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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Elston Recruiting Better than Ever at Notre Dame

June 18, 2019

Blake Fisher‍ (2021) and Michael Carmody‍ (2020) are just the two most recent blue-chip offensive linemen to commit to Notre Dame. They already had one committed in this cycle (Tosh Baker), have another commitment in the next (Greg Crippen‍), and they signed four who are already on campus from the previous cycle.

Things are rolling along as they should be with offensive line recruiting.

Jeff Quinn certainly deserves credit for these commitments and it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that he has done well because most offensive line coaches have had success recruiting 4 and 5-star prospects to Notre Dame. The three O-line coaches for Brian Kelly (Harry Hiestand, Ed Warriner, and Quinn) have combined to sign 23 of them and that doesn’t even count the four commitments who have yet to sign.

Overall 67.6%, roughly ⅔, of the O-linemen Notre Dame has signed under Brian Kelly were considered blue-chip prospects. That doesn’t make Baker, Carmody, Crippen, and Fisher any less significant because of their potential. But it closer to the norm than a hot streak.

If things go as expected with those players signing when the time comes and Quinn continues to do what he has done, there’s a real possibility that he could finish the ‘21 cycle batting 1.000 in regards to landing 4 or 5-stars at his position. Not too shabby for someone who more than a few people mocked as a “crony hire” for Kelly.

With that happening, it’s easy to forget the run Mike Elston is on with defensive line recruiting. He secured a commitment from 2021 4-star defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio‍ over the weekend. Adding him on top of Jordan Botelho‍ and Rylie Mills‍ in the current cycle to stack on top of six other consensus 4-star prospects who signed in the previous two classes is almost equally as impressive. (And that doesn’t include players like Justin Ademilola or Aidan Keanaaina‍ who I gave 4-star grades to on Irish Sports Daily)

There is some serious talent being assembled by Elston right now. He has been coaching the defensive line for Notre Dame for a long time now (seven of the last nine years) and was able to help bring in some big time athletes during that time. Looking at the defensive line recruiting as a whole, though, it was not nearly on the same level as the guys who line up across from them each practice.

45 D-linemen signed with the Irish from 2010-2019. 24 of them were 4 or 5-stars (53.3%).

That means 21 of the D-linemen were 3-stars or lower (math!).

Out of that group, only Prince Shembo, Jonathan Bonner, and Romeo Okwara were multi-year starters. (I included Shembo because he would be a Drop in the current scheme and consistently rushed the passer rather than played in coverage). Current projected starters Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa were both 3-stars as well (I had MTA graded as a 4-star). Tony Springmann (before his injury) and Kona Schwenke were rotation players. Ade Ogundeji is currently in the rotation at defensive end.

Out of the 24 who were 4 or 5-stars, nine have been multi-year starters and several more either started at some point in their career or have been/are key players in the rotation.

I’m sure you get the obvious point. The guys with more stars beside their name usually end up being better than the ones with less (minus certain exceptions). That’s why Rubio committing, along with the others I mentioned from this cycle, should have Notre Dame fans excited.

Even taking those who haven’t signed yet out of the equation, defensive line recruiting under Elston is the best it has been under Kelly’s watch. In back to back classes six of eight were 4-stars.

And it’s not just Elston from the defensive staff who has the recruiting arrow pointing up.

In the two full classes where Notre Dame has had a defensive coordinator who was legitimately invested in recruiting, linebacker and defensive back recruiting has been much better as well. During the entirety of the Kelly era in recruiting, 56 of 112 defenders who signed with Notre Dame were 4 or 5-stars (50%). (They hit on a 67.3% blue-chip rate on offense)

In the last two cycles 18 of the 26 prospects (69.2%) who have been signed to play defense for Notre Dame graded out as 4 or 5-stars. I realize it’s a much smaller sample size than the 10 classes Kelly has brought in, but when the difference is that big, it’s noteworthy.

39 players who have played for Kelly at Notre Dame have been taken in the NFL Draft. 33 of them (84.6%) were ranked as 4 or 5-star recruits. 21 of the 24 position players (87.5%) who made ISD’s top-25 players of the BK era were 4 or 5-star recruits. (Justin Yoon was a 3-star, but all specialists are unfairly ranked with position players. That is why he was excluded.)

Notre Dame is loading up with more blue-chip prospects on the defensive line and the defense as a whole at a rate better than at any previous time in the last decade. The future for this year’s Irish defense looks bright already. It should only get better in the years to come at the rate the staff is landing potential impact prospects.

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