Stacking up spring returns

Notre Dame will cap spring practice with the Blue-Gold Game, then the Irish coaches hit the road for an important stretch in the recruiting calendar. Assistant coaches will spend most of May on flights and in rental cars evaluation prospects. Are they hitting the road with ground to make up? Irish Illustrated takes a look at the recent historical record.

Finishing spring practice means starting the spring evaluation period.

Today marks the beginning of that off-season contact period. Between now and May 31 – except Sundays and Memorial Day – assistant coaches can fan out across the country to assess prospects in person, once for an academic evaluation and another time for an athletic inspection.

Notre Dame will send new coaches Todd Lyght, Mike Sanford, Keith Gilmore and Autry Denson out to push the program brand for the first time. Recruiting coordinator Mike Elston and the remaining assistants will settle back into familiar territories and routines.

Will the Irish enter the spring evaluation period behind or ahead of the game? Irish Illustrated takes a look at where things stand compared to recent hauls exiting the Blue-Gold Game weekend.

Class of 2016: Building momentum

Elston is off to a solid start as recruiting coordinator with five commitments before the Blue-Gold Game.

Four-star offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer remains the jewel, although his pledge came under former recruiting coordinator Tony Alford last fall. Three-star cornerback Julian Love, long snapper John Shannon and four-star running back Tony Jones jumped on board last month.

Four-star defensive end Julian Okwara, younger brother of current Irish defensive end Romeo Okwara, made a verbal pledge Tuesday night, giving Notre Dame a hit at a need position.

All new commitments pulled the trigger either during or shortly after campus visits, as is typical during the spring. Blue-Gold Game visitors appear down across the board, likely by design as the game moved to the LaBar practice fields with Notre Dame Stadium under construction.

But no matter the close to spring practice recruiting, it appears the Irish are on a similar track to past years.

Class of 2015: June commitment run

Notre Dame came into Blue-Gold Game weekend last spring with four commitments in hand — Jerry Tillery, Tristen Hoge, Nicco Fertitta and Jalen Guyton.

Hoge and Tillery had been committed since the previous December and June, respectively. Fertitta accepted his scholarship offer a week before the spring game. Guyton had done so the previous month after a campus visit.

Three commitments followed — Trevor Ruhland, C.J. Sanders and Josh Barajas — between the spring game and June camp period, when things took off.

Seven prospects jumped on board in June alone, doubling the class size in one month.

Spring evaluation period offers netted commitments from defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum, cornerback Nick Coleman and defensive tackle Micah Dew-Treadway. Four-star cornerback Shaun Crawford jumped on board before Irish Invasion camp, as did kicker Justin Yoon. Running back Josh Adams followed suit shortly after spending the camp weekend in South Bend.

Class of 2014: Loading up early

Snagging early commitments proved no problem in this class with four on board before spring ball even started.

Wide receiver Justin Brent, offensive guard Jimmy Byrne, defensive tackle Jay Hayes and linebacker Greer Martini all made verbal pledges before the spring of their junior years. Defensive end Andrew Trumbetti and offensive guard Sam Mustipher came on as pre-spring game additions in March and April.

Things slowed a little after the Blue-Gold Game. Tight end Nic Weishar came on board a few days after with offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars following in May.

Spring evaluation period recruiting netted a commitment from quarterback DeShone Kizer in June. Defensive end Jonathan Bonner and kicker Tyler Newsome came on board after earning camp scholarship offers.

Class of 2013: Spring boom

No haul in the Brian Kelly era has expanded during the spring like the Class of 2013.

Kelly and staff secured 11 verbal commitments before spring practice ended with another coming less than a week after the Blue-Gold Game. And that haul didn’t lack for star power either.

Offensive lineman Steve Elmer had been the lone commitment pre-spring, having jumped on board the previous fall. Come the end of March he was far from alone.

Hunter Bivin, Rashad Kinlaw, Jacob Matuska, Mike McGlinchey, Colin McGovern, James Onwualu, Corey Robinson and Malik Zaire all came into the fold. Devin Butler did so in early April and John Montelus joined on the day of the spring game.

Tight end Mike Heuerman gave Scott Booker a verbal commitment in person on one of the first recruiting stops of the evaluation period five days after the spring game.

Continuing the momentum while on the road netted June commitments from five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith and four-star defensive end Isaac Rochell. Offering linebacker Michael Deeb after taking a closer look also resulted in a June pledge.

All in all, the spring of 2012 was the most productive stretch for Kelly and staff by a wide margin.

Class of 2012: Small spring returns

One of the smaller classes for Kelly on the whole, there’s no surprise it showed little growth in the spring.

Former cornerback Tee Shepard began his ill-fated relationship with Notre Dame by committing sight unseen in March then following up with a Blue-Gold Game visit, where long snapper Scott Daly and safety Nicky Baratti also joined the commitment list.

It would take another month before the class doubled in size with Justin Ferguson, Mark Harrell and C.J. Prosise all pledging in May. John Turner did so in June after earning a camp offer.


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