Archive for the ‘State of Recruiting’ Category

The State of Recruiting 2009

February 11, 2009

The 2009 recruiting class is formed and it’s time to bring you the 3rd annual “State of Recruiting” post. This has always been a fun post for me because I really enjoy seeing how this team is molded together from all the corners of the country.

Before I continue, I have a few thoughts that I need to get off of my chest. Fuck Andy Staples, fuck CNN, and fuck SI. Why such vulgarity towards these individuals? Well it’s touchy. But simply put… that motherfucker stole this shit. Andy Staples published an article called The State of Recruiting. Nothing wrong with that, lots of websites and blogs use that title- especially this time of the year. The way in which he used it, is essentially fucked. He took my idea of making a map and plotting recruits on the map while using the title of the post to be used in the most literal form, and ran with it. I guess posting stuff on a blog for over two years, doesn’t make me a source- just a tool of plagiarism for the media. (I realize that this sounds bitchy, and I agree. But the war between the mainstream media and bloggers is a bloody battle that has been fought for a number of years now. You couldn’t… at least change the title Andy?)

Now that I got that off of my chest…

The Fighting Irish are represented by 26 different states on this roster as it pertains to the scholarship players. That number is quite remarkable. Historically, Notre Dame was forced to recruit nationally out of necessity, due to the small number of elite prospects in Indiana. That necessity has evolved into something else entirely. I’ve talked about pipelines in this post for the past two years, and it can’t be stated enough… these things matter. Notre Dame is firmly entrenched in some major recruiting hotspots from around the country and if the program is going to reach the pinnacle of success on the field, they need to continue this trend of recruiting. Obviously, the Irish have a hard time swaying some prospects from “Big state U” and they have an academic requirement that is much higher than those schools, but they work as hard as any school in the country at bringing talent to South Bend- and those dividends should really be paying back this year.

So without further poor writing, I give you the map: I beefed up the recruiting map this year due to the CNN article. The red placemarks are the 2009 class, while the blue placemarks are from the previous classes that are still members of the Fighting Irish Football team. The green placemarks are part of the 2010 class. Sometime in the next month at so, I will take the placemarks and turn the red into blue and the green into red… like an artist. Like the Eligibility Charts, this recruiting map will be another tool for all of you to keep checking in on. You’re welcome- all 5 of you.


View Larger Map

Basically, you can see a pattern that Weis and Notre dame have developed over the years. Southern Florida, Southern California, and along highway 80/90 from the Chicagoland area to the east coast.

The following is a breakdown of the top states for sheer numbers and their average star rating for the players, according to Scout.com. This is the Elite 8.

1. Florida

  • 9 players.
  • Average Star Rating……… 3.55
  • Most Notable……… Sam Young (5*), Armando Allen (4*), Ian Williams (3*)
  • Biggest Loss……… Maurice Crum (3* LB) Captain
  • Newcomers……… Jordan Cowart (2* LS), Ben Turk (3* P), Zeke Motta (4* LB)
  • 2008 Ranking- #1 (8 players / 3.62 Average Star Rating)
  • The King for the last few years. Florida continues to be a well of talent from which Weis can draw from. After a 2008 that saw zero recruits from the Sunshine State, Notre Dame grabbed 3 prospects for 2009. The two specialists helped knock the A.S.R. down a bit, but they are needed prospects if the Irish wish to keep improving their special teams units. Zeke Motta was a huge grab at LB that some analysts think could have an immediate impact on the 2009 team. Only 3 players in the past two years, is not a good trend. Unless Weis can win over some Floridian talent for the 2010 class, Florida may be in danger of plummeting in the rankings. That would be catastrophic for a program like Notre Dame.

2. Illinois

  • 8 players.
  • A.S.R………. 3.63
  • Most Notable……… Sergio Brown (4*), Robert Hughes (4*), Darius Fleming (4*)
  • Biggest Loss……… NONE
  • Newcomers……… Chris Watt (5* OG)
  • 2008 Ranking- #4 ( 7/3.71)
  • Notre Dame is making huge strides in a pipeline state that should always produce top talent for the program. Illinois hovered at the #4 ranking in 2007 and 2008, but in 2009 they climb to the #2 spot after picking up 5 star lineman Chris Watt. The A.S.R. took a dip, but that was mainly due to the addition of Mike Anello, for whom I could only grant one star after being unable to find any info on him in the recruiting database. Most Irish fans have been crying out for Notre dame to put a fence around the state of Illinois, and Chicago in particular, for its top players. They are on the right track to do that once again for the 2010 class, and I see Illinois threatening to take the #1 spot next year.

