Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 55 of 83

56 MARCH 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY LOU SOMOGYI L ast year on National Signing Day in February, Notre Dame added only one more recruit — California defensive end Isaiah Foskey — after the early signing period in December. This year, the lone change was one subtraction that reduced the final tally to 17 incoming freshmen who will be on grant-in-aid. That's because cornerback Landen Bartleson, 18, who starred at Boyle County High in Danville, Ky., was ar- rested with two 16-year-old juveniles of breaking into a local business, On Target Firearms And Ammunition, on Jan. 24 and stealing nine firearms. Per the police report, there also was an investigation of a vehicle theft on Centre College's campus — about 2.5 miles from where the rob- bery occurred — that was linked to the burglary. When the vehicle was recovered, nine guns from the theft were found inside. Bartleson faced charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief, receiving stolen property and unlawful transaction with a minor. One day later, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly released a state- ment that the Harrodsburg, Ky., na- tive's letter of intent he signed Dec. 18 became null and void. "After reviewing all of the facts available to us and speaking with the Bartleson family, we informed them that Landen will no longer be wel- comed as a member of our football program," Kelly said. "This incident is very much out of character for the man we have come to know and we wish Landen and his family well." Bartleson was one of four corner- backs — the primary position of need in this year 's recruiting cycle — signed in Notre Dame's original 18-man 2020 class. Two of them, Ramon Henderson and Caleb Offord, enrolled this Janu- ary, while a third — Clarence Lewis — will join the June summer session. All four were rated as three-star developmental players. Bartleson was ranked the highest (No. 40 cor- nerback nationally) by Rivals among the quartet, while Offord was No. 44 and Lewis No. 81. Henderson did not crack the rankings at corner. Heading into spring practice, which is scheduled to open March 5, junior TaRiq Bracy plus graduate student Shaun Crawford, who has missed three seasons with injuries, are the front-run- ners as the starting cornerbacks. Challenging for spots in the two deep will be current freshmen Cam Hart, who moved from receiver last fall, Isaiah Rutherford and KJ Wal- lace, all of whom redshirted during the 2019 season. With the 5-9, 180-pound Crawford and 5-10, 170-pound Bracy, there is a limit with size and range. That is part of why the 6-2½, 208-pound Hart was shifted last fall to cornerback. In January, Kelly told the NFL Net- work during its coverage of the Se- nior Bowl that he and his staff gener- ally target wide receiver prospects to eventually play cornerback. "Where do you find a six-foot corner? You don't find them," Kelly said. "There's probably five or six of them — and [Alabama head coach] Nick Saban's got them all. You re- ally are trying to find wide receivers, and then we're going to teach them some of the other things, the tackling, the ability to change direction, all of those things are some innate skills that wide receivers have." Although entering with less fan- fare than many of their classmates, the early enrollee duo of Henderson (listed at 6-3, 180) and Offord (listed at 6-1, 170) does provide some length at the position. DROP IN RATINGS At the conclusion of early sign- ing period (Dec. 18-20), Notre Dame moved up to No. 15 in the Rivals Team Recruiting Rankings for the 2020 class. But on National Signing Day Feb. 5, Notre Dame fell to No. 23 (see sidebar chart). How and why? There were myriad reasons: • Danville (Ky.) Boyle County three-star cornerback Landen Bartle- son's dismissal after his Jan. 24 arrest. • Whereas the early signing period is generally the end for Notre Dame, other schools still add prospects into February, which elevates their rating. • Rivals takes a school's top 20 sign- ees into account for the rankings, so when the Fighting Irish ended up with only 17, it makes headway difficult. A casual observer of recruiting might conclude — possibly correctly, possibly not — from the national ranking that this Notre Dame class isn't pushing the Irish in a place to compete for a national championship. What must also be put into context is Rivals has point values for each level of a recruit ranking (5.2 two-star all the way up to 6.1 five-star). Rivals adds up the point value for the top 20 recruits in the class, and then ranks every class in the nation based on its total point value. A school like Penn State that signed 27 recruits doesn't have all of its 5.5 and 5.6 three-star recruits counted to- wards its class ranking total, whereas Notre Dame has a two-star recruit (long snapper Alex Peitsch) counted. If Notre Dame added three more recruits ranked as 5.6 three-star pros- Bartleson — a three-star recruit from Boyle County High in Danville, Ky. — was Notre Dame's top-rated cornerback prospect (No. 40 in the country per Rivals) before the Fighting Irish parted ways with him. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Landen Bartleson's Scholarship Gets Revoked After Arrest

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - March 2020