February 24, 2009 // Notre Dame Recruiting

Assessing Recruiting Needs for 2010

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Here is a look at where Notre Dame’s needs will be for the class of 2010.  This list is also subject to change based on any transfers, injuries, etc; but here is how I would rank Notre Dame’s recruiting needs for 2010.

1. Offensive Tackle
The biggest need for the class of 2010 is at offensive tackle.  Luckily Notre Dame landed Zach Martin last year because other than Martin they missed out on all of their top targets and would have come up completely empty at the position had it not been for Martin’s commitment.  With Christian Lombard already committed this year, Weis is off to a great start here, but he needs to another another top notch, elite offensive tackle – most notably Seantrel Henderson.  Michael Floyd needs to be in his old teammates ear and get Henderson to join him in South Bend.

2. Defensive End
Notre Dame did not land a single defensive end in last year’s class and will need to find some speed rushers in this class to really see the full impact of a Jon Tenuta defense.   Chris Martin is a fantastic start to recruiting at this position this year, but the staff will need to add at least one more defensive end in this class after whiffing last year.

3. Quarterback
I thought about putting this a little lower because Weis has not had any trouble recruiting quarterbacks prior to the class of 2009 when back to back 5 star QBs the previous two classes scared away most recruits.  Not getting a quarterback last year makes the position a pretty high priority for 2010 though.  It seems as though Jake Heaps is the number one target here, but he doesn’t look all that likely at this point.  Weis locked up both Clausen and Crist by the end of the Blue-Gold game in each other their respective years, but I’m not sure that is going to happen this year.

4. Defensive Tackle
Tyler Stockton could end up being one of the more surprising recruits out of last year’s class because outside of ESPN he didn’t get a whole lot of love from the recruiting services, but with Notre Dame moving back to more 4-3 fronts with Tenuta calling the plays, defensive tackle becomes another high priority for 2010.  With the five defensive linemen that came in last year, the tackle position could be pretty well stocked since Sean Cywnar, Hafis Williams, Brandon Newman, and Ethan Johnson could all be defensive tackles.  Still, games are won and lost in the trenches and getting just one defensive tackle last year won’t cut it again.

5. Safety
Losing both Jawanza Starling and Byron Moore on Signing Day hurt.  It would have made things much easier for this position in 2010 had the Irish landed at least one of them.  Notre Dame will need to take at least two safeties in 2010 now though.  I think we”ll see Leonard Gordon moved to safety for some depth, but Notre Dame will still need some numbers here next year.

6. Cornerback
Assuming Gary Gray returns to the team and Darrin Walls comes back for a 5th year in 2010, this position could be pretty well stocked.  A great senior season from Walls in 2009, however could very well send him to the NFL next April.  Raeshon McNeil is out of eligibility after 2009 as well so this positon could move up the priority list.  What keeps it still somewhat low is that Robert Blanton will only be a sophomore in 2009 and Gray will still have three years of eligibility if he returns this summer as he is expected too.  EJ Banks injury could cloud the priority need at this position as well.  If he can’t regain all of his explosiveness after the ACL injury, an eventual move to safety could be in his future as well.

7. Interior Offensive Line
Notre Dame has done a very good job recruiting the interior of the offensive line over the last few years.  Landing Alex Bullard and Chris Watt this year after adding Mike Golic, Braxston Cave, and Trevor Robinson has the interior offensive line looking deep.

8. Wide Receiver
Deion Walker and John Goodman still have four years of eligibility, Michael Floyd has three, and Shaquelle Evans will have four making wide receiver not as high up on the priority list as it normally would a year after signing just one wideout.   Daniel Smith was a great start at the position, but look for Weis to add a pair of receivers.  There are a lot of local products at this position and Notre Dame shouldn’t have a hard time getting wide receivers in this class.

9. Fullback
While Notre Dame’s offense doesn’t currently utilize the fullback much, I would love to see Notre Dame add a dynamic fullback in this class that could become another weapon for Weis to use.   Tyler Gaffney could have been that player last year, but he ended up at Stanford.  With the recent news that Luke Schmidt’s football career is over, Notre Dame is also left with just Steve Paskorz at fullback.

10. Linebacker
Manti T’eo’s potential pending mission could make linebacker a bigger need, but even if T’eo takes his mission, Notre Dame has done very well at this position the past few years.  Steve Filer, David Posluszny, Anthony McDonald, Carlo Calebrese, Dan Fox, and Zeke Motta in the last two classes (note: I’m counting Fleming as a DE) give Notre Dame a very solid core of young, talented, fast linebackers.

11. Running Back
With Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick joining an already talented group of running backs, this position becomes less of a need this year.  I think Weis and staff will look to add just one back this year just as they did last year when Jonas Gray was the lone running back in the class.  A bigger back would be nice in this class since the Irish lack a big, bruising back other than Robert Hughes.

12. Tight End
Despite all of the depth issues at tight end this year, this might be the most loaded position on the team.  Kyle Rudolph, Mike Ragone, and Joseph Fauria all have three years of eligibility left and Tyler Eifert and Jake Golic have four.  That’s five tight ends with at least three years of eligibility remaining.  Look for Notre Dame to target a receiving threat tight end this year

13. Special Teams
After adding three specialists to the class of 2009, I really hope we don’t see any special teams players added to the class of 2010.

Comments to this Article

  • Paul commented on February 24th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I heard this years crop of QB’s isn’t that great, kindof stinks that we need 2 of them.

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  • Mark commented on February 24th, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Safety is absolutely the number one priority this year. Have you seen the depth chart? After this year we have three safeties on scholarship.

