Notre Dame football recruiting: By the numbers
SOUTH BEND - It’s worse than those old algebra problems that kept you - and likely your parents - reaching for the antacid.
That’s because x and y are fluid, making z a moving target.
Welcome to the Notre Dame football 2011-2012 recruiting cycle. No wonder the school has such stringent math requirements for incoming students.
How good ND’s class ultimately turns out to be is purported to be an inexact science. How large it might become is a matter of inexact math.
Here’s what the snapshot looks like today.
The Irish currently have 16 verbal commitments and still a fairly ample wish list. Roughly a dozen prospects with offers in hand from the Irish are expected in for official visits the next two games (Saturday vs. Air Force and Oct. 22 vs. USC).
Running back, offensive tackle, wide receiver, defensive back and outside linebacker are ND’s top remaining needs/wants. Putting a face to those positions, one could deduce Keith Marshall (RB, Raleigh, N.C.), John Theus (OT, Jacksonville, Fla.), Nelson Agholor (WR, Tampa, Fla.), Shaq Thompson (DB, Sacramento, Calif.) and Ifeadi Odenigbo (OLB, Centerville, Ohio).
Notre Dame has 85 players on scholarship this semester, with 13 coming off the books because of exhausted eligibility after this season - tight end Mike Ragone, offensive guards Trevor Robinson and Andrew Nuss, offensive tackle Taylor Dever, running back Jonas Gray, wide receiver Michael Floyd, defensive end Ethan Johnson, outside linebackers Darius Fleming and Steve Filer, cornerbacks Gary Gray and Robert Blanton, safety Harrison Smith and kicker David Ruffer.
That would put the Irish three over the scholarship limit.
But - and yes, this is all about the “buts” - fifth-year seniors come into play.
There are 14 scholarship players with fifth-year options. If none of them came back, ND is suddenly 11 under the scholarship limit.
Center Braxston Cave, defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore and safety Jamoris Slaughter are all starters and nose guard Sean Cwynar has started this year, so that knocks it down to seven under the limit.
If safety Chris Badger still feels like ND is the place for him after he completes his two-year Mormon mission this spring, then the number becomes six under.
If Ragone applies for and receives from the NCAA a sixth year of eligibility, then they are five under.
But those are big ifs. Factors that could stretch the number the other way are possible transfers, a player leaving early for the NFL or additional players taking Mormon missions.