The First Season of Recruiting

Recruiting in recent years has changed quite a bit from when we first started following it. Teams cannot afford to wait until after the season to focus on recruiting. Successful recruiting, more often than not, now means two different seasons of recruiting—an early summer season and another after the football season. How did the Irish do in their first season of recruiting?

Successful recruiting is a marathon. Most schools try to secure a few verbal commitments early so they are not left scrambling at the end. A staff will try to set up their recruiting board early with important, key commitments early so they can focus on their tops needs at the end. Ultimately, a staff would like to get an early balance in recruiting. If they have needs at certain positions, they'd like to land one or two verbal commitments early so they are not left scrambling at the end.

The Irish are off to a quick start so far in this early recruiting season. With eight verbal commitments already in the bank, the Irish will likely only have another 11-12 scholarships left to give. Have the Irish set themselves up for success in recruiting for this season?

Let's take a look at the offense first. We believe the Irish will use at least 10, if not more, of their available scholarships on the offensive side of the ball. We believe the Irish will sign one quarterback, one halfback, one fullback, three wide receivers, one tight end and at least three offensive linemen.

Quarterback Commitments: Evan Sharpley

The Irish needed a quarterback and a very good one at that. Landing the verbal commitment of Evan Sharpley was critical. The Irish didn't land their top prospects last year, so it's was critical to land one early this season.

Sharpley fits the mold of the type of quarterback the Irish were looking for. He should fit perfectly into the offensive system the Irish continue to develop. We think the Irish did very well here.

Grade: B+

Running Back

Commitments: Asaph Schwapp
Offers: Maurice Wells, Mikell Simpson, Eddie Britton
Targets: Jonathan Stewart, R.C. Lagomarsino, Richie Rich, J.C. Neal, Montario Hardesty

The Irish need to land one halfback and one fullback. The Irish got their man at fullback. Schwapp was their first choice and only offer at fullback so they did very well with his commitment.

The Irish can afford to gamble with the halfback position. Notre Dame landed two very talented halfbacks last recruiting season so they'll be in a position to holdout for the players they really want.

Obviously Wells is the top target as he was offered first. The Irish are not in his top three at this point, but that could change with a solid season on the field for Notre Dame.

Halfback is a position where new names surface throughout the year. Notre Dame is playing this smart by not taking an early commitment from a running back. The Irish coaches can now watch all the running backs they are interested in and focus on the top two or three they really want in the end. Our only complaint is that Notre Dame does not appear to be the clear leader for any of the three players said to be offered at this point.

Grade: B

Wide Receiver

Commitments: David Nelson, David Grimes
Offers: James McDonald, Martin Frierson, C.J. Byrd

The Irish staff has obviously done an outstanding job of finding Sharpley some weapons to throw to. Nelson and Byrd were the top targets as they were offered first. Grimes impressed the staff with his performances at camps and he was offered shortly afterward.

Landing both Nelson and Grimes gives the Irish staff the luxury of waiting and watching for their third target. We do believe Notre Dame will take three wide receivers in this class. The Notre Dame staff can now look for another great wide receiver without worrying about landing enough players at this position.

We think Notre Dame has done very well at wide receiver. Both McDonald and Frierson have the Irish high on their list, currently, and the Irish should be able to land one of these two if that is what they hope to do in the end. We don't believe the Irish will have much of a chance to land Byrd.

Grade: B+

Tight End

Commitments: None
Offers: Anthony Moeaki, James Dray, Kyle Moore
Targets: Joey Hiben

The Irish will only take one tight in this recruiting class so they'll be focusing on their very top targets at this point.

Anthony Moeaki was the first target to be offered and likely is their top target. Dray is also another very gifted target who has been offered. Moore can play tight end, but many think he'll end up at defensive end in college.

We think the Irish have an uphill battle with Moeaki. We do think they have a real chance to sign Dray. Hiben is another top target who has yet to be offered but would like an Irish offer. We think Notre Dame will land either Dray or Hiben in the end and either would be a good catch.

Grade: B

Offensive Line

Commitments: None
Offers: Dan Doering, Paul Duncan, A.J. Trump, Malcom Rawls, David Moosman, Dace Richardson, Daniel Borg
Prospects: Too many to list.

This position would be the only disappointment on offense so far. Unfortunately, it's also the most critical position for the Irish this recruiting season. The Irish must land at least three offensive linemen and a premium is placed on offensive tackles. We believe the Irish will try to land four offensive linemen in this class.

Both Paul Duncan and A.J. Trump were close to committing to the Irish earlier this summer. It appears both players will now wait and take some official visits.

Their decision to wait is disappointing for Irish fans. Their decision to take official visits allows other teams the chance to get back in the race with both players.

Ideally, the Irish would prefer to have a couple of commitments at offensive line before the season starts—it doesn't appear that is going to happen.

Notre Dame still has a good chance to land Doering as many expect the decision will come down to Notre Dame and Iowa. David Moosman also appears interested in Notre Dame, but the Irish are not considered his top school at this point. Both Borg and Rawls have said they are interested, but are not very familiar with Notre Dame at this point. Richardson still lists Notre Dame, but many expect him to sign elsewhere in February.

Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the top targets at offensive line are all wanting to take some official visits before deciding. The Irish coaches will have to monitor this situation very closely and have a solid backup plan if the initial top prospects start to look elsewhere—something we don't think they did well last year.

This is obviously an area of concern. What concerns us most is besides Trump and Duncan, the Irish don't appear to be a clear leader for anyone else on their list. Some real selling will have to be done for the Irish to be successful in landing their top targets. It can be done and some victories on the field will certainly help their chances.

We are giving this a low grade for now because they haven't landed a top offensive line target as of yet, and it's a need position.

Grade: C+

We will take a look at the defense on Tuesday.


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