3. Ohio

  • 8 players.
  • A.S.R………. 3.37
  • Most Notable……… Kyle McCarthy (2*), Kyle Rudolph (5*), Brandon Walker (3*)
  • Biggest Loss……… David Bruton (3* S) Captain
  • Newcomers……… Dan Fox (3* LB)
  • 2008 Ranking- #2 ( 8/3.37)
  • Ohio is littered with talent. The problem is that we are not getting enough of it to help out. While the number of prospects is very high, the level of talent isn’t on par. Notre Dame still has trouble competing with Ohio State for the elite prospects in the state of Ohio. This isn’t to say that there is no good talent coming from the Buckeye state, it just means that Notre Dame still needs to improve. Dan Fox is a nice addition and if he develops like David Bruton, another Ohio 3 star, than he should do well for himself and the football team.

4. California

  • 7 players
  • A.S.R………. 4.29
  • Most Notable……… Jimmy Clausen (5*), Dayne Crist (5*), Anthony McDonald (4*)
  • Biggest Loss……… Will Yeatman (3* TE) Transfer
  • Newcomers……… Shaq Evans (4* WR), Cierre Wood (4* RB)
  • 2008 Ranking- #3 (7/4.14)
  • For having such a high star rating with as many players as California provides to the Irish, it’s hard to not just say that they are the #1 state. But, that’s not exactly how I rank them, and of all the players, only Jimmy Clausen is making a significant contribution. I expect that to change next year as Irish fans await the arrival of Evans and Wood. Steve Wiltfong of Irish Eyes said on a recent Power Hour, that ND is becoming the “other” state university of California after U$C, and UCLA. Notre dame isn’t coming out of California with 3 star players- they’re 5 star and high 4 star caliber recruits. This is important is so many ways for the future of the program. The 2010 class is off to a good start after the commitment of 5* Chris Martin, so look for California to challenge for the top spot in 2010 along with Illinois and Florida.

5. New Jersey

  • 6 players.
  • A.S.R………. 3.83
  • Most Notable……… Duval Kamara (4*), Mike Ragone (4*)
  • Biggest Loss……… Steve Quinn (3* LB I think he lived in Jersey, but went to school in Pennsylvania?)
  • Newcomers……… Carlo Calabrese (4* LB), Theo Riddick (4* RB), Tyler Stockton (4* DT)
  • 2008 Ranking- #7 (4/3.5)
  • Notre Dame keeps improving its presence in the home state of Charlie Weis. There is always a good amount of top talent in the Garden State, and the Irish are trying to get all it can. Notre Dame lost out on Nyshier Oliver (4* WR) at the end, but they still came away with three 4 star prospects. This trend will continue as long as Weis has anything to do about it. Look for yet another jump in the standings next year, with none of the Jersey guys scheduled to leave ND after the 2009 season.

6. Indiana

  • 6 players.
  • A.S.R………. 3.66
  • Most Notable……… James Aldridge (5*), John Goodman (4*)
  • Biggest Loss……… Luke Schmidt (4* FB) Medical
  • Newcomers……… Tyler Eifert (3* TE), Zach Martin (4* OT)
  • 2008 Ranking- #5 (7/3.43)
  • Indiana has been a surprise to me since I started doing this two years ago. Maybe they shouldn’t be. The Hoosier state doesn’t pump out large numbers of top-flight prospects that other states may produce, but it still has 3-4 recruits every year that can excel at the next level. I’ve been shouting about Ft. Wayne having the talent that Notre Dame is looking for, and that city sent 5 kids to big schools this year- including Tyler Eifert. Indiana doesn’t have to provide 10-15 top end kids a year for Notre Dame with the national recruiting that the Irish feed on, but 2-3 prospects in the state is a nice amount to rely on in yearly basis. Notre Dame is off to a good start with 4 star WR, Daniel Smith. A couple more, and they’ll be set.

