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NDNation.com Staff: Scott Engler - Michael Cash - John Vannie - Mike Coffey - Kayo - Bacchus

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recruiting Surprises and Disappointments

posted by Scott Engler
Manti Te'o's commitment to Notre Dame added some last minute lipstick to what was otherwise a very disappointing class for the Irish. In the boom-bust cycle that afflicts Irish recruiting by position, Notre Dame busted at the Defensive End, Quarterback and Defensive Back positions.

As we've seen from past history, these misses often come back to haunt the Irish. Ty's negligent recruiting on the Offensive Line and in overall talent set the stage for Notre Dame's historically bad '07 season. Weis's early misses on the Defensive Line and Linebacker with Minter leading the defense forced us to play freshmen last year and have left us devoid of senior leadership at those positions heading into '09.

You cannot afford off years in recruiting simply because kids mature physically and mentally at unpredictable rates so you need to keep the pipeline full. Even the success rate for five-star recruits is low. The hit rate for four-star recruits is considerably lower and three-star recruits had better study hard while in school. Don't get me wrong, there are many two-star recruits who do pan out, but that's simply a function of numbers and the fact that some kids don't really grow until they get to college and can be tough to evaluate. The point is, if you leave holes on a team in any year, you can't count on young recruits to step in and play at a championship level.

And outside of a few players, this recruiting class was not the stuff national championships are made of. On the heels of a number one class, this year's shortfalls can be offset if the Irish pull in another top 3 class in '10 which appears likely if Weis can return this team to its '05 form. Part of this year's failure was due to the effort the staff had to put into holding last year's class together. The Irish have laid the groundwork for a '10 class, that on paper, could be better than last year's number one class. Chris Martin is a Te'o level recruit. Christian Lombard is a five-star recruit. Anthony Barr, SanTrel Henderson, CJ Fiedorwicz and Justin McCay are just a few of the other tier one recruits that Notre Dame has either a good or great shot at. Much will depend on Notre Dame's performance next season, in fact for Weis, everything depends upon it.

This year's class wasn't great, but for perspective it was better than Ty's last two classes.... combined. That's how big the hole was that Notre Dame is currently climbing out from. This class doesn't just have more four and five-star recruits than either of those classes, it has more than the number of four and five-star recruits as both of those classes combined.

More than proving how good this class is, it highlights just how far we had fallen. At a high level, Notre Dame definitely recruited some great talent and our linebacker recruiting was better than any team in the country.

Here's a quick breakdown of thoughts and thoughts on other's thoughts on our top recruits.

Impact Recruits (3)

Te'o, Manti LB 6-2 225 Laie, HI (Punahou) - Te'o is the highest ranked defensive player Notre Dame has recruited since Kory Minor. Not only is he the USA Defensive Player of the Year, but he dominated in practice for the Under Armour All-American game. He is physically ready to play and has the speed, instincts and the attitude to become a Zorich-level leader down the road. He's a true difference-making recruit. More importantly he wears a backward cocked hat, does the ass bump and plays the hat game, all things ACross looks for in a top recruit.

Stockton, Tyler DL 6-1 290 Linwood, NJ (Hun School) - After Te'o, Stockton was the steal of this class. Notre Dame got on him early and locked him in as an early entry. ESPN ranked him as the defensive tackle with the most upside: "There are some big men who can get moving in this class, but Stockton seems consistently to explode out of his stance. His game has many strong points, but it all starts with his ability to get off the ball. Because he can get moving so quickly, he can beat blockers to the punch and knock them back. He does a good job with his hands and staying low, and he is tough to block because he is so explosive. On film you can actually see him sometimes violently snap his opponents' heads back because he gets into them with excellent quickness and power. This ability makes him tough against the run and pass. The nation's No. 2 defensive tackle is a great pickup for Notre Dame, and he should bring some real explosiveness to the interior of the Irish defensive front."

