As we continue to review the 2018 Notre Dame recruiting class I wanted to spend a little time on the efforts of our rivals and some upcoming premier opponents. A quick note I won’t be covering Navy as they technically do not hand out athletic grant-in-aid scholarships, they recruit a billion kids, and many of them are headed to the Naval Academy Prep School for, ahem, additional seasoning anyway.
Let’s talk about 12 other programs directly in the cross-hairs of Notre Dame football.
*Using 247 Composite Rankings
Rank: 21 (3rd Big Ten)
This fall from grace couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. The Wolverines did bring in 30 players from the 5th ranked class last February but have followed that up with perhaps the most disappointing cycle for any major program.
It would be foolish to believe this class is going to take down Michigan football, as amazing as that would be. There’s definitely a good chunk of defensive talent to work with but there’s a serious lack of offensive skill players within this 2018 haul featuring zero 4+ star prospects at wide receiver and running back. Plus, there are only 4 players on the offensive side of the ball who garnered 4-star status.
Rank: 39 (7th Pac-12)
Stanford’s class just goes to show how top-heavy the world of college football recruiting is these days. It’s a tiny class with only 5 players who are 4-stars, plus the class includes a fullback and the most rare species in the game, a white corner. And yet, 5 other programs in their own conference did worse as well as damn near 100 other programs across the country.
The roster situation in Palo Alto is also a little strange. This is back-to-back small classes (29 total players for 2017-18) although the ’17 class was absolutely loaded with talent. Another curious thing for 2018 is that Stanford’s top 2 recruits are at the quarterback position–the top ranked player in the whole class about to embark on a 2-year Mormon mission.
Rank: 46 (8th ACC)
We probably don’t talk enough about Pitt’s dwindling recruiting prowess and shrinking footprint in the Midwest/Great Lakes/Northeast/Eastern Seaboard regions. This now wraps up a complete decade straight of the Panthers never having a Top 20 recruiting class–and quite often never coming close.
Pitt is getting numbers, though. Combined with last year they’ve brought in 46 recruits. The bad side is that only 5 of them are 4-star prospects. They’ve lost 10 out of their last 18 games and are seeing a resurgence from divisional rival Miami. Overall, not a great stock report for Pat Narduzzi especially since he’s struggled on defense lately.
Rank: 59 (14th Big Ten)
The Wildcats fall back to the bottom of their conference, 5 spots lower than 2nd worst Illinois at 54th nationally. For perspective, Northwestern is sandwiched in between Rutgers and Arizona on one side and Wake Forest and Duke on the other. That sounds about right.
This was also a 9-spot drop from last year with one fewer recruit. For the 2017-18 cycles Northwestern has only brought in a pair of 4-stars. Which brings up something that gets thrown around every once and a while in our writer’s Slack room–are you we absolutely sure a coach who is 27-12 overall and 18-8 in the Big Ten with this large of a recruiting disadvantage wouldn’t work at Notre Dame?
Rank: 4 (1st Pac-12)
The Trojans come in at 4th nationally just like last year, except they did it for 2018 with 6 fewer recruits. That’s some impressive stuff. Here are some more accolades, they’ve combined for 12 recruits over the last two cycles who have 0.970 Composite scores or higher. That’s 12 more than Notre Dame over the same period.
USC’s class average is a whopping 0.942 which is crazy. It’s pretty amazing that Brian Kelly has beat USC 5 times and Stanford just twice.
Rank: 67 (14th ACC)
We’ll see the Eagles next in 2019 during the regular season. They’re pretty much stuck in a mediocrity vortex winning exactly 7 games in 4 out of Steve Addazio’s 5 seasons in Chestnut Hill. This has manifest itself on the recruiting trail where they’ve finished last in the ACC in each of the last 4 cycles, except last year’s 13th league finish.
Fun fact: Incoming offensive lineman Finn Dirstine from Lawrence Academy is Boston College’s first 4-star recruit since corner Albert Louis-Jean in the 2011 class.
Rank: 32 (6th Big Ten)
The Spartans class is led by former Notre Dame commit Kalon Gervin at corner, just one of three players who are 4-star recruits. The uptick in Michigan State recruiting from 2014-16 definitely looks like a thing of the past as their last two classes have fallen to 32nd and 36th, respectively.
Notre Dame likely won’t have to worry about the Spartans’ recruiting as we’re still 9 years away from the next matchup!
Rank: 50 (11th Big Ten)
If you’re itching for more Big Ten matchups we have the Boilermakers coming up in 2024 again. However, the Jeff Brohm effect is real as he notched 7 wins in West Lafayette for the first time since 2011 and has started to improve Purdue’s recruiting. Over the previous 4 cycles the Boilers had an average national rank of 72nd nationally and dead last in the Big Ten over the previous 3 cycles.
Wideout Rondale Moore is Purdue’s first 4-star in their class since quarterback Danny Etling (transferred to LSU and was defeated by the Irish on January 1st) in the 2013 cycle.
Rank: 11 (3rd ACC)
Florida State had one hiccup in recruiting this decade during the 2013 cycle when they finished 11th despite a couple of 5-stars including Jalen Ramsey. Every other cycle until 2018 was inside the Top 10 with an average ranking of just over 5th nationally.
Most expect the Willie Taggart era to be fruitful in recruiting but they did just suffer another blip in the transition from Jimbo Fisher, plus the bar is set very high. The top end of this 2018 class for the Seminoles isn’t their usual haul with just 7 Top 200 players and only 3 inside the Top 100.
Rank: 6 (1st ACC)
With a lot of NFL talent coming back on defense the Tigers took another small class (31 players total over the last 2 cycles) yet didn’t shy away from some elite talent, including the nation’s top quarterback Trevor Lawrence and top strong-side defensive end Xavier Thomas.
Clemson’s 0.934 average ranking was 4th best this year–the 2018 cycle was absolutely top loaded like no other time in history. Notre Dame is unlikely to play against any of these recruits, the next regular season game against the Tigers won’t come until 2022.
Rank: 1 (1st SEC)
Alabama’s reign atop the recruiting rankings is over with a bang as we could pretty much just recap Georgia’s class via a series of fire emojis. They signed 7 players who were 5-stars! Seven! If that isn’t scary enough they also signed the top 5 positional players at quarterback, running back, offensive tackle, strong-side defensive end, offensive guard, center, corner, outside linebacker, tight end, and inside linebacker.
When Georgia finally realized its recruiting potential.
This isn’t great news for the Irish as this class will be hosting Notre Dame in 2019 when they are sophomores backed up by quarterback Jake Fromm. That could be a rather difficult night.
Rank: 8 (2nd ACC)
Like Purdue, the Hurricanes won’t see the Irish until 2024 (the ACC deal is weird) so these recruits also won’t matter. However, we finally have seen Miami starting to reclaim some of their on-field and off-field glory this past season.
The Canes had the No. 1 class in the country for 2008 then went 9 straight cycles without being better than 10th in the country, even falling out of the Top 20 on three separate occasions. Although, only once were they worse than 3rd in ACC recruiting so it wasn’t too awful.
They’re back, kind of! Led by 7 players inside the Top 100 and 18 total players from Florida this is the strongest class for Miami in several years.