Reviewing My Early Guess at the 2018 Recruiting Class

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

Not much.

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.

By |2018-05-09T22:25:33+00:00February 10th, 2018|Football, Recruiting|5 Comments

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Brendan Rhooks orpikTyler HackgbskRussell Knox Recent comment authors
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Russell Knox
Russell Knox

To paraphrase, “if I’m not having fun why am I even doing this?” Uh, the fantastic pay and benefits package?

Fun read, I’m looking forward to 2019’s predictions.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

H*ck yea. And it’s cool that he went back and actually showed what didn’t happen and why. Appreciate that big time as a reader. Write what you love and enjoy and it will show in the work.


Tyler, You’re a Hack journalist.

Brendan R

For those who might be wondering about DE… I think the staff wasn’t sold on Vann for two reasons. First, he’s the classic tweener – definitely not athletic enough to play linebacker, and short for DE as he *might* be his listed 6’1″. Second, he’s a workout warrior (I mean that as a compliment) and I think there was some sense that he may be near his ceiling already. This isn’t a kid who you would expect to make big strides in S&C. Keep in mind that Michigan State, who makes a living off finding underrated guys, also kicked the tires on him and didn’t pursue.

Waggoner visited ND in March, so the staff saw him in person and still decided not to offer. I don’t think they were blown away by his ability as a pass rusher, either, which is what we really need.

I agree that DE is a position of need, more so SDE than WDE but both spots regardless. I don’t think Vann or Waggoner was really going to change the calculus there, though. If you wonder about chasing Derrick Eason and not Vann, well, Eason is 6’5″. Vann isn’t. It’s not always as straightforward as a one-for-one swap.