To do this story, you need to know most—if not all—the facts about the wish list. We have a pretty good idea of those players that were targeted and those that were offered so let's take a look at where these players ended up and how Notre Dame did in the end.
The big question is who was targeted and who was offered. My list won't be exact but it will be close. I am sure I will miss a few just because I forgot about them. Anyway, let's take a look at who was offered, who visited and those they landed.
Notre Dame landed Brady Quinn out of the three. Wright was offered about the same time Quinn was. Kovalcheck was offered on his visit. Notre Dame soured on him and felt comfortable with just Quinn. Quinn didn't get an offer early because Notre Dame hadn't seen enough film of him. They wanted him to attend camp so they could get a real good look at him. The staff was very high on Quinn but it was early in the process and so many players were out there. They also knew that Brady would likely accept if they offered and they wanted to make sure they had the best quarterback they could get. Quinn and Wright were the targets here.
Running BackDavid Marrero
These prospects were the only backs I know for sure were offered. We know the Marrero story. Lumpkin never gave Notre Dame a second look. Neither did Reshaun Grant. Reggie Bush looked hard at Notre Dame but wanted to stay close to home. In the end, Notre Dame landed Travis Thomas and Ashley McConnell. I think a few more names were needed here. I am sure there were others but I am not certain of that. Tim Castille and Chauncey Washington were two they liked early but they also committed early and I don't believe they were offered by Notre Dame.
Ashley was the only player offered and the only player they wanted. I think a lot of people wonder about Ashley. I think he is going to surprise a lot of Notre Dame fans.
Wide ReceiverJeff Samardzija
A large group, we know what happened with the first four. Bradford just didn't feel he could play early like he could at Stanford. Smith gave Notre Dame a look but nothing serious. Bailey, Caldwell and Hill didn't give Notre Dame a sniff. I am not sure if Hill and Caldwell would have made it in academically so I am not sure they were offered. We hope in the future that the California and Florida players will give Notre Dame a harder look. Bailey had a 1200 SAT and a highlight film that was very impressive. One has to hope to be a contender in a race like Bailey.
Tight EndGreg Olsen
The only three targets and they landed two. They landed their #1 target and Carlson was at least 2B in this race. The Notre Dame staff is very high on John Carlson.
Offensive LineRyan Harris
Notre Dame landed the first two, almost landed the third and I bet the fourth would like to change his mind right about now. Teamer wasn't a serious possibility. Almost every kid born in Nebraska would love to wear the Big Red. Jake Long wanted to wear the Big Blue. Zuttah wanted to enroll early. It's difficult to steal kids from the state school and even harder to land someone when other schools can give a player something he wants that Notre Dame can't. If you notice, Notre Dame was successful landing two of the top players in the country where the state school is not a powerhouse (MN and CT). Mike Jones hurt because he was a legacy. Joe Thomas hurt more because he had decided on Notre Dame. Adding a couple of more names to the A list would have been ideal here.
Defensive LineVictor Abiamiri
A very small list considering the troubles Notre Dame has had landing their top targets. The Irish were able to land their top target at interior defensive line and defensive end. You can't do any better than that. Not sure if Shaw was offered because he committed so early but I know they liked him a lot. The only question is if they wanted another defensive end. Considering the trouble they have had in the past, I think they would have loved to land another. Nobody can complain with the results however. I would still like to see more names here.
The Irish landed 4 out of this group. God told Baker to go to Oklahoma and who can argue with that? Jefferson had Notre Dame leading at one point and never visited. Cohen didn't give the Irish a hard look and Presley went with the state school. The two Michigan kids didn't give Notre Dame much of a look. I am not sure either was offered because they didn't seem interested very early so I bet neither was offered but they liked both players. Baker and Jefferson were the two the Irish had a serious chance with. Baker was a loss but Mitchell Thomas made up for that loss I believe.
Defensive BackTom Zbikowski
Notre Dame did pretty well here. Kenny Scott, Donte Whitner and Ryan Mundy were also high on their list but Notre Dame did land some great talent at defensive back. Scott didn't give Notre Dame a seriously look. Whitner wanted to enroll early and Mundy appeared to want to go to Michigan the entire year. Guilford wanted to go to Ohio State. Not a bad haul however.
Obviously there were other names on the board. Ray Edwards, Brandon Maupin, Tarell Brown, Prescott Burgess, Sedric Ellis, Matt Malele and Maurice Drew could not get over the academic hurdle. The Irish recruited players like Kyle Caldwell, Mikal Brewer, Ian Yates-Cunningham and Quentin Daniels but none were offered.
Overall, I think Notre Dame did a fantastic job. I do believe a few more names need to be added to the A list. I do like their system and I think it can be very effective. The staff targeted those that could get in and those that have talent. The recruited some players that had serious talent but were somewhat borderline because of grades in case their situation changed. I was very impressed with the close rate as well. Next year will be important obviously. They will need offensive linemen, two great backs, more linebackers and to plug a few holes. I do think they did a great job of recruiting this year. They will need to tweak a few things but I like the system they have in place.