What an action-packed day for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program. In the morning, the Irish started out with 21 players signed in the morning, and by noon, Notre Dame signed 6 more players to make this a 27 man class. What was incredible, was that only one of the six was even committed to Notre Dame before they put pen to paper.
That isn’t exactly what Notre Dame fans are used to when it comes to National Signing Day. The Irish killed it instead of being killed. So let’s take a look at the grades of this class. Where did they really win, and where did they come up short?
This is quite possibly the easiest grade to hand out. Notre Dame went after the guy they wanted, and secured an early commitment. 4 Star Phil Jurkovec has all the potential to be a great quarterback at Notre Dame. Some are already slotting him in as a starter at some point this year, but in all honesty, that is a bit of a stretch.
RUNNING BACKS... C+
Don’t burn the place down over this grade. I’m actually quite pleased with the additions of C’Bo Flemister and Jahmir Smith. The 3 Star rankings that they both have are justified, so it’s hard to grade over that top. With the roster situation right now at running back, I think they will both get a chance to prove this grade invalid.
WIDE RECEIVERS... A+
Yep. While normally a group would need a 5 star in the group to get a grade like this, the Irish signed four 4 Star wide receivers that each bring a little something different to the table. Lawrence Keys III is that lightning quick slot receiver, Braden Lenzy is a pure burner, Micah Jones is that bigger body wideout, and Kevin Austin is just an all-around beast. It’s a fantastic haul.
TIGHT END... A-
I really love what the Irish did here. Notre Dame is almost always strong with tight end recruiting, and this year they doubled up once again. They got a very athletic player in Tommy Tremble and really big kid in George Takacs. I also think Takacs will end up seeing a lot of playing time so the offense can use his size as a blocker.
OFFENSIVE LINE... C+
There was some disappointment here with Nicholas Petit-Frere signing with the Ohio State Buckeyes (Greg Shiano’s kid played ball with NPF so that “family” line by NPF was legit). Notre Dame did make up a little bit for that loss by signing Jarrett Patterson. They also got some good versatility by signing Luke Jones. Jones was mentioned by Brian Kelly as a guy that could play some center (big plus). I like John Dirksen and Cole Mabry, but let’s face it... losing Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson and replacing them (sorta speak) with a couple of 3 Stars isn’t real flashy. Lots of potential here, but we really won’t know for at least two if not three years from now.
DEFENSIVE LINE... B+
There’s nothing I love more than sports alliteration, and the 3 J’s here in Jayson Ademilola, Ja’Mion Franklin, and Justin Ademilola hits that sweet spot. Jayson may not be rated as a 5 Star, but his film and his camp work suggests otherwise as he went up against great competition. Justin works hard and although is still a bit raw, he has a few good moves. Franklin is a bull, and will bring a toughness to the line that is always sorely needed. Notre Dame needed another edge rusher (or two) and missed out. One of those would have given this class an A.
This is a special group of linebackers. The Irish brought in 4 Stars Jack Lamb, Bo Bauer, and Shayne Simon - as well as an athletic outside backer in Ovie Oghoufo. Notre Dame worked hard to not only increase its depth at the group, but also its talent level. Shayne Simon, for example, could be good enough to play ROVER right away as a freshman, which is going to help move Drue Tranquill up to the BUCK. This is kind of a big deal.
Hard to grade this group this way when one of the best players in the entire class is a part of it - but there was a small miss here. I think Derrick Allen is just terrific, and he will seriously compete for a starting job in the fall. I also like Paul Moala a lot, and despite his relatively low 3 star ranking, a lot of analysts think he is much better than that (including SBN’s own Bud Elliott). What’s lacking here is a true ball-hawking playmaker. Perhaps that ends up being Houston Griffith at some point, but Kelly stated that he’d start at corner.
This was probably the #1 need position for the Irish and they nailed it. Notre Dame signed FIVE corners in this class. They signed ZERO in 2017, and had ZERO committed as late as October. They got the ball rolling with Joe Wilkins (another player that Bud Elliott like a lot) and then got Tariq Bracy into the fold. They finished the early signing period off by getting Houston Griffith, and then on National Signing Day... a pair of long Washington D.C. corners in D.J. Brown and Noah Boykin signed with Notre Dame. Big push in numbers, but also a big push in talent at the position. Given the other obstacles in the cycle with some other cornerback recruits, the Irish really did very well here.
✍️ @Guap2x is officially Irish!— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) February 7, 2018
Hailing from our nation’s capital, the Irish bring an impressive playmaker with talent, confidence and physicality @CoachLyghtND can’t wait to mold.#GoIrish ☘ #IrishBouND18 pic.twitter.com/VqFkIpQpYI
Any way you slice it, this is a top 10 class. The 247 Composite has it right at #10, ESPN is #8, and Rivals is #11.
It’s a top 10 class.
While getting a lot of talent is always awesome and fun, it has to mean something too. It has to fit what you are doing. The 27 players represents the largest class of the Brian Kelly era, and the 2nd highest 247 Composite score. It’s damn good, but it also filled a lot of needs and added much needed depth and talent across the roster. It’s a stark contrast to the 2006 class from Charlie Weis that signed 28 players but lost 12 of them in a few short years.
Brian Kelly and Notre Dame put forth a good effort and got good results. Now it’s STEP 2. No word yet on how STEP 3 will result (profit).
Editors Note: We will have much more on the numbers game, states, depth charts, and other fun stuff with this class all week. Stay tuned.
2018 Notre Dame Football Scholarship Chart
|Quarterback||Phil Jurkovec||Avery Davis*||Ian Book*||Brandon Wimbush*|
|Running Back||Jahmir Smith, C'Bo Flemister||Jafar Armstrong*||Tony Jones Jr.*||Dexter Williams|
|Tight End||George Takacs, Tommy Tremble||Cole Kmet, Brock Wright||Alize' Mack*||Nic Weishar|
|Wide Receiver||Micah Jones, Kevin Austin, Braden Lenzy, Lawrence Keys III||Michael Young||Chase Claypool, Javon McKinley*||Chris Finke*, Miles Boykin*|
|Center||Luke Jones||Sam Mustipher|
|Guard||John Dirksen||Dillan Gibbons*||Tommy Kraemer*||Trevor Ruhland*||Alex Bars|
|Tackle||Cole Mabry, Jarrett Patterson||Josh Lugg*, Robert Hainsey, Aaron Banks*||Liam Eichenberg*|
|Defensive Tackle||Jayson Ademilola, Ja'mion Franklin||Kurt Hinish, Darnell Ewell*, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa||Micah Dew-Treadway*, Jerry Tillery||Jonathan Bonner|
|Defensive End||Justin Ademilola||Kofi Wardlow*||Ade Ogundeji*, Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara|
|Linebacker||Matt Bauer, Ovio Oghoufo, Jack Lamb||Drew White*, Jordan Genmark Heath||Jonathan Jones*, Jamir Jones, DJ Morgan||Te'von Coney||Drue Tranquill|
|Rover||Shayne Simon||Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah*, Isaiah Robertson||Asmar Bilal|
|Safety||Derrik Allen, Paul Moala, Houston Griffith||Devin Studstill, Jalen Elliott, Alohi Gilman*||Nicco Fertitta, Nick Coleman|
|Cornerback||Joe Wilkins Jr., Tariq Bracy, D.J. Brown, Noah Boykin||Julian Love, Troy Pride Jr., Donte Vaughn||Shaun Crawford**|
|Specialists||John Doerer||John Shannon*||Justin Yoon||Tyler Newsome|
|27/85 (27)||45/85 (18)||65/85 (20)||79/85 (14)||85/85 (6)|