Some of you may remember that at this time a a year ago (to the date, actually) I put out a Way (Way) Too Early Guess at Notre Dame’s 2018 Recruiting Class. It projected big things for the Class of 2018, including a Top 10 finish in 247 Sports Composite Team Rankings. Well, I got that part right. But not a lot else.
Of the 24 recruits I predicted Notre Dame would sign in this recruiting cycle (I even missed on the number of commits!!), only 10 ended up actually signing with Notre Dame — and half of those were already committed at the time (hey, I did say it’d be pure luck if my prediction was even half right).
Here, I’m going to take a look at who I got right and where I went way, way wrong. Later on, probably within the next week or two, I’ll make a way-too-early guess at Notre Dame’s Recruiting Class of 2019 as well. Not because I think it’s good journalism or anything, but because ridiculously speculative pieces like this are actually really fun. And if I’m not having fun, what the hell am I part of the 18S crew for?
The Predicted Class
(Correct predictions are bolded, players in italics were committed at the time of the prediction)
QB — Phil Jurkovec
RB — Markese Stepp
WR — Amon-Ra St Brown, Josh Moore, Bryson Jackson, Micah Jones
OL — Ryan Hayes, John Dirksen, Tommy Brown, Wyatt Blake
DT — Jayson Ademilola, PJ Mustipher
DE — Justin Ademilola, Malik Vann, John Waggoner, Madison Norris
LB — Matt Bauer, Ovie Oghoufo, Cameron McGrone
CB — Houston Griffith, Kalon Gervin, Donald Johnson
S — Derrik Allen, Shayne Simon
What I Got Right
Like I said above, Notre Dame did end up signing a Top 10 class per the 247 Composite. The Griffith, Allen, and Simon projections ended up being really good ones. Simon ended up packing on 30 pounds of muscle over the past year, though, and he’s now an elite rover prospect. Micah Jones and John Dirksen were pretty safe picks at the time, and I actually had Jones as more of a WR/TE hybrid (although he seemed to gain some athleticism since then and he will stay at WR).
Where It Went Wrong
All sorts of stuff. Like I said, the numbers weren’t even right. 24 seemed like a high number at the time, but in reality it ended up being too few. The Irish landed a whopping 27(!!) players in the Class of 2018.
Markese Stepp was forced to decommit in the fall, or else the RB prediction would have been half-right. Instead, the Irish landed Jahmir Smith and, after a late push, C’Bo Flemister. Not as highly regarded by the services as Stepp, but good backs in their own rights.
The wide receiver board was a big huge mess at this point. I’m not surprised I missed big here. To my credit, I did have Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy in the “other names to watch” category (though Lenzy was listed at CB at the time).
There were no names at the time I felt super comfortable with at TE. Good thing solid players like Takacs and Tremble popped up a few months after my prediction came out.
Ryan Hayes had ND as his leader until a game-changing Michigan visit. Good prospect, but really lean player and would take some time to develop anyway. Brown and Blake never got offers.
Defensive tackle was already half figured out at this point with Jayson Ademilola in the fold already. I had projected Mustipher the Younger to enter the fold. Maybe the Irish would have landed him had they pushed. They liked where they were at with Ja’Mion Franklin, though.
Also ended up being WAY off with my DE prediction. The Irish tried to land other targets down the stretch, but it never happened. Malik Vann would have ended up at ND, but Elko reportedly wasn’t too high on him and his length (or lack thereof), and they decided to part ways. Waggoner and Norris never received offers — both would have probably been Irish if they had. Justin Ademilola ended up being the only guy in the class.
I did a pretty good job with linebacker, although much of the work was already done for me. The Irish already had Bauer and Ovie in the fold. They added Simon (who was listed as a safety at the time). McGrone likely would have been Irish if ND had decided to offer him sooner. They waited long enough for Michigan to get in on him, though. Notre Dame landed someone better in Lamb, anyway.
Gervin was an ND commit at one point — partial credit for that? Donald Johnson would have been Irish if the staff pushed for him. They offered, but it was never committable. The staff wasn’t a huge fan of his athleticism. But ND ended up with a very good haul at this position after striking out in 2017.
There weren’t a lot of safety targets on the public’s radar at this time last year. Allen was the obvious one, Simon was another but he ended up filling out enough to change positions. I don’t think anybody knew who Paul Moala was a year ago.
Will my prediction be more accurate in 2019?
Hell, I don’t know. Probably not. I’ll have fun with it, though.