With 17 verbal commitments after Monday’s news of Giovanni Bernard’s pledge to the Irish, Notre Dame is quickly running out of room at the in for the Class of 2010. As Notre Dame prepares for the final five games of the season and the stretch run in recruiting, here is an update on how many spots are left and who is left on the board.
First off, let’s talk about how many spots the Irish have left. Notre Dame, as it stands now, can probably only take 25 commitments this year – even with some early enrollment recruits such as Spencer Boyd, Lo Wood, and Tai-ler Jones. They can only take 25 because for the first time in a long time, Notre Dame will be right up against the 85 scholarship maximum.
Assuming Notre Dame only brings back Darrin Walls (CB), Chris Stewart (OG), and Dan Wenger (OC/OG) for fifth years, the Irish will have exactly 25 scholarships remaining. Each of the three have a very good case for coming back and will be needed in 2010.
- Darrin Walls – Despite his struggles this year, we all saw that Walls is a very talented corner in 2007. As a true sophomore he was as close to a lock down corner as we’ve seen at Notre Dame in a while. That player isn’t suddenly gone after his year away from the program in 2008. Walls still has his best football in front of him and would be a vital asset to the Irish defense next season.
- Chris Stewart – Stewart has been a starter since onset of the 2008 season and will be needed along the Irish offensive line next year after Notre Dame has to replace both starting tackles. Stewart still has a lot of room for improvement and could benefit greatly with another year of teaching from Frank Verducci.
- Dan Wenger – Wenger lost his starting job this season, but has been one of the top replacements in the offensive line rotation. Wenger should be back in 2010 as either the starting center or left guard if Trevor Robinson moves to tackle and one of the young centers can fill in at center.
This number could increase if Notre Dame has any players leave early for the NFL or has any transfers or serious injuries.
If Notre Dame can take 25 this year, that leaves 8 scholarships available with a lot of talent, difference making recruits still very interested in the Irish. Here’s a quick look by position of who is still looking at Notre Dame.
- WR (1) – Kyle Prater (5 star)
- OL (4) – Seantrel Henderson (5 star), Brandon Linder (4 star), Matt James (4 star), James Stone (4 star)
- DE (1) – Ego Ferguson (5 star)
- DT (3) – Louis Nix (4 star), Beau Allen (3 star), Bruce Gaston (3 star)
- LB (3) – Anthony Barr (4 star), Christian Jones (4 star), Hayes Pullard (4 star)
- CB (4) – LaMarcus Joyner (5 star), Cody Riggs (4 star), Josh Shaw (4 star), Toney Hurd (3 star)
- S (4) – Corey Cooper (4 star), David Amerson (4 star), Sean Parker (4 star), Dietrich Riley (4 star)
That’s 20 recruits left for 8 spots. That list also features the kind of talent that could take this class from good to great. From solid to difference making.
Assuming 8 spots are remaining, here’s how I’d like to see them used.
- WR (1) – If Notre Dame can land an elite talent like Prater, they have to even though they already have three wide receivers and even if it’s at the expense of another position.
- OL (2/3) – Christian Lombard is the only offensive lineman in this class so far. The margin for error here is small, but Notre Dame needs to land at least two of the remaining offensive linemen – preferably Henderson and Linder. Henderson is most likely the starting RT against Purdue next year if the Irish land him.
- DE (0/1) – Ferguson is the only DE left on the board. He’s an elite talent and could team with Chris Martin to give Notre Dame the best pair of defensive ends in the country in the class of 2010.
- DT (1/2) – Nix is almost a must get at this point for Notre Dame. He’s the best interior defensive lineman possible for this class.
- LB (1) – Barr is the most likely since he is the son of former Irish running back Tony Brooks. Barr is a versatile athlete who could also be a pass rushing end or a bruising running back.
- CB (1) – Notre Dame already has Lo Wood and Spencer Boyd in the fold so it seems likely they’d only take one here. If an elite recruit like Joyner wanted to join late in the game though, the Irish would have to take more than one if one of the other corners is already in the fold.
- S (1/2) – Notre Dame really can’t go wrong here. All of the remaining safety prospects have considerable talent. Ideally Notre Dame will get two out of the four depending how the other scholarships get divided up.
If Notre Dame were to somehow end up with Prater, Henderson, Linder, Nix, Ferguson, Joyner, Barr, and Riley for the final eight the Irish would easily have one of the best classes in the country. That would be if everything worked out perfectly for Notre Dame though. If the Irish can’t land that set of eight, I’d like to see the Irish load up more along the lines and at safety.
As I’ve said since April though, winning will be the biggest thing for the Irish down the stretch. A 10-2 finish and a decent bowl game will go a long way in getting some of those five star recruits to join the current group of 17 commits. If nothing else, it should be an interesting ride over the next 3+ months between now and Signing Day