Notre Dame suffered its second notable and far biggest loss for the class of 2021 on Friday when Deion Colzie announced that he was decommitting from Notre Dame and opening up his recruiting. Colzie, one of the nation’s elite wide receiver prospects, had been committed to Notre Dame since the fall and was a huge component of what looked like it could be the best class of the Kelly era.
This is not an insignificant loss and it is very likely one that Notre Dame might not be able to completely recover from unless they are able to get Colzie to recommit to the Irish. Colzie is a top-50 overall prospect who will flirt with 5-star status this season. Those kinds of players don’t grow on trees – especially ones who also fit Notre Dame’s academic profile. Incoming freshman Jordan Johnson was the first such wide receiver that Notre Dame signed since Michael Floyd. Floyd signed with Notre Dame in 2007.
Notre Dame does have Lorenzo Styles committed as well and some services have him ranked higher than Colzie which lessens the blow a little as well. The big loss here though is that Notre Dame needs multiple players like Syles and Colzie in the same class to close the gap with the Clemsons and Alabamas of the world. They had that lined up for 2020 with this duo, but have lost it for now.
The only silver lining in this is that Colzie has NOT completely eliminated Notre Dame from his recruitment. He is essentially starting his recruiting over though so Notre Dame has a major uphill battle on its hands – especially with the coronavirus pandemic having the nation on a virtual lockdown, recruiting included.
From that perspective, you have to give Colzie some credit for not doing what a lot of recruits do who are “committed” but are really still shopping around. Out of respect for Notre Dame, Colzie let them know that he wasn’t fully committed anymore but was still considering them. It’s hard to fault a kid for doing that though I’m sure he received some Twitter mentions from Notre Dame “fans” that will make us all cringe.
There is some precedent for Notre Dame landing an elite recruit from the South only to loss them before ultimately signing them. Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt both come to mind immediately although one of those ultimately ended up much better for Notre Dame than the other. Both committed to Notre Dame, decommitted, and then ended up signing with Notre Dame all in the same recruiting cycle. Lynch, however, transferred out after a year while Tuitt became a vital cog in Notre Dame’s run to the BCS Championship game in 2012.
There is a long way to go between now and the early signing period and how and when recruiting starts back up given the state we are living in right now is anyone’s guess, but Notre Dame can’t feel good about the offensive class they were building that had Colzie as one of the foundational pieces. Notre Dame still has an elite quarterback in Tyler Buchner on board and that should help them still lure in talented offensive skill players, but it will be very tough for them to replace Colzie, if they can’t get him back in fold, with a comparable or better prospect.