1 – Is this Good or Bad? Or Both? Brian Kelly’s fifth ranked, 2013 recruiting class concludes its collective fourth season of college ball with the following earning draft day selections: Will Fuller (Round 1, 2016), Jaylon Smith (Round 2, 2016) and Isaac Rochell (Round 7, 2017).
Pending additions among class members still playing college ball as fifth-year players include Mike McGlinchey (certain) and Durham Smythe (possible), plus transfers Max Redfield and Malik Zaire – neither likely, neither completely implausible.
It is likely, however, that no more than five (McGlinchey and one among the remaining threesome) will have heard their names called on draft day post-college.
This is from a group that included a five-star (Smith) and whopping 18 four-star prospects among the 23-player class.
More will play in the NFL, of course (James Onwualu comes to mind first), but the program’s “4-For-40” recruiting pitch really hits home when you consider the data above.
2 – From the “What could have been?” Files…Two former Irish pledges for the aforementioned 2013 crew, DL Eddie Vanderdoes of UCLA and LB Alex Anzalone of Florida were also selected over the weekend.
Add that duo to the 2015 Irish defense and you have to think Notre Dame would have/could have beaten both Clemson and Stanford and thus qualified (as the No. 1 team) for the college football playoffs.
3 – Properly Rated: There were just four 3-star prospects in Kelly’s 2013 draft class referenced above – two were kicked off the team and two others retired due to injuries prior to their senior seasons – both without meaningful game day contributions.
4 – Look at the Bright Side: The weekend’s sobering two-player Irish draft class ties the 1976 duo of Steve Niehaus (No. 2 overall) and Ed Bauer (7th Round) for the second-lowest total in program history.
Notre Dame has endured a quintet of drafts with but a single player chosen: 2015 (Ben Koyack in the 7th), 2011 (Kyle Rudolph), 2009 (David Bruton, 4th), 2000 (Jarious Jackson, 7th) and 1998 (Allen Rossum, 3rd) and one, 1977, in which no Irish competitor was selected.
What common thread applies to each of the above? A bright future:
- With just two players drafted between 1976 and 1977, the Irish enjoyed nine selections in 1978 – three in the first round – on the heels of a national title. Ten more were drafted in the 12-round draft of 1979.
- Following its lone selection in the ’98 draft, Notre Dame saw seven picked in seven rounds of ’99. Then with just one in 2000, the Irish had six picked in seven rounds in ’01.
- Bruton’s 2009 solo mission led to a quartet in 2010 including two second-round picks.
- A combined 18 picks (including seven in the first two rounds) followed over the course of three seasons after only Kyle Rudolph was chosen from Kelly’s first Irish team and the 2011 draft.
- After Koyack was the lone selection in ’15, the youth-filled Irish grew into title contenders later that fall and reaped the benefits with seven picks in its 2016 draft class.
Who’ll hear his name called one year from now? Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson and Nyles Morgan seem certain and Durham Smythe has a shot if he improves to the level projected. (Plus, as I’ve illustrated often in this space, Notre Dame tight ends get drafted and play in the NFL. Period.)
Junior entrants Alizé’ Mack, Equanimeous St. Brown and Josh Adams are my final three guesses, though I could just as easily see Adams returning as a senior captain, instead.
5 – Stir Crazy: There were 9 adults and 8 children at my house for my two-year-old, Charlie’s, birthday party on Saturday.
You know what doesn’t mesh well with 17 people and a kid’s birthday party?
6 – Prediction No. 2: The first prediction was a bit hasty, but hey, it’s out there now. From the April 10 Monday Musings: “Notre Dame’s offense will break the program scoring record of 37.6 per contest set in 1968.”
Now for Prediction No. 2, and we’ll add one each week through the off-season: “Notre Dame’s tight ends will catch more passes this season than in any previous during the Brian Kelly era.”
- 2010: 58 (Kyle Rudolph 28, Tyler Eifert 27, Mike Ragone 3. Of note: Eifert had just one catch at the time of Rudolph’s season-ending injury)
- 2011: 66 (Eifert 63, Ragone, Welch, and Koyack 1 apiece. Thanks guys…)
- 2012: 58 (Eifert 50, Troy Niklas 5, Koyack 3)
- 2013: 42 (Niklas 32 and Koyack 10 – of note, the pair combined for 8 touchdowns at the position, tied for the second highest total in program history. If you can tell me the best season in that regard I’ll buy you a beer of your choice. And yes, it’s tricky.)
- 2014: 31 (Koyack 30…including one game-winning, last second touchdown to beat Stanford, and Durham Smythe 1)
- 2015: 20 (Alizé Jones 13, Smythe 3, Nic Weishar 3, Chase Hounshell 1)
- 2016: 12 (Smythe 9, Weishar 3)
(Editor’s note: TWELVE!!??)
-- Thus the magic number to prove Prediction No. 2 accurate is 67 catches. I figure Smythe is good for 20, Weishar and freshman Brock Wright a combined 6-10, and Alizé Mack at 40-plus.
7 – On the Draft: You’d think Jarron Jones would get a late draft phone call on the merits of his performance against Miami alone. He must have come across in interviews as he did at Notre Dame: intriguing, pleasant – and not wholly interested in becoming a great football player…
If he sets his mind to it, James Onwualu can be an outstanding special teams player in the league. But he’s got a lot of things going for him outside the sport, too, and sometimes destroying your body for the sake of a cash grab isn’t worth it…
Isaac Rochell will have a long NFL career on multiple teams, filling myriad roles up front. Remember, he had more “Stuffs” than did Sheldon Day in 2015. He can consistently make plays at, if not behind scrimmage…
Looking back at his breakout 2014 season, his sophomore campaign, it’s stunning now that Cole Luke wasn’t drafted. Looking back at 2016, it is not…
On a related note, what were the odds in mid-season 2014 (about the time Notre Dame exited Tallahassee) that none among this quartet would be drafted down the road: Cole Luke, Tarean Folston, Corey Robinson, Steve Elmer?
Anyone want to bet against long-snapper Scott Daly having the longest career of any Irish player in the free agent/draft class of 2017?
8 – A Second Look: Another weekly off-season feature – a final look at each incoming freshmen on film. Today’s feature, my favorite prospect: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah…
- Former Irish Player Comparisons: Sergio Brown, Chinedum Ndukwe, Michael Stonebreaker (yes, those are a touch different).
- 2017 Forecast: Special Teams starter on both kickoff and punt coverage; probably backup safety, perhaps Rover.
- Long-Term Forecast: Starting Rover
- Notes: Shows consistent form, tackling ball carriers low in space without needing extra steps, or what Bob Diaco referred to as “decelerating”…Ideally suited to play closer to scrimmage where he wreaked havoc on film (similar to Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey albeit at a far lower level)…Sifts through traffic in pursuit without hesitation…Slipped most blocks (easily), but he’ll have to get used to meeting and defeating them at the college level...Timed blitzes with aplomb (the Stonebreaker aspect of my comparison)…The type of athlete that can thrive in space vs. spread-based attacks that put an emphasis on open-field tackling mistakes to gain yardage.
9 – DeShone Kizer: (I didn’t intentionally drop him from the top to the bottom of the column, it just worked out that way.)
I’ll be rooting for him. And I’ll be rooting for him to sit and watch this season, because he absolutely is not ready to be among the chief reasons a poor football team wins games in the NFL.
But could he win a few games as a rookie quarterbacking a team along the lines of the Dallas Cowboys? I think so.
Until next week, Irish fans…