Recruiting ’11 – An Early Look at Numbers

The ink is just barely dry on the letters of intent faxed into Notre Dame yesterday, but recruiting for 2011 is already well under way. With 23 recruits added to the Irish roster yesterday, Notre Dame is actually budding up next to the 85 scholarship max for the first time in years.

A lot will have to be sorted out with the 2010 roster before we have a clear view of how many scholarships Notre Dame has for the class of 2011. (Photo - IconSMI)

Here’s a quick rundown of how many scholarships could be available for the class of 2011.

Returning Players

As of now, Notre Dame will have 72 players with eligibility remaining at the end of the 2010 season meaning even if every potential fifth year player came back, no one left early for the draft, and no one transferred, Notre Dame would have a minimum of 13 scholarships for the Class of 2011. We’ll use this as our starting off point.

  • Seniors – 23
  • Juniors – 17
  • Sophomores – 24
  • Potential 5th Years – 8
  • Total – 72

Potential 5th year Players

Notre Dame will have 8 potential fifth year seniors for the 2011 season. Here is how they breakdown:

  • Offense – Steve Paskorz (FB), Mike Ragone (TE), Taylor Dever (OT), Matt Romine (OT), Andrew Nuss (OG)
  • Defense – Emeka Nwankwo (DE), Gary Gray (CB), Harrison Smith (S)

Considering there will be a new offensive and defensive system installed this year with the new staff, it’s almost impossible to determine who may or may not come back from this group. Still, it’s a good bet that not all eight will be back. Gray and Smith have played a lot and seem like no brainers for 5th years. Depending on how the open offensive line spots get filled, the three linemen eligible for the 5th years could be back too. Ragone is a wild card here. He hasn’t shown the promise he had coming out of high school yet after suffering two major knee injuries.

The problem with trying to predict who might be back here is that none of the potential fifth year seniors for 2011 have firmly established themselves as a starter heading into this season, but many of them could be starters by the season opener.  The closest heading into the season is Gary Gray who was, in my opinion, the best corner on the roster for the Irish in 2009.

It’s probably safe to assume that not all 8 will be back, but I could easily see at least 4-5 of them coming back depending on how the depth chart shakes out this year. Assuming 4-5 return, that would open a potential 3-4 spots to bring us up to 16-17 spots.

Possible Early NFL Draft Entrants

Notre Dame lost Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate to the draft this year, and could find themselves in a position to lose two more players early next year. Both Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph have the raw talent and skills to leave for the NFL early. That isn’t to say that they will or are even thinking about. Both, however, have the talent to be able to make that jump next spring should they so choose. For argument’s sake, let’s say one leaves early for the NFL. That brings up to 17-18 spots.


There are almost always transfers whenever there is a coaching change – it just happens. It’s impossible to predict who will end up transferring, but it’s safe to assume that there will be at least a couple at some point between now and National Signing Day 2011. Again, for argument’s sake, we’ll factor in two transfers in coming up with the total number of scholarships available for next year. That would bring us up to 19-20 available scholarships.

Final Numbers

There are so many factors going into next year’s scholarship total that we likely won’t have a good understanding of just how many scholarships will be available until the season gets here and the roster starts to sort itself out a little. The absolute minimum will be 13, but I expect that number to be quite a bit higher before all is said and done.

Based on the comments from Kelly about having to restock the defense and needing to address some holes on that side of the ball with next year’s class, I would not be surprised if Kelly took as many as he could in 2011 even if it meant having to pass on a 5th year senior or two – especially if he can add some elite recruits in the process.

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  1. True Jonah, but all are getting a shot. Leaving out Robek and Spond you have Cryst (with 3 years eligibility left? or is it 2?), Rees, Hendrix, and Massa. That is 4 pure QBs with nowhere to go but another school if they are at the bottom of the QB pile. Now imagine Spond or Robek really takes to the spread system and gets to be the backup QB after Cryst. Now you are #5 on the depth chart with only Nate Montana below you. Are you really going to stick around?