7. Tennessee

  • 4 players.
  • A.S.R………. 4.00
  • Most Notable……… Golden Tate (4*), Harrison Smith (4*)
  • Biggest Loss……… NONE
  • Newcomers……… Alex Bullard
  • 2008 Ranking- Not Ranked
  • The newcomer to the Elite 8 is Tennessee. In essence, it knocked Georgia out of the rankings with more productive players and a higher Average Star ranking. Weis is doing a tremendous job of securing the best talent that Tennessee has to offer like no other coach before him at Notre Dame has done. With Kiffin taking over for Fulmer, I’m sure that he would like to put that fence around the state (and cheat and lie about others cheating). However, with the relationships that Weis and the staff are forming with the schools in this state and the caliber of players already at ND from the state- Notre dame should continue this trend and keep Tennessee in these rankings.

8. Pennsylvania

  • 4 players.
  • A.S.R………. 3.25
  • Most Notable……… Darrin Walls (4*), Steve Paskorz (3*)
  • Biggest Loss……… Mike Turkovich (4* OT)
  • Newcomers……… EJ Banks (3* CB)
  • 2008 Ranking- #8 (4/3.50)
  • We need help in Pennsylvania. What was once fertile recruiting grounds for the Fighting Irish, is now just a modest handful of players. Ohio State, Penn State, and Pittsburgh have really been pushing the Irish out of western PA. Notre Dame must do a better job of securing signatures from the homeland of Joe Montana, Raghib Ismail, and Ricky Watters. With some work and some luck, Notre Dame may end up with more than a couple commits from the Keystone State.

The State of Recruiting 2008

February 10, 2008

As the 2008 recruiting season has come to a hault, except for Pryor of course, I wanted to take a step back as I did last year and look at what the Fighting Irish have done for the past 5 years of recruiting. What states are we getting the most talent from? Is there a pattern? I hope to answer these questions and maybe a few more with this post.

I spoke last year about “pipeline” states. If you don’t know what that means, let me explain quickly… The term pipeline state is a term used to describe a particular state(s) that send good talent to a particular University. Well, talent and sheer numbers. Not only do just the states get labeled as such, but certain cities, counties, and even certain high schools.

With Notre Dame, the pipeline institution is of vital importance. Notre Dame is a national university, and it recruits in the same manner. Looking at the roster of the Fighting Irish will show one just how diverse their football team is made of from top to bottom. The Irish have representatives from 26 states coast to coast. That is amazing when you think about it for a moment. Go and look at some other top programs and it will tell a different story. Of course, these top programs also just so happen to be in states where top talent is everywhere. This is where the battle for the recruits is at its apex.

On National Signing Day one of the talking heads from either ESPN or CSTV (I can’t remember exactly whom) spoke about pipelines. They were saying that in today’s day and age with the Internet and all of the national coverage of College Football, there was really no such thing as a pipeline anymore. FALSE. Pipelines are just as important today as they were 20 and 30 years ago. They are even MORE so for our beloved Fighting Irish. Notre Dame can go just about anywhere there is a top prospect and sign him as long as that players academics are sufficient for admission. How? Relationships with high school coaches, current players hailing from the same region as the prospect, and of course… a Notre Dame education are all factors in a players recruitment. Grabbing prospects from those same areas of good talent year in and year out help every year as the coaches head out on the trail and hand out offers. We are all more comfortable with like-minded people, and 17 and 18 year old kids are even more so.

Notre Dame is doing an outstanding job in their effort to claim certain states and area as pipelines. Coach Weis wanted to go back to the old days of locking down the kids in the Chicagoland area, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and in Ohio, not to mention in our own backyard. I believe he is doing exactly that right now.

Here is a map of where all of the current Notre Dame players for 2008 and the incoming freshman come from. (I have included Kuntz and Yeatman, as I have hope for their return too). The dots are an approximate location. Close enough, but not exactly accurate.

