Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

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

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Page 17 of 63

18 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY BRYAN DRISKELL P utting together the 2017 re- cruiting class was quite the roller-coaster affair for the Notre Dame coaching staff, but in the end it just might turn out better than expected. In fact, Notre Dame will rely heavily on its sopho- mores at a number of positions this fall. The class began with the poten- tial to be one of the nation's premier hauls, but a 4-8 outcome in 2016 and coaching turnover resulted in some defections that dropped the class out of the top 10 by all but one recruiting service. In total, six publicly commit- ted players backed out of the class, including three Rivals250 commits and two other four-star recruits. Leading up to the final month, things were looking dire. But after its staff overhaul, Notre Dame was able to replace the six lost players. Of the six new signees, three announced their decisions in the week leading up to National Signing Day and three more did so on the final day itself. That proved impactful with three of the late pickups earning playing time in 2017, including kickoff spe- cialist Jonathan Doerer. Nine differ- CRUCIAL CLASS The process was rocky, but Notre Dame's sophomores will be vital to the team's 2018 success Robert Hainsey, who was a rotation player as a true freshman, will start at right tackle and is expected to become a mainstay of the 2018 offensive line. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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