Notre Dame Football on Clear Path to Landing Top 10 Recruiting Class

Notre Dame’s stated goal for the class of 2021 was a top 5 recruiting class. It was a change of course in Brian Kelly’s public statements regarding recruiting who previously talked of having to shop from a different aisle at Notre Dame. Well, a top 5 class won’t happen primarily because of the extended dead period, but after a rocky stretch at the start of the pandemic, the Irish are now on a clear path towards a top 10 class.

In July, I mapped out the path towards a top 10 class for Notre Dame, and two months later, things are going almost precisely as needed for Notre Dame to land in the top 10. At the time, this is what I outlined as needing to happen.

  • Land OG Rocco Spindler ✔
  • Land LB Prince Kollie ✔
  • Land DB Chance Tucker ✔
  • Add a 2nd Tight End ✔
  • Add either Deion Colzie or D’onte Thornton
  • Add WR Jayden Thomas
  • Add ATH Titus Mokiao-Atimalala
  • Add any running back
  • Keep the DL class intact ✔

Since then, Notre Dame picked up commitments from Spindler, Tucker, Kollie, (TE) Mitchell Evans, RB Logan Diggs, and DE Will Schweitzer. Adding another defensive end wasn’t part of my original plan. Still, it accomplishes the goal of keeping the DL class intact even if David Abiara ends up de-committing, which has been speculated for a while.

So that leaves just adding one of Colize/Thornton and then Thomas and Mokiao-Atimalala from that outline to get into the top 10. Notre Dame not only looks like they have a chance to add that trio, but they might also add more before Signing Day.

As of today, Notre Dame looks like the odds on favorite to land Deion Colzie in what would be one of the best recruiting jobs of the Brian Kelly era. Colzie decommitted from Notre Dame at the onset of the pandemic, and it looked very bleak for the Irish at times in their re-recruitment of the top-100 wide receiver. Colzie is set to announce his final commitment on Monday, though, and Notre Dame is the clear favorite according to every recruiting website.

Notre Dame is also considered the clear frontrunner for Jayden Thomas and could add him to the fold sometime in October it appears. That would give Notre Dame three four-star wide receivers for perhaps the best wide receiver class in memory.

Of the three remaining recruits I outlined in July, Titus Mokiao-Atimalala is the only one that isn’t considered a strong lean to Notre Dame right now, but the Irish are still firmly in the race and have a great chance. The big hurdle for Notre Dame with the Hawaiian native is the extended dead period. It’s tough to pull a kid from Hawaii to South Bend when they’ve never visited. Notre Dame has the Hawaiian connection and their recruiting Hawaiian hitman, Brian Polian, in their favor, but that is a big hurdle. If there were official visits allowed, Notre Dame would probably be the odds on favorite.

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Outside of those three, Notre Dame could be adding a couple of other recruits to the class as well. Notre Dame made more recent offers to defensive back Theran Johnson, a Northwestern commit, and linebacker Kahanu Kia, another Hawaiian recruit. As of today, it looks like Notre Dame is the team to beat for both, even though Johnson is still committed to Northwestern.

Suppose they add Colzie, Thomas, Mokiao-Atimalala, Johnson, and Kia to the 247Sports Class Simulator, giving Notre Dame 265.32 points. That is with Abiara still committed. If they were to lose him, that drops them down to 263.50. Either way, that point total would put the Irish at sixth in the rankings as of today with a total of 23 commits. The current 6th ranked team, Tennessee, has 25 commits already. Other teams will add more commits, but the only team ranked 6-10 right now with less than 20 commitments, like Notre Dame, is USC.

Notre Dame could still see some movement from some of its recruits who are already committed as well. For instance, Blake Fisher has been making positive moves in the rankings on some services and has been dominant this fall already.

If Notre Dame lands somewhere inside the top 10 this cycle, it’ll be a win for the Irish even if it’s not the original goal of being in the top 5 considering they lost one of their most significant selling points this year – its campus. And that’s not an excuse. It’s just a fact. Notre Dame recruits much more nationally than most programs, so the loss of official visits – especially in the spring when Notre Dame had a monster weekend planned – hit the Irish much harder than most. Rebounding as they have is a testament to the work of the staff and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian specifically. There were some kinks in March and April, which should have been expected given the circumstances, but the staff turned things around quickly, and it looks like it’s going to end up with one of the better classes in Brian Kelly’s decade at Notre Dame.

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8 Comments

  1. If ND had UCF’s lefty QB and at least one difference-making WR they could compete given the rest of the team. But the difference between BK and the elite coaches is still significant.

  2. Again, solid argument, Pete. I agree that rankings don’t tell us everything. But there is a rough correspondence between elite recruitment and elite play.

    Look at the difference between Miami and in-state rival FSU. Miami’s recruiting is going strong while FSU is struggling getting elite talent of late. The results of that showed up tonight! (BTW: I doubt ND beats FSU as bad as Miami did tonight; ND’s O is not as good as Miami’s right now.)

    But I agree with you that coaching and QB play make all the difference when the talent is close. The elite programs have a big advantage over ND in those two areas!

  3. Need to get WRsColzie/Thomas and retain DE Abiara. CB Riley just de-committed so either get him back or add another equal-talent level DB.
    Given BK’s limitations as an in-game coach and player developer, as well as limits on recruiting at ND, top-5 classes will be near impossible. I just don’t think BK can win even with consistent top-10 talent. Perhaps an elite coach like a Saban, Swinney, Meyer, etc. could. But BK isn’t in that weight class.
    It just seems that these days the talent and coaching gap between ND and Bama, Ohio St., and Clemson is unbridgeable.
    I pray I’m wrong, but that’s just my honest opinion.
    GO IRISH!

    1. I agree about Kelly not being the greatest game day coach game planner ,utilization of talent in game decisions ,adjustments but I dont think the talent gap is wide. I think it’s very close. I think it looks wider because Alabama Ohio State and Clemson have great quarterbacks and Notrrdame has Ian Book. If Justin Fields was Notredames qb right now Notredame could go toe toe with Clemson, Ohio State Alabama.With Tyree and William’s Cbo in the backfield along with Avery Davis ,Lenzy Austin Tremble Mayer. Notredame offense would average over 40 points a game imo.

      1. Good points, Pete. I especially agree with you about Book. He’s just very average. Forget about Fields, put the UCF QB on ND roster and they are far more productive.
        As far as annual recruitment rankings, however, ND isn’t close to those other programs.
        But time will tell, Pete.
        Go Irish!

      2. The rankings are somewhat misleading in a sense that Alabama ,Ohio State Clemson always sign bigger classes than Notredame and that is a good part of why they have a higher ranking. Matter of fact if you compare Notredame with Clemson over the last 10 years their recruiting ranking from all the services is 9.4 Notredames is 10.5. That’s pretty close. Why have they won 2 national championships and been to playoffs 5 straight years. 2 things superior coaching and superior quarterbacks, Book vs Lawrence Watson vs Kiser Tosh Boyd vs Golson. Game set match.

  4. Really good news. Kelly has proven he can recrui t a top ten class. Top 5 maybe is doable. However to beat Clemson Ohio State, Alabama etc he has to recruit and develop a Heisman trophy level quarterback.

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