As it is fairly clear to see, there are indeed a great number of states represented, but there are also particular areas of concentration. South Florida and L.A. and San Diego are the densest areas outside of the midwest. There just so happens to be quite a few good players coming out of those regions. Once in the midwest, ND has locked them down from Chicago all the way across to New Jersey.

The following is a breakdown of the top states for sheer numbers and their average star rating for the players according to Scout.com. This is the Elite 8.

1. Florida

  • 8 players.
  • Average Star Rating……… 3.62
  • Most Notable……… Sam Young (5*), Armando Allen (4*), Ian Williams (3*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #1 (9/3.62)
  • The king is still Florida when it comes to the number of prospects and its high star average. What is alarming, is that Notre Dame whiffed on Florida recruits in 2008. ZERO. This is not a good thing. Players such as Carlton Thomas, Etienne Sabino, and Keith Wells were all offered by the Irish but chose to play elsewhere. What is also alarming, is that Sabino and Wells both committed to Ohio State. Distance and weather were obviously not a factor for those prospects and those are the kind of kids ND has to get. Not to mention they are both very talented. (Especially Sabino, 5* MLB). This is an area that must be addressed by Weis and it should be an interesting saga to watch. The Irish need to maintain its presence in Florida, and the Miami area in particular, as this is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation.

2. Ohio

  • 8 players.
  • A.S.R……….3.37
  • Most Notable……… Kyle Rudolph (5*), David Bruton (3*), Dan McCarthy (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #5 (6/3.0)
  • The Irish dipped into Ohio twice this year to bolster the states ranking. ND grabbed two outstanding prospects in D. McCarthy and Kyle Rudolph. Winning those battles against in state power, Ohio State, will keep paying dividends as the talent from that state is very good. Holtz loved Ohio and a lot of our former greats hailed from this state. Sometimes the star rankings are a little off with Ohio prospects. The Buckeyes have been winning a lot of football games with a roster loaded with 3 star talent from Ohio. The Irish are hoping to do the same.

3. California

  • 7 players.
  • A.S.R……….4.14
  • Most Notable……… Jimmy Clausen (5*), Dayne Crist (5*), Terrail Lambert (4*)
  • 2007 ranking- #3 (7/3.85)
  • Look at that average star rating. The Irish love California. This is why Notre Dame has been ending its seasons out in this state. It helps Weis and the staff get a leg up on the next years recruiting as well as try to cement the one for the current year. This state is so important to the Irish’s recruiting efforts and it has been paying off. It will never be easy with Pete Carroll at U$C, and it will only get tougher for ND as UCLA’s new head coach, Rick Neuheisal, is a recruiting machine himself. ND and Weis have been establishing very good relationships with particular schools, and that should help in its efforts in the future.

4. Illinois

  • 7 Players.
  • A.S.R……….3.71
  • Most Notable……… Robert Hughes (4*), Steve Filer (4*), Darius Flemming (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #4 (6/3.5)
  • The Irish are getting more and more top prospects from this state and in particular, the Chicagoland area. After losing out to Martez Wilson last year (“It wasn’t about the money”- Wilson), Notre Dame stuck it to the Zooker by grabbing 3 of the best players in the state in Cwynar, Flemming, and Filer. ND might have gotten Goebel as well, but he committed to Ohio State after Omar Hunter made his commitment (can I even call it that?) to the Irish. Weis wanted more Chicago kids and he looks like he is following up on that with great results. The Irish need to keep hammering down this hotbed of talent and establish itself as the only school to go to for these kids. It will be interesting to see if the Demetrius Jones disaster will have any effect on the Chicago Public League kids.

5. Indiana

  • 7 Players.
  • A.S.R……….3.43
  • Most Notable……… James Aldridge (5*), Pat Kuntz (3*), Braxton Cave (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #6 (4/3.5)
  • Still a surprise. For as much slack as Indiana gets for being a basketball state, Notre Dame has been grabbing as much of the top talent from its home state as it can. The star rating did take a dip this year, but that is because Bemenderfer was rated as a 2 star prospect. I didn’t count him as a member last year. But, now he is a legend in his own right. The Irish did very well at home again this year in grabbing 4 star prospects Braxton Cave and John Goodman. This is a good trend that will only help ND in their depth chart needs. After looking over some of the juniors, there is definitely 2 or 3 more in Indiana that ND could offer. A nice surprise.

