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Notre Dame Football

6 Thoughts on a Thursday

July 14, 2022

Nothing is perfect when it comes to projecting teams in college football. There are too many variables involved that can screw things up for more talented teams like injuries, poor coaching, and even plain bad luck.

While those other factors can have an impact on a team’s record, it’s undeniable that a metric like blue-chip ratio, first introduced by Bud Elliott, is a useful piece of information when it comes to assessing whether a team can win a national championship. Every team who has won a national title since 2011 has had a BCR, percentage of recruits in a four-year recruiting window, of over 50%. Only two of those teams, Clemson in 2016 and Florida State in 2013, have won a title with a BCR under 60%.

That 60% threshold is especially relevant for this year’s Notre Dame team. With Elliott’s updated BCR list for 2022, the Irish are at 62%. That’s the highest number they’ve had since the 2015 team (67%). The class Notre Dame just signed in December/February is why they made the jump from last year’s 55%.

I wouldn’t say this current Notre Dame team has the makings of a national championship squad despite adding a higher percentage of blue-chips. They would have to have a lot of things break their way and the schedule does them no favors with them having to get through Ohio State and Clemson, who have a BCR of 80% and 63% respectively. The Irish are also thin at some spots and could use some injury luck as well at least a few players making the leap to elite status on a national level this fall.

They are certainly headed in the right direction when it comes to talent. It just will be difficult to overcome some other things to achieve that ultimate goal.

There’s also the fact that Alabama (89%!) and Georgia (77%) along with OSU have gone to another level in recruiting that Notre Dame is working to match, but they aren’t there yet.

Yet is a good word to emphasize because with the way they are recruiting at the moment, their BCR will jump up again to 66% in 2023 if they sign everyone they have committed. They are likely to continue to land a high percentage of 4-stars to close things out as well so it could get to a number even higher than that.

Many of the most talented players on Notre Dame’s team in 2022 are underclassmen and it’s probably going to be similar in 2023 as well. Look out in 2024, though. If the Irish keep pace with what they’ve been doing then that team will have the most raw talent any Notre Dame squad has had in a long, long time with several ‘22 and ‘23 recruits ready to shine.

2. One interesting note in the piece that Elliott wrote is that Cincinnati was the first under 50% BCR team to make the College Football Playoff since 2017. There’s a couple of things of note about that.

The first is that it’s incredible what Luke Fickell and his staff did there when it comes to evaluation and development. They had six players selected in the first 109 picks in the most recent NFL Draft and they were not highly ranked recruits.

The second is that it’s more confirmation that any one holding on to the “stars don’t matter” argument with recruiting needs to lay that to bed. Teams have to sign more than 50% blue-chips just to get to the CFP. There may be a Cincinnati sprinkled in from time to time, but they will be the exception. 

3. One team who made a big jump in BCR was Texas A&M after their epic 2022 class. They are at 70% and climbing. Miami is at 55% and I’d expect that to go up as well.

Things are set up for Notre Dame to be the more talented team on paper by a significant margin in the majority of games they play over the next few seasons, but they will face Texas A&M and Miami in back to back seasons in 2024 and 2025. They’ll obviously face USC every year too and though they are currently below that 50% line, that won’t last long.

I know all three of those programs have underachieved significantly in recent years, but there is no denying the amount of talent they will put on the field against Notre Dame. They aren’t Ohio State or Clemson, but those could be three very challenging games with some tough matchups because the individual talent is going to be impressive.

Texas A&M signed ten players in my 2022 ISD Fab 50. USC signed two and has three committed on my 2023 Fab 50. Miami just landed two Fab 50 recruits and with the amount of NIL money being thrown around they are going to be in contention for more.

4. The Irish are stacking up 4-stars. That’s a great thing and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about that.

They aren’t stacking up a ton of those Fab 50 level players, though. They have edge Keon Keeley‍ and safety Peyton Bowen‍ who I have ranked in there at the moment, but the only prospect they have a good shot at landing is running back Jeremiyah Love‍. The others they were after are either committed to other programs ( Dante Moore‍, Carnell Tate‍, Samson Okunlola‍, etc) or are likely to end up at other programs unless something changes ( Samuel M'Pemba‍ and Caleb Downs‍).

This class is still very good, but more of those Fab 50 types are what’s missing. I do think there are at least a few current commits who could end up in the final version of the Fab 50 like offensive lineman Charles Jagusah‍, cornerback Christian Gray‍, and defensive tackle Brenan Vernon‍. We’ll have to see where things end up when all is said and done because I do think there’s a number of prospects they have committed who can rise up significantly with great senior seasons.

5. Speaking of rising in the rankings after a great senior season, that’s something to keep in mind with 2023 quarterbacks. Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees lost out on Moore, but if they land the next Jaxon Dart, Devin Brown, or CJ Stroud then no one will dwell on who they didn’t land.

Dart went from a low 3-star in August to finishing as a top-100 prospect. Brown was a 3-star in July and ended up in the top-50. Stroud wasn’t ranked in the top-500 in July and also finished in the top-50.

The chances of Notre Dame flipping a quarterback who is currently in the top-50 players in the country have to be pretty slim. They’ll have a better shot at landing someone who could be on the verge of making the leap as a senior.

Out of the players I wrote about earlier this week, I think former Florida State commit Chris Parson‍ and Pitt commit Kenny Minchey‍ have the best shot at being the next Dart/Brown/Stroud.

6. I know many Notre Dame fans are hoping CJ Carr‍ reclassifies to 2023 and that ends up solving a big problem with the class. It would also give them a lot more time to sign an elite 2024 quarterback rather than working from behind to attempt to sign a player who is way further along in the process. I’m sure Notre Dame would prefer that too.

I’m not sold on that being the best move for Carr or Notre Dame, even if it makes things a bit easier on the recruiting side of things. I also think that the staff would lose someone in 2024 who could be everything they wanted Moore to be in ‘23: a pied piper for other top recruits.

We’ve already seen Carr playing the role of recruiter with multiple trips to campus since his commitment. They probably aren’t landing tight end Jack Larsen‍ and wide receiver Cam Williams‍, at least not this early, if Carr isn’t committed. Having Carr as part of the class also helps a lot with others like Ryan Wingo‍ and Carr will be back on campus again to help recruit more top 2024 recruits who will be in town for a big visit weekend on July 26th.

He gets plenty of time to build relationships if he stays in the 2024 class. It will be difficult to have the same type of impact with a 2023 class that is mostly complete.

Carr should clearly make the decision that is best for him. I know a lot of people believe that the best thing for Notre Dame would be for him to reclassify. It might actually be better for recruiting if he ends up staying as a 2024 recruit.

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