Welcome to the 2011 version of Subway Domer's State(s) of Recruiting. If you have been a loyal reader for the past 4 years, you have probably been wondering where in the hell the 5th annual version of this little science project has been hiding. Usually, this little post comes right off of the heels of the Recruiting Spectacular and puts an official end to the incoming recruiting class- metaphorically, of course.
Well, after fighting off a 2 year olds birthday party, the same 2 year old with the flu, and a prego wife who also had the flu... I will accept all praise and love in the comment section below for getting this posted before spring ball starts.
So let's get started...
Over the years, I have wrote about a lot of different aspects that are involved with the recruiting process, and in particular on how Notre Dame continues to recruit nationally. There are 24 different states that are represented in the 2011 roster by the scholarship players. No other school in the country (outside of the service academies) even come close.
This process has been one that has been cultivated out of a need to get the best for over a century. If Notre Dame was located in Florida, or Southern California, or wherever; I still believe that the roster would be filled with many different players from all over the country because of the uniqueness of Notre Dame, and the elite status that it carries as a school.
Obviously, there is no way that Notre Dame could be "Notre Dame" without recruiting nationally. They would have ended up being more like Purdue, or even Indiana had they not. To recruit nationally, they have had to build relationships and develop pipeline states and pipeline schools to compete at a national level.
For the last 18 years, Notre Dame has still recruited quite well with the lone exception being the timeframe that a certain Ty Willingham was coaching our beloved Irish. In fact, he proved that the Notre Dame brand was only as good as the man developing it. You see, coaching has been the biggest problem that the Irish have had to deal with- not a lack of available talent. For all of his faults, Charlie Weis proved that you could still get top talent to sign with Notre Dame- but you just have to coach them up, to reach peak-performance.
Enter Brian Kelly. Kelly has been known as a guy that has been able to get the most out of his players and his staff. That's exactly what Notre Dame has needed since the reign of Lou. So, the map of the players doesn't surprise me much. Outside of the Hawaiians, Notre Dame continues to sign kids from the same general areas as they have for decades.
Enough of the bullshit. Here is the map with a new twist this year, COLOR CODED! Yeah!!!
- Freshman = Yellow
- Sophomore = Red
- Junior = Blue
- Senior = Green
- 5th year = Teal
- 6th year = Handicap Sign (possibly Wenger).
View The State of Recruiting 2011 in a larger map
Here are the top 8 states, per tradition:
- 9 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.88
- Most Notable: Dayne Crist (5*), Cierre Wood (4*), Taylor Dever (4*)
- Biggest Loss: Shaq Evans (4*)
- Newcomers: George Atkinson (4*), Josh Atkinson (3*), Troy Niklas (4*)
- 2010 Ranking- #3 (7 / 4.00 ASR)
For the first time since I have been doing this (2007), there is a new King of the Mountain, Mountain. California replaces Florida as the biggest and best state for the talent on the current roster. As high as the top ranking is, it could have been a bit higher had Shaq Evans not transferred away to UCLA. The Irish got 3 very solid players from a state that they should and need, to do well in recruiting. Will the Catholic schools reopen their arms to the Irish, or will the Kiffinites dumb everyone down enough to fend off the Kelly hoards. We shall find out soon enough.
- 9 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.55
- Most Notable: Andrew Hendrix (4*)
- Biggest Loss: Kyle Rudolph (5*) (Also, Matt James RIP)
- Newcomers: Jarrett Grace (3*), Chase Hounshell (3*), Brad Carrico (3*), Eilar Hardy (4*)
- 2010 Ranking- #2 (9 / 3.77 ASR)
Ohio is settled into the number two position, but it is only after a bumpy ride. If you think about it for a moment, Ohio could have risen to the top of the rankings had either Kyle Rudolph (early NFL entry) or Derek Roback (transfer to Ohio) stayed at Notre Dame. The Irish got 9 commitments from the Buckeye state in the past two years (including Matt James) and it is turning back into a major hotbed for the Irish. At this rate, Notre Dame could have 12-13 Ohio players on scholarship in 2012. The bulk of these players are young and unproven, but that could change greatly over the next two years- which is what recruiting is all about.
- 8 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.22
- Most Notable: Louis Nix (4*), Zeke Motta (4*), Dan Wenger (4*)
- Biggest Loss: Armando Allen (4*)
- Newcomers: Aaron Lynch (4*), Anthony Rabassa (3*)
- 2010 Ranking- #1 (11 / 3.09 ASR)
Florida falls to third after being the top dog for a long, long time. Depending on the Dan Wenger situation (Wenger has a 6th year of eligibility that he is waiting on a decision for from the NCAA) the state of Florida could have had a worse ASR and total number of players. Notre Dame only got two commitments from the state of Florida, and even though one was a HUGE pick-up,and the other was a BIG pick-up, Notre Dame can not afford to only grab 1 or 2 kids from the state each year; they need 3-4 from the most talent rich state in the country. This task is never easy with the Big 3 in state, the "rise" of South Florida, and every other school in the country cherry-picking from the Sunshine State.