    Defensive tackle isn’t that great of a need. I wouldn’t be surprised if the staff went after only one. If you are worried about numbers for the 4-3 you already have four guys with four years of eligibility and a potential AA with three.

    Agreed regarding LT, rush end and QB being priorities. I would like to see us land a couple of corners as well.

    [Reply]

  • Frankie V commented on February 24th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    @ Mark,

    Dan McCarthy has 4 yesrs of eligibility, Slaughter will likely be a S and has 3, Harrison Smith is back at safety and has 3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see EJ Banks at safety as well. Safety is also a position where it is easier to make an instant impact so it will be easier for Weis and staff to find at least one safety capable of stepping in and playing from day one than he will a DT or DE.

    [Reply]

  • Irish4eva commented on February 24th, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Don’t forget our late addition at WR with Toma. I think WR is even more stocked then we think

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  • Ryan commented on February 24th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    I have to agree with Mark from a depth chart perspective re: safeties. D. McCarthy, H. Smith, and Slaughter (and possibly Banks) are the only scholarship safeties on the roster with eligibility remaining after this year. You generally want to be 3-deep at every position, so that would mean Weis & company have to recruit probably 3 safeties this year. That’s a pretty big need. It’s also a more immediate need than defensive tackle and maybe even quarterback.

    (Also agree with Mark on defensive tackle not being a great need anymore, especially with the switch to a 4-3. We’re going to have 7 DTs on the roster in 2010 even if Weis doesn’t recruit a single one this year–I. Williams, Nwankwo, Johnson (assuming he moves to DT), H. Williams, Newman, Cwynar, and Stockton. That’s a pretty deep, talented group; the only problem with them at this point is they’re still young.)

    [Reply]

  • Frankie V commented on February 24th, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    The problem is that some of those DT’s were recruited for a 3-4 defense so IMO DT is still a big need. We might have numbers at DT, but who at the position is considered a lock to be a big time difference maker? Stockton and Johnson are the top two, but outside of them we have players with a lot of potential but also with a lot of work to do. Games are won and lost in the trenches and thats why I have defensive line so high.

    Teams like LSU, Florida, etc stockpile DT’s and DE’s and have nasty defenses. With a dominant line, your defensive backs look a whole lot better.

    We’ve also had a much easier time recruiting safeties in the past than DE’s and DT’s.

    [Reply]

  • Ted Eberle commented on February 25th, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Our QB situation is not that bad. If we can land at least one excellent talent in the Class of 2010, he should have several years to develop.

    Clausen has two years left, Crist, who is a great prospect has four years of eligibility, as does Nate Montana. We don’t hear much about Nate, but some observers last year gave him high marks for being a raw talent.

    Heaps, Bell, and Montana are among those offered so far. It will be interesting to see where Weis goes with this position.

    [Reply]

  • Jim commented on February 25th, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Good analysis Frankie. Someone above said 2 QB’s. I think one is what we get. Not going to get 2 blue chippers. Really like Blake Bell.

    Very good observation on your above comment as well. Over the last 3 years we have changed from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and back. The ideal talent is such a mixed bag it is a concern. Both Newman and H. Williams were recruited as ideal NT’s not DT’s. Also in a 4-3, I project Johnson as an ideal DE who can move inside out of necessity. We need DE’s and DT’s if we are going to transition to a 43.

    Finally, I would not be surprised to see 2 more wides in 2010. Very good class for them.

    [Reply]

  • Jim commented on February 25th, 2009 at 10:48 am

    BTW Frankie, Slaughter still has 4 years of eligibility. He redshirted last year.

    [Reply]

  • Ted commented on February 25th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Jim has a valid point regarding Blake Bell. At 6’6″ he is a big kid.

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  • Paul commented on February 25th, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Boys, don’t forget about injuries. Saying we’re good at the QB position because we have Crist for 4 more years is pretty naive. QB’s go down all the time, might be nice to have a couple reliable back ups don’t ya think?

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  • Jim commented on February 25th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Problem Paul is that if one guy, like Heaps commits, the other top prospects (Bell, Thomas etc.) go elsewhere.

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  • Ryan commented on February 25th, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    True, I have noticed that the big-time recruiting schools (USC, Florida, LSU) tend to stockpile on the defensive line. Just looking at Rivals, it looks like USC recruited 18 D-linemen over the past 4 years compared to much fewer O-linemen, even though there are more spots to fill on the field for the offensive line. Do you why that is exactly, Frank?

    [Reply]

  • Frankie V commented on February 25th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    @Ryan,

    USC has had good experiences converting DT’s for the OL. Some schools will recruit a bunch of DT’s and the ones too slow for DT are moved to OL.

    @Paul,
    You make a great point. At what position would we rather be 2 injuries away from starting a true freshman – safety or quarterback?

    [Reply]

  • Frankie V commented on February 25th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    You are correct Jim, I thought he played on special teams for some reason, but he didn’t.

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  • Paul commented on February 25th, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Frankie V, Pick your poison eh. Makes Starling and Moore choosing U$C an even bigger kick in the nuts.

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  • Mark commented on February 26th, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I think we need a few more offers out to the secondary. A. White, L. Joyner, J. Haden, A. Ogletree, M. Robinson. Probably could use a few more to DTs as well.

    [Reply]

  • Iken-Biken commented on March 26th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    If Crist has to go on the field in place of Clausen, all Weiss has to do is whisper in his ear: “Brigade 9″!

    The Irish will be BCCS champs by end of season, guaranteed.

    [Reply]

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