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An Early Overview of Notre Dame’s 2012 Class

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at Notre Dame’s incoming class so far in 2012 to get an idea of who the Irish have committed, but also to see what other offers the players were considering. I almost feel like this is more telling than the actual rankings because if a kid is ranked in the top-10 yet only Florida Atlantic, Miami-OH & Ball St. are recruiting him, then maybe that ranking is terribly wrong. I’m going to use the current Rivals 250 which was last updated on 8/30/11. If an Irish commit doesn’t fall within the top-250, I’ll simply note they were unranked.

Essentially what we are looking for here is how many players Notre Dame has committed that are SEC type of players. Fair or not, every team is going to be judged based on how they would fare in the SEC on a weekly basis. By nabbing players who were big SEC targets, any team obviously shows their ability hang with the best conference in the nation. Let’s take a look at ND’s 16 committed players so far.

#63 Tee Shepard/DB/6’1″/180lbs/Fresno, CA/4-STARS

Other offers: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona St., Auburn, California, Colorado, Miami-FL, Oregon St., UCLA, UNLV, USC, Washington

You have to love Notre Dame inking a corner that was actively being recruited by Nick Saban! Right now you’d expect the hottest SEC schools to travel to California for an elite level DB which is what we see in Alabama & Auburn. Everyone else is pretty much on the west coast except for “THE U” which has some pretty significant name recognition. I think having USC (Lane Kiffin) and Washington (Steve Sarkisian) in the mix is a big deal as well.

#72 Deontay Greenberry/WR/6’3″/187lbs/Fresno, CA/4-STARS

Other offers: Alabama, Arizona St., Boise St., California, UCLA, UNLV, Washington, Washington St.

Greenberry & Shepard are actually teammates this year at Washington Union HS in Fresno. Not as many offers as Shepard, but Alabama & Nick Saban are still on the list. Pretty cool to see Cal & Washington on this one again as those teams have exceptional offensive coaches in Jeff Tedford & Steve Sarkisian. Only Alabama shows up from the SEC, but I’m pretty sure that’s emblematic of the Tide’s reach going all the way out to the Pacific coast.

#77 Ronald Darby/DB/5’11″/172lbs/Oxon Hill, MD/4-STARS

Other offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, California, Clemson, UConn, Duke, Florida, Florida St., Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kent St., Marshall, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Navy, North Carolina, NC State, Penn St., Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia

Wow. Yeah, Darby is an uber-elite prospect. Seven of the 12 SEC schools are represented including Florida, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina & Tennessee. I also like seeing North Carolina & Florida St. on the list because FSU is bringing in ridiculous amounts of talent while Butch Davis always seems to have an incredibly athletic defense in Chapel Hill. I think it’s interesting that Darby also has offers from Duke, Navy, Vanderbilt & Wake Forest. Kid must exhibit tremendous smarts & leadership ability. ND might have a future superstar here at cornerback.

#78 Jarron Jones/DT/6’7″/308lbs/Rochester, NY/4-STARS

Other offers: Alabama, Auburn, Boston College, Buffalo, UConn, Florida, Florida St., Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio St., Penn St., Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech

Jones is a BEAST at 6’7/308lbs. I’m glad to see Alabama go after him as his size makes him fairly likely to be a true NT in a 3-4 scheme that I know both Nick Saban & Brian Kelly would like to run. The usual suspects are here & I’m really glad to see Bama, Auburn, Florida, FSU, Michigan, UNC, Ohio St., Penn St. & Virginia Tech on the list. Outstanding get for the Irish.

#153 William Mahone/RB/5’11″/205lbs/Austintown, OH/4-STARS

Other offers: Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan St., Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn St., Pittsburgh, SMU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, West Virginia

Mahone doesn’t have quite the SEC ties that the above the players do, but Tennessee & Vanderbilt still show up. Plus this is a guy deep in the heart of Big 10 country where the SEC typically doesn’t venture to unless the talent is simply off the charts. Difficult to complain about the schools here. Illinois has produced both Rashard Mendenhall & Mikel Leshoure. Iowa has Shonn Greene in the NFL. Michigan St. has a couple of outstanding runners currently in Baker & Bell. Tennessee gave us Arian Foster and now Tauren Poole. West Virginia is recruiting massive speed guys due to Dana Holgorsen’s offense. A fantastic get for the Irish.