- 7 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.85
- Most Notable: Darius Fleming (4*), Tommy Rees (3*), Sean Cwynar (4*)
- Biggest Loss: Robert Hughes (4*)
- Newcomers: DaVaris Daniels (4*)
- 2010 Ranking- #4 (7 / 3.85 ASR)
Illinois stays at number four after trading a 4 star for nother 4 star. Over the years, Illinois has been one of the best pipeline states for the Irish, and in particular the Chicagoland area. Even though Illinois is never really recognized as a major hotbed of talent by the recruiting services, Notre Dame has always been able to get some of the top players in the state. If the Irish would land just one or two more, Illinois would battle for the top spot on the roster. With the Great Zooker at Illinois, and Greg Mattison now up at Michigan, Chuck Martin and the rest of the staff will have its hands full. The Land of Lincoln shall provide...
- 7 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.28
- Most Notable: Zack Martin (4*), Tyler Eifert (3*), John Goodman (3*)
- Biggest Loss: None
- Newcomers: Nick Martin (3*), Tony Springmann (3*)
- 2010 Ranking- #5 (5 / 3.60 ASR)
For some reason, I am always surprised that Indiana is in the top 8 each year. The talent level is just not there to support 3 BCS schools each year. Fortunately for the Irish, if there is good talent in the state, they generally want to head to South Bend. However, there always seems to be one or two guys that head out of state. Guys like James Hurst, Blake Lueders, Darren Evans, etc. are guys that would make big impacts at Notre Dame and are Hoosier born and bred. As long as Notre Dame keeps a good presence in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and South Bend; they should continue to get enough kids to stay in the top 8 while moving up and down a little bit.
6. New Jersey
- 6 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.5
- Most Notable: Mike Ragone (4*), Theo Riddick (4*), Carlo Calabrese (3*)
- Biggest Loss: Duval Kamara (4*)
- Newcomers: None
- 2010 Ranking- #5 (7 / 3.57 ASR)
New Jersey takes a bit of a slip after Notre Dame failed to get any signatures from the Garden State for the incoming class of 2011. They had their chances at a few of the top players, but nothing came to fruition in the Garden. New Jersey was a big focus for recruiting under the Charlie Weis regime, but Brian Kelly has not been as nearly as strong in the area. New Jersey has always been underrated as a state for top talent, and the Irish have usually been able to land a few kids a year. Is this the new trend for Notre Dame? A dwindling number of the Jersey kids? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Weis was obsessed with the "Jersey" thing and the same can not be said about Kelly. Kelly is obsessed with the "winning" thing.
7. North Carolina
- 5 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.80
- Most Notable: Robert Blanton (4*), Prince Shembo (4*)
- Biggest Loss: Kerry Neal (4*)
- Newcomers: Ben Councell (4*), Matthias Farley (3*)
- 2010 Ranking- #7 (4 / 4.00 ASR)
North Carolina is never a state that immediately comes to mind as a major source of talent for the Irish, but over the past few years, Notre Dame has done really well with the players that it has targeted in the general area. (I would love to throw South Carolina in with this mix too). There is quite a bit of talent in the Carolinas and if you would just listen to James Taylor and keep Carolina on your mind, you will see a budding pipeline to South Bend, Indiana. The Irish will lose Blanton to graduation after this season, but i suspect that they will get a couple of other recruits from this region for 2012. Underrated by some; loved by me.
- 4 Players
- Average Star Rating: 3.00
- Most Notable: Kapron Lewis-Moore (4*)
- Biggest Loss: None
- Newcomers: Jalen Brown (3*), Cam McDaniel (3*)
- 2010 Ranking- Unranked
Texas climbs back into the rankings while the Keystone State of Pennsylvania finally falls out; continuing a long slow process. Many Irish fans feel that Texas should be a bigger focus as they continually produce a lot of really good college football players for programs all over the country. The problem is Mack Brown, Bob Stoops, and a very long list of BCS caliber schools within the Lone Star states borders. Although Texas is in the rankings, if you took out the kicker (Nick Tausch), Texas would have the same number of players as Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, Connecticut, and Hawaii on the Notre Dame roster. Much work is needed to be done here, but i think Brian Kelly and his staff are committed to getting players from this great state. Will the Irish lock down a couple of 5 stars from Texas each year? No, but they can start to work that way more and more as they grab 2-4 kids a year.
Alright, there you have it folks. Finally Florida is relieved of its "Top Dog" duties, but I'm not really celebrating that. As it is each year, the Irish will go all over the country to fill its needs and find future superstars.
This job could get easier as long as the tren of the program goes upward with Brian Kelly at the helm. We could definitly see the difference in the stretch run of recruiting between ND programs that win big games and bowl games as compared to those ND programs that did not win those big games and got blown out in its bowl games.
I like the Ohio trend, and getting a stronger presence in Texas, but I can not stress enough how important it is to get stronger in Florida since the Irish are never going to get big in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana- where the Irish have 0 players.
Stay tuned to Subway Domer as the next "Big" post will be the popular "Play on Playa" series that was started last year. Other than that, you should start to see some of the upgrades I have been talking about happening in the next few weeks, a "Draft" with other Irish sites, and other coverage as we get ready for Spring Ball.
Special thanks to Philly Kelly for the artwork. Peace-out!