Notre Dame Football

Future Game Wreckers: Stanford

June 6, 2017
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It's something we've talked about all off-season. Notre Dame needs to find a way to beat Stanford.

No one would have thought it would be this way fifteen years ago, but it's reality now. Stanford may never have the prestige, the fans, or the brand Notre Dame football has. Even without all of that, they've still managed to build a program that has consistently beat the Irish.

They are 6-2 head to head in the last eight meetings after losing the previous seven meetings before that. Since David Shaw took over in 2011 they are 64-17. The Irish by comparison are 51-26. They've been beating them on the field and it's translated to recruiting as well.

For Notre Dame to lose some recruits to Stanford is bad enough, but the insult to injury is that they have to face these players for the next four seasons. Brian Kelly and his staff missed out on some really good ones to the Cardinal in this class.

Christian McCaffrey isn't around anymore to be a game wrecker, but they're adding some other big time players that Notre Dame will have to combat this fall and beyond.

O-line is better than fine


Stanford landed two elite offensive tackles, one of whom Notre Dame fans should be very familiar with. 5 star Foster Sarell was a heartbreaker to lose to Stanford even if the Irish might have always been trailing his dream school. Unfortunately he'll likely be mauling people up front for them for at least the next three years. He's agile and mean and the kind of athlete that could potentially nullify a great edge rusher. He may even start as early as this fall even with Stanford returning two starting tackles.

What might keep him off the field is the other stud tackle in this class. I'm not sure why Notre Dame didn't pursue Walker Little, but he's another 5 star prospect. It would be shocking if these two weren't multi-year starters for Stanford. To put into perspective how big it was for Stanford to land them in the same class, these two would have an advantage over Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg at the same time in their development.

They also landed 3 star center prospect Drew Dalman. He might be the lowest rated player in their class, but he has the traits of a future starter for them. He'll take a few years to develop physically and then be a typical Stanford interior lineman.

Players the Irish wanted


Sarell isn't the only player Notre Dame wanted that ended up signing with Stanford. They landed Equanimeous' middle brother, Osiris St. Brown, after he chose to stay in California. He is probably the least talented athlete out of the three brothers, but he's one of the few wide receivers that I would describe as tenacious. His compete level is off the charts and he is going to be a solid player for them at the very least.

That one hurt a bit, but losing Paulson Adebo hurt much more. The long time Notre Dame commit flipped to them in January. He's a top 100 talent at cornerback and instead of locking up receivers for the Irish he'll be a big, physical corner for Stanford. They've got a terrific one already on their roster in Quenton Meeks and if he is to leave early for the NFL after this season, Adebo is probably someone that can step into Meeks' spot.

Athlete Connor Wedington and defensive lineman Ryan Johnson may not have seriously considered Notre Dame, but fans would have been thrilled if they ended up wearing blue and gold. Wedington is going to play running back and has the versatility to do some of the same things McCaffrey did for them in their offense.

Landing Johnson is a particular coup for Stanford given that he seemed like a lock to stay in the south. The Alabama native was predicted to land at Auburn for a long time and instead he'll be an SEC caliber lineman in Palo Alto. What stings about him going there is that if the Irish were rolling then this is the kind of student-athlete Notre Dame might have been able to take from that region. Instead they'll have to try and block him the next four years. He's not the next Solomon Thomas, but he should be a high end starter for them at end eventually.

The next great Stanford QB and TE


Shaw has been very fortunate at the quarterback position with Andrew Luck and the Kevin Hogan for five of his six seasons as head coach. The struggles at quarterback last season made them very beatable and I'm not sure they have it figured out for 2017 even if Keller Chryst is healthy (he tore his ACL in their bowl game).

The bad news is that it looks like they are going to have plenty of stability at the position in the future after signing 5 star Davis Mills out of Georgia. If Chryst or redshirt freshman KJ Costello aren't the answer for them, Mills is talented enough that he may start as a true freshman. It wouldn't surprise me if he was the starter by the end of the season when they host the Irish. Even if he's not, he'll be the starter one day and he has the potential to be a Luck type of star for them.

Mills will also have a big time tight end to throw the ball to. Colby Parkinson was by far the best tight end at The Opening Finals when I watched him last season. He couldn't be covered for most of the camp. He's right up there with Cole Kmet and Brock Wright in terms of long term potential.

The 2017 class was a tiny one for them, but the majority of the class look like players that the Notre Dame coaching staff will have to worry about over the next four years.
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