Feb 9, 2008

The State of Recruiting 2008

As the 2008 recruiting season has come to a hault, except for Pryor of course, I wanted to take a step back as I did last year and look at what the Fighting Irish have done for the past 5 years of recruiting. What states are we getting the most talent from? Is there a pattern? I hope to answer these questions and maybe a few more with this post.

I spoke last year about "pipeline" states. If you don't know what that means, let me explain quickly... The term pipeline state is a term used to describe a particular state(s) that send good talent to a particular University. Well, talent and sheer numbers. Not only do just the states get labeled as such, but certain cities, counties, and even certain high schools.

With Notre Dame, the pipeline institution is of vital importance. Notre Dame is a national university, and it recruits in the same manner. Looking at the roster of the Fighting Irish will show one just how diverse their football team is made of from top to bottom. The Irish have representatives from 26 states coast to coast. That is amazing when you think about it for a moment. Go and look at some other top programs and it will tell a different story. Of course, these top programs also just so happen to be in states where top talent is everywhere. This is where the battle for the recruits is at its apex.

On National Signing Day one of the talking heads from either ESPN or CSTV (I can't remember exactly whom) spoke about pipelines. They were saying that in today's day and age with the Internet and all of the national coverage of College Football, there was really no such thing as a pipeline anymore. FALSE. Pipelines are just as important today as they were 20 and 30 years ago. They are even MORE so for our beloved Fighting Irish. Notre Dame can go just about anywhere there is a top prospect and sign him as long as that players academics are sufficient for admission. How? Relationships with high school coaches, current players hailing from the same region as the prospect, and of course... a Notre Dame education are all factors in a players recruitment. Grabbing prospects from those same areas of good talent year in and year out help every year as the coaches head out on the trail and hand out offers. We are all more comfortable with like-minded people, and 17 and 18 year old kids are even more so.

Notre Dame is doing an outstanding job in their effort to claim certain states and area as pipelines. Coach Weis wanted to go back to the old days of locking down the kids in the Chicagoland area, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and in Ohio, not to mention in our own backyard. I believe he is doing exactly that right now.

Here is a map of where all of the current Notre Dame players for 2008 and the incoming freshman come from. (I have included Kuntz and Yeatman, as I have hope for their return too). The dots are an approximate location. Close enough, but not exactly accurate.

As it is fairly clear to see, there are indeed a great number of states represented, but there are also particular areas of concentration. South Florida and L.A. and San Diego are the densest areas outside of the midwest. There just so happens to be quite a few good players coming out of those regions. Once in the midwest, ND has locked them down from Chicago all the way across to New Jersey.

The following is a breakdown of the top states for sheer numbers and their average star rating for the players according to Scout.com. This is the Elite 8.

1. Florida

  • 8 players.
  • Average Star Rating......... 3.62
  • Most Notable......... Sam Young (5*), Armando Allen (4*), Ian Williams (3*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #1 (9/3.62)
  • The king is still Florida when it comes to the number of prospects and its high star average. What is alarming, is that Notre Dame whiffed on Florida recruits in 2008. ZERO. This is not a good thing. Players such as Carlton Thomas, Etienne Sabino, and Keith Wells were all offered by the Irish but chose to play elsewhere. What is also alarming, is that Sabino and Wells both committed to Ohio State. Distance and weather were obviously not a factor for those prospects and those are the kind of kids ND has to get. Not to mention they are both very talented. (Especially Sabino, 5* MLB). This is an area that must be addressed by Weis and it should be an interesting saga to watch. The Irish need to maintain its presence in Florida, and the Miami area in particular, as this is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation.

2. Ohio

  • 8 players.
  • A.S.R..........3.37
  • Most Notable......... Kyle Rudolph (5*), David Bruton (3*), Dan McCarthy (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #5 (6/3.0)
  • The Irish dipped into Ohio twice this year to bolster the states ranking. ND grabbed two outstanding prospects in D. McCarthy and Kyle Rudolph. Winning those battles against in state power, Ohio State, will keep paying dividends as the talent from that state is very good. Holtz loved Ohio and a lot of our former greats hailed from this state. Sometimes the star rankings are a little off with Ohio prospects. The Buckeyes have been winning a lot of football games with a roster loaded with 3 star talent from Ohio. The Irish are hoping to do the same.

3. California

  • 7 players.
  • A.S.R..........4.14
  • Most Notable......... Jimmy Clausen (5*), Dayne Crist (5*), Terrail Lambert (4*)
  • 2007 ranking- #3 (7/3.85)
  • Look at that average star rating. The Irish love California. This is why Notre Dame has been ending its seasons out in this state. It helps Weis and the staff get a leg up on the next years recruiting as well as try to cement the one for the current year. This state is so important to the Irish's recruiting efforts and it has been paying off. It will never be easy with Pete Carroll at U$C, and it will only get tougher for ND as UCLA's new head coach, Rick Neuheisal, is a recruiting machine himself. ND and Weis have been establishing very good relationships with particular schools, and that should help in its efforts in the future.

