Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Notre Dame has had two consecutive disappointing seasons.  There are many theories out there as to why but I’d like to attribute a great deal of blame to recruiting.  I realize this notion flies in the face of much of what has been said by recruiting evaluators and gurus over the last few years.  However my reasons are fairly simple. 

Consider that Notre Dame, since Charlie Weis has been head coach, has recruited approximately 83 players between 2005-2008.  Of those 83 players approximately 42 had high school track and field backgrounds.  That is barely 50 percent.  Now some might say so what?  Well look at University of Texas over the same period, recruiting 84 players and 70 had high school track and field backgrounds.  That’s over 83 percent!  By the way, Indiana University and Northwestern University’s recruits over the same (2005-2008) time frame have track participation rates of 56% and 58% respectively. 

Notre Dame simply isn’t recruiting enough pure athletes to be competitive.  Sure each class has been highly touted and rated since Weis arrived, but look at the results.  I looked at Notre Dame’s 2009 recruiting class and the numbers aren’t much better.  The 2009 class has 18 recruits and 4 have track and field backgrounds…Shaquelle Evans, Cierre Wood, Chris Watt, and Dan Fox.  This doesn’t mean the other players aren’t great football players, but compare this recruiting class to Texas and you’ll see a deficiency.  The 2009 Texas class has 20 recruits and 13 participated in track and field.  The gap is not being closed in fact it is widening.

Another comparison point here is Ohio State.  Ohio State’s level of track participation amongst recruits from (2005-2008) is over 60 percent and University of Michigan’s is close at about 58 percent.  Oklahoma’s track participation rate amongst recruits is also notably higher than Notre Dame’s.   

Notre Dame probably should focus on recruiting more pure athletes, at all positions, with diverse athletic backgrounds-particularly in track.  Studying player backgrounds from those that were recruited and played under Lou Holtz indicates nearly all had diverse athletic backgrounds in high school and many were successful track athletes.  Lots of lineman during that era had shot put and discus backgrounds and nearly all “skill” position players were basketball / track or baseball athletes.    Unfortunately when researching the recruiting classes of the Weis era players don’t have the diverse athletic backgrounds as Notre Dame recruits once did.  

Worse yet, Notre Dame continues to fall behind competiting programs of today in large part due to the athletic gap…the Holtz era is but a distant memory.

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