"I'm nasty and my motor never stops," Stockton says. "This is the sport I love to play. I told my parents in the sixth grade they weren't going to have to pay for college."

Watt, Chris OL 6-3 280 Glen Ellyn, IL (Glenbard West) - Chris Watt gives the Irish offensive line a nasty, tough interior lineman who punishes when he blocks downhill. Rivals #2 rated offensive lineman and Scout's #1 rated guard, he's a kid who could see early playing time and was a critical recruit given the age of our current offensive line. ESPN called him "a special player: an old-school tough guy who gives 100 percent every snap while playing two ways. With his athleticism and motor, he's sure to be a major contributor at the next level."

Could Play a Role in 2009 (4)

Evans, Shaquelle WR 6-1 203 Inglewood, CA (Inglewood) - Anyone expecting a Michael Floyd or Golden Tate will be disappointed, but not by much. Evans is a very good athlete with light feet and a pretty polished receiver coming out of High School. Because of his feet and elusiveness, he could find a role as a slot receiver.

Martin, Zach OL 6-5 270 Indianapolis, IN (Bishop Chatard) - Martin is a very important recruit for Notre Dame and underrated by most services. Just a three star recruit on Scout, Martin showed very good feet at the Under Armour All-American game. Martin earned the start and played very well against top competition. His versatility will be much needed as the Irish missed out on landing a true left tackle.

Motta, Zeke LB 6-2 207 Vero Beach, FL (Vero Beach) - Motta, Te'o and Filer are three of the most athletic linebacker's Notre Dame's recruited in years. Even back to the Lou days we struggled to land athletic linebackers. Motta, a converted safety, really fills the hole quickly with power. He's another recruit I expect to see on the field this fall.

Wood, Cierre RB 6-0 192 Oxnard, CA (Santa Clara) - Wood put up great numbers again this season, but didn't fare as well when he went against the best in the Army All-American game. He's a great player in space with a break your back change of the direction and fantastic acceleration. Those skills translate best into the return game and possibly into the wide receiver role where he could add a YAC element to complement our outside threats.
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Blogger The Rock said...


2/11/2009 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty frickin' pessimistic. Especially the leader about "lipstick on a very dissappointing class." I think you are way too critical here.

We've got two redshirt freshman, one a 5-star. We didn't "bust" at QB, we passed on it. It would've been nice to pick up an o-lineman and def. end, but this class is great filler for what we didn't have: at linebackers, defensive tackle, punter, off. tackle, kicker. And at what we had: receiver, running back, off. guard. Between this class and the redshirts, we have about 30 guys with freshman eligibility. We only have about 9 graduating this year, and 15 next year. We need to save a few spots for next years class too.

2/11/2009 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock...well put.

While I do agree with most of your words...and I don't mean this as a slight to you, but more of just in general...when can we not use TY in the equation anymore?

Yeah, we all know he was an awful coach and an even worse recruiter at the end of his tenure, but he did haul in BQ, Shark, VA and Trevor...granted, he didnt do much with him...

I guess my point is...When does he stop being a scapegoat and when does CW start becoming accountable.

I am going to give CW the benefit of the doubt, and God, I hope he turns ND around and the signs are pointing in that direction...But, and I think all of NDNation will agree...THIS...THIS...THIS my friends in THE YEAR..that we have to




2/11/2009 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Disagree with assessment at the QB position.

No decent QB is going to go to a team who signed a top 5 QB in each of the preceeding 2 years. They want playing time after a max. of 2 years riding the pine.

Now, if we don't recruit a top 5 QB this year, then your comment will be valid.


2/12/2009 07:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock, who pissed in your cheerios this morning?

While the 2009 isn't large in numbers, it is absurdly good in quality. We have the 9th ranked class by "star" value, with an average of 3.56 stars. And, that value is lower than it should be because we took a kicker, punter, and long snapper, who despite being in the top 1-2 at their position, will only be ranked *** at best.

