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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: What’s happening to the 2021 class for the Irish?

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Please... tell me

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With the news starting to spread that 5-Star running back Will Shipley will be committing to the Clemson Tigers over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Tuesday afternoon, it’s a good time to check in with what’s happening in South Bend.

THE SHIP IS SAILING AWAY

The Irish poured everything they had into the recruitment of Will Shipley, but at the time of this article being published — it will have been all for nothing. Shipley is expected to announce for Clemson, and rumors have been swirling that he has been a silent commit to Dabo and the Tigers for a while now.

While it’s easy to throw shade at Brian Kelly, Lance Taylor, and whoever else for this — Notre Dame really did all it could to get the commitment of Shipley. No doubt the whole deal with the coronavirus pandemic played a role here, because distance played a role.

My biggest issue isn’t losing out to arguably the top program in college football right now, but the way in which Notre Dame went about it all. Yes, I truly feel they did their absolute best to get Shipley, but now they’re climbing an incredibly steep hill with Donovan Edwards. Will they employ the same “all in” tactics with Edwards? I hope not, because if that doesn’t work out (and there’s not a good chance right now that it does) they’re right back to where they are now with everyone else — but even further behind.

Here’s the offer list. It doesn’t look very promising right now.

247 Sports

THE BIG 3 DIDN’T HAPPEN

Just a few months ago there was a lot of social media love (thanks to Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts) about the Irish landing the “Big 3” on the offensive line in Blake Fisher, Langdon Tengwall, and Rocco Spindler. As it happened, Tengwall committed to the Penn State Nittany Lions to break up that whole campaign.

Now, the Irish are in a bit of a waiting game with Spindler as he still wants to take all of his official visits. The general feeling is that Spindler is a strong Notre Dame lean right now, but the deal certainly isn’t closed. If the Irish can help facilitate a faster decision from Rocco, it would be of great advantage to them.

The Irish are very happy with what they have in Blake Fisher and Pat Coogan, but they absolutely HAVE to get Rocco Spindler into this class along with another good prospect such as Caleb Johnson.

WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING AT LINEBACKER?

I’m absolutely confused about what is happening with linebacker recruiting. Before I go any further, here’s the scholarship chart at linebacker for 2021:

Notre Dame pushed the envelope in 2019 by signing 4 linebackers — two of which (Bertrand and Liufau) didn’t exactly have a scholarship at the time of their commitment either. With a strong contingent on campus, the Irish basically took a pass in 2020 at linebacker — a class that saw Cody Simon (Shayne Simon’s brother) commit to the Ohio State Buckeyes after disinterest from Notre Dame.

You’d think that they would have to sign at least one or two linebackers in the 2021 class with only five linebackers on the roster that are scheduled to be there in 2022. And yet... barely a whisper at the position with only nine offers currently out there (four of which are already committed).

So yeah... I’m a little confused right now.

2021 Notre Dame Football Scholarship Chart

Position / Year Freshmen Sophomore Junior Senior 5th Year
Position / Year Freshmen Sophomore Junior Senior 5th Year
Quarterback Tyler Buchner, Ron Powlus Drew Pyne Brendon Clark* - Jack Coan
Running Back Logan Diggs, Audric Estime Chris Tyree Kyren Williams* C'Bo Flemister* -
Tight End Cane Berrong, Mitchell Evans Michael Mayer, Kevin Bauman - George Takacs* -
Wide Receiver Lorenzo Styles, Deion Colzie, Jayden Thomas Xavier Watts - Kevin Austin*, Braden Lenzy*, Joe Wilkins*, Lawrence Keys III* Avery Davis
Center - - Zeke Correll* Jarrett Patterson* -
Guard Pat Coogan, Rocco Spindler - Hunter Spears* John Dirksen* Cain Madden
Tackle Blake Fisher, Joe Alt, Caleb Johnson Tosh Baker, Michael Carmody Andrew Kristofic*, Quinn Carroll* - Josh Lugg**
Defensive Tackle Gabriel Rubio Aidan Keanaaina, Rylie Mills Howard Cross*, Jacob Lacey Jayson Ademilola Kurt Hinish**, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa**
Defensive End Jason Onye, Will Schweitzer Alexander Ehrensberger, Jordan Botelho NaNa Osafo-Mensah*, Isaiah Foskey* Justin Ademilola* -
Linebacker Prince Kollie, Kahanu Kia - Jack Kiser*, Osita Ekwonu*, Marist Liufau*, JD Bertrand* Bo Bauer, Shayne Simon, Paul Moala Drew White, Isaiah Pryor
Safety Justin Walters, Khari Gee - Litchfield Ajavon*, Kyle Hamilton, KJ Wallace* Houston Griffith, D.J. Brown* -
Cornerback Ryan Barnes, Chance Tucker, Philip Riley, JoJo Johnson Clarence Lewis, Caleb Offord, Ramon Henderson Cam Hart* TaRiq Bracy -
Specialists Josh Bryan (K) Alex Peitsch (LS) Jay Bramblett - Jonathan Doerer**
Totals 26/85 (26) 41/85 (15) 60/85 (19) 76/85 (16) 85/85 (9)
* Eligible for 5th Year ** Eligible for 6th Year

