Matt Cashore /

O’Malley’s Monday Musings

This week’s edition of the Musings…

1 – Best of the Best: This morning I began examining the careers of each of the 88 SCOUT 300 members signed by Brian Kelly. Needless to say, it became a bit unwieldy in print, but the following fun facts did present.

Below is a list comprised of the highest ranked player at each position through Kelly’s 7.5 recruiting cycles.

  • QB – Gunner Kiel #1 overall. Kiel famously never played in South Bend. Of note, the second-highest ranked QB of the Kelly era is current starter Brandon Wimbush, #6 overall in 2015.
  • RB – Current redshirt-freshman Tony Jones, Jr. #10 overall. Well that’s a pleasant surprise – I honestly had no idea. The late Greg Bryant was #13 in 2013.
  • WR – Current sophomore Javon McKinley #9 overall. Again, I wouldn’t have guessed that. The enigmatic Justin Brent was #11 overall in 2013.
  • TE – Ben Koyack, #1 in 2011. Current junior Alizé Mack was #2 in 2015 and the Irish can claim a handful of Top 5s at the position as well including Alex Welch at #4 in 2010 and the incoming duo of Brock Wright and Cole Kmet as No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
  • OT – Current redshirt-freshman Tommy Kraemer was #3 in 2016
  • OG – Christian Lombard (2010) and John Montelus (2013). Bit of a disparity thereafter…
  • C – Current junior (redshirt-sophomore) Tristen Hoge in 2015
  • DE – The esteemed Aaron Lynch, #2 overall in 2011
  • DT – Sheldon Day #6 overall in 2012; Louis Nix was #9 in 2010
  • OLB – Jaylon Smith, #1 overall in 2013
  • ILB – Senior captain Nyles Morgan #3 overall; incoming freshman David Adams ranked #4
  • CB – Tee Shepard, #3 overall in 2012. (Classmate Davonte Neal was #5.)
  • S – Elijah Shumate, #4 overall in 2012; Max Redfield was #5 overall in 2013
  • K – Kyle Brindza, #1 overall in 2011.
  • ATH – Current freshman and January enrollee C.J. Holmes at #11 overall.

2 – Of Note: Roughly half (42) of the aforementioned 88 SCOUT 300 members to sign under Kelly have since exhausted eligibility or left the program. All but a dozen among those 42 eventually started at least one football game for the Irish.

With the exception of the late Matt James who passed away prior to enrollment in 2010, the remaining 11 that did not start a game eventually transferred (10) either post or prior to graduation, or retired due to medical conditions (Mike Heuerman) during their time in South Bend.

Two SCOUT 300 alumni in the current senior class have yet to start a contest: DE Jay Hayes and OL Jimmy Byrne. Barring injury, Hayes will at some point this fall and Byrne will not.

3 – If Rankings Ruled: The 2017 Notre Dame starting lineup per rankings:    

  • QB – Junior Brandon Wimbush (#6 at his position in 2015)
  • RB – RS-freshman Tony Jones, Jr. (#10 in 2016)
  • WRs – Soph. Javon McKinley (#9 in 2016) and junior Miles Boykin (#20 in 2015)
  • TEs – Junior Alizé Mack (#2 in 2015) and freshman Brock Wright (#3 in 2017)
  • OTs – RS-freshman Tommy Kraemer (#3 in 2016) and 5th-yr. Mike McGlinchey (#8 in 2013)
  • OGs – RS-freshman Liam Eichenberg (#7 OT in 2016) and senior Sam Mustipher (#9 in 2013)
  • C – Junior Tristen Hoge (#2 in 2015)

Among the 11 spots on the offense listed above only one – Miles Boykin as the No. 2 wide receiver – did not rank among the nation’s top 10 prospects at his position entering college.

  • Drop End – Daelin Hayes (#12 OLB 2014)
  • DE – Andrew Trumbetti (#20 DE, 2014)
  • DT – Daniel Cage (#15 DE, 2015)
  • DT – Elijah Taylor (#20 DT, 2015) or Jay Hayes (#21 DT in 2014)
  • Rover – Josh Barajas (#5 OLB, 2015)
  • Buck – David Adams (#4 ILB, 2017)
  • Mike – Nyles Morgan (#3 MLB, 2014)
  • CB – Shaun Crawford (#15 CB, 2015)
  • CB – Troy Pride (#16 CB, 2016)
  • S – Donte Vaughn (#15, 2016)
  • S – No other SCOUT 300 prospect available

Senior captain and projected starting Rover Drue Tranquill, a collegiate safety until this spring, was the No. 14 overall OLB prospect per in 2014.