6. Georgia

  • 4 Players.
  • A.S.R……….3.5
  • Most Notable……… Toryan Smith (3*), Paul Duncan (4*), Jamoris Slaughter (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- T#8 (3/3.33)
  • Notre Dame once again swooped down into Crunk Central and lured a top prospect away from the SEC schools. Talent from Georgia is a lot like Florida. A 3 star can be very underrated. What will be interesting to see, is if the addition of Tenuta to the staff will help in Georgia. Tenuta was never known as a good recruiter, but his reputation as a great coach is well known in that state and I’m sure he already has a few players in mind for 2009.

7. New Jersey

  • 4 Players.
  • A.S.R……….3.5
  • Most Notable……… Mike Ragone (4*), Duval Kamara (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #7 (4/3.5)
  • Weis talks about this state all the time. He likes it a lot. There is some really good talent there, but the Notre Dame did not land an elite kid there this year. There is no doubt that Weis will continue to pound on the doors in this state, but can he close? That will be the key as Rutgers, B.C., Florida State, and Florida love to come here as well.

8. Pennsylvania

  • 4 Players.
  • A.S.R……….3.5
  • Most Notable……… Darrin Walls (4*), Mike Turkovich (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #2 (7/3.57)
  • A big dip this year. Only one prospect from PA. committed to ND. Another reason was the transfer of Zach Frazer (4*) and Darrell Hand (3*) leaving the team for medical reasons. The Irish need to continue to work the western PA. region as it has proved to be on e of the best in the country along with one of the best for Notre Dame.

As we have seen, national recruiting is Notre Dames forte. It must continue to win the battles against the in state powers and convince the top prospects that the only helmet to wear, is the one covered in gold. Do that, and the Fighting Irish could bring home some crystal.

The State of Recruiting

March 9, 2007

If you have followed recruiting at all in the last 20 years or so, I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Pipeline State”. This is the word commonly used as a way to describe a particular state the sends good talent to a school. College coaches establish relationships with certain high schools and their coaches in the hopes of landing their star players. These areas then become known as a “pipeline”, to a certain University or College.

In the case of Notre Dame this “pipeline” theory is of extreme importance. ND is nestled in northern Indiana and is not considered to have an overwhelming amount of talent in the area, or the entire state for that matter. ND is a National University, and recruits in a manner to reflect that image.

The Fighting Irish have scholarship players from 25 of the 50 states. This is a huge difference from other elite programs such as Texas and Florida, who have a vast majority of players from their own state. Texas, for example, has only 3 players from outside the state. 3. This is the type of school that has cornered the market for their top prospects in their own backyard. Schools such as these are very difficult to compete against for players in their own state.

I believe ND to be doing a fantastic job in scouring the country for top talent. They have had a few down years, but that was mainly due to incompetent coaches who couldn’t recruit…or wouldn’t (Ty). ND has some work to do to gain back territory lost during the Davieham era, but Coach Weis and his assistants are working very hard to do just that.

Here is a map of where ND players come from. (Not exact in location within states)

As you can see, although the number of states is great, particular states and areas are more represented than others. The following is a breakdown of the top states for sheer numbers and their average star rating for the players according to Scout.com’s rankings.

1. Florida

  • 9 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.44
  • Most Notable………. Sam Young(5*), Armando Allen(4*), Maurice Crum(3*)
  • It seems as if this state is a cornucopia of talent for the gridiron. Even the 3 star players are excellent and may have been at least a 4 star if they were in another state. This fertile ground is quickly becoming a heated rivalry meeting place for dozens of programs across the country. The big 3 of Miami, F$U, and Florida still seem to lockdown most of the states elite talent, but there are those who venture out of the Sunshine State. These are the kids Charlie and the boys MUST sign and play for the Irish.

2. Pennsylvania

  • 8 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. Travis Thomas(4*), Darrin Walls(4*), Zach Frazer(4*)
  • Pennsylvania, especially western PA., has always been a good source of talent for ND. The Irish have had to fend off in-state power Penn State for most if not all of their PA. guys throughout the years. Now however, Pitt is making a comeback in recruiting and is landing some very good state talent. Can Weis hold ND’s ground in this state? Let’s hope so, because some of Notre Dames greatest players are from PA. and the state might hold a lot more in store for the future.

