Scholarship Update: Winter is Coming

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
27 Sophomores
18 Juniors
20 Seniors
8 Graduates
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

Tier I

TE Alize Mack
OL Trevor Ruhland
WR Miles Boykin
LB Asmar Bilal
WR Chris Finke

Tier II

CB Shaun Crawford
DT Micah Dew-Treadway

Tier III

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.

***Scholarship Chart CLICK HERE***

2019 Recruiting Cycle Needs

High Need

Corner ↑

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. 

Medium Need

Defensive End ↓

Running Back ↓

Linebacker

Quarterback

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.

Low Need

Wide Receiver ↓

Offensive Line

Safety

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.

By |2018-10-14T18:44:12+00:00October 15th, 2018|Recruiting|32 Comments

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nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Great article. Thanks for pulling that together!

Honestly, it seems like those Tier II guys are really Tier 1.01 – they should be hoping that they come back. MDT is getting live action this year, and Crawford seems like a guy who can add significant value if he can stay healthy. Also, I bet he’d get another year after that, too, which would be good for when Vaughn and Pride (and maybe Love) leave at the same time.

From II podcast rumblings, it seems like Mack is likely to go, as is Love. Kareem seems like a question-mark, and, as you say, his staying is probably a bigger deal than even Love, which is saying something. The weirdest speculation they’ve had is that they were making noises like both Boykin and Claypool were possible-to-likely to leave. Boykin is just not an NFL guy – too slow – and Claypool is not an NFL wideout right now, though probably could carve out a special teams role. I’d hope they both come back, as returning wideout production is a surprisingly important variable in the S&P+ (see, e.g., ND 2016).

It is also super weird that Robertson and Ewell seem like a couple of the most expendable guys on the roster right now. Robertson looked really good as an early enrollee in spring a couple years ago! Ewell was super hyped up before last season, basically being treated as a must-play kind of guy given the 2017 depth chart. You never know, I guess.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Agreed on the 5th years. Seems like most of them come back. Or at least they’d have a serious role if they did come back.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

It feels like to me only 4 will; Finke, Boykin, Ruhland and Bilal.

Would they want Crawford back? He’s decent when he does play but can’t stay healthy and has several serious injuries on his chart. Bracy and Griffith might be getting ahead of Crawford and if Love comes back with Pride…I know a lot of people here are sweet on Crawford so it just may be me wondering but I don’t know he’s worth the risk that he can stay on the field, if he’s even needed at this point.

Mack seems like a guy ready who’s done his time and will be moving on. Does Dew-Treadway even play enough to want back? Maybe for depth it would be comforting to have a vet back since Tillery and Bonner are out of eligibility but with Hinish, MTA, Ademolia, etc DT looks OK as it is and MDT seems like just a warm body there.

Wimbush certainly has no need to be back.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

Crawfords a well liked guy who’s been through a lot. Like a LOT lot. If he wants to try to come back and make a run at the NFL, you gotta support him. I don’t think he’s really optional is he?

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

You certainly could be right, and maybe the risk/reward makes it favorable enough to have Crawford back and hold breath that he stays healthy, since he can contribute when he is available. But with the way they’re recruiting and pushing past 85 these past couple years, doesn’t look like there’s a lot of room for sentiment any longer.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

You just named the entirety of the DT depth for next year that have gotten meaningful snaps other than MDT. Given that, it seems to me that MDT would be a take if he wants to come back to be a backup.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

There’s the 3 younger DT’s ahead of MDT I named plus Franklin (red shirt) plus 2 true freshmen on the way for next year. And they’ve shown willingness to rotate in young linemen. MDT has 1 career tackle. Again, other than just being a warm body is he good enough to want to keep? Or just for pure depth’s sake? That could be a “yes” but for me it’s a question worth asking.

It seems to me they’re pretty comfortable in playing more packages of 3 or 4 DE’s in rush situation or 3 down linemen as it is with their “drop” guy, so I don’t see why take a Grad SR backup who has never really been important when he still wouldn’t be. It’s one thing to invite back Bonner who though pretty vanilla at least was starting caliber and capable – even some here thought that was maybe borderline and unnecessary…Taking back MDT is way below that level in terms of on field contributions.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Hooks who are you thinking are the three young lineman ahead of MDT besides incoming frosh?

It’s MTA and Ademiloa at one spot and Finish and Franklin at the other. That’s super thin. Two freshmen coming in but no guarantee they are ready to contribute. And no guarantee Franklin is ready to play either. It’s true MDT has been warm body only but I don’t know we may need that warm body.

So the 4 you mention and I agree if Crawford wants back he’s a lock. That’s 5.

Mack’s a pretty talented guy to pass on and MDT might be a necessity. So that’s how I got to “most” coming back.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

I hear ya, and maybe that logic makes sense. I’m not well versed enough to know if there’s any flexibility on what techniques they will put which players in, but I would put all of: MTA, Hinish, Ademilola over MDT right now…Then there’s Franklin and the 2 verbals (Lacey and Spears).

