Marcus Freeman’s Recruiting Pitch for Notre Dame Should Have Irish Fans Excited

The ESPN College Football Gameday crew interviewed Marcus Freeman for the second time in two days on Sunday after the Irish’s Fiesta Bowl berth against Oklahoma State was announced. Freeman appeared on GameDay Saturday morning as well. On Sunday, Freeman talked about several different topics, but his take on recruiting should have Notre Dame fans excited.

Jesse Palmer asked Marcus Freeman about the challenges of recruiting at Notre Dame after saying that Brian Kelly was a great recruiter at Notre Dame, which isn’t quite reality – more on that in a minute though. “The challenges might be some of the perception,” Freeman said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to change since I’ve been here.”

Freeman mentioning that he’s been trying to change the perception that it’s hard to recruit at Notre Dame since he got here is significant because he’s only been at Notre Dame for 11 months. In that time, Freeman has, without a doubt, elevated Notre Dame’s recruiting on the defensive side of the ball. If he can do the same on the offensive side of the ball, Notre Dame will have as much talent as pretty much anyone else in the country.

“This place is a gold mine,” Freeman noted. “This place will change your life for the better. If you are able to communicate that with these young people and make them understand that if you want to win a national championship, come to Notre Dame. If you want a chance to set yourself up for the rest of your life, come to Notre Dame.”

Right off the bat, Freeman mentions winning a national championship and changing the perception of recruiting to Notre Dame. Those two things will win over any remaining skeptics – are there any at this point? – of the hire.

“There’s so many different things that this University and this football program will do for your future,” Freeman told ESPN. “It’s my job and our job as a coaching staff to continue to communicate that to these young athletes.

Freeman’s recruiting chops have never been in doubt, but it’s exciting to hear him speak about what makes Notre Dame great with passion already. He also is not making excuses for it being hard to recruit to Notre Dame. That is something that his predecessor regularly did early on in his tenure at Notre Dame. Brian Kelly routinely talked about having to shop down different aisles than other programs. Freeman isn’t making excuses but is rather trying to elevate Notre Dame’s recruiting.

Speaking of Kelly’s recruiting, Jesse Palmer referenced Kelly as being a “great recruiter” in the interview. Technically, that might be true. When he recruited, Kelly was very good. For years there were rumblings though that Kelly didn’t put in the same time and effort as other coaches at top-tier programs. But then, following his departure from Notre Dame, Tom Lemming said on the Chris Zorich podcast that Kelly liked to golf more than he liked to recruit, and that is what held Notre Dame back on the recruiting trail.

Recruiting wasn’t bad under Brian Kelly. Notre Dame brought in a lot of talent during his tenure. The Irish have not had a top 5 recruiting class since 2014, though. A few years ago, he stated his goal was for Notre Dame to stop having top 10-15 classes and to have top 5 classes, but the best they finished since he said that (according to 247) is 9th.

Time will tell if Freeman turns out to be a great head coach – and he is getting thrown right into the fire in the Fiesta Bowl against a top 10 opponent – but one thing that we know the man can do is recruit. From the day he stepped foot on campus, we changed on Notre Dame recruited on offense. If we see the same change on offense, he’ll accomplish what Kelly set out to do a few years ago and wasn’t able to.

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  1. “This place is a gold mine.” Freeman knows his target audience.

    Coach tells a kid from the Greatest Generation to run through a wall. The kid says “anything else?” Coach says “yeah, when you’re on the other side I want you to storm a beach in France.”

    Coach asks a Baby Boomer to run through a wall. The kid asks “what do I get for it?” Coach says “there’s ice cream on the other side.”

    Coach asks a GenXer to please run through a wall. The kid asks “why, what’s in it for me?” Coach says “there’s a big trophy on the other side.”

    Coach asks a Millennial to pretty please run through a wall. The kid posts ” why, WIIFM?” Coach says “there’s a pot of gold on the other side.”

