June 29, 2014 // Recruiting

How Successful was the Irish Invasion?

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Brian Kelly - Notre Dame Recruiting Camps

(Photo – Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)

Notre Dame’s first Irish Invasion camp is in the books, and after one of the biggest recruiting weekends in many years for the Fighting Irish football program, fans were eager to see what good news would begin to be produced as a result.  Nearly one week and only one commitment later – from a kicker who was not even in attendance, no less – Irish fans have begun to grow restless.

What happened?  Was the Invasion a flop? 

Determining the success of the recruiting affair is difficult to do considering it was the very first of its kind in South Bend.  But there are several potential metrics that can offer the measurable results that Notre Dame fans are currently craving.

Attendance

The Irish Invasion was unlike similar recruiting camps put on by other universities in that Notre Dame’s event was by invitation only, an attempt to lure only the very best high school athletes to campus.  Given its high standard guest list, the presence of elite recruits on campus is the simplest measure, and one that head coach Brian Kelly and staff passed with flying colors.  Over 40 high school athletes were in attendance, including the likes of Rivals 5-star running back Jacques Patrick.  Blue-chip prospects generally make later decisions in the recruiting process, and while Notre Dame is working hard to secure commitments, a more realistic goal of the Irish Invasion is to ensure the Fighting Irish stay in contention for America’s best the closer it gets to National Signing Day.

The Impact on 2016 Notre Dame Recruiting

A strong argument can be made that the Irish Invasion’s impact will be felt more by the recruiting Class of 2016 than the current recruiting cycle.  The Class of 2015 has been the center of attention for college programs for five months, and relationship-building between athletes and coaches is closer to one year or more in the making.  It is far more difficult for a coaching staff to dislodge another program from preferred status than it is to be the program that sets the tone, and this process played itself out at the Irish Invasion.

Rivals 4-star linebacker and Florida native Te’Von Coney arrived in South Bend with the University of Florida as the leader for his services.  By the time Coney left campus on a visit described as one that “couldn’t have gone better”, the elite linebacker prospect tabbed Notre Dame as tied with the Florida Gators atop his leader board.  The effect on the Class of 2016, illustrated by star Ohio offensive lineman prospect Liam Eichenberg, was more dramatic.

Eichenberg is just beginning his recruiting process and boasts offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee.  Despite attending St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, the same high school as incoming freshman Jimmy Byrne and a traditional pipeline to Notre Dame, Eichenberg arrived at the Irish Invasion with Michigan as his leader.  By the end of the weekend Eichenberg had the Fighting Irish as his top school, and his praise of Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, whom he described as the best offensive line coach in the country, provided strong evidence that Notre Dame’s status as his leader is entrenched for the long haul.

Justin Hilliard

While the impact of the Irish Invasion will be more visible in the following recruiting cycle, an immediate indicator of effectiveness is looming just around the corner.  Notre Dame has been in a heavyweight battle with Ohio State for Justin Hilliard, a Rivals 4-star linebacker from Ohio rated as the #1 inside linebacker for the Class of 2015.  Hilliard was present with his father for the Irish Invasion camp, an event that provided the talented Ohioan with the opportunity to spend time connecting with the current roster and familiarizing himself with Notre Dame’s top-ranked business college, Hilliard’s desired major.  After spending one night Hilliard traveled to Columbus to get one last look at Ohio State before announcing his college decision on July 2nd.

The Irish Invasion was a successful recruiting venture that has placed Notre Dame in great position with some of the very best recruits within the Class of 2015, and set the tone for upcoming stars within the Class of 2016.  The commitment column may not be lighting up immediately, but such a measure is the wrong standard of success for this year’s Irish Invasion.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles, including an appearance on MSNBC as a sports contributor.  He talks football 24 hours a day, much to the chagrin of his fiancée.  Scott can be reached at scottjanssenhp@gmail.com.

 

Comments to this Article

  • Kenny Moore commented on June 29th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I would consider the Invasion a success even though it looks likely that Hilliard will pick Ohio State. A little off topic but I ran accross a story where Maurice Clarett says he was paid more at Ohio State than in the UFL. I dont trust these college powers when it comes down to getting these elite kids. There is no rule they will bend or break if they think they can get away with it. The coach at Florida a few weeks back who had to resign because of contact with a recruit during a time where it was suppose to be a dark period of no contact. I doubt if it was the first time he has done this and he was their recruiting coordinator for crying out loud.

    Meyer wasn’t there of course when Clarett played but there where whispers at Florida as well. Notre Dame does everything by the book and has to fight a uphill battle trying to get the 5 star kids. Nothing is given to you at Notre Dame, you have to earn everything like it is in the real world. These schools are setting these kids up for failure and most could care less. Clarett talked about the classes he took while at Ohio State which were softball and golf.

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on June 29th, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    I wouldn’t make a habit of believing everything Clarett says.

    Also, you may want to google Kim Dunbar before acting holier than thou.