You’re right it might be a bit much to assume a freshman will be ready to play, but MDT hasn’t seen the field until this year and even then it’s been an extremely small amount of snaps and almost literally no career production (1 tackle, 1 assisted tackle). Is that a guy you really need to keep for a 5th year? It is not a deep position, but if one of the main guys gets hurt, I would just as well see a young player in there. Not like MDT is going to offer very much more anyways and the young player has more a ceiling and future to grow into.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Agree with all this. II guys seem to think Mack is very unlikely to want to stay an extra year, so he seems like an unlikely no. They also think Boykin will go pro, but I have a hard time believing that. My best guess for next year of the 5th years:

Ruhland
Boykin
Finke
Bilal
Crawford
MDT

So that gets you to “most” of the 5th years back. That puts us at 90 before juniors go pro and normal transfers, so that seems like there’s room for at least 2 more commits. No idea who those commits might be though.

That said, I don’t know if MDT would want to come back. As hooks is saying, he’d be a clear 4th on the depth chart, if not 5th. Unless he really loves the school or there’s a particular grad program he’s doing/interested in, he might just transfer elsewhere and play more.

MikeyB
MikeyB

Boykin might be a guy who has no way to improve his draft stock. He’s not going to get bigger or faster. He doesn’t need to work on improving his hands. Doesn’t seem to need a ton of work on route running. I’m sure he’ll have somebody more qualified than me giving him advice; but if he plays the rest of the season the way he has so far, I just don’t see a way for him to do much to improve his draft stock next season. In that case, if you can get picked in the first 5 rounds of the draft, I’d almost always advise a player to make the jump.

Orlok
Orlok

I’d pass on Crawford. That injury history is just too awful; we should be investing in the future when he gets his degree. I also agree on ditching MDT based on Hooks’s observations.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Crawford would be our starting nickelback next year and maybe a starting corner if Love goes pro. There is a 0% chance he isn’t offered a spot on the roster, even with his injury history (assuming no other off-the-field stuff by the time that happens). Being able to take another last-minute recruit definitely is not worth that.

tlndma
tlndma

Good job E.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Awesome stuff. Re-recruiting Love and Kareem already seems like the biggest looming question of the off-season. LB life without Coney and Tranquill also doesn’t sound very fun.

gambit1077
gambit1077

Paul Moala played against Pittsburgh, so he’s up to two games played and Kelly mentioned him by name as a freshman who is likely to see more playing time down the stretch, so I’d give him a more likely than not chance to burn his redshirt yet.

Shout out to Tariq Bracy who looked pretty good on Saturday. He wasn’t going to be confused with 2018 Troy Pride (who was sidelined as a game time decision with an ankle injury) but he was in the right place most of the time and made a couple tackles on sweeps fighting through blocks by his WR.

When we realized that we were going to lean on a true freshman corner for most of the game, frequently lined up next to true freshman nickelback Houston Griffith there was some concern that they’d be taken advantage of and they both played the best games of their careers so far.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Is Tranquill technically out of eligibility? He could apply for a 6th year right? Didn’t he miss two full years due to injury?

I’m not sure it matters. He’s married and probably ready to move on anyway.

I haven’t seen the first round love for Love. I still think both him and Kareem come back. At this point they may be 2nd/3rd round picks. Very very good players but not quite elite NFL guys at this point.

gambit1077
gambit1077

Tranquill was injured after 11 games his freshman year and after 3 games his sophomore year, both times tearing an ACL. He did receive a redshirt following his sophomore year injury, but I can’t imagine him being awarded a 6th year having participated in 11 games his freshman year.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Yea if that’s the case Gambit no way he’s elegible for a 6th year. I couldn’t remember the details.

MDIRISH
MDIRISH

For Love to be a 1st rounder he’ll have to miraculously improve on his expected 40 time.

MikeyB
MikeyB

If the only thing Love is missing is a strong 40 time, there’s really no reason for him to return. That’s not something that magically gets better. Take the 2nd/3rd round grade and jump to the NFL as soon as possible.

KG
KG

@I’m so sad to see Fertitta go after this week@

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

TBH Fertitta should probably cut a big old donation check the day he graduates for having taken up a scholarship spot these last four years given his family’s wealth and his relative lack of talent.

Aaron
Aaron

Am I the only person who wants Alize back? He’s talented and could be a leader on offense; he’s had a Coney-esque career as far as early flashes, then trouble, then very useful production.

Love would be wise to jump even as a Day 2 pick. If the measurables aren’t there it’s not like he’ll need a better resume after these last two seasons. Khalid could earn himself some coin with a productive 2019, though.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

I’d love to see Mack back, but he’s got little incentive to stay. Might as well jump now coming off a pretty decent season, and with his height and measurables he might make for an intriguing pro.

That said though, Kmet might prove to be even better, Wright is solid and there’s 2 freshmen who should be getting close to contributing next year. So they can afford the loss of Mack pretty easily and it reading between the liens, from program to player everyone seems to understand he’s wrapping up his life in college this year and has pretty much completed redemption, getting the degree and established himself as a good player.

Orlok
Orlok

Yeah, I’d totally take him back, but this appears like his NFL payoff season. Good for him! He really persevered here.

MikeyB
MikeyB

I’m interested to see how Donte Vaughn gets used the rest of the year. He’s been a mess pretty much any time he’s been on the field, and the staff seemed to finally be fed up with him against Pitt. If he’s benched the rest of the year in favor of true freshmen, could he be a guy looking to transfer? Obviously it’s tough to say after one game, but it’s never a good sign for your future prospects if a true freshman is taking your spot.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

Maybe so, but then holy crap are short on warm bodies at the position. He’s been barely warm, more like tepid. But you need at least that to run a practice.