The next time Notre Dame faithful get outraged by other schools looking at their verbal commits, or the commits having a wandering eye, they should realize it’s part of the recruiting game in some circles. It’s one that the Fighting Irish have been winning while landing plenty of big-time talent in recent years.
Safety Max Redfield, a five-star prospect, switched his allegiance from USC to Notre Dame.
This season Notre Dame had six pickups with the “flip switch” while losing three. Overall, in four recruiting seasons with head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame holds a 21-14 advantage, a .600 winning percentage. In the major leagues, that’s usually good enough to make the postseason. Kelly said some lessons were learned and applied last year when the Irish gained only two but lost four original verbals.
“What we did this year is that we made sure where that commitment was,” Kelly said. “In other words, if you’re committed, that means you’ve ended the recruiting process. And I think in some instances, being firmer toward that end allowed this not to take shape.”
An example was linebacker Danny Mattingly, who maintained uncertainty with his verbal during Notre Dame’s 12-0 regular season, still took visits to other schools, and eventually ended up at Oregon.
Flip-flopping in recruiting is as much a part of the landscape as the sun rising in the east, but Kelly doesn’t necessarily view it as an epidemic.
“These are young guys,” Kelly said. “Things happen every year, and I think you have to be prepared for that, too.”
Here’s the year-by-year breakdown under Kelly:
2013: 6-3 Notre Dame
Decommits To Notre Dame (6): running back Greg Bryant (Oklahoma), receiver William Fuller (Penn State), tight end Durham Smythe (Texas), defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes (USC), linebacker Doug Randolph (Stanford), safety Max Redfield (USC).
Decommits From Notre Dame (4): receiver Deontay Greenberry (Houston) offensive tackle Taylor Decker (Ohio State), linebacker/athlete David Perkins (Ohio State) and cornerback Ronald Darby (Florida State).
2011: 5-4 Notre Dame
Decommits To Notre Dame (5): defensive linemen Aaron Lynch (Florida State), Stephon Tuitt (Georgia Tech), Chase Hounshell (Florida), offensive lineman Nick Martin (Kentucky) and quarterback Everett Golson (North Carolina).
Lynch is now at the University of South Florida after making Freshman All-American at Notre Dame.
Decommits From Notre Dame (3): running back Justice Hayes (Michigan), offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood (Florida State), linebacker Clay Burton (Florida) and cornerback Bennett Okotcha (Oklahoma).
Remarkably, Prestwood would transfer to Notre Dame in August 2011… but now he’s at Central Florida. Okotcha transferred to University of Texas at San Antonio last August.
2010: 8-3, Notre Dame
Decommits To Notre Dame (8): quarterbacks Luke Massa (Cincinnati) and Derek Roback (Toledo), wide receiver TJ Jones (Stanford), offensive tackle Tate Nichols (Stanford) defensive linemen Louis Nix III (Miami) and Kona Schwenke (BYU), linebacker Danny Spond (Colorado) and safety Chris Badger (Stanford).
Roback transferred to Ohio U. less than two weeks into August practice in 2010.
Decommits From Notre Dame (3): running back Giovani Bernard (North Carolina), defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin (Cal, then Florida, Navarro College, City College of San Francisco and now Kansas) and defensive end Blake Lueders (Stanford).
The nomadic Martin is one of 18 JC transfers in Charlie Weis’ class this year — after originally committing to Weis at Notre Dame in February 2009 when he was only a high school junior.
Think about it. Last year's starting defensive line, including Kapron Lewis-Moore (Texas A&M), all had originally committed elsewhere during the process.