GRAD TRANSFER MARKET

In today’s world, the transfer portal is almost of equal importance to a program as recruiting is. To that point, the Irish are in good shape for two more possible grad transfers for this year. Notre Dame has already welcomed safety Isaiah Pryor from the Ohio State Buckeyes and wide receiver Bennett Skowronek from the Northwestern Wildcats to their 2020 fold. There are, however, two more very possible additions.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Northwestern Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Trevor Speights from the Stanford Cardinal is widely predicted to pick the Irish, and depending upon his medical status from 2016, he could have two years of eligibility. The Lance Taylor connection is certainly there, so it’s an easy one to figure out from that perspective — but it seems a little strange given what we have seen from Notre Dame and their running back recruiting in this class.

Just recently, news has surfaced that the Irish may try to bring in cornerback Nick McCloud from N.C. State. McCloud is a grad transfer with one year of eligibility remaining. With a lot of inexperience on Notre Dame’s depth chart at corner, and the health history of Shaun Crawford, it makes sense. I have no idea how far in this process either McCloud or Notre Dame are, but it’s certainly interesting.

AN INTERESTING MONTH AWAITS

With everything going on in the world, it’s hard to get a good finger on how things may go down over the next few months. We know Notre Dame is hoping to host some official visits in June, and if they eventually do, perhaps that will help clear some of the fog surrounding the 2021 class.

The Irish are currently ranked #12 according to the 247 team rankings — but with only 8 commitments, that’s not as bad as it seems. An addition of Shipley would have brought them to 8th at the moment, and if you’re curious, Shipley and Spindler would put them at 4th at the current moment.

This recruiting class is going to test everyone’s patience, and we’re just going to have to deal with it all as it comes.

Notre Dame Football’s 2021 Commit List (27)

POSITION PLAYER SIGNED STATE HT WT RIVALS ESPN 247 SPORTS 247 COMPOSITE COMMIT DATE EARLY ENROLLEE
POSITION PLAYER SIGNED STATE HT WT RIVALS ESPN 247 SPORTS 247 COMPOSITE COMMIT DATE EARLY ENROLLEE
QB Tyler Buchner ☘️ California 6'2" 200 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 03/08/19 YES
DT Gabriel Rubio ☘️ Missouri 6'6" 290 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/15/19 YES
OT Blake Fisher ☘️ Indiana 6'6" 300 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/15/19 YES
TE Cane Berrong ☘️ Georgia 6'5" 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/21/19 YES
WR Lorenzo Styles ☘️ Ohio 6'1" 170 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 10/13/19 YES
S Justin Walters ☘️ Illinois 6'2" 175 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 02/02/20 YES
OL Pat Coogan ☘️ Illinois 6'5" 290 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 04/15/20 -
DE Jason Onye ☘️ Rhode Island 6'5" 245 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 05/07/20 -
CB Ryan Barnes ☘️ Maryland 6'2" 180 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/06/20 YES
OT Joe Alt ☘️ Minnesota 6'7" 257 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/06/20 -
CB Chance Tucker ☘️ California 6'1" 170 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/22/20 -
RB Logan Diggs ☘️ Louisiana 6’0" 195 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/29/20 -
TE Mitchell Evans ☘️ Ohio 6'7" 240 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/31/20 YES
LB Prince Kollie ☘️ Tennessee 6'2" 205 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 08/07/20 -
OG Rocco Spindler ☘️ Michigan 6'5" 315 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 08/08/20 YES
DE Will Schweitzer ☘️ California 6'4" 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 08/16/20 YES
WR Deion Colzie ☘️ Georgia 6'4" 195 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 09/28/20 -
WR Jayden Thomas ☘️ Georgia 6'1" 205 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 10/02/20 -
CB Philip Riley ☘️ Florida 6'0" 195 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/16/20 YES
K Josh Bryan ☘️ Colorado 6'1" 185 SAILER 6⭐️ SAILER 6⭐️ SAILER 6⭐️ SAILER 6⭐️ 11/17/20 -
LB Kahanu Kia ☘️ Hawaii 6'2" 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/19/20 -
OT Caleb Johnson ☘️ Florida 6'7" 295 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/19/20 YES
CB JoJo Johnson ☘️ Indiana 5'11" 180 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/24/20 -
DE Devin Aupiu ☘️ California 6’6” 225 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/09/20 YES
QB Ron Powlus III ☘️ Indiana 6'3" 225 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/16/20 YES
S Khari Gee ☘️ Georgia 6'3" 190 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/18/20 -
RB Audric Estime ☘️ New Jersey 6'2" 215 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/18/20 -