    I also don’t see us being able to recruit the QB position as well next year or even the year after that with the log jam we’ll have before kids transfer. I guess we’ll see though.

    1. HS QBs are often the best ATH on the team. BK knows this and recruits them to fill in positions of need, be it QB, LB, TE, FL, etc.

      Very smart recruiting.

  2. I am not sure there will be that many quarterbacks listed on the roster. From what I have seen, most of the QB’s were actually recruited to play defensive positions as well as provide options at QB if necessary. Time will tell, but I would not worry about having 5 QB’s on the roster.

  3. I would imagine one of the three QBs just recruited will be transferring at the end of next year. Once the depth chart shakes out no one is going to want to be the 4th string QB (or even 5th if Robeck or Spond prove they are good enough to stay QB) when their competition has the same amount of eligibility and if they can start somewhere else.

    1. 13yrs.old???
      Only a sleeze bag like Lame Kiffin would think about robbing the cradle. His balls haven’t even dropped yet.(I’m talking about Kiffin not the kid)
      Rumor has it, that shortly after announcing for USC he was seen speeding off on a shiny new bike.(I talking about the kid, not Kiffin)

  4. Like I said, they have 21 scholarships to get commitments on. That is what they will be recruiting for. A lot of things can change that depending on need and development.

  5. None of the fifth year seniors have proved much, and Kelly will want to recruit hard in year two of recruiting. It will be his first chance to prove he can recruit with the top coaches in the country. I can’t see Kelly turning down a good prospect for Nwankwo, Paskorz,or Ragone. The linemen might have to come back because of numbers. Gary Gray would be worth the fifth year, and Harrison Smith is up in the air. Smith has all the talent, but is known for stupid plays(late hits), and was without a real position last year. I’ll say Smith comes back.

    1. Let’s convince BK that Harrison Smith should pack up and head out of town after next season. PLEASE!!!!!!

      I think BK has a TON of talent at LB right know and needs to pull some studs in on the line. Can’t wait till the PLAYERS PLAY!!!!

      1. I don’t understand why everyone is crushing Harrison Smith. He made a lot of mistakes at saftey, but he was a LB the year before. The kid is a good athelete and can contribute. Remember McCarthey didn’t touch the field until he was a senior, Smith started as a red shirt freshman. That is not easy and he has had a lot of growing pains, but I don’t see a saftey on this roster that has his potential.

      2. I agree that he has potential. He played great 2 years ago. He was confused and made a lot of stupid mistakes this year. Not sure if it was the position or Tenuta’s defense that threw him off though.

      3. Harrison Smith is a tweenie on this team. He’s between a Strong Safety and Outside Linebacker that doesn’t bring enough to the table physically for either one. Too small and can’t cover, period. Also, he is either super aggressive or hesitates badly to make huge mistakes. Keep him on special teams, but he’s not good enough to play at this level.

      4. That is probably why he was third on the team in tackles and for tackles for loss in 2009. (I admit he did look silly trying to drag down Athony McCoy from behind in the USC game, but eventually did make the tackle . . . . ) Everyone needs to get off his case and let BK and his staff get some meat on the boy and get him in a defense that is not screwed up internally like ours has been for the past two years.

  6. It is much too early to be venturing into the “what if” land of recruiting.
    I am confident Brian Kelly will do what the thinks is best. It will be good to get into the mix of having close to 85 scholarship players.

  7. Your view on this should be that they have 21 scholarships for 2011. They may have more if some one transfers. I would bet that if BK can land 21 top 150 recruits that no 5th year will be offered. So the number is 21 and it can go up or down depending on who commits to ND and BK. If we do not sign 21 then of course he would offer a 5th year. This is what a smart coach like BK is planning to do.

    1. Cool.

      Whatever the final number ends up being, the 85 player limit should finally be within grasp for the first time since Willingham or maybe even Davie.

      It’d be nice to know how Kelly likes to split 85 scholies between the 24 offensive, defensive, and ST positions to know how many they need at each from year to year.

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