Final ’16 Notre Dame Recruiting Predictions

For the past month UHND has brought you weekly recruiting updates as Notre Dame seeks to fill the final few spots in its 2016 recruiting class. With only a few days left until National Signing Day it’s time to make final predictions on where each of Notre Dame’s remaining recruiting targets is headed. The prospects listed below are placed in order by star ranking.

Ben Davis

Hometown: Gordo, AL
Position: LB
Star Ranking: Rivals 5-star; 24/7 5-star; ESPN 4-star
Top Offers: Alabama, Florida State, LSU

Notre Dame’s recruitment of 5-star linebacker Ben Davis is one of the finest of the Brian Kelly era. It was an incredible feat to get the Crimson Tide legacy and Alabama native on campus and to make his final three schools alongside Alabama and Georgia. But Notre Dame saved its best for last.

Notre Dame was still running third even after Davis’ visit, a development that almost always leads to a recruit signing elsewhere. However, Kelly and staff made an impressive final push by having five coaches make the trek to Alabama for Davis’ in-home visit. Was it enough to shake up Davis’ leaderboard?

“The visit was unbelievable,” Davis told Blue and Gold Illustrated. “I have never had that many coaches from one school come…I named Alabama my leader because I had a great visit, but right now I don’t have a leader because my eyes have been opened up.”

Brian Kelly did everything in his power to impress Davis but his strong ties to Alabama will simply be too much to overcome. While there are no moral victories in recruiting, the kind of persistence Notre Dame displayed with Davis will eventually yield positive results if applied enough times, and the result of that effort may pay dividends sooner than many think.

Projection: Alabama

Demetris Robertson - Notre Dame WR Target
Photo via US Army All-American Bowl Facebook

Demetris Robertson

Hometown: Savannah, GA
Position: ATH
Star Ranking: Rivals 5-star; 24/7 5-star; ESPN 4-star
Top Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State

As persistent as Notre Dame was with Ben Davis, it simply cannot match the dedication and creativity utilized while trying to lure Demetris Robertson to South Bend. If informing the blue chip prospect they expect him to be the next Will Fuller wasn’t enough, surely sending a Notre Dame rig on a surprise visit to Robertson’s hometown of Savannah, Georgia, should do the trick.

https://twitter.com/d_rob4/status/692695942307430400

Demetris Robertson is the kind of athlete that attends an SEC school nine times out of ten. But the relentlessness of Brian Kelly’s staff complemented by its cutting-edge recruiting pitches strike home.

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Projection: Notre Dame

Caleb Kelly - Notre Dame LB Target
Photo: US Army All-American Bowl

Caleb Kelly

Hometown: Fresno, CA
Position: LB
Star Ranking: Rivals 5-star; 24/7 4-star; ESPN 4-star
Top Offers: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State

The only real certainty surrounding Caleb Kelly’s recruitment is that he will he choose between Oklahoma and Notre Dame despite Oregon being included as a finalist. Things become much murkier from there. Oklahoma has long been Kelly’s leader but reports of lead changes between Notre Dame and the Sooners have been frequent the past several weeks.

The truth is no one really knows where the elite linebacker will end up, but a tie atop his leaderboard would likely not signal a positive outcome for Notre Dame. Oklahoma has been the frontrunner throughout most of his recruitment and despite Brian Kelly’s repeated efforts to reel in a Fresno native, it simply hasn’t happened.

Notre Dame finishes second yet again to Oklahoma for an elite prospect from Fresno, California.

Prediction: Oklahoma

Jordan Fuller

Hometown: Old Tappan, NJ
Position: CB
Star Ranking: Rivals 4-star; 24/7 4-star; ESPN 4-star
Top Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State

If you followed athlete Jordan Fuller’s recruitment you likely got the sense Notre Dame didn’t push as hard as it could have for the talented New Jersey native. The lack of push may have been connected to Fuller’s stated desire to play cornerback when Notre Dame saw a better fit at the safety position. Either way, the race for Fuller’s signature is now a guessing game between Michigan and Ohio State after back-to-back Big Ten visits. Will the Wolverines win out by selling playing time or will the Buckeyes lure Fuller with their proven track record?

Prediction: Ohio State

Jeffrey McCulloch

Hometown: Houston, TX
Position: LB
Star Ranking: Rivals 4-star; 24/7 4-star; ESPN 4-star
Top Offers: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State

Since the beginning Jeffrey McCulloch has said he’s willing to leave the State of Texas. His actions, however, have always indicated the exact opposite.

McCulloch was long considered to be a Texas A&M lean but the tumultuous end to the Aggies’ season cast doubt on the long-term job security of head coach Kevin Sumlin. The 4-star linebacker began to take longer looks at Texas and Alabama but ultimately canceled a visit to Tuscaloosa in favor of one last look at Texas A&M.

McCulloch was a Notre Dame fit but distance is one of the biggest factors here regardless of whether it’s publicly acknowledged. The Hook’em Horns win this race.

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Projection: Texas

Jonathan Jones

Hometown: Orlando, FL
Position: LB
Star Ranking: Rivals 3-star; 24/7 3-star; ESPN 3-star
Top Offers: Georgia, Florida, LSU

While Jonathan Jones did his due diligence by visiting UCF and intending to visit Duke, a trip that was ultimately called off because of snowpocalypse 2016, the feeling is Jones had his decision made some time ago. Duke did all it could to keep pace with Notre Dame and Michigan but was a distant third throughout. And the fact the Wolverines recently accepted the commitment of linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse indicates they saw the writing on the wall.

Projection: Notre Dame

Nate Johnson

Hometown: Thompson’s Station, TN
Position: WR
Star Ranking: Rivals 3-star; 24/7 4-star; ESPN 3-star
Top Offers: Michigan, Miami, Tennessee

Nate Johnson has had one of the more unorthodox recruitments of the recruiting cycle. A one-time Purdue commitment, Johnson backed off his pledge to the Boilermakers and committed to Michigan in December. But as his recruiting profile expanded his eyes began to wander, and the Tennessee native took trips to Miami as well as Notre Dame.

Despite an initial surge, Notre Dame’s momentum has come to a crashing halt, and it appears likely at this point Johnson will stick with his pledge and play his Saturdays in Ann Arbor.

Projection: Michigan

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

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5 Comments

  1. Same old story for ND………….so close but yet so far! We are certainly better now that Kelly has come to South Bend. No one in their right mind will deny that! But improvement at ND is relative to how high you can get in the polls and lately we have come up short. The Championship was great getting there but the end result was a disaster. Of course you can’t win it unless your in it. Will getting Demetrius change things? I guess as much as one player can, he will. What he might change is the mind set that ND cannot get that elite player. The two or three that will get them into the top 5 year in and year out. It’s a daunting task but if Alabama and a few other select teams can do it then why not ND? Let’s hope Demetrius gives the loyal ND fans something to really cheer about! There’s no place like home Big “D” and ND is certainly the Land of Oz and football of course! Go IRISH!!

  2. re:Jeff – why the unbridled enthusiasm? The reason for my sophomoric sarcasm is because, well, just because. But people generally don’t read these boards to look at negativity. Either “shove a sock in it” (your mouth) or, better these days, “short-circuit your keyboard.”

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