Grading the Class

The results are in and the Irish finished ranked No. 2 in a number of national rankings for the 2008 recruiting class. But, as we always say at Irish Eyes, one should look at two recruiting classes together to see if the Irish are filling needs and building depth for the future. Are the Irish filling their needs?

I've always been a two-class guy. One good recruiting class won't solve all your talent problems, and really two good classes won't either. But two good classes can build a foundation for something strong down the road, and the Irish are building just that. Let's take a look.

Quarterback: (2)

2007: Jimmy Clausen (5-star)
2008: Dayne Crist (5-star)

Comments: The Irish have signed two of the very best quarterbacks the past two seasons. You simply can't do any better than they have with these two talented prospects.

Grade: A+

Running back (3)

2007: Armando Allen (4-star), Robert Hughes (4-star)
2008: Jonas Gray (4-star)

Comments: The Irish landed a home run hitter in Allen, a bruiser with nice feet in Hughes, and what appears to be a very solid pickup in Gray. At least two of these players should play a lot for the Irish in the near future. All appear to be very good signees for Notre Dame.

Grade: B+

Wide receiver (5)

2007: Duval Kamara (4-star), Golden Tate (4-star)
2008: Mike Floyd (5-star), John Goodman (4-star), Deion Walker (4-star)

Comments: Notre Dame needed an influx of talent and speed at the position. Tate certainly brings the speed. Kamara reminds many of former Irish player Maurice Stovall. Floyd might end up being the best of the bunch. Goodman reminds everyone of a quicker Jeff Samardzija, and Deion Walker brings excellent top-end speed and ball skills. Again, five very impressive players for the Irish. In fact, they've never signed anything close to this kind of talent in back-to-back classes at receiver.

Grade: A

Tight end

(3) 2007: Mike Ragone (4-star)
2008: Kyle Rudolph (5-star), Joseph Fauria (4-star)

Comments: The Irish hit another home run with the signing of these three players. Ragone has excellent speed to get past linebackers and make safeties worry. Rudolph also has solid size, excellent speed and already is a solid blocker. Fauria is a big boy already. He has more than enough athleticism to be a very effective in the passing game.

Grade: A

Offensive line

2007: Taylor Dever (4-star), Matt Romine (4-star), Andrew Nuss (3-star)
2008: Trevor Robinson (4-star), Braxston Cave (4-star), Lane Clelland (3-star), Michael Golic, Jr. (3-star)

Comments: The Irish have some excellent prospects with this group. They have signed three tackle prospects and four interior players. They've also signed some "attitude" players, and that was much needed as well. I would've liked to see one "can't miss" left tackle prospect, and I think that's the weakness of this group. They'll need to sign one next year.

Grade: B

Defensive line

2007: Emeka Nwankwo (4-star), Ian Williams (3-star)
2008: Ethan Johnson (5-star), Brandon Newman (4-star), Sean Cwynar (4-star), Hafis Williams (3-star)

Comments: We've already witnessed that Ian Williams was probably underrated. I've heard very good things about Nwankwo. The Irish also signed four excellent prospects in this latest class with plenty of size and athletic ability to come in and play immediately.

Grade: A

Inside linebacker

2007: Steve Paskorz (3-star), Aaron Nagle (3-star)
2008: Steve Filer (4-star), Anthony McDonald (4-star), David Posluszny (3-star)

Comments: Notre Dame needed an influx of speed and talent at this position. They landed some very good prospects in the 2008 class. The early returns on the 2007 class are unclear at this point. Notre Dame should be able to find two solid starters out this group, and hopefully they can find some depth. They'll need to sign very good inside backers next year.

Grade: B-

Outside linebacker

2007: Kerry Neal (4-star), Brian Smith (3-star)
2008: Darius Fleming (4-star), Kapron Lewis-Moore (3-star)

Comments: Brian Smith has already proven he's underrated. Kerry Neal certainly lived up to the billing last year. Fleming looks to be a carbon copy of Neal. After watching Kapron Lewis-Moore's senior film, I think he's underrated as well. The Irish will certainly have plenty of speed, talent and depth at the position. We haven't seen them enough in coverage yet, but this unit should be a real strength in the near future.

Grade: A


2007: Harrison Smith (4-star)
2008: Dan McCarthy (4-star)

Comments: Notre Dame landed two outstanding prospects in both Smith and McCarthy. Both have excellent speed, ball skills, instincts, and both love to hit. McCarthy will need time to heal, but if he can get to 100 percent again, this should be an outstanding group. The need here wasn't great, and they landed very talented players with a lot of upside.

Grade: B+


2007: Gary Gray (4-star)
2008: Robert Blanton (4-star), Jamoris Slaughter (4-star)

Comments: Notre Dame wants their cornerbacks to play physical, and they've signed three very physical and confident kids in Gray, Blanton and Slaughter. They also signed three of their most coveted prospects, thus the high grade I'm giving them. I like the attitude with all three players, and I love how they love to hit. I also think all have shown they have the speed and athletic ability to play corner at the next level.

Grade: A

Overall Comments: The Notre Dame coaching staff has done an excellent job the past two seasons landing elite players and filling their needs. I do believe Notre Dame could've used another elite left tackle prospect and another elite inside backer. They can address those spots with the next class, but that is why I have their positions ranked a little lower.

Still, these two classes are by far the best back-to-back classes the Irish have signed in at least a decade if not longer. Charlie Weis has a solid building block with these two classes. He just needs to sign another excellent class next year and he should have a very long and successful coaching career at Notre Dame.

So what about next year?

Notre Dame will likely sign around 20 recruits. Here is my breakdown on what they'll be looking for.

1 quarterback
2 running backs
2 wide receivers
1 tight end
1 interior offensive lineman
3 offensive tackles (hopefully 2 that can play left tackle)
1 nose guard
2 defensive ends
1 outside backer
2 inside backers
2 safeties (if the staff feels both Blanton and Slaughter will be corners)
1 corner (again, if they feel Blanton and Slaughter play corner)

The last player would be for defense, and that would depend on how they feel at nose guard and outside linebacker. They'll most likely take another player at either position depending on which they feel is a bigger need. Top Stories