Marcus Freeman Crushes the “Notre Dame Recruiting Ceiling” Myth

Notre Dame Football can recruit with anyone, and Marcus Freeman is proving that once again in South Bend.

There are no recruiting limitation excuses coming from this coaching staff. It is not a matter of if but when Notre Dame will be back in the College Football Playoffs. Marcus Freeman knows that the next time the Irish are in the playoffs, they will need elite talent to win the national title. Now, the Fighting Irish are witnessing recruiting successes they have not seen since the days of Lou Holtz while shattering the mythical recruiting ceiling that Brian Kelly proclaimed.

Recent Notre Dame Recruiting Classes (per 247 Sports)

YearCommits5-Stars4-Stars3-StarsTeam Ranking
201922 Commits0166#15 overall
202017 commits188#18 overall
202127 Commits01215#9 Overall
202222 Commits1174#7 Overall
202320 Commits1172#2 Overall
20245 Commits140#1 Overall

Brian Kelly is responsible for the 2019, 2020, and 2021 recruiting classes. Then Marcus Freeman joins as the defensive coordinator for the 2022 class, and Brian Kelly has one of his best classes while in South Bend due to the recruiting success Freeman brought with a heavy group of star defensive players. The 2023 and 2024 classes are all under Head Coach Freeman.

Marcus Freeman’s Recruiting Success

Notre Dame Football has been back and forth with Ohio State this Summer for the #1 recruiting class in the country. As a result, the program is no longer battling teams like Michigan for the #10 ranking in the country. The Irish currently hold the #2 spot on 247 Sports but should jump the Buckeyes if they can land 4-Star LB Jaiden Ausberry in a few weeks.

While looking ahead to the 2024 class, it is awfully early, but Freeman already has his quarterback via 5-Star CJ Carr. The Irish have the #1 recruiting class for 2024 and are looking to build. Marcus Freeman is winning over recruits with a genuine personality, hard work, and relationships. Notre Dame fans on social media fought hard for Freeman to become head coach, and it is apparent why.

The Notre Dame Recruiting Myth

There has always been a myth that Notre Dame Football was limited in recruiting the top 300 players in the country because of academic regulation, being a Midwest program, and other justifications. Therefore, many people believed the Fighting Irish were limited to Top-10 recruiting classes, and a potential top-5 class was their peak.

However, those explanations have been thrown out the window as Marcus Freeman has been able to catapult the program to the top of the rankings most of the Summer. Once he has established himself in South Bend, the future can be even brighter. In other words, the recruiting ceiling did not exist. It was more of an excuse for lack of recruiting execution.

Final Thoughts

I am not writing this article to bash Brian Kelly because I have moved on with Marcus Freeman and do not want to live in the past. Coach Kelly took Notre Dame to a national championship and two playoff appearances, and the Irish were one spot away from the playoffs last season. I am grateful for the success and all the memories he brought to me, watching the Fighting Irish over the past decade.

However, it is really upsetting when an entire fanbase is told there is a Notre Dame Recruiting ceiling, and fans would not have known otherwise without the emergence of Freeman. Marcus Freeman does not make any excuses regarding recruiting in South Bend. He seems to be everywhere at once and always puts in the hours on the recruiting trail.

I understand that Marcus Freeman has only been the head coach since December, but I believe this recruiting success is here to stay. It is not the University of Notre Dame that was the issue with recruiting but the man at the top. All the factors are the same, Marcus Freeman has surpassed Brian Kelly’s recruiting efforts.

Coach Freeman can undoubtedly recruit, but he will have to blend his recruiting efforts with on the field coaching to bring Notre Dame Football a 12th national championship.

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  1. I did not have Emil because my freshman year was,at Holy Cross Junior College where I took .y required non-major stuff. I was also a visiting student at USF in San Francisco taking History of Occult Sciece (Natural Science 008)
    and Medieval Philosophy.. After one year at HCJC transfer for 3 4 or higher I to Arts And Letters was automatic – it was Dean Waddick’S Program. I and two younger brothers did it that way.

