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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: 2020 Rivals Edition

Checking in how the bad guys did in their 2020

National signing day has come and gone, and the last of the hats have been plucked from their table. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished the 2020 cycle with the 17th ranked class according to 247 composite rankings POINT totals, but it terms of average recruit ranking (90.75), they finished 9th. They say say’s it’s not the size of the class that matters but how you use it — and it’s pretty clear Kelly and co used the limited numbers effectively.

On a micro level, a recruit’s star ranking is not indicative of how they pan out over four years. Ian Book was an unheralded three star who chased off two top 100 recruits. On a macro level however, you need only look at the teams who make the CFB playoff perennially to see that these rankings do matter. It’s often that fans of a program remain fairly insulated to the happenings of their own team, not really seeing the forest from the trees if you will. What I set out to do was put the Irish class into further context by showing what Notre Dame’s rivals — and some future opponents — did in 2020.

Stanford Cardinal

It’s a numbers game for the lads up on the farm. Even with a class of 25, they are losing. As things currently stand, Stanford has 79 scholarship players. Recruiting rankings over the last two seasons for Stanford has certainly normalized by their standards but that is mostly a result of quantity. Of those 79 players, 46 will be true freshmen and sophomores next season. The average rating of players in the 2020 class is the lowest Stanford has had since 2008 (86.37). To illustrate, Stanford went into NSD with 22 players signed to their class.

They added three more:
Zephron Lester - 2 star DT from Middle Village, New York He had 15 offers but only were from FBS schools: Army, Massachusetts, Temple and Stanford.
Kiersten Lee - The gem of yesterday’s “haul”, a low 3 star ILB from Marietta, GA. As the 2632nd ranked player in the 2020 class, he chose the Cardinal over Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale, after originally verbally committing just before early signing day but didn’t sign his LOI until NSD.
Max Kalny - He’s a 247 2 star OG from Lenexa, Kansas who literally doesn’t have a composite ranking. His offer list includes just nine schools: Air Force, Cornell, Illinois State, Indiana State, Lafayette, Soutwest Minnesota State,

Was he offered to be in an order of monks? Because I’m 100% sure that Augustana and Benedictine are monastic orders.

That’s not to say Stanford was devoid of talent in this signing class. Myles Hinton was a top 100 player and an offensive lineman most of the country offered and wanted (curiously not Notre Dame). They were able to stave off Michigan (who signed his 5* brother last year) and Alabama. He is the first four star OT Stanford has landed since getting Foster Sarell and Walker Little in 2017. Four star running back EJ Smith and four star receiver John Humphreys add tsome much needed talent at the skill positions for the Cardinal, an area they are woefully lacking. They were also able to nab a 4 star corner Ayden Hector, who is of note because his father played on the USC Trojans in the early 90’s. If he had followed in his father footsteps, he would have ended up the second highest ranked Trojan recruit...

Womp womp.

USC Trojans

The Trojan’s have just completed their worst recruiting class in the recruiting services era. If you took the number of national championships and Heisman trophy’s that USC has vacated this century you would have the same number of four star recruits USC signed this cycle. They signed as many unranked players as they did top FOUR-HUNDRED players. There is nothing nice to say. This class belongs in a museum. It truly is a work of art. Bravo USC.

Navy Midshipmen

So we need to have a talk about Navy because I have no idea what the hell is happening here. Words fail. They signed 39 players. That’s not a typo. They signed more recruits than Baskin-Robbins has ice-cream flavors, and I don’t know what to make of it. Does Navy always sign a million kids? The answer is yes — yes they do. Hold up... Am I reading this wrong? How can they sign a million kids every year? Are these scholarship players? I can’t tell. Lemme look a little deeper... What!? They had 60 commits in 2017?? What is this madness???

Boston College Eagles

Are they a rival? They think they’re a rival right? Does that make BC a rival? What if I don’t want them to be rival? How do you un-rival someone? One second, hold on:

Me: Alexa, how do you un-rival someone?
Alexa: Sorry I don’t know that.
Me: Well shit...
Me: Alexa, how many double digit win seasons has Boston College had?
Alexa: One more than USC has four star recruits in their 2020 class.

