A number of people have been asking me lately, "how good is this recruiting class?"
There are plenty of ways to judge a recruiting class including recruiting rankings and star systems. However, my preferred way to judge a class is to look at the class based on needs, and knowing which players were targeted and wanted most, and judge the class based on how many of those players the Irish will ultimately sign with needs in mind. Let's take a look.
The Irish needed two and landed both Frazer and Jones. Which guy was the top target? It's hard to really know for sure, but it's obvious Notre Dame landed two of its top five, which is outstanding.
The Irish also finished strong at running back. James Aldridge was the first running back offered and he's in. Munir Prince was also offered as the second back and is committed. Luke Schmidt was the first big back offered and he committed. Yes, there were others the Irish looked at early, but these were the three they zeroed in on and they landed all three.
Notre Dame was pursing a number of top prospects early. David Ausberry, Percy Harvin, Damon McDaniel, Terrence Austin, Richard Jackson, Riley Cooper, Barry Gallup and Chris Bell were some early names thrown around. A number of those players likely would've had some problems getting in due to academics, however.
Notre Dame has landed Jackson, Gallup, West and Parris, which means they landed four out of their top six early offers. However, we do believe a few listed above were simply not interested and passed on the Irish. But, Notre Dame has landed at least four out of their top 8-10 top prospects at wide receiver. That's not too shabby.
Notre Dame needed numbers along the offensive line so a number were offered early. The final grade is not complete at this time as many still remain on the board. However, this is shaping up to be another solid haul in a need area.
The Irish offered Sam Young, Aaron Brown, Matt Carufel, Chris Stewart, Bartley Webb and Kiante Tripp early. Daron Rose was offered early as well, but we believe he was dropped later due to academic issues.
Notre Dame already has Stewart and Webb in fold. Many expect Carufel to also commit to Notre Dame at the Army bowl. The word on the street is the Irish might lead for Young as well.
If the Irish can pick up Carufel, Young and Wenger, they would have an outstanding class at offensive line. The grade would clearly be an A if this happens. There is a long way to go, however, but the scenario is very possible.
Notre Dame has offered two tight ends this year. Paddy Mullen is already committed. Many believe the Irish will sign their other offer at tight end, Konrad Reuland. If Reuland commits, Notre Dame landed the only two they've offered. The grade would clearly be considered an A if Reuland accepts.
Notre Dame finished recruiting at defensive end early with the commitments of Ryan and Wade—two of their very top prospects.
Defensive tackle is where they are struggling. Alexander chose Texas. The Irish passed on Marsh when they likely could've had him. That leaves on McCoy, Lewis and Kates left on the board. They need to land at least one defensive tackle. I wouldn't say Notre Dame is the clear leader for any of these three remaining prospects (McCoy, Lewis and Kates), but I don't think anyone knows for sure which way any of the three are leaning at this time.
The Irish will have to land at least one of these prospects to finish with a strong grade at defensive tackle. If Notre Dame lands either McCoy or Lewis, the position would grade B+ in my eyes. If they land two prospects, the grade would clearly be an A.
Linebacker isn't a big need area for Notre Dame this year after landing three last season. However, Notre Dame would've liked to land at least one top prospect and Richardson certainly qualifies. But we believe they'd like to land another to finish out this class. Toryan Smith is the best bet at this time. If Notre Dame can land Smith, this position would grade out a solid B.
Notre Dame landed two out of their top three corner prospects in Walls and McNeil—something that never happens. They also landed their next three safety offers after losing out early on Brown and Mays.
Notre Dame offered two kickers. Kai Forbath was the first offer but he wanted to wait to make his decision. Notre Dame felt very good about their second offer, Ryan Burkahart, getting the job done and gladly accepted Burkhart's commitment.
So who is left and who is likely? When will the remaining prospects decide?
Sam Young's dad has told us he'll take visits after his season is finished. His high school traditionally plays deep into the playoffs and we don't expect this season to be any different. Young hasn't visited anywhere yet so there is a lot of recruiting left to be done for him. We're going to guess he won't commit anywhere until late January. Is the Army Bowl a possibility? We don't see it being likely as he hasn't visited anywhere yet and likely won't if his team continues to win. We do believe the Irish are the team to beat for his signature.
Dan Wenger, Young's teammate, has told us he plans to take a few more visits before deciding. He's also aware that Notre Dame is thin on scholarships at this time. His decision also might move into January due to his playoff schedule. We also feel the Irish lead for Wenger.
Konrad Reuland could decide at any time. Many think he'll decide at the Army Bowl in January. We'd be very surprised if he chose anyone but Notre Dame, but anything can change.
Matt Carufel is in the same boat. He'll decide at the Army Bowl and Notre Dame is considered the clear leader for his signature.
Gerald McCoy has said he'd like to have his decision by mid-January. Will it come sooner than expected? Maybe the Army bowl? He should have all of his official visits finished by then.
Butch Lewis has also taken two of his official visits (ND and Georgia). He plans to visit three more in Miami, LSU and USC. He also plans to have his decision sometime before the holidays. We're not real optimistic on the Irish landing Lewis, but you never know.
Toryan Smith will announce his decision by November 27. Nobody is sure where he stands right now, but we're not as confident as we once were that he'll choose Notre Dame. We believe anyone could win this race at this point.
Anthony Lewis remains a possibility but we think the chances of him choosing Notre Dame are remote at this point.
Lou Eliades is still very interested in Notre Dame and he's scheduled a visit for the banquet. He could also make his decision sometime shortly after that visit.
We're not sure where the Irish stand with defensive tackle Jason Kates, or where Kates stands with the Irish. His high school team is also playing deep in the playoffs and he's had a hard time finding time to visit Notre Dame officially. He's a guy to keep an eye on in the future.
There you have it, the "State of the Union" in regards to Notre Dame recruiting. If the Irish finish strong, this will be the best class Notre Dame has signed in recent memory.