Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ND Recruiting: A Ten Year Recap (Part IV)

The recap rolls on with the fourth of five installments. For a recap of the class of '02 and '03 along with a layout of the rating system refer to Day #1. Day #2 and Day #3 are also available.

Today we examine the rising juniors and seniors that arrived on campus in the summers of '08 and '09. You'll notice an uptick in the contribution percentage; the 65% and 61% lag behind only the class of '03 (71%) and '07 (66%) since 2002.

What does that mean? We hope it will translate to better results, but it should equal better depth as these classes mature as upperclassmen. These are the first two classes in this 10-year period we're examining to have more than 60% of its players make any sort of impact (and obviously there's still plenty of time for more to emerge).

Class of 2008

Rivals Ranking:
Number of Recruits: 23
5-Stars: 3
4-Stars: 16
3-Stars: 4
2-Stars: 0
Arrival Score: 68 (#2 since 2002)

Superstars: 3
Major Contributors: 6
Contributors: 6
Non-Descript/Liability: 7
Transfers/Never Played: 1
Contribution Pct.: 65%
Exit Score: 48

Cat 1 – Floyd, Rudolph, T. Robinson
Cat 2 – Blanton, Fleming, E. Johnson, Lewis-Moore, Slaughter, Cave
Cat 3 – Crist, Cwynar, Filer, Goodman, H. Williams, Gray
Cat 4 – McDonald, Walker, Posluszny, Newman, McCarthy, Golic, Cleeland
Cat 5 – Fauria

According to the recruiting services, this was the highest rated class Notre Dame inked since Lou Holtz's 1995 off-season campaign. It fell just short of the Class of 2006 in terms of Arrival Score in this metric (69 to 68), but that's only because the '06 group had 10 more players than this one. What made this far and away Weis' most impressive recruiting effort was the fact it came on the heels of a 3-9 disaster that fall. His plan to restock the talent in South Bend was uninterrupted by the lack of success on the field.

Headlining the class was a trio of five-star offensive studs: wide receiver Michael Floyd, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and quarterback Dayne Crist. The first two stepped in right away as freshman and seized starting roles while Crist was groomed as the heir apparent to Jimmy Clausen. There most likely will end up being five players who earn the title four year starters when all is said and done (Floyd, Rudolph, T. Robinson, E. Johnson, and Lewis-Moore).

This was a surprisingly well rounded class for how small it was. It contained a potential three-year starter at quarterback, two potential first round picks in the receiving core, two four-year starters on the defensive line (and solid interior depth with Cwynar and Williams), and major contributors in the secondary. By the time they leave campus they may have made a serious run at the Class of 2003 for the most productive group of the last ten years.

Class of 2009

Rivals Ranking: #21
Number of Recruits: 18
5-Stars: 1
4-Stars: 9
3-Stars: 5
2-Stars: 3
Arrival Score: 44 (#8 since 2002)

Superstars: 5
Major Contributors: 5
Contributors: 3
Non-Descript/Liability: 3
Transfers/Never Played: 4
Contribution Pct.: 61%
Current Score: 32

Cat 1 – Te’o, Riddick, Martin
Cat 2 – Watt, Calabrese, Eifert, Motta, Wood
Cat 3 – Toma, Fox, Tausch
Cat 4 – Stockton, Cowart, Turk
Cat 5 – Evans, Banks, Bullard, Golic

This class is where it gets a bit tricky in terms of "The Reality" column because they're only rising juniors, but there have still been plenty of contributions from the 2009 haul during their two years on-campus.

This was not nearly as highly rated a class as Weis' previous three efforts, but it provided the most thrilling victory of all when Hawaiian superstar Manti Te'o selected Notre Dame over Southern Cal in front of a national audience on signing day. The monumental recruiting upset was the culmination of an extraordinary effort from Weis and his entire staff. In two short years Te'o has gone a long way in living up to the monumental hype that accompanied him from the Pacific. He's established himself as one of the country's elite linebackers and thrived in a leadership role on the defense.

Two other players that fall into Category #1 (and perhaps we're projecting a bit here) are running back/slot receiver Theo Riddick and left tackle Zach Martin. Riddick is a gamebreaker no matter where he lines up. In the end the coaching will determine whether he does his damage at running back or receiver. He began to flourish in the slot position after a bumpy start to the season, but he's poised to be a superstar no matter where he lands. Martin was the most consistent offensive lineman as a redshirt freshman and seems ready to follow in Sam Young's footsteps as a four years starter (albeit a more consistent one than Young based on early returns).

This was yet another class that was a little low on numbers. There's plenty of time for players to emerge but already 11 of the 19 have made a contribution. When this group writes its final chapter there's a good chance that another 3-4 players could bump up into the top tier which speaks to the potential this team has moving forward over the next couple years.


  1. Confused...the class of '08 had 23 recruits, not 18. It was the class of '09 that had 18 recruits.

  2. Typo fixed. I appreciate the help Piper.

  3. in the 2009 class you slot the following in cat 4: Cat 4 – Stockton, Cowart, Turk

    Don't Cowart and Turk start for the special teams?

    You may not think they contribute a lot since they are primarily special teams but they do start as much or more than Tausch who didn't play much last year.

    I would argue they belong in cat 3.

  4. You could definitely make that argument. I've been surprised at a lack of people disagreeing with players' placements in the chart.

    In my mind I just have a really hard time putting someone like Cowart in a contributor role since he does something a walk-on normally does with no acclaim. He doesn't even handle short snaps, only punts.

    Turk has a better argument since he's started for a season plus, but frankly his inability to consistently kick a ball more than 35 yards in the air--especially in potential momentum swinging situations--led to me launch multiple expletives/pillows/remotes/animals at my television.

    Because of that, the Shankopotomus stays in Cat 4 in my eyes.

  5. And in terms of Tausch, he set a record for consecutive field goals made in '09 which is why I'd say he's worthy of a Cat 3 rating.