Since Brian Kelly was hired in December 2009, Notre Dame football has finished with a top-10 recruiting class three times. The Irish currently sit at No. 10 in the national team rankings for the class of 2015, per 247Sports.
After its recent run of six commitments in 17 days, Notre Dame’s class has swelled to 13 members. The question, however, is where the Fighting Irish class will finish in the rankings. We’re still roughly eight months away from national signing day, but we’ll look toward the future and consider the possibilities.
|Year||Final Class Ranking|
Given Kelly’s track record since arriving at Notre Dame, a top-20 finish seems like a lock. But the current class has only four 4-star commitments—center Tristen Hoge, cornerback Shaun Crawford, offensive tackle Jerry Tillery and linebacker Josh Barajas.
The Irish will need to continue adding high-end talent to maintain a spot in the top 10, and they’ll most likely need to land a few of their top targets to surge even higher up the rankings.
Some of the top names on Notre Dame’s board figure to include cornerback Iman Marshall, outside linebacker Justin Hilliard, defensive end Jashon Cornell, and running backs Jacques Patrick and Soso Jamabo, all of whom rank in the top 60 overall.
Last year, the Irish earned a late commitment from inside linebacker Nyles Morgan, who finished the recruiting cycle as the No. 53 player in the country. Morgan was Notre Dame’s highest-ranked commitment in that 10th-ranked class.
In 2013, however, Notre Dame added outside linebacker Jaylon Smith (No. 2 nationally), safety Max Redfield (No. 30) and running back Greg Bryant (No. 45), and the Irish finished fifth.
While rounding out the rest of the class with top players is still important, Notre Dame’s final class ranking will likely come down to how it fares with elite prospects.
For some of those top targets, such as Hilliard, the Irish will soon know where they stand.
Making my decision this month at St. X. I'll know the exact date as early as tomorrow.— Justin Hilliard (@JHilliard47) June 18, 2014
But for others, the decision might not come until the back end of the upcoming season or even January or February.
With that time frame in mind, it’s worth remembering Notre Dame’s 2012 season and its class of 2013.
Following the undefeated regular season and the trip to the national championship game, the Irish closed their class with a bang. Redfield pledged to Notre Dame in January, three days before the title game. Bryant committed in early December, roughly two weeks after the Irish capped their 12-0 regular season with a 22-13 win over their rival USC.
Notre Dame seems set to finish comfortably in the top 20 of the team recruiting rankings, barring a woefully disappointing season. Another outstanding season, meanwhile, could bring a late boost to the class of 2015 and vault the Irish well into the top 10.
Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports. Star ratings reflect 247Sports' composite rankings.
Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco on Twitter.