3. California

  • 7 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.85
  • Most Notable………. Jimmy Clausen(5*), Terrail Lambert(4*), Konrad Reuland(5*)
  • This state, like Florida, is loaded with elite talent. The problem is keeping them away from Pete Carroll’s grubby hands. ND does do, and has done, a very good job of taking away top tier kids from Cali. In fact, if you take Darrin Bragg out of the equation, the average star rating would be 4.16. Not a bad number. The Irish must continue to hammer this state and battle not only U$C, but Cal, UCLA, and pretty much every PAC-10 school. If Weis can get them to put aside the distance factor, we will continue to do very well in California for years to come.

4. Illinois

  • 6 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. Tom Zbikowski(4*), Demetrius Jones(3*), Robert Hughes(4*)
  • This state should be home turf. The Irish are finding out however, that Zook and the Fighting No Mascots are in war mode. ND has had some very good commits in the past from Chicago, but they lost a couple this year to a 2-9 team. I won’t speculate as to why, I’m just stating the facts. There is a lot of hope that the kids from Illinois high schools, and in particular Chicago, are going to keep marching for Our Lady because of Corwin Brown and his connections there. Here’s hoping for early commits from Filer and Flemming.

5. Ohio

  • 6 players
  • Average Star Rating……….3
  • Most Notable………. David Bruton(3*), Kallen Wade(4*), John Ryan(3*)
  • Although the numbers are decent with 6 players, the quality is still a question mark. Most of the kids are too young to properly access the talent stream. Two of our starters last year hailed from Ohio,and the same school for that matter, in Quinn and Nedu. Tressel is really fighting to keep his talent in his state, but ND has a long history of getting elite prospects from Ohio. If Charlie and crew can keep pounding on the doors, they will open.

6. Indiana

  • 4 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. James Aldridge(5*), Luke Schmidt(4*), Pat Kuntz(3*)
  • This is actually a sweet surprise. Although we are now scraping the the barrel with numbers for each state, Indiana is either tied or beating the average star ratings of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, FLORIDA, New Jersey, and a host of 3 players states. What does this say about the home state? Well it says that despite the slim pickings, ND has pulled out some quality kids from their own backyard. ND is on the right track this year with 2 in-state recruits already committing in Walter and Braxton Cave. These may be the only two , but they are the guys we can not let slip away to Purdue, Michigan, etc.

7. New Jersey

  • 4 players.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.5
  • Most Notable………. Mike Ragone(4*), Leo Ferrine(4*), Duval Kamara(4*)
  • Weis is in love with N.J. And why not? He’s from there and makes no denial that he wants to plug in a “pipeline” from the Garden State straight on to Our Lady of the Lake. A lot of excellent high school ball is played in this state and a lot of elite talent. In the past poaching of these stars has been relatively easy, due to no major football power in the state. N.D., USC, Florida State, and a host of other schools had their pick of the lot. Rutgers and Greg Schiano are changing all of that. Weis is a leg up on other schools for talent with the connections he has there, but he must keep Schiano and Rutgers in their place…bottom feeding.

8. Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia

  • 3 players each.
  • Average Star Rating………. 3.41
  • Most Notable………. Chris Stewart(4*), John Carlson(3*), Trevor Laws(4*), Toryan Smith(3*), D.J. Hord(4*)
  • Theses 4 states have been very good providers for the Irish. Texas has developed into a problem and will always be as long as Mack Brown hovers over all of the elite talent there. Minnesota has given us great players, and they all seem to come from one school. Georgia is like Florida. A 3* there is a 4* somewhere else. Missouri is a real eye catcher though. A lot of talent filters its way to the Big 12, but Weis in particular has had excellent results in that state. With the exception of Texas ND should continue to nab top talent in these states.

What does this all mean? National recruiting is exactly that…national. Good talent is everywhere. ND just has to keep going hard at it (and with Brown it looks great) and they will have no problem getting top 5 classes. And that means Championships. It is only a matter of time.