Jack Freeman / IrishIllustrated.com

Recruiting Report Card: Offense

With six months to go until National Signing Day, Irish Illustrated grades each position on offense in the 2017 class.

Notre Dame has received nine offensive commitments in 2017. With six months until signing day, here’s a grade for each position.

Commitments, success rate with top targets, and current standing with prospects still on the board were all taken into account.

QUARTERBACK

Grade: B+

Committed: Avery Davis (4-star, No. 12 QB, No. 144 overall)

Top Targets: None

Recap: Notre Dame missed on its top quarterback prospect, Hunter Johnson, last August when the No. 5 ranked pro-style signal caller chose Tennessee over Notre Dame. Johnson later flipped to Clemson. Davis emerged next on the board shortly thereafter. The Irish offered a third and final quarterback, Hendon Hooker, in February, in hopes of setting into motion Davis’s decision timeline. Hooker visited in mid-March, and despite holding a committable offer, elected to hold off on a commitment. Davis visited a week later for Junior Day and committed while on campus.

Outlook: The Irish are done at quarterback this cycle. Notre Dame didn’t get its top target at the position, but it still reeled in a top 12 prospect at the position. Notre Dame would have been pleased landing either Davis or Hooker. The timing got a bit dicey with back-to-back visits from Hooker and Davis in March, but Mike Sanford was upfront with both players throughout the process, and it paid off. The 6-foot, 192-pound Davis is a dual-threat that can make every throw and is elusive on the run. He was among 24 quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11 Finals, although he missed the final cut.

RUNNING BACK

Grade: A

Committed: C.J. Holmes (4-star, No. 14 ATH, No. 204 overall)

Top Targets: Robert Burns, Colin Wilson

Recap: Notre Dame pursued but didn’t gain much traction with the nation’s No. 1 running back, Najee Harris, who committed to Alabama. AJ Dillon, a Notre Dame football legacy, seriously considered the Irish before committing to Michigan in March. Holmes landed a Notre Dame offer prior to his visit to campus for Irish Invasion. Once on campus, Holmes was sold. He officially joined the class in July as Notre Dame’s first running back pledge. The 6-foot, 200-pound standout doubles as an all-purpose back and elite athlete. He has terrific hands out of the backfield and gets good separation in the intermediate passing game.

Outlook: Notre Dame isn’t consumed with adding a second running back, especially if the Irish take five receivers (and two tight ends). Notre Dame got Miami commitment Robert Burns on campus in the spring, and the Irish are still working to flip him. Wilson was on campus for Irish Invasion and has Notre Dame among his top three heading into the fall.

WIDE RECIEVER

Grade: B+

Committed: Jordan Pouncey (3-star, No. 56 WR), Michael Young (3-star, No. 71 WR)

Top Targets: Tarik Black, Jamire Calvin, Noah Igbinoghene, Osiris St. Brown

Recap: Notre Dame offered a bunch of wide receivers this cycle and it made headway with a number of blue-chip prospects, including Trey Blount, Hezekiah Jones and Donovan Peoples-Jones. The 6-3, 186-pound Pouncey committed in Notre Dame Stadium following the workout portion of Irish Invasion. His length and body control gives Notre Dame a solid deep threat. The 5-11, 178-pound Young was Notre Dame’s top slot prospect for much of the spring and summer. He committed to the Irish in July, a month after his first visit to campus.

Outlook: A “B” grade would probably be more appropriate if you’re only judging the two current public commitments. However, Notre Dame’s position with a pair of four-stars both on the fringe of the Top 100 in Black and St. Brown give the Irish a solid “B+.” Black is Notre Dame’s to lose, although Notre Dame may trail Stanford for St. Brown with a decision coming Friday. Calvin has high interest in Notre Dame and will give the Irish one of his five official visits this fall. Igbinoghene has Notre Dame in his top five.

TIGHT END

Grade: A+

Committed: Brock Wright (4-star, No. 3 TE, No. 79 overall), Cole Kmet (4-star, No. 4 TE, No. 175 overall)

Top targets: None

Recap: Notre Dame had received commitments from its top tight end targets by October of last year. The 6-5, 240-pound Wright excels as a blocker and runs the field well, while the 6-6, 240-pound Kmet has outstanding size and pass-catching ability.

Outlook: It’s not really a debate as to which program has the top tight end class in the country. Notre Dame has commitments from two of the nation’s top five tight ends. Case closed.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Grade: A

Committed: Dillan Gibbons (4-star, No. 22 OG), Josh Lugg (4-star, No. 17 OT, No. 143 overall), Robert Hainsey (4-star, No. 16 OT, No. 116 overall)

Top Targets: Aaron Banks, Foster Sarell, Trey Smith, Jedrick Wills

Recap: The 6-5, 315-pound Gibbons was Notre Dame’s first commitment of the class in April of 2015. Lugg, listed at 6-6, 280, committed last August, and the 6-5, 270-pound Hainsey chose Notre Dame at The Opening Finals in July. Hainsey offers the most flexibility of three as a swing tackle/guard prospect. Andrew Thomas, Tyler Beach, Wyatt Davis and Phillip Paea were among offensive line prospects that committed elsewhere after having Notre Dame in their top group. Paea also had some defensive tackle potential.

Outlook: Notre Dame has come close but hasn’t landed a top 10 tackle this cycle. If it does, an “A+” finish seems likely. Notre Dame would ideally add two more tackles in 2017, though taking only one more is possible. Sarell, the No. 1 tackle in the class and No. 2 player overall, is unquestionably Notre Dame’s top offensive line target left on the board. The Irish are in a heated battle with Stanford, and to a lesser extent, Washington, to land him. Smith and Wills, two more top tackle prospects on Harry Hiestand’s board, are both expected to land in the SEC. Banks gets his first look at Notre Dame this week. He has yet to seriously narrow his list. It’s possible Notre Dame could extend new offers at tackle this fall.


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