    [Reply]

    Kenny Moore replied on June 29th, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    I don’t need to google Kim Dunbar because I know who she is and what she did. The interview with Clarett was a couple of years back but he had nothing to gain by making the statements he did and considering everything that happened while he was at Ohio State and after with Troy Smith and others including getting cars and other things certainly say that he was telling the truth. You can say whatever you like, Notre Dame does everything by the book and holds its players accountable. If Golson played for U$C or Alabama or Florida he would have not been suspended for a entire season and everyone knows it especially if that QB just lead his team to a Championship game. Alabama runs their program like a NFL training camp cutting players who are not good enough. Things like that does not happen at Notre Dame. You are more entitled to your opinion as I am mine. Being holier than thou has nothing to do with telling truth.

    [Reply]

    SteelFanRob replied on June 29th, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Well said, Kenny Moore. I wouldn’t make it a habit of believing everything anybody said. That’s just common sense.

    Realness replied on June 29th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    What does Kim Dunbar have to do with recruiting violations? You need to Google “how to follow a conversation”

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on July 7th, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Hey Realmoron, the initial statement was about Clarett getting paid at school.

  • Kenny Moore commented on June 29th, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Steel fan, normally I wouldn’t but considering everything that has came out involving Ohio State I believe Clarett.

    [Reply]

  • Woody O’Hardy commented on June 30th, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Guys, it’s only the end of June. If I was a 4 or 5 star kid, I would wait awhile and see how the IRISH do on the field.

    If we are good this year, we will land some more great kids in this class. I think Irish Invasion is a smart move.

    I really am optimistic now that we have BVG. I don’t think I could have handled another year of “bend but don’t break” Diaco. I hope I am right and BVG is good.

    Cheers,
    Woodrow

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on June 30th, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Kenny,

    Agreed, I like the way you put Ron Burgundy in his place.

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on June 30th, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Apparently, PA RB Josh Adams just committed. Anyone know anything about him?

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on June 30th, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    He’s a 3 star so hopefully Mike will be ok with it.

    [Reply]

    Jack replied on June 30th, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Good kid, suffered ACL tear last fall. Good student is about 6’3″ 210. Plays for one of the Central Bucks schools north of Philly

    [Reply]

  • Jerry Seppanen commented on June 30th, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    The Irish invasion is good no matter what. It will pay dividends sooner
    or later. I agree it is great to have a new game plan on defense but I hope
    we have the personnel to carry it through. GO IRISH

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on June 30th, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Bringing up people’s wives now, Ron Burgundy! Boy, you’re a true bottom feeder! But I guess that’s the best you have in your arsenal.

    No wonder this site is going to hell in hand basket with scum like you on here. The administrators on this once fine site are non-existent.

    People on here know exactly what you’re all about by now, Burgundy.

    Stay classy, though!

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on June 30th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Same to you buddy!

    Good talk Russ, always enjoy our chats.

    [Reply]

  • Michael the Archangel commented on June 30th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Any football site works best when the threads deal with football.
    I’ve regularly enjoyed SFR and Burgundy, though not at all on this thread.

    We need more breaking news re: Irish Invasion
    to redirect our attention.

    Any intercepted tweets from these recruits, although I understand
    it’s early – but the right step in keeping in step w/ recruiting.

    [Reply]

  • SteelFanRob commented on June 30th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I’m sorry for that, Michael. All I can say is look back on this thread and see that I did not start the personal insults, and certainly did not invoke spouses. Only a scumbag goes there. Would you agree?

    Also, note that I’m the one that brought up the new RB recruit commitment. So, Michael, I am trying to stay true to this site’s proud past.

    Some people on here however prefer to start fights and then resent when someone else finishes them.

    I have put out more than one olive branch to Burgundy in the past.

    Won’t happen again, though.

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on June 30th, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Ah yes, the old he started first routine. Well played Pitt fan, well played.

    [Reply]

    SteelFanRob replied on June 30th, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    When you drag spouses into something that’s not well played. Yo did that one all in your own, scumbag.

    Tiny,

    I agree. But when someone brings in insults to mom’s and spouses, the gloves come off. Hope you understand.

    [Reply]

  • TinySkippyNaNu commented on June 30th, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I’m with the Archangel on this one.

    ND football issues, for me anyway, are why I watch this site.

    Those guys can exchange emails directly if they feel the need to pursue a personal beef.

    Now, in a back to ND football issue, I haven’t seen a thing about this new RB commitment…

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on June 30th, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Check out the thing Al Gore invented.

    [Reply]

    Michael the Archangel replied on June 30th, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    re: RB Adams

    One view:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2114521-what-rb-recruit-josh-adams-commitment-means-to-notre-dame

    [Reply]

  • duranko commented on July 3rd, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    It seems that Irish Invasion was to put the Irish in position to get in early for Non-Midwest candidates. It was a camp with a twist as the existing players were already there with most of the 2015 commitments.

    I was fascinated that Malik Henry attended. Normally, we wait until Fall of their senior year to get the California and Florida studs on campus, but here was Henry……..chukking it and bonding with Matt LaFleur. Good stuff.

    I think the use of Hilliard’s commitment vel non as a litmus test for Irish invasion was a red herring.

    It also seems to be a first step in a long process. And I expect it to continue to get stronger.

    [Reply]

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