For all the uncertainty surrounding Notre Dame’s recruiting campaign entering camp, the offensive line has none of it.
With Parker Boudreaux, Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg committed, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand has already moved on to his next class, scoring Dillon Gibbons out of Florida in April and hosting Josh Lugg on Thursday. The Pennsylvania prospect left South Bend with the same reaction virtually every offensive line target has had since Hiestand arrived here.
“I had an awesome visit to Notre Dame with my family,” Lugg told Irish Illustrated.
The perception with offensive line recruiting is that Notre Dame does it better than anybody on the national level. But how would that look in statistical form measured against last season’s Top 10 teams? Irish Illustrated kicks off this Insider Report with a closer look at that data.
First, we looked back to the Class of 2012 and included the current recruiting cycle for a total of five hauls at the position. Notre Dame has taken a total of 17 offensive linemen during that time, which doesn’t include Jarron Jones, who’s listed by Scout.com as an offensive linemen but was recruited on defense.
On the flip side, it does include Jerry Tillery despite his eventual move to defense.
All but three (Boudreaux, Trevor Ruhland and Mark Harrell) have been ranked as four-star prospects. That means 82 percent of the offensive linemen Notre Dame has landed received a four-star designation. Boudreaux’s ranking isn’t final, so that could change for the better.
Notre Dame hasn’t landed a five-star prospect in the Scout.com rankings during that time. Kraemer is close at No. 29 overall. Despite that the average star ranking has soared thanks to a steady flow of four-star prospects. Right now it sits at 3.82, a sterling number.
For reference, LSU and Ohio State currently sit atop the Scout.com team rankings (taking into consideration the entire class, not just offensive linemen) with a 3.88 star rating average. Both have 17 total commitments. LSU has two five stars, 11 four stars and four three stars. Ohio State has one five star, 13 four stars and three three stars.
So, how does Notre Dame’s 3.82 average star rating for its 17 offensive line signees dating back to the Class of 2012 stack up against other top programs? We compared that number to the final Top 10 of last season’s AP Poll. Total offensive line commitments are listed in parentheses.
Alabama: 3.74 (23)
UCLA: 3.52 (19)
Ohio State: 3.48 (21)
Georgia: 3.44 (18)
Florida State: 3.37 (19)
Oregon: 3.29 (17)
Baylor: 3.20 (15)
Michigan State: 3.06 (16)
TCU: 2.94 (17)
Georgia Tech: 2.83 (12)
Georgia scored a five star, John Theus, in the Class of 2012.
Defending national champion Ohio State has taken 21 total. Georgia Tech, an upcoming opponent this season, has taken just 12.
Oregon landed five-star prospect Arik Armstead in the Class of 2012 but he was left out of this comparison for the same reason as Jones: Scout.com listed him as an offensive tackle but he was recruited primarily at defensive end. That’s where Notre Dame recruited Armstead too, nearly stealing him late.
Most presumed Notre Dame has recruited offensive linemen better than anybody.
Here’s the data to back that up.
In the past week several prospects cut their lists to a group of finalists.
Mitchell, a four-star wide receiver from New Jersey, visited South Bend in June and considers Notre Dame among his top three with Michigan and Ohio State but the Irish have a lot of ground to make up from the third spot. It’s difficult to see that happening when Mitchell’s summer visit didn’t move the meter for Notre Dame.
Pryts listed Notre Dame among his top five with UCLA, Penn State, Ohio State and Stanford. He has visited each of his favorites and could end the recruiting process shortly. Ohio State is rumored to be the favorite for the four-star linebacker from Pennsylvania.
Notre Dame originally began recruiting Lucas as a running back/receiver but recently switched gears and now the Irish project him as a cornerback. The four-star prospect from Arizona lists Notre Dame, UCLA, Arizona State, Washington, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska among his top seven. Lucas’ father is a Notre Dame fan and lives in the Chicago area. That could help the Irish down the stretch.
One prospect who axed Notre Dame this week was Elijah Holyfield, who cut his list to a final five of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. At The Opening, Holyfield told Irish Illustrated that he didn’t want to take all his official visits within the SEC, but that doesn’t appear to be the case now. Holyfield, the son of former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, visited Notre Dame in March for Junior Day.
Five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary came close to visiting South Bend this summer but didn’t fit that trip in during stops at Michigan and Ohio State. During The Opening Finals in Oregon earlier this month Gary told Irish Illustrated he would make his way to South Bend at some point before signing day.
On Wednesday, Gary’s mother said if that trip does occur it would happen during the week of Aug. 4, which would follow a return stop in Ann Arbor.
Gary is expected to be in Baton Rouge this week for LSU’s elite camp.
Notre Dame expects to host a few top targets in the coming days.
Four-star cornerbacks Jordan Fuller and Damar Hamlin are scheduled to visit on July 30 and 31, respectively. Fuller, a New Jersey native, is expected to return to South Bend in the fall for an official visit.
Hamlin will join teammate David Adams, a junior four-star linebacker, and junior four-star defensive back Paris Ford, also a Pittsburgh native, in South Bend. Hamlin visited for Junior Day in March. He sported Ohio State gloves during The Opening Regionals in Columbus and the Buckeyes are considered one of the frontrunners. Pittsburgh, Penn State and Notre Dame also are in the running. Ford is the brother of former Irish defensive back Darrin Walls.
Four-star cornerback Donte Vaughn first visited Notre Dame back in June as part of a bus tour with several teammates and Memphis area prospects. He returned last week with his father to get a closer look at the school. Don’t be surprised if Vaughn joins the Irish recruiting class sooner rather than later, even though he originally planned to announce his college choice on his birthday in October.
Four-star cornerback David Long has yet to see Notre Dame but that could change soon. Long is working out a trip that could lead him to South Bend next week. The Los Angeles prospect wouldn’t rule out a commitment to the Irish or any of his other favorites. Notre Dame, Michigan, Washington, Stanford, Oregon and UCLA all stand a fair shot, but it’s not likely he’ll leave the West coast.
Four-star junior tight end Cole Kmet is set for a return trip to Notre Dame next week.
Kmet last visited campus for the Irish Invasion, when he impressed the coaching staff. Scott Booker and Mike Denbrock called to offer a scholarship a few days after camp, pitching the idea of pairing Kmet with four-star commitment Brock Wright.
Notre Dame feels good about its position with Kmet, although it’s unclear if he’s ready to pull the trigger on a commitment. Either way, the Irish want to make it happen.