A look at 2004 and 2005

<P>Irish fans follow recruiting for many reasons but I think the most important reason is hope. Irish fans want/need hope and they want to know that their team will be able to compete in the future. I follow recruiting for the exact same reason and after we opened our presents on signing day, we have to see how they fit in with the other toys we received in seasons past. </P>

By now, I think most Notre Dame fans know what to expect next year from this team. They could really surprise Irish fans and make a run at the National Championship but with a rebuilding of the offensive line, I don't think many Irish expect Tyrone Willingham and his staff to work miracles. The Irish defense next year should be outstanding and a defense can win championships. Will they have enough offense to score points?

I will certainly pick apart next year countless times in the future but for the purpose of this article, we will look at 2004 and 2005. It's impossible to look at this situation and predict anything with any sort of certainty. It is fun to dream though and that is why we follow recruiting. So get out your depth charts and let's take a peek.

2000 Recruiting Class

Garron Bible, Kyle Budinscak, Jared Clark, Jerome Collins, Derek Curry, Vontez Duff, Mike Goolsby, Carlyle Holiday, Preston Jackson, Omar Jenkins, Billy Palmer, Greg Pauly, Ronnie Rodamer and Jason Sapp.

If all play next year and nobody has a medical redshirt, Goolsby, Duff and Jenkins will have exhausted their eligibility. Holiday, Curry and Budinscak are starters so they will have a 5th year granted. Jared Clark, Greg Pauly and Preston Jackson see a lot of time so they are likely to be granted a 5th year. Will Garron Bible, Billy Palmer, Jerome Collins, Ronnie Rodamer and Jason Sapp be invited back? The answer to that question is what they contribute this year to the team and how many top prospects are interested in Notre Dame next year.

2001 Recruiting Class

Brian Beidatsch, Lionel Bolen, Quentin Burrell, Carlos Campbell, Dwight Ellick, Zach Giles, Ryan Grant, Brandon Hoyte, Mark LeVoir, Corey Mays, Darrin Mitchell, Rashon Powers-Neal, Dan Stevenson, Justin Tuck, Jeff Thompson, Marcus Wilson, Matt Root, Matt Shelton and Pat Dillingham..

Burrell, Campbell, Ellick and Grant played their freshman year so will only have two years left. The rest will be eligible for a 5th year.

2002 Recruiting Class

James Bonelli, Anthony Fasano, Marcus Freeman, Chris Frome, Jeff Jenkins, Derek Landri, Travis Leitko, Brian Mattes, Rhema McKnight, Bob Morton, Chris Olsen, Scott Raridon, Mike Richardson, Jamie Ryan, Dan Santucci, Nate Schiccatano and Maurice Stovall. All will have plenty of years left to play.

2003 Recruiting Class

Mitchell Thomas, Victor Abiamiri, Ambrose Wooden, Chase Anastasio, LaBrose Hedgemon, Geoffry Price, John Sullivan, Dwight Stephenson, Tom Zbikowski, Greg Olsen, Travis Thomas, Ryan Harris, Chinedum Ndukwe, Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Isaiah Gardner, Nick Borseti, Joe Brockington, Trevor Laws, Ashley McConnell, John Carlson and Freddie Parish. All will have plenty of eligibility for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

We will use the names above to predict some sort of depth chart. I will be wrong on my order of players and some will likely move positions. I am just guessing here but that is the fun in doing this. A few of the 2000 class will likely not be invited back but I can't predict those that won't be back so I will include them all. Lets take a look at the depth charts for 2004 and 2005 and remember, it's just a guess. I will also consider position changes in my depth chart just for fun. Also, for some of the skill positions, some future freshman signed would likely contribute but we have no way of knowing who they are. I am sure Notre Dame will find a running back that will compete in the future. If a younger guy isn't clearly ahead of an upperclassman, I will list the upperclassman first.

2004 depth chart

QuarterbackCarlyle Holiday, Chris Olsen, Brady Quinn, Pat Dillingham

Running Back Ryan Grant, Marcus Wilson, Isaiah Garnder, Travis Thomas

Fullback Rashon Powers-Neal, Jeff Jenkins, Nate Schiccatano, Ashley McConnell

Wide Receiver Maurice Stovall, Ronnie Rodamer, Jeff Samardzija , Chinedum Ndukwe

Wide Receiver Rhema McKnight, Matt Shelton, Ambrose Wooden , Chase Anastasio

Tight End Jared Clark, Anthony Fasano, Greg Olsen, John Carlson

Right Tackle Dan Stevenson, James Bonelli, Scott Raridon

Right Guard Mark LeVoir, Jeff Thompson, Jamie Ryan

Center Zach Giles, Bob Morton

Left Guard Darin Mitchell, Billy Palmer, John Sullivan

Left Tackle Matt Root, Brian Mattes, Ryan Harris

As you can tell, the offensive line is very confusing. I am plugging guys in left and right trying to make sense of it and I can't seem to make it work. The big key here is to find 10 guys for a solid two-deep. As of now, the only guy who has proven he can play is Stevenson.

The interesting point to note here involves recruiting. If my math is correct (probably not), Notre Dame would have 68 scholarship players after next year if all eligible get 5th years. At least 3 (Holiday, Budinscak, Curry) possible 5th year guys will get them. That leaves Bible, Clark, J. Collins, Jackson, Palmer, Pauly, Rodamer and Jason Sapp as those on the bubble. Dillingham is also counted as a scholarship player because he was on scholarship last year. I am not certain that will continue. Notre Dame will likely sign around 20-22 players next year depending on who returns for a 5th year, career-ending injuries and transfers. If Notre Dame signs 22, I expect 10 to be offensive players. I expect the Irish to sign one quarterback, two running backs, five offensive linemen and two wide receivers with an emphasis on speed.

2005 depth chart

QuarterbackChris Olsen, Brady Quinn, Pat Dillingham

Running Back Marcus Wilson, Isaiah Garnder, Travis Thomas

Fullback Rashon Powers-Neal, Jeff Jenkins, Nate Schiccatano, Ashley McConnell

Wide Receiver Maurice Stovall, Jeff Samardzija, Chinedum Ndukwe

Wide Receiver Rhema McKnight, Matt Shelton, Ambrose Wooden , Chase Anastasio

Tight End Anthony Fasano, Greg Olsen, John Carlson

Right Tackle Dan Stevenson, James Bonelli, Scott Raridon

Right Guard Mark LeVoir, Jeff Thompson, Jamie Ryan

Center Zach Giles, Bob Morton

Left Guard Darin Mitchell, John Sullivan

Left Tackle Matt Root, Brian Mattes, Ryan Harris

I realize that this depth chart is quite scary to look at but you need to look at potential as well. Brandon Hoyte and Justin Tuck became stars by their sophomore years so I expect many of these young guys to start seeing the field by 2005. The most important thing here is to find a star player and a legitimate, quality reserve for a solid two-deep. Can you find these two players on this depth chart?


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