As good as the 2006 class was, the 2007 recruiting class has the chance to end up even better if the Irish can close out this class strong down the stretch. They appear to be in good shape to equal their top five ranking from last year, but to be the best you have to beat the best, and the Irish need to start doing that on the recruiting trail as well. They already have for a number of top players this season.
At this time last year Dan Wenger became Notre Dame's 10th four-star recruit to commit to the Irish and the 22nd overall player. The Irish had one five-star player (James Aldridge), 10 four-star players (Wenger, Chris Stewart, Sergio Brown, Darrin Walls, Eric Olsen, Leonard Gordon, Raeshon McNeil, Luke Schmidt, Kallen Wade and Zach Frazer), and 11 three-star players (Toryan Smith, Richard Jackson, Morrice Richardson, George West, Jashaad Gaines, Demetrius Jones, Rob Parris, John Ryan, Paddy Mullen, Barry Gallup, Bartley Webb, and Munir Prince). They also had Burkhart committed, who was a two-star player.
The Irish would later add two five-star players (Konrad Reuland, Sam Young), one four-star player (Matt Carufel), and one three-star player (Will Yeatman) to the fold before closing out their 27-man class.
Overall, the Irish signed three (3) five-star players, 11 four-star players, and 12 three-star players and one (1) two-star player.
The previous 2005 class was small and lacked the star power known for Irish recruiting campaigns with only 15 players signed—five (5) four-star players, nine (9) three-star players and one (1) two-star player.
This season Notre Dame currently 12 players committed with two (2) five-star players (Jimmy Clausen, Justin Trattou), seven (7) four-star players (Kerry Neal, Mike Ragone, Duval Kamara, Gary Gray, Emeka Nwanko, Greg Little, Armando Allen) and three (3) three-star players (Aaron Nagle, Steve Paskorz, Andrew Nuss) already committed.
The Irish could take as many as 13 more players in this class and have 19 current offers out on the table. They have a good shot to land a good number of these top prospects left on the board.
Right now the Irish have five players who are currently ranked as five-star players (Everson Griffen, Chris Donald, Martez Wilson, Ben Martin and Joe McKnight) left on the board. They have 10 players who are currently ranked as four-star players (Lorenzo Edwards, Malcolm Smith, Chris Little, Robert Hughes, Matt Romine, Michael Williams, Matt Summers-Gavin, Will Blackwell, Harrison Smith, Jahvid Best, Golden Tate). They also have three (3) three-star players left of the board (Jason Peters, Ian Williams and Taylor Dever).
Out of the 19 players left on the board, 16 are four-star players or better.
For comparison sake, I thought I'd put together a table to help you better understand how the Irish are doing this year compared to the two previous years. I've included the current senior class, the class of 2003, as that was considered one of Notre Dame's best classes in the past 15 years.
Remember that out of the 19 players the Irish are recruiting right now, 16 are four-star players. The chances are good the Irish will sign at least another eight players who are ranked four-star players or better before all is said and done.
As of right now, the Irish have a great shot at one (1) five-star player (Martez Wilson), a good shot at two more (Chris Donald, Ben Martin) and a fair shot at two more (Everson Griffen, Joe McKnight).
They have a great shot at three (3) four-star players (Robert Hughes, Golden Tate, Harrison Smith), and good shot at seven more (L. Edwards, M. Smith, M. Williams, M. Romine, C. Little, M. Summers-Gavin, W. Blackwell). They have a fair shot at Jahvid Best.
They have a great shot at two three-star players (Ian Williams, Taylor Dever), and might end up with both after this weekend, and a good shot at Jason Peter as well.
I doubt the Irish will end up signing more than five three-star players in this class, that would mean every other players is a four-star player or higher in this class.
Chances are only 12 or so players in this class will end up playing meaningful minutes for the Irish over their career, but the good news is those 12 players should be plenty talented as this class should be chuck full of four and five-star players—that's a lot of talent. And as we've seen many times, a good number of three-star players end up being excellent players—sometimes better than those ranked much higher.
However, as I said before, to be the best you have to beat the best. How have the Irish stacked up against the elite in regards to recruiting the past few years? I chose USC, Florida and Texas to compare with the Irish as these three teams have arguably had the most success recruiting over the past three years, and will likely be the three teams the Irish compete with for the top spot in recruiting this year. Once again, USC continues to impress when looking at the numbers.
Looking at a three-year comparison, USC continues to dominate recruiting. The Trojans have only 10 commitments this year, while Florida has 20 and Texas has 22. That means the Trojans will likely add many more five and four-star players to their impressive numbers. Let's take a look at how these programs have done the past three years.
As you can see, the Irish haven't landed the same kind of talent as these three top teams the past few years, but the gap is lessening when you take a look at it in a two-year window.
Now one has to remember that Florida and Texas are pretty close to being full. The Irish have up to 13 spots left, and as I mentioned earlier, they'll be adding essentially almost all four and five star players to their numbers to plug into this table. The talent gap is obviously closing.