    BGC 77 82

    BGC 77 82

  2. David, I did not consider “ironic” to be personal attack. .I meant no harm I just think you are better talking football…not as good as Bruce Johnson, if you remember him; he was a favorite of mine, but you’re good when you are on your best subjects, so tell us something about the 22 team we’ve not heard yet. At this point, I’m so far removed from the old place that I rely on others for my few insights. and now that the campus is going cashless, my whole family will be spending even less time haunting the old grounds. No more half dollar coins
    in concession change, I guess!

    BGC 77 82

    1. The Freeman era will begin 0-2. tOSU will curb stomp ND as a proxy for MIchigan…..too much lingering regret and pure rage torturing elite talent to overcome.
      Poor draw, that’s life.

      As long as Freeman and staff don’t lose the room along with the game, there’s the rest of the season for him to climb the learning curve.

      But then, this year never really mattered anyway….Freeman’s professional progress does.
      And one learns FAR more from mistakes made than from immediate success. Always.

      1. I think the notion that “You learn from your mistakes.” is another myth. Indiana had a basketball coach that insisted that one did not need to fail to learn. It’s an opportunity to learn, sure, and it’s more challenging to learn while doing well, but if learning from one’s mistakes was absolutely a universal truth, we would have no dynasties ever. Every team that learned from their mistakes would be rising up to curb stomp the front runners. I assume ND will be 1-1 or better after their first two games. That’s usually due to good coaching and having kids buy in, and also, bringing in a bunch of kids who don’t know they are supposed to be curb stomped. GO IRISH!!!!

  3. Let the play begin, there will be time enough to decide which camp was right or wrong, right now i can’t wait for the season to begin. GO IRISH

  4. I think Freeman has done a very nice job in assembling staff and recruiting players. However, the “Honeymoon” ends and the production on the field begins to be measured, and weighs on recruiting.

    Recruiting and performance are synergistic. Recruit well, but fail to produce…recruiting goes south in pretty short order.

    For new HCs, If you are charismatic, you realistically have 2 seasons to show production before the Honeymoon as the “it” coach ends, and so too do the “it” coach recruiting dividends.

    Whatever you will say about Brian Kelly, he significantly improved the profile of ND based on what he got done on the field almost in spite of recruiting at times. He blew the recruiting momentum he gained in the first part of his career on an abhorrent defensive coordinator hire…and he needed a pretty fortuitous hire in Elko/Lea to right the ship on the field. He also benefited from some guys outperforming their star rating. Was it a generational hire in Matt Balis, or some positional coaching…probably some of both. Todd Lyght, Harry Heistand, Mike Elston, and Autry Denson were not top notch recruiters (although Elston was pretty good the last few years), but I think all had pretty significant developmental skills. Those were BK hires. After 2016, things could have gone into a death spiral but for some really good coaching and scheming with what they had. I’ll always appreciate BK for what he was and did. He was able to move the program forward in a lot of ways that his predecessors could not. Yet I recognize he had his flaws.

    I am excited for Freeman. I think there will be New coach/new staff moments that cost this team at times…thats to be expected. Excited to see what he is doing in year 3,4,5 and beyond. Thats when it should be clear if he will be a force in-season as well as in the off season. The potential is there.

    1. This talk about how an inexperienced coach will cost ND games ignores the fact that Kelly, at times, was too stubborn for his own frickin’ good. He coached kids like they were in middle school. Instead of taking the field goal, he couldn’t accept the botched pass play and sent them back out there to run the same play and do it right,… which didn’t happen. It was nearly pathological. He was going to force them to run the play right or else… So, I don’t guy into this stuff about Freeman not being ready to be a solid game coach. He’ll do fine, and probably quickly become a much better game coach than Kelly could ever dream of being… I think that’s a low bar myself.

  5. For what it’s worth, my 94 year old mother, who has been right about every ND coach during my 69 y.o. lifetime, is really high on Coach Freeman. But what could a poor high school educated old woman know, right? May the Saints of Ireland bless all our endeavors under Coach Freeman!

    BGC 77 82

    1. Ease up on the mama insults.
      You apparently got all kinds of high-priced learnin’….and look at tyou.

  6. Anyone who bought into that “shopping down a different aisle” mantra of Kelly’s wasn’t listening to me. 🙂 None of us folks who are old enough to remember the days of Ara and Lou (and ok, ok, Dan, who didn’t compare well to Ara at all but we would have gladly settled for him in the aughts) never really bought the “times have changed, and ND can’t recruit as well as it did in the last century” story.