#166 David Perkins/ATH/6’2″/209lbs/South Bend, IN/4-STARS

Other offers: Arizona, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Michigan St., Minnesota, Mississippi St., Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee

Perkins is a home grown prospect out of South Bend, but he did attract enough attention nationally to draw Arizona, Mississippi St., Syracuse & Tennessee. I would have certainly liked to have seen Michigan, Ohio St., Penn St. in the recruitment given the locality of the player, but I’m not sure you can argue here. Perkins is an SEC type of player with both Mississippi St. & Tennessee knocking on his door. I don’t know if his being identified as an “athlete” has anything to do with his recruiting. It looks as if he might bulk up a bit and settle in at LB.

NR Sheldon Day/DT/6’2″/286lbs/Indianapolis, IN/4-STARS

Other offers: Arkansas, Cincinnati, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Northwestern, Penn St, Purdue, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin

Day is a beast. At 6’2/290lbs, he basically projects as a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT which definitely gives Kelly some flexibility in his defense. The offer sheet speaks for itself. Offers from Florida, Arkansas, & LSU!? NICE! You also have teams like Michigan, Michigan St., Missouri, UNC, Penn St., Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia Tech & Wisconsin. Rivals not having Day in their top-250 is ridiculous as he’s a 4-star player that definitely deserves to be there. An outstanding get for Brian Kelly and his staff and a good showing of keeping a big time in-state defensive prospect inside the state.

NR Taylor Decker/OT/6’8″/313lbs/Vandalia, OH/4-STARS

Other Offers: Boston College, Cincinnati, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, Wisconsin

According to Rivals, Decker didn’t get any SEC offers which is a bit odd considering the size of this guy. He’s not in the Rivals Top-250. I love how Michigan & Wisconsin are this guy as those programs typically put out stud NFL offensive line talent. That’s a fantastic sign. This might be more of a project for Brian Kelly. Obviously the guy is talented enough to be a 4-star player, but if he were 340lbs instead of 313lbs, he might move into the top-100 players. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take gigantic leaps up the rankings depending on how much weight he can put on. For an OT at 6’8″, he needs to be heavier than 313lbs.

NR Nicky Baratti/ATH/6’2″/215lbs/Spring, TX/3-STARS

Other offers: Air Force, Arizona St., Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, Indiana, Iowa St., Kansas St., Louisville, Mississippi, Mississippi St., Nevada, Northwestern, Rice, Southern Miss, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia

Pretty tough to see Baratti deep in the heart of Texas and have no offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas or Texas A&M. I do like the offer from Arkansas, Mississippi & Mississippi St., but that’s about it. The report on Baratti is that he’s a tremendous leader and knows the game of football. He plays QB in high school, but my guess is that he’s not enough of an athlete to play on the offensive side of the ball at ND. As a 6’2/215lbs athlete, my guess is Baratti could bulk up to play LB or keep his speed and try his hand at safety. Remember that Kelly wants to get the defense really big and this is a way to do that.

NR Chris Brown/WR/6’2″/185lbs/Hanahan, SC/3-STARS

Other offers: Arkansas, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky, Marshall, Michigan, MTSU, Morgan St., North Carolina, South Carolina, UCF, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Anytime you can go into the southeast and get recruits is a good thing in my opinion. This isn’t an outstanding offer sheet, but as a wideout, I love having Michigan, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina & Virginia Tech on the offer list. Would love to see a few more SEC schools, Florida St., & Clemson, but my guess is that Brown is under the radar a bit. He has borderline great speed and at 6’2/185lbs, has fantastic height at WR. This might be a pretty big steal.

NR Justin Ferguson/WR/6’1″/210lbs/Pembroke Pines, FL/3-STARS

Other offers: Alabama, Florida, FIU, Florida St., Miami-FL, UCF, Wisconsin

Uhhhhh, Rivals is WAY OFF on Ferguson. He’s a beast. He’s not a 3-star player. Look at his offer sheet. Ferguson is likely one of the best WR in the 2012 Class so Kelly going down to the Sunshine State to pick him up is a major recruiting coup for the Irish. All you really need to know is that Alabama, Florida & Florida St. wanted this kid. He’s not an SEC level kid, he’s a BCS Championship kid and Kelly went down to Florida to get him. NICE WORK Coach!

NR Mark Harrell/OT/6’5″/270lbs/Charlotte, NC/3-STARS

Other offers: Auburn, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Kentucky Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia

Another recruit that Rivals is probably missing on, Harrell is actually playing TE in high school, but will transition to OT in college. He’s got extreme athleticism and apparently a real nasty streak that allows him to be an excellent run blocker from the edge. Obviously at 6’5/270lbs, he has quite a bit of bulking up to do and also a lot of strength building, but this guy was recruited as a future offensive tackle and there is no reason to think he won’t eventually get there. Love the offers by Auburn, Clemson. Michigan, UNC, South Carolina, Tennessee & Virginia given that he’s an OL, but most important maybe is the fact that Stanford offered this kid. He’s definitely all the way across the continent so the talent must have been worth the hassle.

