With Barnett Gone, Notre Dame Moves on at Quarterback

Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports
Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports

Last Memorial Day weekend I was out a pub enjoying a nice Guinness when news broke that Everett Golson would was no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.  Last night I decided to spend a glorious Wednesday evening enjoying a refreshing Sam Adams Summer Ale with an old college roommate when news broke that Blake Barnett decommitted from Notre Dame and was no longer considering the Irish.

Clearly the Notre Dame news cycle does not like to see me enjoy a relaxing night out.  Unfortunately, the Notre Dame news cycle also just does not seem to want to be kind to the quarterback position at Notre Dame.  After year and years of instability and depth problems at the position Notre Dame finally has a stocked depth chart and until Tuesday night had a heralded, rising star recruit committed and ready to add to that depth.

The news of Barnett decommitting didn’t come as a complete surprise as news spread earlier on Tuesday that he had visited Oregon over the weekend.  When you consider that Barnett committed to Notre Dame over six months ago though and had held steadfast in being firmly committed to Notre Dame up until the last 48 hours, the situation escalated quicker than any other I can remember since we’ve been covering Notre Dame recruiting on UHND.

Luckily for Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff they have plenty of time to regroup and still land a an elite signal caller for the class of 2015.  Here’s an updated look of where Notre Dame stands and where they go moving forward.

What Impact will Losing Barnett Have?

One of the greatest parts of adding an elite quarterback as early as Notre Dame did in this recruiting cycle is that doing so generally leads to a very strong classes.  When a class has a headliner like Barnett at QB on board early, other recruits tend to gravitate towards the classes with elite quarterbacks.

With Barnett on-board early Notre Dame had already added a pair of wide receivers and filled out the offensive line class.  The staff is going to need to stay on both wide receivers prospects to make sure they are still solid as well.  Right now nothing points to either Jalen Guyton or CJ Sanders wavering, but considering Barnett was on board when they committed, I’m sure both recruits were quick to hear from the Irish staff as news broke of Barnett decommitting.

Notre Dame can still have a great class without immediately adding a quarterback.  Just three years ago Notre Dame brought in one of the best classes it’s had in a long time without adding a quarterback – Everett Golson – until very late in the process.   Until Notre Dame finds a replacement for Barnett, they will need one of the other committed recruits to become the unofficial face of the class.

Who will Notre Dame target to replace Barnett?

It’s been just over 24 hours since Barnett decommitted and we already have a clear idea of who Kelly and staff are targeting to fill the quarterback position in this year’s class.

The first name to surface was Jarrett Stidham.  The Under Armour All-American tweeted on Thursday afternoon that he had just been offered by Notre Dame.

On top of being an Under Armour All-American, Stidham is a 4-star prospect and pretty much a consensus top 100 overall prospect across the recruiting services.  At 6-3.5 he is slightly shorter than Barnett but with a sub 4.6 40 yard dash he brings plenty of speed earning him the #3 ranking at dual threat QB from 247 Sports.  Stidham, a Texas native, is currently committed to Texas Tech however.

An hour later, another offer went out from the Notre Dame staff.  This time the recipient was Travis Waller from Servite High School in Anaheim, California.

Waller, like Stidham, is a 4-star prospect, on most services top 100 lists, and ranks as 247’s #2 dual threat quarterback.  Waller is currently uncommitted but holds offers from Alabama, Cal, Northwestern, Tennessee, and Penn State.

There is also some chatter on Twitter this evening that the Irish are close to offering 4-star Deondre Francois.  Francois, a Florida native, holds an impressive list of offers from Florida State, Auburn, Oregon, Florida, Clemson, LSU, and Ohio State among others.  247 ranks Francois as their #8 dual threat quarterback.

There will likely be more names that pop up as the staff moves forward, but these are three names that have been linked to Notre Dame so far.

A couple things are clear here.  The Notre Dame staff has regrouped quickly and is being aggressive in targeting another quarterback in this class.  It’s also clear they are only interested in adding a dual threat quarterback with all three recruits linked to Notre Dame so far being dual threat QBs.

It’s also important to note here that the Notre Dame staff has done an outstanding job so far.  Considering how fast they have moved, it looks like they had done their homework and were well prepared.   They are not in a position that any staff wants to be in, but they are moving forward and being aggressive.

Before anyone gets on the staff for not actively recruiting any of these other quarterbacks while Barnett was committed, they did exactly what you have to do when you have an elite quarterback seemingly locked up – you stop recruiting at the position because you have to.  At other positions you can keep in touch with your backup plans, but not at quarterback.  That actually should help them in making up ground since it shows the other quarterbacks that this staff has the loyalty to stop recruiting the position when they have their guy.

Notre Dame has more depth at quarterback than it’s had in 20 years

The last point to make here is that Notre Dame has enough depth at quarterback that if they are unable to haul in another elite prospect to replace Barnett they could in theory afford to skip the position for this class.  Both Malik Zaire and Deshone Kizer have 4 years of eligibility left heading into 2014.  With that kind of depth, Notre Dame can still be a little bit picky here.

In fact, Notre Dame hasn’t had this much depth at quarterback in a long, long time.  There have been too many years recently where Notre Dame has barely had a backup quarterback, let alone a full depth chart of quarterbacks like they do in 2014 with Golson, Zaire, and Kizer.