4 – Offensive Oddity: QB, WR, TE, OT, OG, C, DE, DT, OLB, ILB, S, CB and Kicker.

Each role listed has seen the nation’s No. 1, 2, or 3 prospects at the position matriculate to South Bend.

Conspicuous in its absence? Running Back, at least not in the database dating back to 2002.

The highest ranked runner to pledge and become Irish? Cierre Wood,’s No. 6 ranked RB circa 2009. He’s also the only player to lead Notre Dame in rushing yards twice since Darius Walker did so three times in 2004-05-06.

5 – Polar Bear Club…kind of: Our water heater is broken and is being replaced tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday). That means I have a choice following a jog on this 75-degree day:

A.) Shower at a neighbor’s house (or 25 minutes away at my parents), or
B.) Suck it up.

A (completely) cold shower awaits…

6 – It’s Inevitable: I received a few emails regarding last week’s final musing that North Carolina State – largely because of its slot on the Irish schedule but also because the Wolfpack can play a little bit of defense – would serve as the “letdown game of 2017.”

People argued the “letdown” need not be requisite or an annual reality of the Irish schedule. But it is, and that doesn’t only apply to Notre Dame’s program.

(And “letdown” doesn’t have to equate to a loss when the final gun sounds. A double-digit comeback, triple overtime win over Pittsburgh in 2012 immediately comes to mind as an example of the latter for the Irish.)

Save for perhaps the 1995 juggernaut that was Nebraska, nearly every college football champion much less garden-variety also-ran at some point experienced a letdown (win or lose in the end).

Notre Dame did in 1988 (Pittsburgh prior to Miami…a classic “look-ahead”). So too did powerful champions Miami in 2001 (at Boston College) and USC in 2004 (a three-point win as 19-point favorites over Stanford). Add to those all-time great teams the Jameis Winston-led Florida State squad of 2013 (utter destruction of its slate save for an aberration at Boston College) and one truism of the sport remains certain:

Human nature.

It’s nearly impossible to always be at your best over 12 Saturdays in a three-month span. For Notre Dame these days, it’s a good bet the letdown will occur at home. 

7 – Prediction No. 4: The first three among at least 25 predictions that will appear in this space over the summer months were as follows:

  • Notre Dame will break the program scoring record (37.6 ppg)
  • The tight ends will catch 67-plus passes (after just 12 last season), the highest total of the Kelly Era.
  • Eight of Notre Dame’s 12 regular season games will be decided in the fourth quarter

Now for No. 4…Notre Dame will be favored in nine of 12 regular season games this season.

A look at the slate:

Assumed (7): Temple, at Boston College, Miami (Ohio), at North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Navy
Likely (1): at Michigan State
Toss-up (2): Georgia, USC
Unlikely (2): at Miami, at Stanford

(For a quick recap, the Irish were favored in 10 of 12 contests last fall, nine in 2015, eight in 2014, seven in 2013, 10 in 2012, 11 in 2011, and eight in 2010.)

Notre Dame’s best W-L record as a favorite under Kelly occurred in 2012 (10-0). They are 26-9 since the conclusion of the 2012 campaign when favored entering a contest – six of those nine losses occurred last fall.  

8 – The All-Unranked Team: Who are the best players not listed among the SCOUT 300 to suit up for Kelly’s Irish? 

  • QB: Tommy Rees
  • RB: Cam McDaniel or George Atkinson
  • TE: Tyler Eifert
  • WR: Chris Brown
  • WR: Torii Hunter, Jr.
  • WR: Corey Robinson
  • (Kevin Stepherson is a candidate)
  • OT: Zack Martin
  • OT: Taylor Dever
  • OG: Mike Golic, Jr.
  • OG: Conor Hanratty
  • C: Nick Martin
  • Rush/Drop End: Prince Shembo
  • DT: Kapron Lewis-Moore
  • DT: Ian Williams
  • DE: Romeo Okwara
  • MLB: Brian Smith or Joe Schmidt
  • SLB: Danny Spond
  • WLB: Dan Fox or Greer Martini
  • S: Matthias Farley
  • S: Austin Collinsworth
  • CB: Bennett Jackson
  • CB: Julian Love

That’s not a bad squad. The D-Line is surprisingly good and the special teams would be outstanding.

9 – Help is on the way: Incoming freshman Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will forge a mythical starting spot on Musing No. 8 by the time he concludes his junior season in South Bend.

Until next week, Irish fans… Top Stories