There’s much to be thankful for this holiday season. Irish fans should be happy with the no. 1ranking on the gridiron, in the classroom, and possibly with recruiting, too. Time to analyze the scholarship numbers and project the final recruiting spots for the class of 2013.
Since I began in this business few catch-all phrases stuck with me like “That’s recruiting,” that my old colleague Jack Freeman from Blue and Gold used to say to me. In essence, nothing surprised Jack about college football recruiting. The cheating down South, kids not truly caring about going to class, coaches lying about looking at other jobs while still recruiting for their current school amongst many other sad patterns were discussed. “That’s recruiting,” Jack would say. His comment still holds true today, but for at least the time being things are really looking good for the Irish with that phrase. Notre Dame’s momentum on the field carried over to recruiting, and there are several good trends. Still, Notre Dame only holds so many scholarships.
Playing the cards at the proper time
Go to any Notre Dame recruiting site and a prominent theme comes up. How many scholarships do the Irish possess? Honestly, that number is in flux. There are rumors (pretty accurate, I’m told by people that should know) about players being lost to career-ending injury, sadly. There are rumors about potential fifth-year candidates either coming back or not coming back, there’s quite a bit of debate regarding whether a couple of recruits (Mattingly and James) will be a part of this class, and there’s discussion about whether Louis Nix decides to return for another year of eligibility (I’ve heard he’s coming back, believe it or not).
For the sake of argument, I will use the number of scholarships available as four. It could increase, it may decrease, but I am using four. That’s why Notre Dame must be careful with how many recruits it accepts a commitment from right now. Consider the top-notch names that are still available:
Tarean Folston, RB/ATH, Cocoa, FL
Greg Bryant, RB, Delray Beach, FL
Max Redfield, FS, Mission Viejo, CA
Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, Placer, CA
Al-Quadin Muhammad, OLB/DE, Ramsey, NJ
Laquan Treadwell, WR, Crete, IL
And that’s just a few of the names still available to Notre Dame.
So how should Notre Dame proceed? It’s about timing and to a certain degree needs.
From everything I heard to date, Cierre Wood has his heart set on the NFL after this season. Fair enough. Along with losing Theo Riddick to graduation, that leaves a big void at running back. Thus, at least one running back is needed. I feel very good about Notre Dame landing Folston and Bryant. There’s ample playing time available, prestige, and Notre Dame running back and assistant coach Tony Alford just happens to recruit Florida where Folston and Bryant played high school football. They are familiar with coach Alford. Big bonus for Notre Dame in both of their recruitments. I also feel that both players will pick Notre Dame well before national signing day. That’s based on what I’ve heard about where each recruit is with his recruitment, combined with my gut feel. I believe Bryant picks Notre Dame by no later than a week from Friday, or he’s likely headed to South Carolina to play his college football. Folston beats to his own drummer, but he’s a very articulate young man. I’ve met him. He’s not going to drag his recruitment out for media attention. Heck, he hates interviews. He should make his college selection by mid-January at the latest. That leaves two scholarships.
The best available option
This is where it becomes quite complicated. This section can only properly be completed with finalized information, and obviously that’s not possible because the fifth-year candidates are not finalized, NFL decisions not yet made, and so on and so forth. So, in essence, I’m guessing, or projecting, if one will. Take it for what it’s worth.
With two remaining scholarships I think it really comes down to timing. I believe that both Redfield and Muhammad will decide for Notre Dame by Christmas. Both players are very talented and play defense, the side of the football Notre Dame traditionally struggles to recruit more than offense. That would mean Notre Dame would be left with one scholarship. That would make Folston a prime target although with possibly Treadwell, but he’s a tough kid to project, and maybe Vanderdoes assuming he’s still on the market by the time he takes his visit to Notre Dame in January. So, that means Notre Dame must be really careful with hot it proceeds. Here’s how I see it unfolding, with the timeline beginning before Folston’s final decision (one scholarship left).
1 Folston picks Notre Dame (just before or after the national championship game).
2 Notre Dame’s coaching staff will be quite rigid about recruits taking visits to other schools. Visit elsewhere, you quite possibly lose your spot.
3 There will be (and probably already are) recruits that contact Notre Dame and are interested in visiting that were not visiting until Notre Dame had its magical regular season. Notre Dame will recruit those players and keep them on the radar in case a scholarship opens up.
4 There will be at least one Notre Dame commitment beyond Mattingly and James that sign with a school other than Notre Dame that’s currently committed to Notre Dame (I feel strongly that both will not be a part of this recruiting class). Remember Jack’s saying, “That’s recruiting.”
5 At least one recruit not currently being discussed in the Notre Dame recruiting world will become a prominent name by mid-January.
6 If a fifth scholarship becomes available, look for Notre Dame to land yet another top-notch recruit. The Irish mojo is at its peak. Notre Dame will take advantage.
7 Bottom line, Notre Dame will finish with one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
Go Irish! Beat ‘Bama!