All three of the recruits linked to Notre Dame would all be considered elite prospects.    Should Notre Dame swing and miss with this round of offers, they could wait and see if there are any late risers at quarterback this fall – ala Golson in the class of 2011 – who may warrant an offer or they could choose to wait and put on the full court press for an elite quarterback in the class of 2016.  The depth Kelly and staff have built have afforded them that luxury.

Notre Dame would have loved for Barnett to return from Eugene this weekend and reaffirm his commitment, but that didn’t happen unfortunately.  Now they must move forward and not waste any time feeling sorry for themselves.  All indications are that they are doing just that.  They are aiming high and aggressively pursuing another elite quarterback for the class of 2015.  Now we just have to wait and see how the chips fall.


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  1. I’m not angry at him for not coming, but I wish he was. I actually think he’s going to be very good, but I understand his decision. He probably wouldn’t start until his Junior season at best anyways. He goes to Oregon and probably starts right away or sophomore season, plus it’s still a spread offense. I’m not worried, we’ll be ok. Good luck to the kid.

  2. anyone who does not understand nd, is not the guy you want in the red zone or in a goal line stand, what always made us great was that you did something special in a sacred place at a critical moment in time, whether you were joe montana or rudy, however, i am still concerned that the kid thought oregon offered a more secure offensive future, i cant argue with that, kelly did not hire a national championship calibre offensive coordinator, nor has he proven the ability to develop an explosive offense during his tenure here, oregon has had the best offense on the planet, he wasnt lured away, kelly lost him. this happened when he talked to the eagles, he should read tom hopkins, how to master the art of selling, however, i have seen with this regional camp idea that he finally gets the message, if you want to be the best you have to do extraordinary things.

    “A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive, and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” vince lombardi

  3. He is a fool along with anyone who thinks or is subsidized into believing that leaving Notre Dame is an act of virtue, wisdom or beneficial to a future NFL athlete.

  4. I was never enamored with Barrett. I’ve never seen him (not even game-tapes) but just going on appearances, he reminds me of Jimmy Clausen. His early de-commitment is at least nothing “anti-Notre Dame,” but he never rubbed-me-the-RIGHT-way. I feel Oregon is a good choice for him. Judging by / no. It’s not fair to judge a personal decision. But it just seemed he doesn’t have “big-time” potential. Jimmy Clausen DID have “big-time” potential, but 1) he was more worried about being “big-time” than developing and realizing his potential, and 2) he was a “big-time” recruit by Charlie Weis. Notre Dame Nation was bowing to Weis in the early 2000’s after his success with the Patriots. (I live 15-min from Foxboro, MA) So Weis & Clausen had skyrocketing expectations. We know painfully the outcomes of Weis & Clausen. I guess that’s a long way of saying Blake Barrett just wasn’t a ND-RKG. Good riddance and good luck.

  5. Oregon over ND….that is amusing. Good luck with that Blake.

    The Servite kid hopefully will seize the huge opportunity!

    Go Irish,
    Woodrow (Servite ’72, ND ’76)

  6. I agree with Jack. I am glad Barnett did it now versus later in the process. Unfortunately, de-commits will continue to happen and it will work both ways for ND where we may lose or pick up a gain. Once the anticipated offense starts to take shape here, starting this fall, I believe we will have a system that elite QB’s will want to come play for and I think 2014 will be looked back on as the starting point where our offense will be equated with many of the top O’s out there now. Sustained success breeds more success and I think we are moving that way.

    Go Irish

  7. As far as recruiting top QB’s go, I think the next couple of years with Golson, Zaire, and Kinzer at the helm will be crucial.

    If the ND offense can function as designed, and with the type of players that have been assembled, the offensive numbers that can be put up by the
    QB’s will soar.

    A good running game behind a powerful O-Line will help take some of the pressure off the QB and open up play action passing.

    A diverse receiving corps that blends size, speed, and depth, will spread the field, offer more viable options for the QB’s in the passing game, and
    provide more and better running lanes should the QB need to pull the ball down and take off.

    Good QB coaching and development will allow these players to make the right decisions, execute properly, and excel in their proficiency.

    Once these things start happing on a consistent basis, top high school QB’s will be beating a path to ND wanting to play in their system.

    ND will then have the pick of the litter in duel threat QB’s, much like they once did with pro style QB’s.

    Or so the theory goes.

  8. With Everett here potentially two more years, and Malik here at least three more years,
    I’m not surprised Barnett bailed. Certain locations’ weather and other physical factors trump South Bend.
    More significantly, stockpiling talent as we have at every position
    will scare away others as well who might feel they have a birthright in arriving on campus
    one day and being celebrated as “the” man the next.

    The RKGs that will continue to come to ND because
    ND, not just the team and the facilities, is what attracts and keeps them (see: Louis Nix and Manti Te’o)
    feeling ND is where they belong and want to be.

    There are enough eligible elites out there to recruit that those considerations will keep our incoming classes among the elite. It’s become commonplace that early elite commits end up somewhere else with all the attention
    paid (did I say paid) to them.
    Good luck, Blake.
    As ND, we’re more than ready to move on.

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