Last Memorial Day weekend I was out a pub enjoying a nice Guinness when news broke that Everett Golson would was no longer enrolled at Notre Dame. Last night I decided to spend a glorious Wednesday evening enjoying a refreshing Sam Adams Summer Ale with an old college roommate when news broke that Blake Barnett decommitted from Notre Dame and was no longer considering the Irish.
Clearly the Notre Dame news cycle does not like to see me enjoy a relaxing night out. Unfortunately, the Notre Dame news cycle also just does not seem to want to be kind to the quarterback position at Notre Dame. After year and years of instability and depth problems at the position Notre Dame finally has a stocked depth chart and until Tuesday night had a heralded, rising star recruit committed and ready to add to that depth.
The news of Barnett decommitting didn’t come as a complete surprise as news spread earlier on Tuesday that he had visited Oregon over the weekend. When you consider that Barnett committed to Notre Dame over six months ago though and had held steadfast in being firmly committed to Notre Dame up until the last 48 hours, the situation escalated quicker than any other I can remember since we’ve been covering Notre Dame recruiting on UHND.
Luckily for Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff they have plenty of time to regroup and still land a an elite signal caller for the class of 2015. Here’s an updated look of where Notre Dame stands and where they go moving forward.
What Impact will Losing Barnett Have?
One of the greatest parts of adding an elite quarterback as early as Notre Dame did in this recruiting cycle is that doing so generally leads to a very strong classes. When a class has a headliner like Barnett at QB on board early, other recruits tend to gravitate towards the classes with elite quarterbacks.
With Barnett on-board early Notre Dame had already added a pair of wide receivers and filled out the offensive line class. The staff is going to need to stay on both wide receivers prospects to make sure they are still solid as well. Right now nothing points to either Jalen Guyton or CJ Sanders wavering, but considering Barnett was on board when they committed, I’m sure both recruits were quick to hear from the Irish staff as news broke of Barnett decommitting.
Notre Dame can still have a great class without immediately adding a quarterback. Just three years ago Notre Dame brought in one of the best classes it’s had in a long time without adding a quarterback – Everett Golson – until very late in the process. Until Notre Dame finds a replacement for Barnett, they will need one of the other committed recruits to become the unofficial face of the class.
Who will Notre Dame target to replace Barnett?
It’s been just over 24 hours since Barnett decommitted and we already have a clear idea of who Kelly and staff are targeting to fill the quarterback position in this year’s class.
The first name to surface was Jarrett Stidham. The Under Armour All-American tweeted on Thursday afternoon that he had just been offered by Notre Dame.
Just got offered by Notre Dame! #Irish
— Jarrett Stidham (@Jarrett_Stidham) June 5, 2014
On top of being an Under Armour All-American, Stidham is a 4-star prospect and pretty much a consensus top 100 overall prospect across the recruiting services. At 6-3.5 he is slightly shorter than Barnett but with a sub 4.6 40 yard dash he brings plenty of speed earning him the #3 ranking at dual threat QB from 247 Sports. Stidham, a Texas native, is currently committed to Texas Tech however.
An hour later, another offer went out from the Notre Dame staff. This time the recipient was Travis Waller from Servite High School in Anaheim, California.
— Travis Waller (@traviswaller11) June 5, 2014
Waller, like Stidham, is a 4-star prospect, on most services top 100 lists, and ranks as 247’s #2 dual threat quarterback. Waller is currently uncommitted but holds offers from Alabama, Cal, Northwestern, Tennessee, and Penn State.
There is also some chatter on Twitter this evening that the Irish are close to offering 4-star Deondre Francois. Francois, a Florida native, holds an impressive list of offers from Florida State, Auburn, Oregon, Florida, Clemson, LSU, and Ohio State among others. 247 ranks Francois as their #8 dual threat quarterback.
There will likely be more names that pop up as the staff moves forward, but these are three names that have been linked to Notre Dame so far.
A couple things are clear here. The Notre Dame staff has regrouped quickly and is being aggressive in targeting another quarterback in this class. It’s also clear they are only interested in adding a dual threat quarterback with all three recruits linked to Notre Dame so far being dual threat QBs.
It’s also important to note here that the Notre Dame staff has done an outstanding job so far. Considering how fast they have moved, it looks like they had done their homework and were well prepared. They are not in a position that any staff wants to be in, but they are moving forward and being aggressive.
Before anyone gets on the staff for not actively recruiting any of these other quarterbacks while Barnett was committed, they did exactly what you have to do when you have an elite quarterback seemingly locked up – you stop recruiting at the position because you have to. At other positions you can keep in touch with your backup plans, but not at quarterback. That actually should help them in making up ground since it shows the other quarterbacks that this staff has the loyalty to stop recruiting the position when they have their guy.
Notre Dame has more depth at quarterback than it’s had in 20 years
The last point to make here is that Notre Dame has enough depth at quarterback that if they are unable to haul in another elite prospect to replace Barnett they could in theory afford to skip the position for this class. Both Malik Zaire and Deshone Kizer have 4 years of eligibility left heading into 2014. With that kind of depth, Notre Dame can still be a little bit picky here.
In fact, Notre Dame hasn’t had this much depth at quarterback in a long, long time. There have been too many years recently where Notre Dame has barely had a backup quarterback, let alone a full depth chart of quarterbacks like they do in 2014 with Golson, Zaire, and Kizer.
All three of the recruits linked to Notre Dame would all be considered elite prospects. Should Notre Dame swing and miss with this round of offers, they could wait and see if there are any late risers at quarterback this fall – ala Golson in the class of 2011 – who may warrant an offer or they could choose to wait and put on the full court press for an elite quarterback in the class of 2016. The depth Kelly and staff have built have afforded them that luxury.
Notre Dame would have loved for Barnett to return from Eugene this weekend and reaffirm his commitment, but that didn’t happen unfortunately. Now they must move forward and not waste any time feeling sorry for themselves. All indications are that they are doing just that. They are aiming high and aggressively pursuing another elite quarterback for the class of 2015. Now we just have to wait and see how the chips fall.