So, yes, we missed out on some positions, but to say the class is a disappointment, is well...a disappointment. I have come to expect more from you than this particular blog entry.



2/12/2009 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did someone p!ss in your cheerios this morning? Our class, while having holes, is ranked 9th by "star" value with an average of 3.56 "stars". And this figure is lowered by the fact that we took a kicker, punter, and long snapper (who despite being ranked 1-2 at their respective position will only be a ** or *** player).

I would much rather have a smaller class who can play than a bunch of filler players who can't.

So, while we do have some holes, to say the class is a disappointment is well....a disappointment.



2/12/2009 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger jim / Redondo Beach said...

...I think Cierre Wood will end up in the defensive backfield...

2/12/2009 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger diamondjim4274 said...

I would hate to to see C. Wood as a WR. If he can run in space,has great moves and speed, he should be used as a back in screens, put in motion for quick hitch passes and tosses to get to the outside. Give him #12 and he might even resemble a great player named "Ricky Watters". He has the identical height and weight.

2/12/2009 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The true TEST will be how these recruits perform on Saturday.


2/12/2009 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous tednict said...

Are you certain ND had a priority for securing a QB in the class that just signed? I don't recall ever reading that was one of their goals. For that reason, I disagree with your statement that the recruiting for a QB in the Class of '09 was a bust.

2/12/2009 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wood only got three carries in the Army game and got hit in the backfield on all three. Hardly a reason to downgrade him.

2/12/2009 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you are looking at the incoming recruiting class correctly. Viewed from the perspective of player ranking this class is the 8th best in the nation. Add to that the factor of several specialist players - 3 to be precise and they move up to 6th or 7th. Gutsmo

2/12/2009 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine yourself as a 17 or 18 year old high school kid who has just signed his letter of intent to go to ND. You're very excited because you're getting to go to the school of your dreams. You get on the internet to check out your new school's fan websites and you read "... what was otherwise a very disappointing class for the Irish. In the boom-bust cycle that afflicts Irish recruiting by position, Notre Dame busted at the Defensive End, Quarterback and Defensive Back positions" You can couch comments like that however you'd like, but in the end it's nothing more than a demoralizing slap at a high school kid.

I'm not saying this site should be rah, rah ND all the time. I think it's good to cast a critical eye at the coaching staff. I also don't have a problem being critical of the players - when their performance warrants it. However, to label a kid a disappointment before he even steps foot on campus is a poor reflection of the ND commnuity and its fans.

I agree that poor recruiting efforts have left voids in the past - most notably from the Willingham era. Nonetheless, complaining about the quality of the class isn't going to change anything. We can't trade in the "lesser players". Why not just welcome them to ND and say good luck?

2/12/2009 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Rock said...

I've seen this movie before. It's better than the Ty year classes, but otherwise, not at the quality we need to be at. We have a top 10 star ranking (which is okay, not great,) but are very low on numbers.

I've played the justification game before and it just doesn't work out.

We have too many misses in this class to qualify as anything but disappointing overall.

I know the staff was disappointed, so that viewpoint is hardly a stretch.

2/12/2009 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous tednict said...

Rock, since you seem to have all of the answers regarding recruiting, how do you know the coaches were disappointed? Yes, our Irish lost out on some recruits, but just how do you expect Weis or any coach to get every 18 year old so sign with ND? It isn't going to happen. You have no idea on what is involved in appealing to that age group to get them to always choose ND over the other programs.

2/12/2009 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger dspeters5 said...

Rocko, lighten up,baby. You got stud players in this class. We did not need a Quarterback this year. Next year, YES! Chris Bonds would have been nice, but we have Ethan Johnson, Darius Fleming and Sean Cwynar, who are all sophomores. This is a numbers game for recruits and coaches. Important number for recruits is playing time. USC has been losing players because there is no playing time. Carroll looks good with four and five stars at almost every position and backups. But they just sit on his bench. Saban will get his next year with Kiffin in the SEC. Charlie is on top of things with Lombard and Martin and Smith already verbaled. Relax bro.

