With the fax machines warming up across the country, we will complete one our the favorite past times of all college football bloggers – picking out which recruits could be instant impact players next fall.
Predicting such recruits is an inexact science to say the best and being successful is usually more about being able to predict opportunity rather than talent. For instance, a 5-star recruit stepping into a depth chart anchored by an All-American for instance, might not see the field much as a frosh. A 3-star player coming off an injury – looking at you Josh Adams – however could see the field if things fall right.
Side note: before getting into this year’s instant impact recruits, mad props go out to Scott Janssen for his list of instant impact recruits last year. Scott tabbed Justin Yoon, Alize Jones, and Josh Adams as instant impact players and you’d be hard pressed to find three true frosh who had bigger impacts last fall.
Ok, now that that is out of the way, here are this year’s instant impact recruits.
Daelin Hayes (LB) – One of Notre Dame’s early enrollees for 2016, Hayes is a 5-star prospect on some services and might have the highest ceiling of any recruit in this class (at least of the recruits who have announced before Signing Day). If Hayes can stay healthy and recover from multiple shoulder injuries, he could be the next great Notre Dame linebacker. As an early enrollee, he will get a chance to challenge for the open WILL position Jaylon Smith dominated for the last three years.
Khalid Kareem (DE) – This one might be more out of need for Notre Dame with the Irish severely lacking in the pass rush department. Romeo Okwara is out of eligibility and no one on the current roster has shown great pass rush skill just yet. Kareem is likely destined for SDE long-term but in the short-term might be able to help at WDE. Kareem will have the spring and fall to earn some playing time this fall.
Devin Studstill (S) – Some times opportunity comes out of necessity. Studstill is the highest ranked safety in this class for Notre Dame and was atop the Irish recruiting board all year long. Notre Dame is dangerously thin at safety in 2016 and with Studstill enrolling early, he will get a head start on his incoming classmates. The Irish will need at least one, maybe two, true freshman to play in the secondary given the injury history of Drue Tranquill and Avery Sebastian (assuming he is granted a 6th year).
Chase Claypool (WR) – Claypool might be the most raw of the incoming freshman wide receivers, but if there is an area Notre Dame needs help at it’s in the red-zone. Claypool could potentially fill that niche given his freakish size. Rising sophomores Equanimeous St Brown and Miles Boykin also possess “red-zone size” and will get first crack at that role, but if the Irish struggle inside the opponent’s 20 yard line again, they will look for answers anywhere they can find them. That could be Claypool. At the same time, Claypool could end up redshirting as well.
Spencer Perry (S) – As another early enrollee, Perry’s early start will give him a chance to earn playing time in 2016 at safety. As I mentioned already, Notre Dame is going to need some frosh to play in the secondary making the two early enrollees the most likely candidates heading into the season.
DJ Morgan (S) – While we’re at safety, the one incoming freshman defensive back who isn’t enrolling early that could see the field in 2016 is DJ Morgan for one simple reason. Size. Morgan will come in with the size needed to play early and if Perry or Studstill are unable to stake their claim in the spring, he will be there in the fall to make his case.
Where is Tommy Kramer, one of Notre Dame’s 5-star recruits, you might be asking. In an ideal world, freshman OL will redshirt every year unless they come in and dominant right off the bat. Learning for a year and putting time in the weight room just makes sense at the position and with the depth Notre Dame has, that might just be the case for Kramer even though he is immensely talented.
A few players who have yet to decide could crack this list as well. Should Demetris Robertson join the fold tomorrow – or sometime in the near future – he could potentially be a day one starter as a replacement for Will Fuller. If either 5-star LB’s Caleb Kelly or Ben Davis select the Irish, either could potentially see the field early on as well.