We’ve been so busy with actual football stuff that we’ve yet to run through the scholarship situation since April 30th. What is college football without recruiting, we ask? The actual seasons with games are so short it sometimes feels like we’re here for the recruiting more than anything else. Don’t forget the early signing period is only 2 months away.
Let’s talk grant-in-aid situations for teenagers!
Out of Eligibility Following 2018
RB Dexter Williams
TE Nick Weishar
OL Sam Mustipher
OL Alex Bars
DT Jerry Tillery
DT Jonathan Bonner
LB Drue Tranquill
LB Te’von Coney
S Nicco Fertitta
S Nick Coleman
K Justin Yoon
P Tyler Newsome
Receiver Freddy Canteen transferred to Tulane back in late-spring fulfilling my prediction that he would not spend 2 graduate years at Notre Dame. The poor guy is so snake bit with injuries as he’s out for the year (again) with a shoulder injury. No word whether he’ll be seeking a 6th-year for the Green Wave.
It’s always a good time to look at this list during the season because we get a better feel for what the Irish will be losing. In short, it’s fairly significant.
The special teams makeover is going to be an off-season project as both Yoon and Newsome have been very good college players and it feels like they’ve been at Notre Dame throughout Kelly’s entire tenure.
The loss of Dexter leaves a concerning lack of explosiveness at running back but you have to figure the offense as a whole will develop other playmakers to make up for it elsewhere.
The “Big Skill” losses on both sides of the ball are a huge worry, although Bars’ unfortunate injury already has Notre Dame training his replacement for next year. Still, the 2017-18 teams have featured good-to-great ‘power’ in the front of both lines and 2019 is going to be a definite adjustment year.
2019-20 Academic Classes
19 Verbal Commits
92 Total Scholarships
Since our last update, linebacker David Adams stepped away from the game due to numerous injuries and took a medical scholarship. He would be a redshirt freshman this year so he reduced the 2019-20 juniors by one body.
Several new commits have jumped aboard the 2019 wagon including: QB Brendon Clark, WR Kendall Abdur-Rahman, WR Kyren Williams, WR Cam Hart, OT Quinn Carroll, OT Zeke Correll, DE NaNa Osafo-Mensah, LB Jack Kiser, CB Isaiah Rutherford, and P Jay Bramblett.
Let’s not forget receiver T.J. Sheffield briefly committed out of nowhere and then had his offer rescinded 5 days later. He’s since committed to Purdue.
List of Eligible 2019 Grad Students
TE Alize Mack
OL Trevor Ruhland
WR Miles Boykin
LB Asmar Bilal
WR Chris Finke
CB Shaun Crawford
DT Micah Dew-Treadway
QB Brandon Wimbush
Not much has changed here except Crawford has moved down to the second tier due to his injury history, MDT moves up to the second tier as a reserve lineman who could help in 2019, while it seems incredibly likely that Wimbush will seek a 5th-year somewhere else.
Bringing back 5 or 6 graduate players still puts the Irish a few over the 85-man limit. In order to see where breathing room will come from let’s first analyze the current 2018 freshmen and their eligibility status.
1) We now have 6 freshmen who already burned their redshirt including: WR Kevin Austin, DT Jayson Ademilola, LB Bo Bauer, LB Shayne Simon, CB Tariq Bracy, and S Houston Griffith.
2) Five more have played in 2 games already including: RB C’Bo Flemister, RB Jahmir Smith, WR Joe Wilkins, OT Jarrett Patterson, and DE Justin Ademilola. I’m thinking both running backs will continue playing as will Ademilola who looked promising against Virginia Tech and might as well be on the same eligibility as his brother.
3) Four more have played in only 1 game and everyone is likely to preserve a year here: QB Phil Jurkovec, CB D.J. Brown, S Paul Moala, and DT Ja’mion Franklin is out for the year with a quad tear.
This leaves a massive pool of 12 freshmen who haven’t seen the field yet. A few of interest:
WR Micah Jones – Assuming Chip Long sticks around he does seem to like his big receivers. However, with the position switch of Wilkins the 2018 class has 5 receivers with Jones bringing up the rear based on the off-season, and that’s despite being enrolled early.
