, Alohi Gilman*
Cornerback K.J. Wallace, Isaiah Rutherford Tariq Bracy, Houston Griffith Avery Davis* Troy Pride Jr., Donte Vaughn Shaun Crawford**
Specialists Jay Bramblett John Doerer John Shannon*
22/85 (22) 46/85 (24) 63/85 (17) 80/85 (17) 84/85 (4)
*Eligible For 5th Year **Eligible For 6th Year Rovers count as LB’s

Of the 8 spots needed to open up in 2019, only 4 players can really be considered as “probable” to transfer or leave for the NFL.

  • Brandon Wimbush
  • Javon McKinley
  • Micah Dew-Treadway
  • Alize Mack

Wimbush, MDT, and McKinley will most likely transfer to find playing time somewhere else (and all three would have graduated from Notre Dame beforehand). It’s widely known that Mack wants to enter the NFL Draft this year despite another year of college football available to help his draft stock.

After those 4, there is another list of candidates that could leave Notre Dame either by transfer or via the NFL Draft. It includes:

  • Chase Claypool
  • Miles Boykin
  • Julian Love
  • Donte Vaughn
  • Devin Studstill
  • D.J. Morgan
  • Jonathon Jones
  • Khalid Kareem
  • Julian Okwara

All nine of those players in 2019 will ether be a senior or eligible for a fifth year. For now, I will only (mildly) speculate on those veteran players.

It’s a tough conversation to have every year, but Notre Dame doesn’t do roster management like the Alabama’s and Ohio State’s of the world — so we can at least take comfort in the fact that this is all mostly handled with class and respect.

The current recruiting class has 22 commitments, but 2 of those commitments don’t count towards the 85 in 2019. 3 Star kicker Harrison Leonard accepted a position as a preferred walk-on (which is pretty dope for a 3 star kicker). An even bigger deal is that 4 Star linebacker J.D. Bertrand committed to Notre Dame without a scholarship offer.

Notre Dame Football’s 2019 Commit List (23)

RB Kyren Williams Missouri 5'10" 200 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 6/21/18
WR Cam Hart Maryland 6'3" 190 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/04/18
DE NaNa Osafo-Mensah Texas 6'4" 231 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 05/19/18
DT Jacob Lacey Kentucky 6'2" 285 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 7/29/17
DT Hunter Spears Texas 6'4" 280 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 2/20/18
LB Osita Ekwonu North Carolina 6'2" 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 6/14/18
QB Brendon Clark Virginia 6'2" 217 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/04/18
LB Jack Kiser Indiana 6'2" 215 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 6/12/18
OL Zeke Correll Ohio 6'4" 270 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 6/18/18
OL John Olmstead New Jersey 6'6" 290 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/20/18
P Jay Bramblett Alabama 6'2" 175 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/30/18
CB KJ Wallace Georgia 5'10" 187 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/28/18
S Litchfield Ajavon Virginia 6'1" 185 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/21/18
DE Howard Cross New Jersey 6'2" 260 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/22/18
S Kyle Hamilton Georgia 6'3" 188 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/24/18
OL Andrew Kristofic Pennsylvania 6'6" 265 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/23/18
OL Quinn Carroll Minnesota 6'6" 295 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 05/01/18
WR Kendall Abdur-Rahman Illinois 6'1" 180 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 09/09/18
CB Isaiah Rutherford California 6’0” 175 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 10/13/18
K Harrison Leonard Connecticut 5’11” 180 ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 10/18/18
LB Marist Liufua Hawaii 6'3" 210 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/14/18
LB J.D. Bertrand Georgia 6’1” 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/19/18
DE Isaiah Foskey California 6'4" 240 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 2/6/19

For Bertrand, the word is that he will come on as a walk-on until the first available spot opens up — at the latest before the 2020 season. There’s also a rumor that linebacker commit Jack Kiser may get a Lilly scholarship which would cover him for 4 years at Notre Dame.

All of that seems pretty tight and complicated, and it gets even more so with the recruitments of Asa Turner and Isaiah Foskey. Turner is currently a commit to the Washington Huskies, but Notre Dame is really going after him hard. Foskey is considered a heavy Notre Dame lean right now, and some expect him to sign with Notre Dame in December rather than make a commitment in February.

This, of course, is an ongoing conversation — and one that won’t have much resolution anytime soon. It wasn’t until this past summer that Notre Dame finally got down to 85 scholarships for 2018.

It’s a bit stressful, but it’s also the sign of a healthy program. Notre Dame is recruiting well, and they are managing their roster well. All of that means there is a strong foundation for success moving forward. After a 12-0 regular season, the future looks very bright for Notre Dame.