4. Illinois

  • 7 Players.
  • A.S.R..........3.71
  • Most Notable......... Robert Hughes (4*), Steve Filer (4*), Darius Flemming (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #4 (6/3.5)
  • The Irish are getting more and more top prospects from this state and in particular, the Chicagoland area. After losing out to Martez Wilson last year ("It wasn't about the money"- Wilson), Notre Dame stuck it to the Zooker by grabbing 3 of the best players in the state in Cwynar, Flemming, and Filer. ND might have gotten Goebel as well, but he committed to Ohio State after Omar Hunter made his commitment (can I even call it that?) to the Irish. Weis wanted more Chicago kids and he looks like he is following up on that with great results. The Irish need to keep hammering down this hotbed of talent and establish itself as the only school to go to for these kids. It will be interesting to see if the Demetrius Jones disaster will have any effect on the Chicago Public League kids.

5. Indiana

  • 7 Players.
  • A.S.R..........3.43
  • Most Notable......... James Aldridge (5*), Pat Kuntz (3*), Braxton Cave (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #6 (4/3.5)
  • Still a surprise. For as much slack as Indiana gets for being a basketball state, Notre Dame has been grabbing as much of the top talent from its home state as it can. The star rating did take a dip this year, but that is because Bemenderfer was rated as a 2 star prospect. I didn't count him as a member last year. But, now he is a legend in his own right. The Irish did very well at home again this year in grabbing 4 star prospects Braxton Cave and John Goodman. This is a good trend that will only help ND in their depth chart needs. After looking over some of the juniors, there is definitely 2 or 3 more in Indiana that ND could offer. A nice surprise.

6. Georgia

  • 4 Players.
  • A.S.R..........3.5
  • Most Notable......... Toryan Smith (3*), Paul Duncan (4*), Jamoris Slaughter (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- T#8 (3/3.33)
  • Notre Dame once again swooped down into Crunk Central and lured a top prospect away from the SEC schools. Talent from Georgia is a lot like Florida. A 3 star can be very underrated. What will be interesting to see, is if the addition of Tenuta to the staff will help in Georgia. Tenuta was never known as a good recruiter, but his reputation as a great coach is well known in that state and I'm sure he already has a few players in mind for 2009.

7. New Jersey

  • 4 Players.
  • A.S.R..........3.5
  • Most Notable......... Mike Ragone (4*), Duval Kamara (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #7 (4/3.5)
  • Weis talks about this state all the time. He likes it a lot. There is some really good talent there, but the Notre Dame did not land an elite kid there this year. There is no doubt that Weis will continue to pound on the doors in this state, but can he close? That will be the key as Rutgers, B.C., Florida State, and Florida love to come here as well.

8. Pennsylvania

  • 4 Players.
  • A.S.R..........3.5
  • Most Notable......... Darrin Walls (4*), Mike Turkovich (4*)
  • 2007 Ranking- #2 (7/3.57)
  • A big dip this year. Only one prospect from PA. committed to ND. Another reason was the transfer of Zach Frazer (4*) and Darrell Hand (3*) leaving the team for medical reasons. The Irish need to continue to work the western PA. region as it has proved to be on e of the best in the country along with one of the best for Notre Dame.

As we have seen, national recruiting is Notre Dames forte. It must continue to win the battles against the in state powers and convince the top prospects that the only helmet to wear, is the one covered in gold. Do that, and the Fighting Irish could bring home some crystal.


Bill said...

Excellent article. Keith Wells is not form FL. His home is Gainesville, GA, which is NE of Atlanta. Still, your point is right on.

SubwayDomer26 said...

My bad. I usually fact check about a dozen times, but must have let one slip. Thanks for reading Bill.

Anonymous said...

actually we got a really underrated player out of NJ in Hafis Williams

sir john said...

Really is a great job. I was wondering where they came from myself but thought I would have to wait till BGS put someting out. So you beat them to the punch Subway.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I enjoyed your post. I'm from Central PA and have watched ND get some decent talent from PA, but it's been awhile since the Irish have picked up PA talent like a Ricky Watters or Raghib Ismail. Stovall, Brockington, Thomas were decent but certainly not elite. I'm looking forward to the future of Western PA's Walls.

In the old days, ND line coach Joe Moore had strong PA connections. Though he's a PA guy, I don't think QB coach Ron Powlus has had much impact recruiting.

Anonymous said...

We need to add Texas to that list!