  2. Well, in CFB it does start with recruiting. If you look at most elite teams they have at least a few 5 star recruits, something ND has been lacking. We get a fair share of 4 stars which is great, and we all know 3 star recruits that end up playing like 5 stars once they step on campus. BUT…you still need a couple bona fide 5 stars on your team if you want to recruit at a high level. Freeman is saying all the right things, he has proven an ability to recruit defensively, so at least on recruiting we may see a boost. Plus, as I noted, race is a factor to many college aged kids. Him being African-American might not be a key factor to most recruits, but it may tip a player on the fence in our favor, or at least get ND a closer look by some recruits.

    Now, time will tell if he is a good head coach when it comes to game time. But so far outside a few hiccups at the beginning of the season things at least look bright. Obviously players and recruits want to play for him, that’s big when it comes to college aged kids. And the staff rebuffed other offers, sometimes for a lot more money including by their former boss to stay on with Freeman. That might say a lot too.

    So yes, I’m optimistic for the future and more hopeful than I’ve been in a while. But I know, the proof will be in the game results.

    1. I love everything you said and even the part that you say about race is a factor of these new age kids. Him being African American. It does bro everything he says that Notre Dame is I really believe he has The Passion of the school and for him being a graduate of the University of Ohio State and coming where he came from and knowing what it is to be a student athlete. That is a good factor for him to sell Notre Dame for its procedures academics and degree for after football. And him as being a African-American in this world today and how he came up and knowing the ins and outs of college and pro and life as an African American out in the real world. Is the biggest factor for a parent like myself as a minority. Just the college is the big is Factor but the fact that my son could be guided by a great man on and off the field. Is a big plus. As a parent. I would have a big influence on my son’s recruitment going towards that factor. Irish all day every day and for life. Go Irish

  3. It seems to me in this era of college football the playoffs national championship teams are won by teams that play good defense paired with a great unstoppable 45 t0 50 points a game offense. Over the last 4 seasons Notredames defense under Clarke Lee and Freeman has been very good and ranked in the top 15 in all categories. All games lost are due to not being able to score. 2021 13 points vs Cincinnati 2020 10 and 14 points vs Clemson ,Alabama 2019 14 and 17 points vs Georgia, Michigan 2018 3 points vs Clemson 2017 17 ,8 and 19 points vs Georgia ,Miami Stanford. Contrast all of that with Alabama,Ohio State, LSU Clemson. Alabama gave up 48 and 46 points in separate games and won both. LSU gave up 38, 41 and 47 points won all of them. Ohio State have up 42 won Clemson gave up 35 to South Carolina and won. The quarterback is so so critical but so is having a great line and speedgamebrakers all over the field wide receivers running backs. Even Kelly said we have to put a Michael Floyd out there with a Will Fuller with 3 Kyren William’s in the backfiel with a Michael Mayer and then have a Trevor Lawrence level Quarterback throwing to them.

  4. You’re not being entirely fair here, Frank. Kelly made that statement about top-five classes after the 2018 playoffs, when we got pounded by Clemson. He’s had two classes since then, so your implication that he’s had “a few” chances to bring in a top five class is exaggerated.

    The first class after he made that statement was the 2020 class, and it was pretty bad, finishing at 18th. Then, for 2021, we made it to ninth as you have mentioned, even in the middle of the pandemic. If he’d been able to get students on campus, he might well have hit the top five. Now we have the fifth-place class. Granted, it probably wouldn’t have stayed there if Kelly hadn’t left, and it very well might now that Freeman’s in charge.

    So, I agree that Kelly isn’t a particularly good recruiter for the reasons you have mentioned, but fair is fair.

  5. Great recruiting, superior to the Kelly era is imperative if ND is to win a NC under Freeman.
    I personally think freeman will turn out to be a great hire. Freeman already has proven he can recruit w/ the best.

    However, never having been a HC, we won’t know whether his leadership will translate to w’s and a NC for quite some
    time. That’s simply the risk of hiring a 1st time HC>

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