Moller: Irish gaining ground on college powerhouses in recruiting
Nate Moller | Friday, October 22, 2021
The state of Notre Dame football has been great over the last five years. Since 2017, the Irish boast an outstanding 48-9 record, and they have recorded at least ten wins every year. Despite being great, the Irish have not been able to propel themselves to the elite level. One of the major reasons for this is the gap in recruiting between Notre Dame and powerhouses such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State. As the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes are starting to take shape for the Irish, though, it appears that Notre Dame might be on the fringe of competing with some of these schools in terms of recruiting.
The Irish already have commitments from 15 four star recruits in the class of 2022, putting them as the fourth best recruiting class so far, behind Penn State, Alabama, Georgia and Texas according to 247Sports. The traditional powerhouses are not doing significantly better than the Irish with Alabama having commitments from 2 five stars and 11 four stars, Georgia with 1 five star and 11 four star commitment, Ohio State with 1 five star and 13 four star commitments and Clemson with 2 five stars and 9 four star commitments. Although it is worrisome that the Irish have not landed a five star recruit yet, they remain on pace with these teams in terms of quality talent and depth, which should pay dividends as these players mature throughout their time in college.
Just by comparing Notre Dame’s class of 2022 to previous classes, it is apparent that the Irish have never recruited like this before. In its 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes, for example, the Irish had a combined 20 four star recruits and just one-five star recruit (running back Chris Tyree) over that two year period. The pure volume of quality talent the Irish have coming their way in 2022 should set them up for future success.
Of the recruits that Notre Dame has landed so far in 2022, they have a good variety of skill positions on defense and offense, which should pay off for them as well.
One of the headlines of the 2022 class is linebacker Jaylen Sneed, who has reminded many of former Irish linebacker and NFL star Jaylon Smith for his physicality and speed.
Clint Brewster of 247Sports discussed Sneed’s talents.
“Sneed is a rocked-up outside linebacker/edge player with long arms and a good looking frame,” Brewster said. “Sneed possesses great play-strength and knock back tackling power. He’s got raw physical tools with upside potential as a defensive prospect.”
Joining Sneed at linebacker in the 2022 class are four star recruits Niuafe Tuihalamaka and Joshua Burnham, which should provide a lot of depth for the Irish going forward at one of the most important positions on the defensive side of the football.
This boost in recruiting can likely be attributed to new Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who has been pulling in recruits from all over the country. If Freeman can continue to recruit from high schools and areas that the Irish have previously not been able to recruit from, the Irish should be getting talent like they have never seen before.
On the defensive side of the football in 2023, the Irish have already landed commitments from a handful of top recruits, which can likely be attributed to Freeman’s presence. Some of these names include five star defensive lineman Brenan Vernon, four star edge rusher Keon Keeley and four star safety Adon Schuler.
Arguably the most exciting aspect of the 2022 class is on the offensive side of the ball with the talent the Irish are receiving at the wide receiver position. Four star recruits C.J. Williams and Tobias Merriweather rank 12th and 19th, respectively, at the wide receiver position per 247Sports. The wide receiver position has been an area of concern for the Irish in terms of depth as of late, but the recruitment of these two top wide receivers shows that the Irish might be able to attract some of the nation’s top talent at the position going forward.
Looking ahead to the class of 2023, the Irish will hope to get a commitment from wide receiver Carnell Tate. The Chicago native is the ninth best wide receiver in his class, and he will likely choose either Ohio State or Notre Dame. If the Irish can pick up Tate, then it is evident that recruiting is at an all time high at Notre Dame.
It is apparent that Notre Dame recruiting is headed in the right direction with Marcus Freeman racking up recruits on defense and with a talented group of wide receivers coming to play for the Irish as well. The only way that Notre Dame is going to have a chance to compete against the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia is if they can establish themselves in the recruiting game. While there is no doubt still a long way to go, the program that head coach Brian Kelly has built at Notre Dame has set the framework for success in the future, and it appears that Notre Dame is headed in the right direction.