Notre Dame just wrapped up a top 10 recruiting class last week by signing 23 new recruits on Wednesday. The class of 2015, however, is off to the kind of start that could see Notre Dame celebrating an even higher rated class a year from now.[Related: Meet Notre Dame’s 2014 offensive recruits]
Just a few days following the official close to the class of 2014, Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff already have three elite level recruits committed to the class of 2015 – a group that has taken on the moniker of the #ShamrockSoldiers15. At this rate, the Shamrock Soldiers are going to fortify the troops of the #GoldenArmy with what could be a loaded class.[Related: Meet Notre Dame’s 2014 offensive recruits]
It is still early, but all three commitments for 2015 are ranked in the early Rivals Top 250 rankings.
- Blake Barnett (QB) – #2 dual-threat QB, #61 overall – Barnett has seen his stock rise over the last couple months since committing to Notre Dame and earning his spot in the Elite 11 finals this summer. With a great senior season and a strong showing in the Elite 11 competition, Barnett is on a steady course for a 5th star before all is said and done. Right now 247 Sports doesn’t have Barnett ranked in the top 100 yet, but ESPN does.
- Jerry Tillery (OT) – #11 OT, #109 overall – Notre Dame’s first commitment for the class of 2015, Tillery is a long long Notre Dame fan from Louisiana would couldn’t wait to commit to Notre Dame once offered a scholarship by Brian Kelly.
- Tristen Hoge (OG) – #7 OG, #129 overall – It takes a lot to get noticed by recruiting services this early in the process when you hail from Idaho, but Hoge is widely considered one of the best guards in the country heading into his senior season already. Hoge committed to Notre Dame in December over a lot of other elite offers. ESPN and 247 both have Hoge ranked even higher actually with both ranking him inside the top 100.
What makes the trio above even better for Notre Dame is that all three plan on graduating high school in December 2014 and enrolling early at Notre Dame next January like Justin Brent and Andrew Trumbetti did last month for the class of 2014.
The trio Notre Dame has committed already is one of the best starts the Irish have had in recent history in terms of the quality of the recruits already committed. Notre Dame has its sights set on a couple local area recruits from programs Notre Dame has success with in the past that could really set this class up for being special.
Jashon Cornell, the #1 ranked overall prospect in the country by ESPN, plays for Cretin Derham in Minnesota – the same program that produced Notre Dame’s most prolific wide receiver in school history, Michael Floyd, as well as former Irish offensive lineman Ryan Harris and fullback Rashon Powers-Neal. While Notre Dame has had some great luck at Cretin Derham, Notre Dame most recently was unable to get Sentreal Henderson, the nation’s #1 overall recruit by some services, in 2010.
In addition to Cornell, Justin Hilliard, an elite inside linebacker from St. Xavier HS in Cincinnati, Ohio is high on Notre Dame’s board. Luke Massa and Matt James both played for St. Xavier where Brian Kelly has great ties from his years at Cincinnati.
For Notre Dame to capitalize on this momentum though, the Irish will need to will need to back things up on the field in 2014. Last year Notre Dame got off to a fast start on the heels of their run to the national championship game, but momentum stalled just as the Notre Dame offense did many times in the red-zone during the 2013 season. Had Notre Dame finished better than 9-4 and fully capitalized on the momentum they had, maybe some of the signing day decisions that didn’t land in their favor would have.
There is a lot of time between now and Signing Day 2015 so a lot can change. Heck, a lot can change in the final week alone of a recruiting cycle, but Notre Dame has set itself up to have a special class this year if they back it up on the field.