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Notre Dame Football

6 Thoughts on a Thursday

July 23, 2020

Notre Dame just landed a very good cornerback prospect in Chance Tucker‍ yesterday. He’s a polarizing prospect to some, though. Mostly because of his 3-star ranking on 247Sports and Rivals. (I have him graded out at 91 and a 4-star)

Tucker very well could have been a player who was set to take a leap with his ranking after attending camps/combines, 7 on 7 tournaments, or running more during track season. Like everyone else in the 2021 and 2022 cycles, he didn’t get that opportunity because of the pandemic.

I think Notre Dame did a great job with their evaluation of Tucker and have done so with several other prospects in the last few cycles who have seen their rankings surge in the right direction after the spring and summer.

Jayson Ademilola was considered a borderline 4-star prospect to some before he hit the camp circuit in 2017. He went from top-250 to a borderline top-50 prospect according to the industry. Jack Lamb was on the fringes of the top-300. Some standout performances in 7 on 7 and camps got up closer to the top-100.

Kyle Hamilton went from an off the radar recruit to low 4-star to one of the top safeties in his class because of The Opening. Michael Mayer’s climb was a little more steady, but he ultimately became a top-50 prospect by the end of the cycle because of his camp and postseason all-star practice performances. Shayne Simon’s play at the Army All-American practices saw him make a huge jump with his ranking as well. At the moment, it’s unclear if the postseason all-star games will happen if there won’t be a fall season for many players.

Camps, 7 on 7, and all-star games end up having a big impact on rankings. Rankings definitely have a big impact on how a recruiting class is viewed. I think we can definitively say that all of those evaluation opportunities helped how Notre Dame’s class was viewed in the previous three cycles.

That’s something worth remembering in a cycle where Notre Dame’s commitments won’t get the same chance to show they deserve a higher ranking.

There are players like Tucker and Ryan Barnes‍ who would have been candidates to earn a 4th star if there were camps this spring and summer. There are players like Blake Fisher‍ and Lorenzo Styles Jr.‍ who I believe could have made a run at a 5th star if they got to show out against top competition from outside of the midwest.

This cycle could be the one where rankings end up being way off due to the lack of evaluation opportunities and I think Notre Dame as well as some other programs might take a perception hit with their class because of that. But if we go by how they did with prospects in the last few classes and how a number of players improved their ranking as the cycle went on, I think it’s fair to say that they’ve earned some trust with their early evaluations.

The class might be ranked one way on signing day, whenever that will be, but could be looked at much more favorably a few years down the road.

2. On the other side of things with camps and the like is Isaiah Foskey. He was very highly ranked earlier in the process, a top-100 prospect, and saw his ranking slide after not doing well as a tight end at camps.

His final ranking, he dropped to a top-250 kid, now looks like it will be way off for the player he should become at defensive end.

Getting the position right for these prospects is another important part of the evaluation. Notre Dame saw a bright future at defensive end for Foskey and he sure looks like he can develop into an eventual pro at that spot.

3. It sounds like more than a few 2021 recruits are going to try and enroll early in college after it was announced that there will be no high school football in California until at least the spring.

I don’t know what this means for Tyler Buchner‍, but I think it would be wise for Notre Dame to encourage him to stick around for all of his senior year rather than report early to South Bend.

Buchner simply has not played enough. He has one full year of playing quarterback in high school and he needs the extra reps. He won’t get those at Notre Dame unless he is playing on Saturdays and is he going to be ready to start right away if he doesn’t get those necessary reps before he arrives? I don’t believe so. 

The best thing for his future is to get those 12-15 games in before he gets to college. I think it would be the smart move for him and, in the long run, for Notre Dame.

4. Matt put out a note on the season starting later than expected and that’s one of the reasons why conferences are going to conference-only schedules. They can buy time and adjust where it may be necessary without non-conference games at the beginning of the season.

Of course I would prefer that everything start on time, but I look at how things went the first few weeks at schools like Clemson and LSU with dozens of positive tests and the adjustment period that had to take place with everyone figuring things out when players returned to campus. Students returning are going to present another issue that could see a wave of positive cases at schools in August.

I think giving a bit of a buffer for another adjustment period is a good idea and definitely a better option than having to either postpone games after test results come in or start the season and then pause it almost immediately after.

I want to see football as soon as possible, but If more time helps there be a full season, I don’t see how anyone could be against that.

5. There are two ways to look at that news of them pushing the season back.

The first is that it’s the smart move to have the best chance to play uninterrupted this fall.

The second is that this is the next step before they push things back again to the spring, which could be the case if things don’t go well during that extra time.

Everyone is aware of the possibility of most of the players heading to the NFL Draft not playing if it’s in the spring. I could see as many as eight players electing to not play for the Irish.

It would be a weird situation for Notre Dame because just about every draft eligible player on the roster has a lot to prove this season, but I still don’t see many of those guys deciding to stay for the spring if it comes to that.

This is thinking way ahead, but if the NCAA won’t allow early enrollees to fill in the scholarship gaps, maybe they could allow immediate transfer exceptions for teams who get hit hard by players leaving early?

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and they play ball this fall, but most schools have to be preparing for this if things get moved to the spring.

6. With budget concerns in athletic departments all over the country, I wonder if Covid-19 is going to be what sparks the ultimate breakup with the haves from the have-nots in college football?

That could mean Power 5 schools breaking off and separating from the Group of 5. It may mean that the richest programs are going to break away from others within the Power 5 and form super conferences.

It wouldn’t be easily done under normal circumstances, but nothing is normal about what is going on right now.

Typically there are battles to keep the status quo or for some programs to fight to continue to be included with the blue-bloods. I bet that would happen with some school trying to not let a breakup happen. At the same time, I could see many schools finally deciding that this is the time that they can no longer compete because the pandemic took too much of a hit away from their budget.

We already see Olympic sports taking a hit and maybe taking a step back in football is the next logical step at some places. Football has always been in its own category in college sports. This could actually push football into its own category where traditional conferences exist for other sports, but not for football.

Wait, that sounds kind of familiar. It sounds a bit like (gasp), the Notre Dame model?!

So all of these schools might separate and become independent from their previous conferences in football-only? That doesn’t seem as likely as super conferences that look closer to a set up like the NFL with 32 teams with the excess from the Power 5 cut off from that.

Maybe all of the haters will get their wish and Notre Dame will join a conference. Some of those people might not like it that much that Notre Dame would be invited to the party and their program won’t be, though.

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