Ranking The Recruits

How would Irish Illustrated rank Notre Dame’s incoming talent from top to bottom? Our staff tallied the votes in a poll format. Here are the results. And yes, we actually do love kickers

The Irish Illustrated staff – Pete Sampson, Tim Prister, Jake Brown, Tim O’Malley and Steve Hare – ranked every prospect in Notre Dame’s recruiting class from top to bottom. Here are the results, including which staffers went highest on a prospect and which staffers went lowest.

A first-place vote was worth 21 points, a second-place vote was worth 20 points, all the way down to a 21st-place vote being worth one point.

Total first-place votes are listed in parentheses.

1. Brock Wright                      103      (3)
While he’s not a sure thing, Wright is incredibly close. He’s the kind of tight end the Irish have historically turned into All-Americans and second-round picks. What puts him at No. 1 for me is the combination of athletic ability and off-the-field maturity. If he’s not a captain in four years it will be a surprise. – Sampson
High: 1st – Sampson, Brown, Hare
Low: 2nd – Prister, O’Malley 

2. Darnell Ewell                      100      (2)
Love everything about this kid. A solid block of muscle and tenacity. College-level physical maturity upon arrival. Will play a ton as a freshman. Will be the rock upon which Irish defensive lines under Mike Elko are built. Run defense improves the moment he sets foot on the field. Brings personality to equation as well. – Prister      
High: 1st – Prister, O’Malley
Low: 4th – Brown

3. Josh Lugg                            92
Menacing presence with consistent physicality while maintaining balance. Keeps pads underneath him and shows rapid pass-blocking recovery. Unusual control of 6-foot-6 frame. Only one of the four offensive linemen without a doubt about his development into a high-level performer. – Prister
High: 3rd – Prister, O’Malley, Brown, Sampson
Low: 6th – Hare

4. Cole Kmet                           79
Notre Dame has had multi-sport athletes before who can throw 90 miles per hour. No pressure, but one was Jeff Samardzija and the other was Pat Connaughton. Good luck following up, Cole. The Irish might be able to get away with a red shirt here despite the fact Kmet is one of the best athletes in the class – Sampson
High: 2nd – Brown
Low: 9th – Prister, Hare

5. Robert Hainsey                   75
Want to put together a really good offensive line prospect? Make them athletic with a little nasty streak. That’s Hainsey. He’s not going to back down from anything but it’s not all mauling. Hainsey has great feet. – Brown
High: 5th – Sampson, Brown, Hare
Low: 12th – O’Malley

6. C.J. Holmes                                    69
Holmes is explosive and versatile, both of which are supremely valuable. He’ll fit comfortably into a pretty talented running back room. Aside from the tight ends, I think Holmes is the best skill position player in this class. – Brown
High: 6th – Brown
Low: 12th – Prister
7. Isaiah Robertson                 68       
Consistently tackles low and aggressively. Also plays fast and is a rangy athlete. Sign me up. – O’Malley
High: 5th – Prister, O’Malley
Low: 13rd – Hare

8. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah           63
His film reminded me of two people: Sergio Brown and Michael Stonebreaker. Their careers were a touch different… – O’Malley
High: 4 – Prister, O’Malley
Low: 18 – Hare

9. Aaron Banks                       58
It all depends on what Banks does during the next 18 months in Notre Dame’s strength program. He’ll red-shirt, like virtually every offensive lineman under Harry Hiestand, and the athlete who emerges from that process could be very different than he 300-plus pounder who entered it. This is one very intriguing mass of humanity. – Sampson
High: 4th – Hare
Low: 18th – O’Malley

10. Drew White                      56
Somehow a super productive player on one of the nation’s best high school teams flew under the radar for most of his recruitment. White can really run and had to at the prep level if he wanted to compete. – Brown
High: 7th – Hare
Low: 13th – Prister

11. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa           52
A long, quick inside presence who can take up width at the point of attack while showing gap-creasing ability. When I hear Kona Schwenke comparison, I cringe, not because Schwenke didn’t help Notre Dame, but because Tagovailoa-Amosa’s upside is way, way higher. – Prister
High: 6th – Prister
Low: 19th – Hare

12. Kurt Hinish                       50
Hinish is a tough, hard-nosed pass rusher who understands his role is to chew up blocks and create gaps for the linebackers to fly through to get to the quarterback. – Hare
High: 3rd – Hare
Low: 18th – Brown

13. Avery Davis                     50
Not everyone feels like Davis is a true four-star prospect and, frankly, I just disagree. Seeing Davis in person during the season showed a quarterback fluent in the read option with top-notch athleticism and accuracy.  – Brown
High: 7th – Brown
Low: 18th – Prister

14. Michael Young                  47
Frankly, I can’t believe I’m ranking him this low, but got him in the top 10. Most underrated offensive prospect in the class whose physicality, particularly as a blocker, belies his size. Difficult to corral in the open field. Don’t sleep on this sleeper. This is the slot Brian Kelly has been looking for. – Prister
High: 10th – Prister
Low: 14th – Hare, Brown

15. Jafar Armstrong                41
Love his ball skills and unique frame at the position, and now I’m told he’s really fast. Bonus. – O’Malley
High: 6th – O’Malley
Low: 19th – Brown

16. David Adams                    37
A true Mike linebacker through and through, which in and of itself is a limiting factor in today’s wide-open, width-expanding offensive game. When healthy, he’s an impact player. Won’t be surprised if he makes this slotting a “freezing cold take” because there was much to like when he was completely healthy. – Prister
High: 10th –Hare
Low: 19th – Prister

17. Jordan Genmark-Heath     35
Mature physically and emotionally with position flexibility on the third and second levels. Won’t be overwhelmed by step up in competition because he played against some of the best on state-title team. Special teams player off the bat. No surprise if he’s a captain down the road. – Prister
High: 11th – Prister
Low: 17th – Sampson

18. Jonathan MacCollister      25
It’s hard to know where MacCollister will develop best. There’s a lot of weight room development coming for the Florida athlete, who’s smaller than either of the incoming Irish tight ends. Probably a five-year player, MacCollister needs to get to know Matt Balis. Check back later to see what the Irish have.
High: 14th – Prister
Low: 20th – Brown

19. Dillan Gibbons                  23
Position flexibility is a concern, meaning Gibbons might be a guard and only a guard. Competition level in Florida was not the typical elite level in the state. Could develop into a solid interior linemen a few years down the road. – Sampson
High: 15th – Brown
Low: 20th – O’Malley, Prister

20. Kofi Wardlow                   17
His lack of football experience hurt him on the recruiting trail but his athleticism screams potential. Can he learn a complex college defense fast enough to make a contribution? That’s the million-dollar question. – Hare
High: 17th – Prister, Brown
Low: 20th – Sampson, Hare

21. Jonathan Doerer                5
Always like a good-sized, athletic kicker/punter than one who can only kick. Will solve Notre Dame’s kickoff issues immediately. Note: can’t rate kicker ahead of offensive/defensive players. – Prister
High/Low: 21st – All

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