Our last Notre Dame scholarship update came before spring ball and it’s been a busy several months changing the landscape and numbers game for the Irish. Let’s get right to the good stuff.
Out of Eligibility Following 2019
WR Chris Finke
WR Chase Claypool
OL Trevor Ruhland
DE Julian Okwara
DE Khalid Kareem
DE Jamir Jones
DE Daelin Hayes
LB Asmar Bilal
CB Donte Vaughn
CB Troy Pride
S Jalen Elliott
This list has shrunk by one as safety Devin Studstill elected to transfer to South Florida upon graduation following a bright start to his career as an early enrolled freshman who eventually faded into the background at his position.
There had been some talk that Trevor Ruhland might explore some transfer options following the spring but those seem to be put to rest. However, it’s not entirely clear how healthy he will be for the fall or if he’ll ultimately be put on medical scholarship. Kelly has been unusually pessimistic about this situation which is concerning. For the long-term numbers this has no impact but it potentially opens up a scholarship for a preferred walk-on for the 2019 season.
The Quest for 85
For the upcoming 2019-20 season the Fighting Irish appear to be down to the 85-man limit as Darnell Ewell is rumored to be taking a medical scholarship. We will wait until the roster if officially updated to remove Ewell but suffice to say this ends one of the more disappointing careers in recent memory. Nearly everyone had high hopes for his career–and even after a positive spring for his spot down the depth chart–his career is over after a much-too-short 2.5 years.
The 85 number does include both Marist Liufau and JD Bertrand both of whom are on campus now with the rest of the freshmen for the summer session and will be on scholarship for here on out. Apparently there was a plan in place for Liufau to attend Avon Old Farms and it’s nice that wasn’t needed.
2020-21 Academic Classes
13 Verbal Commits
87 Total Scholarships
*includes Darnell Ewell until officially official.
Since our last update the 2020 class has grown tremendously with verbals from wideout Jordan Johnson, running back Chris Tyree, offensive tackle Tosh Baker, pass rusher Jordan Botelho, defensive tackle Rylie Mills, offensive tackle Michael Carmody, corner Clarence Lewis, defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina, and long-snapper Alex Peitsch.
A pair of scholarships have come open as offensive lineman Luke Jones decided to transfer back home to Arkansas and corner Noah Boykin is in the transfer portal with a destination unknown.
It seems certain that the early signing period has truly changed the way programs are recruiting. I wasn’t a big fan of the idea but will admit that the entire country and recruits themselves seem a lot more adept at moving up their decision making process and thus far we really haven’t witnessed too many messy situations with late flipping, new offers in the 11th hour, and the like.
For our update on April 30, 2018, the Irish were sitting at 82 scholarships with 8 verbal commits. Today, they are perfectly in the same balance with 5 more verbals for 2020. Our recruiting writing room was discussing whether we’d see 5.5 more verbals this summer starting from June 9th and if recent history is any factor they will likely hit the over (there have been 2 verbals since).
Last year, during the months of May/June/July the Irish welcomed 9 verbal commits to get to a 17 player-class before fall camp began and I think the program will get to a similar place for 2020 before preparations begin for the football season. I still worry a little bit about settling early for talent just to have the bow on the class nearly tied as football season begins but Notre Dame has received verbals thus far from the bulk of their top talent and will likely be taking a lot more 3-stars to close out this class.
List of Eligible 2020 Grad Students
QB Ian Book
S Alohi Gilman
OL Liam Eichenberg
OL Tommy Kraemer
DE Ade Ogundeji
RB Tony Jones
LS John Shannon
CB Shawn Crawford
LB Jon Jones
WR Javon McKinley
Somehow, McKinley was able to remain on the team following his off-season suspension and looks like he will at least attempt to be in the mix at wideout this fall. McKinley will have eligibility remaining for 2020 and is a long shot to remain with the Irish.
Brian Kelly was adamant that Shawn Crawford will be on the roster (and healthy!) for 2019. What happens once the games begin is anyone’s guess. Crawford could potentially come back for 2020–but as we often say–staying in South Bend for 6 year is a really long time and won’t be an easy decision.
I’ll hold steady on 5 of these names max coming back for 2020. We also have to also factor in the possibility of Jamir Jones being able to redshirt and coming back for a 5th-year, as well. I’m not sure the pay off is worth it (he was half as productive on 60 fewer snaps compared to Ade Ogundeji and I’m not convinced Jones earns a two-deep spot in 2020 even with the impending personnel losses) but I’m sure there’s some benefit to having a graduate senior in the fold coming up with younger players.
2020 Recruiting Cycle Needs
The long-held consensus for this cycle was that 2020 would be a class of 20 or 21 players. In recent weeks (the opening of 3 scholarships helps!) there’s the belief that this cycle could get up to 22 players. Going up to that 22 size would put the program at 96 total scholarships.
Having only 5 graduate seniors return for 2020 gets that number down to 92, while Jamir Jones coming back boosts it back up to 93 overall. If Ewell is done it’s down to 92 scholarships. Being 7 over the limit is pretty normal heading into the New Year–you can pretty much count on 2-3 transfers from the underclassmen, a medical scholarship, a dismissal, and maybe a transfer after graduating early.
Let’s say there are 8 spots remaining, the consensus seems to be that half of those will go to the secondary. Two more corners and safeties would seem prudent for the program.
Two more receivers seem to be coming down the pipeline, as well. The Irish should be losing a minimum of 3 wideouts after 2019 (Claypool, Finke, McKinley) and should replace those numbers in kind.
With a couple more spots possible we’ll likely see Notre Dame sit back and wait to fill those scholarships. Adding a linebacker is probably a good idea although the staff doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to do that. Another pass rusher certainly wouldn’t hurt particularly if you’re skeptical a 6’7″ German recruit might not pan out or at least is going to take several years to get on the field.