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What we learned: Notre Dame recruits reached new heights - Inside the Irish

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Five star security Peyton BowenNotre Dame’s chaotic week may have robbed Notre Dame of some recruiting momentum, but if there’s one time that intangible fiction disappears in recruiting, it’s National Signing Day, when the remainder of a class is signed, sealed and delivered.

His disengagement first in Oregon and eventually in Oklahoma may have given the impression that things have not changed for the Irish under Marcus Freeman, especially when combined with a pair of other disengagements over the past two weeks, but this is a judgment based on recency bias. Not to mention, he overlooks Notre Dame huddled against quarterback Kenny Minchey (Pittsburgh) turnovers, offensive lineman Chris Terek (Wisconsin) and receiver Caleb Smith (Texas Tech) last month.

Complain about Bowen or the running backs Jayden Limar (Oregon) or Dylan Edwards (Colorado) also complains about the process that allowed the Irish to clinch their quarterback and sneakiest receiver class in 2023.

This has always been part of the recruitment course. This is how these things went before the database terribly known as the transfer portal. This was the reality before name, image and likeness rights validated the payments that were already happening.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al golden hadn’t been a varsity coach for six years before arriving in South Bend after last year’s Super Bowl. His first round of recruiting amid chaos, one that saw him land 12 defensive rookies, reminded him of what he was doing in Miami and Temple a decade ago.

“I don’t know how different it is,” Golden said Wednesday. Obviously, the portal had a small impact, there’s no doubt about it. We’re not immune to recruiting irregularities or some of the sideshows that come with recruiting.”

Golden then launched into the usual praise coaches heap on Notre Dame when they first learned recruiting with that monogram on their chest was a little different; They tackle a different set of players, both on and off the pitch. Every high school in the country will host an Irish coach, regardless of location. Things are just a little different for coaches recruiting for Notre Dame. For them, there is change.

For the Irish, there has also been change. But he’s not one who was boosted by Bowen’s loss to two schools in one week. It’s not a change marked by a five-star defensive end Keon Keeley choose Alabama over Notre Dame. This would have been the case before NIL transactions, and will be so as long as Nick Saban located in Tuscaloosa.

the change is that, the Irish have just put together their best two-year recruitment cycle possibly ever.

Recruitment is best assessed in rolling two-year cycles, to minimize the downgrading impact of a kicker or long snapper on rankings and to better design full roster development, rather than emphasis put on one year. Additionally, on-the-ground results typically come in cycles, so a two-year vision also feeds into the upcoming development cycle.

Over the past two years, Notre Dame has signed 46 recruits, and 78.26 percent of them were four or five stars, otherwise known as “top-notch recruits.”

To put this in some quick context: the general consensus is that no team can be considered a viable national title contender without at least half of their roster made up of top-notch rookies. This metric alone reduces the national pool to 8-12 teams each pre-season. Alabama and Ohio state will be north of 80%; Notre Dame is usually between 50 and 60%.

All but five of this year’s 24 signatories are four stars, according to rivals.com, including a player in the top 300 at each position, a first program, according to Irish head coach Marcus Freeman. Many of them were Notre Dame’s longest engagements, like a linebacker Drake Bowen and defensive end Brennan Vernon signed up for over a year.

“Today is a day to celebrate because you have to keep making sure you have the right guys here,” Freeman said. That’s what we did. We have a great recruiting class, a great group of young men in many different positions who will continue to be the backbone of what Notre Dame football is all about.

Freeman underestimated him.

A single class under Brian Kelly or Charlie Weis had a higher blue chip ratio than this year’s 79.17 percent. The Class of 2008, led by Kyle Rudolph, Dayne Christ and Michael Floyd, posted a percentage of 82.61. Combined with the class of 2007 (jimmy clause, Armand Allenoffensive lineman Matt Romine), this two-year cycle had a first-order ratio of 78.05%, tenths of a percentage behind this last two-year grouping, but still behind it.

It was Wei’s peak. By the end of his tenure, only 20 of 41 recruits were blue chips in the 2009 and 2010 promotions.

Kelly’s peak came with a 75% mark in 2013, the class coinciding with Notre Dame’s run to the national championship game. The sandwich years that combined for a rating of exactly 50%, only 20 of the 40 signers as four or five stars.

The Irish haven’t enjoyed back-to-back recruiting classes close to this quality in 15 years.

If anything has changed around Notre Dame and recruiting, that’s it, don’t worry about “acquisition fees” or late disengagements. While Freeman wouldn’t delve into either concept on Wednesday, feigning some version of ignorance on the phrase “acquisition fee” for a while, they’re still recruiting standards.

“We don’t talk about that,” he said. Is this part of recruiting? Yes, because we discuss it. It’s a talking point, but in terms of acquisition costs, we’re not going to get into that. We can’t, because again, if that’s why you decide to come here, it’s hard to keep you here.

There’s hardly any difference between this conversation in 2022 and the bag men of previous decades. Yet it was now that Freeman led the way in this wave of recruiting.

“We need guys who understand the value of this place and what it will bring in the long run,” Freeman said. “Because you’re not just going to get that instant gratification some guys are looking for.”

Freeman points out to these players that instant payday gratification isn’t the only thing they shouldn’t expect at Notre Dame. This class will not contribute, for the most part, in 2023. Christian Gray may look like a day one prospect, but it would be a surprise to see a third freshman cornerback emerge in just two years. Receivers Rico Flores and Jaden’s big house may have been hailed as physical enough to play now, but both to do so would be a change for one Tommy Ree offense.

Looking at last year’s class, only three players made notable statistical contributions: cornerbacks Benjamin Morrison and jade mickeyand receiver Tobias Merriweather. Other players entered the field, namely junior linebackers Tuihalamaka and Jaylen Sneedbut their playing time came late and was not the deciding factor in any game.

The reward for this recruitment wave will be felt in 2024 or 2025, not 2023.

“When you bring these guys in, it’s going to take a little while to really be able to run over there at Notre Dame Stadium and have a huge impact on our program,” Freeman said. It takes time. Very few guys can come here and play and start right away.

Not even the best two-year recruiting cycle of the modern era at Notre Dame will change that.

2023: 19 of 24 recruits, 79.17%, No. 8 class overall, by rivals.com.
2022: 17 out of 22, 77.27%, No. 6 general class.
2021: 12 out of 27, 44.44%, No. 9
2020: 10 out of 17, 58.82%, No. 22
2019: 12 out of 22, 54.55%, No. 14
2018: 12 out of 27, 44.44%, No. 11
2017: 8 out of 21, 38.0%, No. 13
2016: 13 out of 23, 56.52%, No. 13
2015: 13 out of 24, 54.17%, No. 11
2014: 11 out of 23, 47.83%, No. 11
2013: 18 out of 24, 75%, No. 3
2012: 9 out of 17, 52.94%, No. 20
2011: 10 out of 23, 43.48%, No. ten
2010: 10 out of 23, 43.48%, No. 14
2009: 10 out of 18, 55.56%, No. 21
2008: 19 out of 23, 82.61%, No. 2
2007: 13 out of 18, 72.22%, No. 8
2006: 12 out of 28, 42.86%, No. 8

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