Oh well, I guess we’re stuck with them huh? So how’d they do anyway?

They signed Drew Pyne’s cousin! Kevin Pyne is one of the corner stones to their class, he and local boy Ozzy Trapilo, are the highest ranked offensive linemen Boston College has signed since 4-star John Elliott in 2007. Since start of Jude’s definition of a decade, they had just signed two four star players until this year. Pretty impressive considering the coaching staff turnover. Their average recruit ranking (85.29) is the highest in program history (well, since 2002 when these things were reliably tracked), which is something to be commended. Sure 11 of their 15 commits aren’t ranked but hey, two four stars!

Wisconsin Badgers

Yes I know, Wisconsin isn’t a rival. Notre Dame hasn’t played Wisconsin since Ara Parseghian’s first season, a fact NBC is sure to cram down your throat like the year is 1992 and your Boomer parents want you to eat unseasoned Brussels sprout.

Flutie Facts, a dish best served never.

The thing about Wisconsin is they are kinda not great at this whole recruiting thing. Every year they do essentially the same thing, they sign 20-25 kids, they rank between 25-45, and they pray they miss Ohio State/Penn State in the cross conference scheduling so they can pound on the western division patsies and win 10 games. They haven’t beaten Penn State since the disgraced Joe Paterno was fired, and have lost eight straight to the Buckeyes. Not to fully besmirch the good name of the Wisconsin program however, they did sign five four-star recruits that, in all likelihood, will go on to be productive three year starters and end up winning some kind of Kirk Herbstreit post season Herby award given to the player who should have a neck roll or something.

Wisconsin practice, where you’ll find more neck roll’s than passing drills.

Joking aside, Jalen Berger is THE Wisconsin running back. He’s a four star from Don Bosco Prep in NJ, and he is everything that a Wisconsin back should be. Fun fact I bet you didn’t know: Wisconsin seems to have the state of New Jersey on lock down when it comes to running backs; Jonathan Taylor was from Salem, Corey Clement was from Glassboro, Anthony Davis was from Plainfield, and Ron Dayne was from Pine Hill. Their class this year did end up ranked 25th — however the average player rating (87.82) illustrates the demonstrative difference between even the 17th (Notre Dame) and 25th ranked class. It’s a difference not unlike Notre Dame and...

Clemson Tigers

They signed 5 five-star recruits. They signed the #1 recruit DT Bryan Bresee, #7 recruit DE Myles Murphy, #10 recruit QB DJ Uiagalelei, #20 recruit RB Demarkcus Bowman and #26 recruit OLB Trenton Simpson. That’s just five-stars guys... They also signed the 33, 49, 52, 68, 93rd ranked players as well. This recruiting class is stupid good and it would be ranked number 1 in terms of average recruit rating (93.45) if they didn’t sign Brent Venables’ son Tyler, who is a three star safety and rated at 84.98 — less than half a point less than BOSTON COLLEGE’S BEST SEASON AVERAGE. Dabo’s got it rolling at Clemson right now. I would like to point out however that this year’s class, ranked third, is the highest in Clemson history. Just a quick run down to help raise some spirits?

2019 - 10th ranked class, 89.76 avg
2018 - 7th ranked class, 93.45 avg
2017 - 16th ranked class, 92.10 avg
2016 - 11th ranked class, 90.30 avg
2015 - 9th ranked class, 89.12 avg
2014 - 16th ranked class, 88.59 avg
2013 - 15th ranked class, 88..46 avg

I think you get the picture. The point is, they weren’t on that Alabama level until recently. They won TITLES with classes not unlike the ones that Brian Kelly has been pulling in. When folks say that the Irish are behind in terms of talent, I always kind of raise an eyebrow. It’s not like Clemson was bathed in five star butter when they blanked Ohio State 31-0 and beat Alabama for the national championship in 2016. My follow-up to this is to look at the rosters of Notre Dame’s opponents based on the talent currently on them, my hunch is Notre Dame is closer to Clemson in terms of talent than any other team is to Notre Dame. I’ll leave you with this graph, to show you where this 2020 Notre Dame class stacks up to their 2020 opponents in terms of average player rating.