    I hope Freeman can coach as well as he recruits.

  7. NIL and the transfer rules have made college football a different racket (and racket it most certainly is…) than it was before even just a year ago.

    So comparing the state of ND recruiting to any supposed ‘myths’ or impressions is pointless. No matter who the coaches were, or how much anyone wants to disparage them.

    Yes, Kelly was a fraud. You don’t need to start up a new recruiting narrative to prove that.
    He was off interviewing for an NFL gig in 2012….trying to further advance his career on a season that — even at the moment —- clearly had much less to do with him than many other members of the program.
    He was a lazy, conniving, self-centered fraud.
    But when he was YOUR fraud, everyone here loved him.

    Regardless, it’s a little premature to declare ND recruiting “cured”.
    Wait for some proof…after some games are played.

    1. I’ll wait until some games are played to pronounce ND coaching “cured.” But recruiting I’m going to disagree with you and say it isn’t at all premature to say it is already cured.

      1. To this point, they’ve played high school football. Whoopee.
        And they can still end up flipping, or transferring, or just be plain disappointments.

        You work on the cahmapionship T-shirt design…….I’ll wait for a game first.

      2. The “shopping aisle” excuse was always a fraud. That is now disproven, as it was on numerous occasions in the post-WWII modern era. Our failures post-Holtz were all proof positive that it is all about the coach, in every aspect of CFB success (assuming strong enough institutional support, which admittedly has on occasion been somewhat hit or miss at ND). This coach now can focus on the on-field product without doubt about recruiting potential. The enthusiasm generated by Freeman is invigorating, esp for an old grad that had just about given up hope. I eagerly await the opening game, fully aware of the challenge, but no longer pessimistic because of the head coach. Now, if we can just get the two other members of the unholy trinity to retire, or just go……..

    2. Ironic how a man who worships the markets and Wall Street should be upset that college football is a racket.

      BGC 77 82

      1. I never said I was exceptionally smart Dave. I was always an 87 to 92% guy, and barely snuck into the top 1/3 of my class at ND! By salary during my long HS teaching career I was probably in the bottom 10 of the class of 77…not the bottom 10%…the bottom 10!
        Some of our football players will probably earn more at ND than I did as a physics teacher. So was I a fool for Christ’s sake, or just a fool Fer Christs Sake? Try and stop with the personal insults, Dave. .they are even more boring than me! Let the games begin!

        BGC 77 82

      2. You replied with the personal attack.
        No one will mistake you for the brightest knife in the rocket.

  8. Totally agree with your article, but the question is Jack Swarbrick for 11 years allowed Kelly to promote the “recruiting ceiling” – why is Swarbrick given a pass when he was in charge and remained silent every time BK pushed that narrative

    1. Because ND has all-too-often taken a “low hanging fruit” approach to hiring, mired in the idea that it cannot compete for the best talent at A.D. He’s a grad, was readily available and close by, and he agreed to take the easy way and not push the President and the B.O.T. to compete at the highest level. Little or no concern was considered that he had NO experience as an A.D. in any way. Being a “lawyer” didn’t hurt either. He was complicit (if in fact not the driving force) behind dumbing down our CFB schedule strength, thereby abetting the widely held misimpression that BK was an elite CFB coach. Clearly he never saw coming what happened with BK’s sudden and unexpected departure, despite the facts surrounding BK’s eager chasing of an NFL job while “preparing” the team for the NC game in 2012. (Aware much, Jack?!) He needs to leave, along with the president; the B.O.T. should shrink to a size 1/4 what it is, and ND should compete in ALL endeavors to the full height of its potential, which is currently grossly underachieved.

    2. Bob Rodes is right again, as usual. Ara would have none of it – neither would Lou…as for gentle Dan, I never remember him addressing it at all.

      BGC 77 82

      1. Wow! A Physics had Emil Hoffman for freshmen chemistry
        You are to be saluted for a career as a science embellish a Force to be ND goes..

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