Thursday, February 02, 2006

Recruiting Odds and Ends | by Mark

A smattering of tidbits that might be of interest...

The Polls are Closed. According to the four primary recruiting services, Notre Dame's class ranked:

3rd - Tom Lemming/CSTV
5th - ESPN
5th - Scout.com
8th - Rivals.com
This year is the first time ND has finished in Rivals Top 10 since 2000. Almost all agree that this is the best class that ND has signed in at least a decade, maybe more.

Grand Master Weis and the Furious Five. By my calculations, roughly 50 players or so from around the country were named to every major Top 100 list (ESPN, Rivals, Scout and Lemming). Five of those players signed with Notre Dame - Sam Young, James Aldridge, Konrad Reuland, Darrin Walls and Raeshon McNeil.

Numbers Game. So let's see here. Gatorade State Players of the Year: 9. US. Army All-Americans: 12. Member of a major Top 100 list: 9. Parade All-Americans: 5. USA Today 1st Team All-Americans: 2. State champions: 5. 1st Team All-State: 18. Players from Ohio: 3. Recruits that aren't a member of at least one of the above groups: 0.

See You In June. Just a quick reminder that although the rankings are fun, and do have a certain value in prediciting the future success of a program, there is an aspect of silliness to them that can't be overlooked. Players that have no chance of qualifying this year sent certain teams shooting up the rankings. Some players, like Will Yeatman for Notre Dame, were counted by some services as part of the recruiting class, while others were not.

It's been said before, but the flip side of Notre Dame's academic standards in relation to the recruiting process is that when it comes to the guys that signed letters of intent, what you see is what you get. They're all qualified. So when players start showing up on campus in June, after the hype has died down and all the focus is on the studs of 2007, pay attention to the number of players from other recruiting classes that don't end up where they signed amid the hoopla.

First Year Success. It's interesting to note that in comparing year one of their college careers, Weis outperformed Pete Carroll, both on the field and in recruiting:

Following the 2001 season, USC recruiting was ranked:
12th by Scout.com
13th by Rivals.com
Following 2005, Notre Dame recruiting was ranked:
5th by Scout.com
8th by Rivals.com
Also of note is how Weis's first full class compares to those that Mark Richt and Jim Tressel signed at Georgia and Ohio State after their first full year, which was followed the 2001 season:
Ohio State
3rd by Scout.com
5th by Rivals.com

Georgia
9th by Scout.com
3rd by Rivals.com
Now, if Weis can emulate the success of these guys on the field, particularly that of Tressel and Carroll in their second and third seasons...

The 800-Pound Pom Pom. Speaking of Carroll, it goes without saying that he has the USC football machine humming. Another strong finish has put the Trojans at the top of most recruiting lists. As Weis himself has stated, right now Carroll and USC are the bar in college football. But as with most things USC related, it seems like people have no sense of history or perspective.

"Nothing's ever been done like this in recruiting before!"

"Carroll is the best recruiter in the history of college football!"

Really? By todays modern attention span, it might seem like ancient history, but some little guy with a lisp named Holtz brought in four straight #1 classes between 1987 and 1990. The little bugger brought in so many big time running backs that future All American tailback Reggie Brooks had to move to cornerback just to get on the field and Dorsey Levens, he of the decade long career in the NFL, had to transfer because he had fallen down the depth chart.

And just like Holtz missed on some guys back then (anyone remember Andre Hastings?) Carroll missed this year, particularly along the offensive line.

But as the saying goes, in order to be the man, you have to beat the man. And that means getting the best of Carroll both on the field and in recruiting. I have a sneaking suspicion that Weis realizes this fact and is driven by it.

Encore, Encore! It's important to keep in mind that Tyrone Willingham also brought in a very good class after his first full year at Notre Dame. But the performance on the field and in recruiting plummeted in the aftermath. As a matter of fact, Weis took over the ND program after what was the worst two year stretch for the program, both on the field and off, in over forty years.

But that doesn't matter now. What matters is how Weis and company follow up this group. And early signs are excellent.