Notre Dame’s class of 2014 might be the unofficial year of the hashtag when it comes to recruiting. Two hash tags emerged throughout the recruiting process that will forever be linked to the Notre Dame recruiting class of 2014 – #GoldenArmy14 and #PotOfGold
A year ago Notre Dame’s incoming class of 2013 referred to itself as the #IrishMob13 so naturally shortly after that class signed and the class of 2014 was just getting started, the group needed to adopt a moniker of their own. Thus, the #GoldenArmy14 was formed. And the name took off.
Notre Dame recruits took to the name instantly and used it in their tweets to other recruits as they tried to convince them to join them. Fans took to it. Heck, even the official Notre Dame Football twitter feed was using the hashtag on Tuesday in preparation for National Signing Day.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) February 5, 2014
Much like last year though, the hashtag actually helped develop a bond between the recruits in this year’s as they communicated with each other over Twitter. Committed recruits would tweet at Notre Dame prospects with the hashtag and many times recruits who committed to Notre Dame did so over Twitter tagging their tweets with #GoldenArmy14.
Not all recruits who used the hashtag ended up sticking with the Irish though. In fact the most notorious use of the hashtag came from Elijah Hood. The 5-star running back and one-time Notre Dame commitment who at one point during his recruitment tweeted a video of himself flushing letter from Alabama down the toilet, went on a #GoldenArmy hashtag craze after committing to Notre Dame. He will sign his letter of intent with North Carolina later today.
The #GoldenArmy14 hashtag, however, was not the only hashtag made famous this recruiting cycle. A clever recruiting tactic from now former Notre Dame staff member JR Sandlin gave us the #PotOfGold.
#PotOfGold …….WHO’S NEXT!
— JR Sandlin (@JR_Sandlin) November 21, 2013
The #PotofGold emerged as part of a tactic used by the Notre Dame staff where they sent out mass mailings to either prospective or committed recruits starting with Kentucky DT Matt Elam – a defensive tackle who was at one time high on Notre Dame’s recruiting board. Elam received 262 letters from Notre Dame all at the same time.
— Matt Elam™6⃣9⃣ (@FballIsLife69) November 21, 2013
Shortly after Elam sent that tweet out, several blogs and publications picked up on it. By the time Notre Dame sent out it’s next round of #PotOfGold mailers to Nyles Morgan and Dalton Schultz, mainstream media picked up on it and Notre Dame sending 477 letters at once this time made it to the homepage of ESPN.com and onto SportsCenter.
— Tyler McDermott (@coachmcdermott7) December 19, 2013
Notre Dame followed that round up with #PotOfGold’s for all of the committed recruits at the time.
Of course, not all of the press Notre Dame received was positive on the #PotOfGold initiative. I never saw a problem with it and actually thought it was a pretty clever marketing/recruiting ploy. It grabbed recruits attention and Morgan ended up committing to Notre Dame the following month during the US Army All-American Bowl. So, all is fair in love and recruiting, isn’t it?
On the other hand Elam and Schultz ended up committing elsewhere so perhaps the tactic really very little impact on the Class of 2014. In fact, the biggest impact the #PotOfGold may have had was on the career of Sandlin who reportedly accepted a position to be the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for Jacksonville State.
Regardless of your thoughts of the #PotOfGold or if you think that something as simple as a hashtag for recruits to use to identify with actually helps build camaraderie in a class before they report, both are a sign of just how much the times have changed in recruiting. Social media is only becoming more and more of a factor in following recruiting for fans and is bringing them closer and closer to the action.
Very valid arguments can be made as to whether or not that is a good thing since there will always be fans that take things too far, but it doesn’t appear as though social media’s influence on college football recruiting is only going to grow. It is also pretty clear that Notre Dame has done a masterful job of leveraging social media in its recruiting efforts.
And in case you are wondering, or unaware, the class of 2015 has already adapted the moniker of the #ShamrockSoldiers15. I guess every good army always needs a few good soldiers.