2/12/2009 05:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You didn't say, I was disappointed in some misses. You said, "lipstick on a pig." Totally different connotation. Irresponsible, if you ask me.

2/12/2009 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Papaduck said...

Id hardly call this class disappointing.

Yes, it would have been nice to land another top DB and maybe another O Lineman. But I think we pulled in a class, focused very much on our needs...LB, OL, DE, and K and P. Im very excited about our pickups there.

We're loaded at WR, RB, and TE, and I definitely dont think we needed or want to recruit any other QBs. We have Clausen and Crist...hard to land solid recruits who want to sit on the bench behind two QBs like that. Next year is when we will have to pick up the next top QB recruit/ future successor to follow Crist. At that time, we'll need to look forward and grab a Top TE propect, and continue to push for at least 1 to 2 OL and DL with every class.

2/12/2009 07:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

completely wrong. this class was a complementary class from the start, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves. we accomplished what we needed to accomplish, now we can put together a monster class next year by conserving scholarships. Any more into this class would have been adding bodies just for numbers sake.

2/12/2009 08:05:00 PM  
Anonymous tednict said...

NDawg, I couldn't agree with you more. Well stated.

2/12/2009 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Rock said...

I want to be excited about this class, but I've been doing this too long. I tried to rationalize classes like this under Lou and they never materialized. You need numbers and quality. But here's the positive: If this class is a sandwich or bridge class between two number one classes, all will be well.

If we don't perform well on the field this year, then this class will be the start of a two recruiting decline that will be tough to over come in a couple of years.

Just the way it works. I love Te'o, Stockton and Watt. i really like Martin.

But, can any of you look at this class in isolation and say it's what we needed?

If not, it's a disappointment.

If it weren't for Te'o, this class would be a bitter disappointment.

2/12/2009 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you made space for a patronizing comment for that ACross clown. Seriously, ndnation.com is pathetic, and is only hurting the program it purports to love. Would any single recruit verbal to ND after reading this site? Not in a million years. Thank God they don't put any weight in the opinions of 40 year old nerds who have nothing to do with the football program.

2/12/2009 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear what you're saying Rock.

Weis has only once signed a full capacity class in 2006. When you consider NCAA penalties that amount to a couple lost scholarships per year, it's as if ND is on self imposed probation.

I hope we get at least four db's this year or else the secondary is going to get real thin real fast (even if Gray gets back).

Chris Martin is already a lock to make the 2 deep from day one in 2010, because there are only 3 other DE's for the 2 positions. Weis' sixth season and still counting on freshmen?

2/13/2009 02:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too pessimistic. Overall ranking was negatively impacted by relatively low quantity, not quality, which is very, very good. Completely disagree about QB comment. It would have been next to impossible to grab another top QB for the 3rd year in a row. They want to play eventually. We will get a top QB in 2010 and that has always been the coaches' plan. Agree that we missed out on DL and DB.

2/13/2009 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger The Rock said...

I'm not sure what's so controversial here. My track record has been critical, but supportive of Weis. This class is ranked 20 or below by most recruiting agencies.

Does anyone think that's the level Notre Dame needs to recruit at to become a championship team?

I went out of my way to make sure this classes misses were put into proper context.

A 20th rated recruiting class will always be a disappointment for Notre Dame. 10-15 is a disappointment, IMO.

That doesn't mean we won't or can't recruit better or that the losses can't be offset, but, realistically, it's a barely acceptable class for a team with National Championship aspirations.

2/13/2009 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous BigWig said...

Rock is out of touch with reality. Although ND is still an attractive destination for top recruits, it does not have the same cache as twenty years ago. There are many reasons for this, but the fact is there is a lot more parity in the college football than there used to be. Given the changed landscape, Weis has done a great job recruiting everywhere except perhaps on the defensive line (including this year). Have realistic expectations and be grateful that ND is still landing some 4 and 5 star recruits.

