Irish Dominating on the Recruiting Trail

The 2007 Notre Dame football season hasn't been the best season for Irish fans, but the 2008 recruiting class can certainly make up for that. While the Irish have struggled on the field, they have dominated on the recruiting trail, and the future certainly looks bright for Notre Dame.

The news of five-star wide receiver Michael Floyd committing to Notre Dame over the weekend lifted the spirits of Irish fans after a disappointing loss to USC this past weekend. It also sparked my memory to how well this Irish coaching staff recruits. I think you might even be surprised by how well they're doing.

Anyone who has followed my work over the years knows that I always say one thing about recruiting. I don't care about stars. I only care about knowing which players the Irish wanted early, and how many they landed in the end. That is how I believe you should judge a recruiting class. Rankings are biased, and some players just can't be recruited by Notre Dame. Some are also not a good fit for Notre Dame.

The very first offers that go out by the Irish coaching staff are almost always their top players at any particular position. It's important to know this because then you can judge how well they're doing as the recruiting season unfolds. Using this method of measurement, this staff is hitting a grand slam thus far this year. Let's take a look.

On September 1, 2006, Notre Dame was allowed to offer any junior they wanted in compliance with NCAA regulations. The Irish offered four players on September 1, 2006, Steve Filer, Michael Floyd, Dan Buckner, and Trevor Robinson. Obviously, all four were very high on Notre Dame's wish list, and they currently have two committed and are sitting in pretty good shape with Robinson. If Robinson commits, they'd go 3-for-4 on these four important recruits. But their high hit rate doesn't stop there. Let's take a look.


The Irish coaching staff offered one player—Dayne Crist—and they landed him. Notre Dame was very high on his very strong arm, mobility, and his ability to process information quickly. Many feel Crist has more "upside" than Jimmy Clausen. He has the five-star ranking to back those claims.

Running back

The Irish missed on a few, but that is to be expected considering two freshmen are playing a large role in the Irish offense. Darrell Scott was Notre Dame's first offer, but he showed little interest. The Irish then offered a number of players all at the same time including Ryan Williams, Carlton Thomas, Cyrus Gray and Sam McGuffie. They have recently offered Jonas Gray after he officially visited this weekend. The Irish have a good shot to land at least one of those left on the board. I think they'll only take one--Cyrus or Jonas Gray being the most likely of the bunch. While they didn't get their top guy, they'll be getting a great one none the less.

Wide Receiver

The Irish came out of the gate offering both Floyd and Buckner. Buckner chose Texas over the summer and they then sent out another offer to John Goodman. Right now they have two out of their top three. That is outstanding. The staff will likely want another player, and Jonathan Baldwin, Chris Harper, Deion Walker and Gerell Robinson are still left on the board. All are currently ranked in the top 110 players on

Tight End

Kyle Rudolph is universally known as the top tight end in the country. He was their first offer and he's committed. They then offered three other tight ends—Joseph Fauria, Blake Ayles and Jacob Stoneburner. Fauria, the perfect compliment to Rudolph, committed on his unofficial visit to Notre Dame over the spring. Again, outstanding work by the Irish staff.

Offensive line

The Irish offered Robinson right out of the gate and they have a great shot to land him. The Irish staff then sent out a number of offers early in the year including offers to Mike Adams, Michael Brewster, Braxston Cave, Mike Golic, Jr. , Josh Jenkins, Stephen Good, Lane Clelland and Art Forst. They all pretty much went out at the same time. Thus far the Irish have three of those players committed and are looking for at least one more. Kenneth Page was offered early in the summer, and also is a strong possibility for the Irish. Notre Dame has missed on a number of the above, but they've also landed three and look good for two others at this point. Robinson's commitment would be big for this group, as would Page, but Robinson was obviously very high on their wish list being the first offensive lineman offered.

Nose Tackle

The Irish offered four players right out of the gate—Omar Hunter, Marcus Forston, Brandon Newman and Hafis Williams. I'd say you're doing pretty well when you land three out of your first four offers. I still believe Corwin Brown could've landed Forston had the other two not committed. An outstanding job done by the Irish staff with this much needed position.

Defensive end

Ethan Johnson and Sean Cwynar were the first two players offered at defense end. Chancey Aghayere, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Garrett Goebel we also offered later, but the Irish landed the top two guys they offered. Again, outstanding work by the Irish staff.


Notre Dame needed linebackers in this class, and they went out and offered a ton of linebackers early. Steve Filer was obviously a high priority—mission accomplished. The Irish also offered a number of players like Arthur Brown, Shayne Hale, David Posluszny, Anthony McDonald, Andrew Sweat, Darius Fleming, Brendan Beal and Etienne Sabino. The Irish wanted at least four and got four of their top guys. Yes, Brown and Hale were probably more coveted than some others, but they landed four outstanding prospects out of this group. The only real disappointment was Sabino, but we all know Corwin Brown did all he could to land him. Again, another fantastic job by the Irish coaching staff.

Defensive back

The Irish wanted two corners and one safety in this class. Will Hill and Dan McCarthy were the two safeties offered—both at the same time—they landed McCarthy. Robert Blanton, Jamoris Slaughter and Patrick Johnson were offered at cornerback. They landed Slaughter and Blanton. I'd say that is a very good hit rate.

Notre Dame did look hard at T.J. Bryant, and I'm sure they would've offered him as well eventually, but I'm not sure he was qualified to be admitted into Notre Dame at that early part of the recruiting process.

Final Totals

If you're keeping score, the Irish have now landed at least one of their top two targets at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, nose tackle, defensive end, linebacker, corner and safety. They still have a chance to land their top player at offensive line.

While not all of these players are considered the top player at their position by, they are the top players the Irish identified, qualified, and had interest in Notre Dame. Some players just had no interest, which happens to all schools. But, these were Notre Dame's very top targets of those available to recruit. As a fan, you can't ask for anything more than that.

The Notre Dame football season has been a tough pill to swallow for all Irish fans. Nobody is happy with the results, but better days are just ahead. The next time you feel the urge to vent and take out your frustrations, I strongly recommend you re-read this article. It will give you some perspective of what should be on the way.

The now 20 commitments represent the most talented recruiting class ever assembled at Notre Dame. If all 20 sign in February, the future looks very, very bright for Notre Dame football. Combining this top class with the two previous top 10 classes will certainly give Charlie Weis and his staff plenty of talent to compete with anyone. Top Stories