Notre Dame Football: Coaches Save 2017 Recruiting Class
In an unbelievable ending, the Notre Dame football recruiting class of 2017 ended up in the top 15 in the nation by most recruiting websites.
The class of 2017 was ranked between five and eight as the season started. Then the very unexpected happened. Notre Dame lost game after game and ended up with a disastrous 4-8 season.
Early in the season, the Class of 2017 had 20 commits with about half being four-star ones.
As the wheels came off the season, the recruits started coming off their ND commitments. Donovan Jeter, the four-star defensive end committed in early October and a few weeks later committed to Michigan.
Later in the season, four-star linebacker Pete Werner switched his commitment to Ohio State. Then came the de-commitments of Jordan Pouncey, a wide receiver from Florida, Paulson Adebo, a cornerback from Texas and Elijah Hicks, a cornerback from California.
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This past December and January, with their 2017 recruiting class coming apart, Notre Dame had to hire several new coaches. They were: Mike Elko-defensive coordinator, Clark Lea-linebackers coach, Chip Long-offensive coordinator, DelVaughan Alexander-wide receivers coach, Brian Polian-special teams coach and former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, who was hired as the quarterback coach.
These coaches had to find homes in the South Bend area, learn about Notre Dame, study film and meet each other and the other coaches. And by the way, they had to try and save a recruiting class. What this group, the other coaches, and the recruiting staff did was phenomenal. They traveled to all corners of the country and brought in six new recruits to result in 21 members to this class. The last members of the ND class are safety Jordan Genmark Heath, wide receiver Jafar Armstrong, safety Jeremiah Ouwusu-Koramoah, defensive end Kofi Wadlow, kicker Jon Doerer and defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.
Recruiting begins and ends with the development of relationships. Notre Dame did not have meaningful relationships with some players and did not have any relationships with most. The coaches developed great relationships with players in a short period of time and sold them on Notre Dame.
It is interesting to note that Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick also played a role in recruiting. He explained to the recruits and their families that Brian Kelly and his new assistants were here to stay the length of the recruits time at Notre Dame.
I have been covering recruitment for 15 years and usually in the last four to six weeks before National Signing Day, programs are just trying to keep their classes as is. What Notre Dame did was phenomenal, and the football program is much better off because of it.