NR Romeo Okwara/DE/6’4″/235lbs/Charlotte, NC/3-STARS

Other offers: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

I always think it’s interesting to see kids from North Carolina because the Tar Heel state really isn’t an SEC state. Still, as far as defensive prospects go, it’s hard to think a guy who Butch Davis goes after at UNC isn’t special. Remember too that Okwara was 6’4/235lbs at 16-years of age so he’s got a tremendous amount of growing to do most likely. At 6’4/240lbs already, you’d have to think that Okwara is likely to grow into a 3-4 DE in Kelly’s scheme. He’s a little too big/not fast enough to play a 3-4 OLB so really this is about getting bigger on the D-Line. I suppose it could go either way, but getting Clemson, Illinois, Miami-FL, Michigan, UNC, USF, & Virginia Tech to offer is a great sign.

NR C.J. Prosise/DB/6’1″/202lbs/Woodberry Forest, VA/3-STARS

Other offers: Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Penn St., Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia

No SEC representation here, but as a defensive player we still have North Carolina, Penn St., & Virginia Tech. This might be an under the radar pick up as Prosise projects as a safety at the collegiate level and has a great frame already to succeed at he position. At 6’1/202lbs, he could easily take that up to 6’1/220lbs and be a pretty heavy hitting SS or he can stay a bit slim and utilize his speed to play FS. Most importantly here is that Prosise supposedly has fantastic ball skills and if you remember the kind of teams Kelly had at Cincinnati, then you know how dangerous a player like Prosise can be. He’s from Virginia so maybe the SEC wasn’t looking at him particularly hard, but they might have missed with this guy.

NR John Turner/DB/6’2″/205lbs/Indianapolis, IN/3-STARS

Other offers: Akron, Ball St., Bowling Green, Indiana, Miami-OH, Minnesota, Temple, Toledo, Western Michigan

Sort of an odd offer for the Irish considering the other teams Turner was being recruited by. When it’s Notre Dame or Miami-OH, which school do you think the prospect is going to take? Turner is mostly a diamond in the rough. He’s projected to play FS so he needs to bulk up a bit and be a better tackler. Some scouts have said he could be a big sleeper in the 2012 class so let’s hope that is actually the case for the Irish. Again, Kelly is really deepening the depth in the secondary and Turner obviously does this along with Prosise.

NR Scott Daly/LS/6’4″/230lbs/Downers Grove South, IL/2-STARS

Other offers: Northwestern

A couple of thoughts. The first is that if the kid is good enough for Pat Fitzgerald then he’s good enough for me. The 2nd is that apparently this kid is the best long snapper in the country! It’s sort of an odd thing to be talking about I suppose considering you typically don’t bust it for your long snapper but kudos to Brian Kelly & his staff for recognizing how important this position is to a great special teams. Daly certainly isn’t going to get national hype, but it looks like a great recruit given his specific skill set.

Players With At Least 2 SEC Commits That Aren’t Vanderbilt or Just Alabama!

Tee Shepard/CB: Alabama & Auburn
Deontay Greenberry/WR: Alabama
Ronald Darby/CB: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee
Jarron Jones/DT: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee
David Perkins/ATH: Mississippi St., Tennessee
Sheldon Day/DT: Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Tennessee
Nicky Baratti/ATH: Arkansas, Mississippi, Mississippi St.
Chris Brown/WR: Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina
Justin Ferguson/WR: Alabama, Florida
Mark Harrell/OT: Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee

That’s 10 of 16 players. What you really have to like about these players is the skill positions as well. ND has 10 of the players being a WR, CB or ATH. That’s a big deal. So far so good for Brian Kelly and his staff for 2012! Things are definitely going good and can only get better from this point!


October 12, 2011 - Posted by | Brian Kelly, Notre Dame, Recruiting


  1. I really enjoyed this analysis. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I am really excited about the future of the program. Even this year with the two losses (by a combined seven points) has been fun to watch. They have a tough schedule as they are currently ranked 4th on the strength of schedule ranking, so they are playing tough competition on a week in week out basis. I think that CBK is the right guy for this job and hopefully he will bring multiple championships to South Bend during his tenure.

    Comment by BigTimber | October 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. I agree with you about the multiple championships. I think it might happen as soon as next season!

    Comment by College Football Mafia | October 13, 2011 | Reply

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