2/13/2009 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe this class was high on quality and I think that every one of these young men has the potential to be a major contributor in their 4-5 years at ND. That said, I really do worry about the numbers. While I appreciate the desire to save room for scholies in the 2010 class, it seems like a gamble. As someone previously stated, we are on self-imposed probation. We needed at least an addition one offensive lineman, two defensive linemen and two defensive backs. I'm not too worried about quarterback when we have Montana, Gray, Goodman and Banks on the roster

2/13/2009 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in overall agreement, but a few nits...

1. We didn't "bust" at QB
2. At least according to Rivals, it's Seantrel not SanTrel (maybe I'm missing an inside joke)
3. Please spare us the DCE'ing on Wood
4. Yes it's a small class, but I think we could have only taken a couple more guys with the 85 limit and likely 5th year seniors. We're finally close to a full team again.
5. It's obvious Weis is not a great college head coach, but he and his staff deserve some credit for putting together a class of this caliber after back-to-back on-field disasters.

2/13/2009 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right on the money Rock. Do you think Pete Carroll, Mack Brown, Urban Meyer would be pleased with this class? No chance.

We continue to lower the bar, and rationalize every aspect of ND football. Hopefully the 2010 recruiting and the return of some decent fifth-year seniors - Kyle McCarthy, Ray Herring - will absorb the shortcomings of this class.

2/13/2009 02:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Florida's class was ranked in the 20's this year and i dont see them hurting a bit. Thats all i have to say.

2/13/2009 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You got the right attitude on this. It's way better to be critical so we can look at any way to improve... There's just no good reason to be overly optimistic and look at glass half full in offseason...

2/14/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Until we get an offensive line that can block, we can forget about anything else. Can we run the ball when it is needed? We did not do that the last two years. Is Jimmy the real deal? Give him a pass as I do not think that he was healthy a year ago and our line was better this year but not the quality we expect. I do not like the way he acted in the bowl game. Act like you have been there before. Parseghian would never have tolerated his behavior. We have the receivers but the running backs are not there yet. If Christ is as good as advertised then we do not need a QB in this class. Will he stay? Good question. Charlie is under the microscope this year and I hope he comes out on top.

2/14/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger jnifferjuniper said...

This recruiting stuff is such an inexact science that it's hard to make such dire predictions.

ND addressed areas of need in the DL and LB positions.

We were a barely 500 team this season and that factored in a little I think.

But as CW said when you are selling ND for what it truly has to offer, you're never out of the running.

We have enough playmakers to get us to the promised land if the coaching comes together.

It's the COACHING that has been missing over the years more than the recruiting.

CW has addressed his biggest need which is coaching and getting the staff upgraded and maximizing their strengths as well as his own strengths.

2/15/2009 01:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock, I agree with you about the overall class. However, I totally disagree with you on "busting" at QB. As others have mentioned, no real QB would commit to a school who just signed two 5 star qbs the previous 2 seasons.

2/16/2009 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous jdrratch said...


While what you indicated might be true on paper, keep in mind that we didn't go after some of the positions you mentioned. We did not go after a QB, as for the other positions OL, DE, etc. we went for the positions that needed to be filled. long snapper, punter, kicker. We will need a excellent class next year again like last year or the year before....whatever grade or star they get, they need to perform. ND needs to get nasty or cocky or intimidation......start will the lb crew ND landed, teo and calabresee----they sound like wackos-----we need the wackos keep the pretty boy in FLA. ratch

2/18/2009 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the quantity is disappointing but the quality is just what we need.

2/18/2009 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ND offered TE'o dad a job as an assistant to get him... he will joint the staff in two years ... they also "Two for Oned" him, meaning they offered his friend that was committed to UCLA a scholarship as well. Desperate times apparently.

2/22/2009 07:20:00 PM  

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