LB Jack Lamb – Weirdly not physically ready to sniff the field as a freshman despite being one of the blue-chips from this class. Also, he’s a Californian and the track record in that state is disheartening. I’m just saying, stranger things have happened.
S Derrik Allen – His family has been incredibly pro-Notre Dame in his recruiting process and let’s hope so because you could forgive him for being impatient. Going from someone many thought would be in the mix at safety to literally not a peep since fall camp is a tough pill to swallow.
Other scholarship relief could be felt in other areas, among them:
CB Julian Love – He’s getting 1st round NFL Draft love from the media. Even if that doesn’t come to fruition he’s likely to be one of the top corners drafted and will have an excruciating decision to make.
DE Khalid Kareem – Most years there is one “made a big jump in production and has the skill to flourish in the NFL” player on the roster. Here he is, folks.
TE Alize Mack – He’s graduating and hasn’t quite been the dynamic playmaker some thought he should be this year. Still, he’s productive enough to go pro. If numbers are tight I can see him being recommended to leave with diploma in hand.
WR Javon McKinley – I’m not sure on his academic progress but it’s possible he could graduate in the summer and transfer because it seems unlikely he’ll play at Notre Dame.
WR Isaiah Robertson – Only a redshirt freshman (assuming they don’t use him in 2018 after playing as a safety in 2017) he’s probably sticking around longer to test things out at his new position but who knows.
OG Darnell Ewell – The move from defensive tackle to offensive guard isn’t great news. He was one of the top prospects for 2017 and is now buried on the depth chart.
DE Kofi Wardlow – We haven’t heard much from him despite an an opportunity this year to get some playing time, especially when bodies were needed at Virginia Tech.
LB Drew White – He actually popped up on the participation report in a game a couple weeks ago which is a good sign if he’s somewhat healthy.
2019 Recruiting Cycle Needs
A recent Slack discussion in our writer’s room posed this question: If one player had to leave early would you rather it be Love or Kareem? On the face it seems silly because Love is ‘better’ right now, although it’s weighed against the entire secondary of starters returning in his absence, should that come to pass. Without Kareem, losing 5 front 7 starters would not be very fun.
Either way, more help is needed at corner–which is why it was odd 2 recruits from 2018 were moved to other positions. With zero corners from the 2017 class the return of Love could be crucial for the program to have more time to develop young corners for 2019.
UPDATE: The addition of Rutherford on Saturday probably drops this position down to medium. But I’m stubborn and there’s always one commit right before these articles are published.
Defensive End ↓
Running Back ↓
Defensive Tackle ↑
Tight End ↑
With the addition of 2 verbal commits at defensive end that position drops down to medium need. Although thanks to the void in the middle of the roster (only Wardlow and Justin Ademilola across 2 classes) a case could be made for at least another body in 2019.
Running back is in a tough position. Nominally, 6 bodies will be at the position for 2019 although the last 4 recruits have all been non-blue chips. Denson has been squeezing every ounce of production out of the current players but surely he’d welcome a second 2019 commit if it was a Top 150 recruit?
Linebacker feels scary with the losses of Tranquill and Coney yet there are 6 bodies currently in the 2018-19 classes. Maybe another player would be nice.
It’s been a while since more than one quarterback was taken in a class. If Wimbush leaves 3 quarterbacks should be fine although a 4th would be ideal. Defensive tackle could lose 3 bodies total–and 2 others are injured right now–so a third member of the 2019 class is something I’d be interested in looking at. Tight end could lose 2 bodies and doesn’t have a commit right now.
Wide Receiver ↓
As things stand today, there could be 13 receivers on the roster next year. That is…too many. Which is why we are likely to see a scholarship or two opening up over the next 7 or 8 months.
Four more freshmen coming in on the offensive line keeps that train running.
A pair of Top 20 safeties are coming to South Bend next year with the whole two-deep intact for 2019, too. This is a good feeling for the future.