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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

The 2021 ISD Fab 50

March 2, 2020

It’s important to see where Notre Dame stands in the national recruiting picture, which is exactly why we decided to create the ISD Fab 50 a few years ago.

It’s my ranking of the top-50 prospects in the country and the goal of it is to show how the Irish measure up to the blue-blood programs they are competing against every year.

Looking at this initial 2021 ISD Fab 50, I think we see some ways where Notre Dame is closing the gap with the top programs in college football and also some ways where Notre Dame is still lagging behind.

The Irish have three commitments in this top-50 (Blake Fisher‍, Tyler Buchner‍, and Lorenzo Styles Jr.‍). That’s tied with Clemson and it puts Notre Dame in good company with Ohio State, Georgia, and Alabama as the only programs to have multiple commitments.

That’s a great indication of what Notre Dame has done with this class so far and they have a shot at landing a few more. Their best chance to do so would be on the offensive line with Nolan Rucci‍(23), Wyatt Milum‍ (48) and Garrett Dellinger‍ (50).

Looking at it from a raw numbers perspective, that’s significant progress if the Irish can end up with five or six Fab 50 prospects.

On the other hand, they aren’t obvious contenders for any of the other prospects who don’t play offensive line. They have offered 29 of the 50, but would need to get some of them on campus this spring to have a legitimate shot at landing any of them. Linebacker Smael Mondon‍ (22) and cornerback Jordan Hancock‍ (44) are two examples of elite prospects at high priority positions for the Irish this cycle, but we can’t consider them contenders to land either unless they visit soon.

We’ll see how things play out over the next few months with some of the top targets for Notre Dame, but we should have a good idea where things stand with some of those key O-line prospects in a few weeks.

Here’s the 2021 ISD Fab 50

- The good news is that this year is better than the last couple of classes in terms of talent from the Midwest. I had six from when I only had three in the final 2020 Fab 50 in the last cycle.

Notre Dame has landed two commitments from those six already (Fisher and Styles) and could add Dellinger as well.

- Each recruiting cycle is different with some positions being incredibly deep and others not as strong in certain years. The 2021 class is unique one in many ways because the offensive line, quarterback, and wide receiver groups are loaded while the cornerback and running back groups are a bit lacking compared to previous classes.

I have 10 offensive linemen ranked in the Fab 50. I have 17 in my top-100 prospects in this class. In a year where the O-line is a need position for the Irish, they are overflowing with outstanding options.

There are six quarterbacks in the Fab 50 and five more in my top-100. Rankings are always fluid and players can rise or drop throughout the process, but this is the most elite-level talent I have evaluated at quarterback in the last five years.

I have nine receivers, possibly 10 if Billy Bowman Jr‍ (38) ends up playing in the slot at Texas.

I only have three corners and two running backs in the Fab 50, though.

That’s the way it goes in some cycles. It’s not that there aren’t good prospects at those positions, but I simply don’t see as many great ones as I have in other classes.

- I think it’s worth mentioning a couple of players I am lower on than other sites.

Korey Foreman‍ (9) is a great prospect, but I don’t view him in the same category as some other top D-line prospects in recent years. That’s my feeling after seeing him in person and evaluating his junior film. He certainly plays the game with violence and has some shock in his hands, but I don’t see the same level of twitch that would make me want to put him in the top two or three in the cycle.

Ohio State commit Jack Sawyer‍ (1) is a lot more advanced with his technique and more consistent with his first step.

I also wanted to make note of Notre Dame running back target Will Shipley‍ here. I like Shipley quite a bit as a prospect and he’s an elite athlete, but I have him outside of the Fab 50 at 73 (247Sports, Rivals, and ESPN all have him in their top-50).

It’s not as much about liking other backs better than him. I have Shipley as the fourth best back in the class ahead of Donovan Edwards. It’s more about me viewing some receivers and O-linemen as better overall prospects.

- There are five prospects who made the Fab 50 that I have ranked quite a bit higher than some others.

Alabama linebacker commit Deontae Lawson‍ (22) is 46th according to 247Sports, but is not in the top-200 according to Rivals and ESPN. I loved his film. He has the potential to play inside or outside with outstanding recognition skills and great potential as a pass rusher. He’s similar to a player they signed in the last cycle, Drew Sanders‍, in my opinion.

I’m on the same page as 247Sports with cornerback Nyland Green‍ (30) as well. They have him ranked 27th, but he’s outside of the top-100 on Rivals and ESPN. In a year where the corners aren’t great, he’s someone who has the raw tools to excel in press or off coverage. He shows great range playing as a deep safety as well.

Safety Ahmari Harvey‍ (39) is not a top-100 prospect on any of those sites, but he has big time ball skills and tackles above his weight class. It’s rare to find potential single high safeties these days and I believe Harvey has the potential to play there and be special.

Wide receiver Destyn Pazon‍ (40) is not a top-100 prospect for 247 or Rivals. He’s 83rd for ESPN. I saw a guy who is explosive out of his breaks, tracks it extremely well, and has number one receiver traits.

The biggest difference between me and those sites with a single prospect is defensive end Joshua Robinson‍ (49). He’s a 3-star prospect on 247 and Rivals. He’s not even ranked yet by ESPN. I don’t know why that is, but he jumped off the screen for me with his get off, ability to set the edge, his understanding of blocking schemes, and his overall length and athleticism.

He’s thin right now and needs to add weight, but I love his potential to as a weak side end at the college level.

- Notre Dame commits who just missed the cut: wide receiver Deion Colzie‍ (69) and defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio‍ (76). I don’t really love the defensive tackle group this cycle and Rubio could end up moving up quite a bit.

- Some other targets who missed the cut: wide receiver Donte Thornton Jr.‍ (54), running back Corey Kiner‍ (57), athlete Michael Trigg‍ (60), offensive tackle Reuben Fatheree‍ (65), offensive tackle Landon Tengwall‍ (71), running back Will Shipley‍ (73), offensive tackle Tristan Leigh‍ (77), running back Donovan Edwards‍ (81), athlete Brock Bowers‍ (83), cornerback Ishmael Ibraheem‍ (85), and wide receiver Cristian Dixon‍ (92).

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