Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

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

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Page 36 of 63 APRIL 2017 37 BY BRYAN DRISKELL he last year has certainly been a roller coaster ride for Notre Dame. The Irish entered the 2016 season ranked No. 9 in the coaches poll and had al- ready begun putting together what was projected to be one of the na- tion's top recruiting classes. However, Notre Dame's football fortunes quickly spiraled out of control, with the Irish finishing 4-8. Naturally, its recruiting class — one that spent much of the year pushing for a top-five ranking — began to fall apart, with the Irish losing five verbally committed players. Notre Dame rebounded, and in the final week of the recruiting cycle the Irish added six prospects, including three defensive pickups on National Signing Day. It was the program's best final week since the 2010 class added the same number of players. The Irish assembled a class that 247Sports ranked No. 10 in the coun- try. Teams that go 4-8 aren't sup- posed to finish like that. No other school in the top 15 of the 247Sports recruiting rankings posted fewer than eight wins. Plus, teams that are coming off 4-8 seasons aren't supposed to follow that up with an elite recruiting haul, but that is exactly what Notre Dame is currently building. As of March 13, the Irish had commitments from 11 players to form a group that was ranked No. 3 in the land by Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. Finishing off the 2017 class on such a positive note wasn't easy, and the strong start to the 2018 class is maybe even more surprising. "It was a ton of work and a great effort by everybody involved from the head coach all the way down to the remaining assistants on the staff," recruiting coordinator Mike Elston explained. Success on the recruiting trail in- volves a sound structure, a good plan, a personable staff and a group of peo- ple willing to put in the work regard- less of the present circumstances. When Elston — also Notre Dame's defensive line coach — was named Mike Elston and the Irish have placed a premium on getting recruits to campus earlier in the cycle and more often, while developing early bonds with the prospects and their families. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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