About 15 years ago, I started tracking which states the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were filling out their roster with the most. There were huge sweeping generalizations about where the top talent in the country hails from, and even though those generalizations are mostly true, I still felt that the entire subject required a little more nuance — especially given the unique nature of Notre Dame’s recruiting effort.
The Irish HAVE to recruit nationally to compete for playoffs and championships. There’s just not enough talent available within the 200 mile radius of South Bend to sustain a high-caliber roster. There used to be enough talent, but socio-economic changes and the demographics of that footprint have changed dramatically over the last 50 years.
Over the last 10 years, there has been an even more noticeable change to recruiting and the geography of it all. Conference realignment has really altered historical pipelines with a program like the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the state of Texas as the prime example since the move from the Big 12 to the Big 10.
Basic geography and yearly schedules aside, the most important part of the entire recruiting process are the relationships coaches create with high schools and their surrounding communities. In this day and age, coaches move around more than ever — but the relationships stay the same. Add in the ease of contact with social media and new NIL rules, and recruiting has become increasingly less dependant upon the location of a school than ever before (Nicholas Singleton aside).
So where is Notre Dame’s roster coming from? According to our most current 2022 roster, 31 states and the country of Germany are represented as scholarship football players. The rankings below represent the top 6 states on the Notre Dame football roster with player rankings via the 247 Sports Composite. After those rankings, there is a comparison to 2011 provided in case you may be wondering if there was a significant shift after the era of Brian Kelly.
Average Star Rating: 3.72
Top 100: 1 — QB Tyler Buchner
Most Notable: 4* Jarrett Patterson, 4* Tyler Buchner, 4* Isaiah Foskey
Newcomers: 4* Jaden Mickey, 4* Junior Tuihalamaka
California is generally the state that Notre Dame sends more offers out to each year. The state houses an immense amount of talent, and a lot of that talent the Irish are after resides in about 10 different high schools. While I personally believe Notre Dame could and should tighten up its recruiting efforts in California (like stay out of Fresno forever) the state should always be in the top 5 for Notre Dame.
2. New Jersey
Average Star Rating: 3.75
Top 100: 0
Most Notable: 4* Jayson Ademilola, 4* Audric Estime, 4* Howard Cross
Newcomers: 4* Jayden Bellamy, 4* Steve Angeli
Notre Dame didn’t stop recruiting New Jersey when Charlie Weis was asked to leave the program. The state consistently produces some of the top talent in the nation thanks to its strong North Jersey Super Football Conference — and its Catholic member schools in particular. With that said, Notre Dame rarely offers more than 7 kids a year from Jersey — so they have a pretty good hit rate here.
Average Star Rating: 3.83
Top 100: 0
Most Notable: 4* Deion Colzie, 4* J.D. Bertrand
Newcomers: 4* Holden Staes
These are encouraging and discouraging numbers. A few years back, Notre Dame shifted a lot of its Florida focus to Georgia and Texas. Georgia has a large number of schools that are the “Notre Dame fit” and should become a bigger and better feeder state for the Irish. You’d like to see the overall numbers be a little higher, but it’s also the highest ASR of the top five states. Throw Kyle Hamilton and K.J. Wallace into this and Georgia is the clear number 2 with the same number of players as Jersey but with a Top 100 player and a higher ASR.
Average Star Rating: 3.8
Top 100: 0
Most Notable: 4* Bo Bauer, 4* Josh Lugg, 4* Andrew Kristofic
Newcomers: 3* Donovan Hinish
Pennsylvania (specifically western PA) used to be one of the biggest suppliers of talent to Notre Dame. Recently, it’s been mostly linemen and linebackers (Phil Jurkovec aside). At any rate, the state’s representatives in South Bend have fluctuated quite a bit over the last couple of decades. We could be just one cycle away (2023 class) where we see Pennsylvania having just a couple of players on the roster.
Average Star Rating: 3.6
Top 100: 1 — OL Blake Fisher
Most Notable: 4* Jack Kiser, 4* Blake Fisher
Newcomers: 4* Ashton Craig, 4* Joey Tanona
Unsurprisingly, Notre Dame does quite well in its home state. They have, however, missed out on a small handful of top prospects to Michigan and Ohio State — but it’s still a good job by the Irish. Only Ron Powlus III’s ranking is less than a 4-Star, so the guys they are taking are mostly blue-chippers.
Average Star Rating: 3.2
Top 100: 1 — DB Houston Griffith
Most Notable: 4* Houston Griffith, 4* Rylie Mills
Illinois (more specifically the Chicagoland area) was a staple of Notre Dame football recruiting for well over a century and a major component of the Irish roster every year. That trend has been on the decline for over a decade now. While the trend is down, it’s still highly unlikely that Illinois falls into the 1or 2 player status like 18 of the other 31 states represented.
5 other states have 4 players represented on the roster; Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, and Maryland.
The 2011 comparison
I couldn’t find all of my complete data from the 2010 season, so 2011 will have to do.
- California (9) 3.88 ASR
- Ohio (9) 3.55 ASR
- Florida (8) 3.22 ASR
- Illinois (7) 3.85 ASR
- Indiana (7) 3.28 ASR
- New Jersey (6) 3.5 ASR
- North Carolina (5) 3.8 ASR
- Texas (4) 3.0 ASR
The most obvious point to make is that Florida and Ohio have taken huge nose-dives in the Notre Dame recruiting world over the course of the last decade. In 2011, 17 players represented those two states while in 2022 there are just 8. With the large amount of blue-chip talent in both states, the Irish probably need those numbers to go up in at least one of the states.
The most likely of the two is Ohio. With Marcus Freeman’s ties to the state that extends further than just the Cincinnati area, Notre Dame can be a player in the Buckeye state — and currently have the state’s top ranked player committed in the 2023 class (Brennan Vernon). Still... the Irish are sitting in a great position in Florida with two 2023 commitments ranked in the top 50 in the state (Keon Keeley and Sedrick Irvin) and 18 offers with other Florida Top 50 members.
You can draw your own conclusions for any other comparisons, and I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.