Struggles leave Notre Dame grasping at recruits
Zach Klonsinski | Friday, November 11, 2016
Notre Dame is in full “hold-on-to-the-class” mode as it limps into San Antonio for the team’s Shamrock Series matchup with Army with a 3-6 record, according to Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst Bryan Driskell.
“It’s kind of hard to go out there and beat Michigan and Ohio State and Penn State and Florida and USC for recruits when those schools are out there winning every weekend and you’re losing games to Navy and Stanford and Duke and programs like that,” Driskell said.
The Irish began the year with one of the best recruiting classes in the country and needed just one or two more top-end recruits to secure what Driskell said at the beginning of the season was a top-5 class, but even as the season has turned sour on Notre Dame the potential for a top-10 class still exists.
“[Notre Dame is] in a situation where if they can keep this class together, it’s a good class,” Driskell said. “It won’t end up being as good as it should have been, could have been, but it’s still a good class. … It’s certainly not what they expected it to be at this point in time.”
The Irish are currently only hosting one recruit — class of 2018 four-star receiver Joshua Moore from Yoakum, Texas — on an official visit, Driskell said, although he expects one or two more recruits from the Lone Star State to take in the action Saturday, including class of 2018 four-star tight end Mustapha Muhammad from Missouri City, Texas.
This will be the eighth-consecutive year Notre Dame plays in the Shamrock Series, dating back to 2009 when the Irish routed Washington State at the Alamodome, 40-14, but next year the series is scheduled to take a hiatus as Notre Dame opens the Campus Crossroads renovations to Notre Dame Stadium.
In its seven previous Shamrock Series games, though, Notre Dame has played just one team that was ranked at the time (No. 22 Arizona State at AT&T Stadium in Dallas in 2013). While this perceived lack of quality competition for such a marquee event frustrates some fans and alumni, Driskell said it hasn’t detracted from the Shamrock Series’ impact on recruiting.
“It’s been a pretty exciting thing for young people. I think the uniform is impactful on young people,” Driskell said. “I know older folks don’t really want to admit this, but the reality is that young kids look at the programs like Oregon and places like that that basically have a new uniform every week, and they think that’s cool.
“And they like and respect the tradition of what Alabama does and what Notre Dame does, but when you can maybe throw a little something in there to show, ‘Hey, you’re going to come here and have some fun and get some fresh gear’ and things like that too. That helps with 17- and 18-year olds. That’s just the reality of it.”
Driskell said recruits like the event because it allows them to play on the big stage closer to their homes, part of Notre Dame’s focus on traveling all around the country on its quasi-independent schedule.
“How many schools can say they played in the state of Florida, the state of Texas and the state of California all in the same season?” Driskell said. “I’m willing to be a lot of money Notre Dame’s about the only school that can say that they’ve done that.”
Driskell would win that bet: Notre Dame is the only program in the Power 5 to play in each of those states this season.
Still, Driskell said there is untapped potential with the Shamrock Series as a whole, not just from a recruiting angle.
“Imagine if they were playing Oklahoma at Arrowhead Stadium [in Kansas City, Missouri],” Driskell said. “That would be huge. Or Oklahoma in AT&T Stadium in Dallas. That would be huge too. I think that is something they should look into.”