College football's second season breathed new life into the deflated Irish faithful, many despondent after a 3 win season. But the Notre Dame coaches did an outstanding job of identifying, targeting and closing on the top recruiting talent in the country and Notre Dame has signed its best class since the early 90s.
Is it the top class in the country? Well, certainly in the top 3 by any measure and it has the highest average rating per recruit of any team in the country, which means we're taking very few "projects." The final ranking isn't as important, but Milton Knox and Kapron Lewis Moore could put the Irish back on top in the end. The only way schools like Alabama and Miami could sneak ahead in the point count is by signing a larger number of players, which in my mind doesn't make for the best class. They're going to lose kids from those classes.
The "best" player in this class is hard to judge, because ND skimmed so effectively from around the country, but it's a class with few holes and star talent. There are a few players that stick out as slam dunk future stars.Slam Dunks
WR Michael Floyd
doesn't just have star potential, but already star ability. He could have easily been the MVP of the Army AA game. When we lost Aurelious Benn last year to the Zook sibling parole program, one astute follower commented that the silver lining was that we would have a great shot at Floyd who just doesn't have a weakness. He's got great size, deceptive speed, will go up and take the ball away from you and then run away from you. I was amazed at how good his feet were. He could already be Notre Dame's best receiver.QB Dayne Crist
is the best quarterback prospect Notre Dame has recruited according to many watchers (and that includes Quinn and Clausen.) He's 6'5" with a gun and shown the ability to make every throw necessary. When Clausen is done, Crist will step in and star.
OG Trevor Robinson
is a massive guard who rivals ranks as the best in the country. Notre Dame has to control the line of scrimmage and TR gives the Irish a road grader who will press the current OL for playing time immediately. And he's already on campus.
TE Kyle Rudolph
is a freak of nature. Rivals top TE, he's 6'6" with surprising athletic ability. the only reason there isn't more hype about his is because he signed early with the Irish.
DE Ethan Johnson's
first step looks surprisingly like Kerry Neal's. He's just able to get up to speed so fast and close on quarterbacks before they can react. EJ may be our best DE recruit since BY.
After those five, the Irish have a bevy of four star players who have the talent to reach AA status quickly. I'll call these the layups.Layups
OLB Darius Fleming
ILM Steven Filer
DB Robert Blanton
WR Deion Walker
OC Braxton Cave
RB Jonas Gray
Position-wise the coaches did a very good job across the board landing targets that fit Notre Dame's needs.QB - A+:
Crist is considered either the best or in the best three at his position.RB - B+:
Jonas Gray was a backup plan for ND after the Irish lost out on their top targets. Still, a 210, sub 4.4 40 running back is a hell of a backup plan.WR - A+:
Floyd, Walker and Goodman are Notre Dame's best across the board WR since I've been following Notre Dame.TE - A+:
Notre Dame didn't just land Rudolph, the number one or two rated Tight End in the country, but Joseph Fauria who's going to surprise a lot of people.OL - B:
Trevor Robinson is the lone headliner here and he's a very important pickup for the Irish. Golic and Cave both surprised many with their performances in the All-Star Games. Cave pretty much had his way with Omar Hunter. Clelland has all the tools and is nasty and athletic, but is going to need a few years to grow. Good, solid building blocks here.NG - B+:
Really nice job here getting Newman early. Hafis Williams also has the ability to play NG and is going to shock some ND watchers when he gets on campus. He's a big kid who can move and make plays.DE - A-:
Ethan Johnson is a stud. Sean Cynwar has the size and ability to play early, though isn't as speedy as you would hope. Kapron Lewis-Moore is a big framed kid with some ability who could grow into a very good DE.OLB - B+:
Darius Fleming looks like a future NFL player. He has great closing speed and ND beat out USC for his services.ILB - B+:
Steven Filer is loaded with talent, but hasn't shown great instincts to this point. Anthony McDonald seems to be limited athletically, but is no slouch. Poz looks like a bit of a project at this point.DB - B+:
Blanton showed he could cover anyone not named Michael Floyd. Slaughter is a big time hitter. McCarthy is everything you want in a Safety (with offers from OSU and LSU) the only question about him is recovery time.Overall this is a class without a glaring weakness combined with a lot of star potential. Just a great job all-around by the staff to keep everyone after such a dismal season. As I've been saying since our last class, once you get three top classes in a row, you're a top program again.
Now the coaches just have to translate recruiting success to the field.