National Signing Day is without a doubt one of the most backwards days in American sports. It's an all-day event when teenagers hold press conferences, college coaches that make millions hold their breath, and middle aged men take off work to watch and scream and yell at the television depending on which hat the 18-year old decided to put on his head.
The dust has settled from 2011's edition of this bizarre ritual and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have emerged from the roller coaster as one of the clear winners of the day.
In Survivor-esque fashion, Coach Brian Kelly and his staff outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed schools like Florida State, Penn State, and Georgia Tech to land a haul for the ages along the defensive line. Whether it was defensive coordinator Bob Diaco meeting with Ishaq Williams at 4:30am the morning he was supposed to head to Penn State or assistant Tony Alford patiently waiting out Aaron Lynch in the hotel at the Army All-American Bowl, the staff went above and beyond to ensure the bedrock of an Irish Revival was put in place.
The accolades from this class are rolling in and nearly every scouting service has Notre Dame placed squarely in the Top 10 classes in the country. Irish fans are ecstatic and of course the superlatives have begun to fly when describing the haul.
Greatest ever? Greatest of the past decade? It's time to put it in some context in regards to recent history.
In this slideshow we're going to look back at every Notre Dame recruiting class since Ty Willingham took over in the 2002 off-season. It's nearly impossible to rank truly rank the more recent classes because some are still only rising sophomores and juniors and haven't been presented with the opportunity to contribute yet.
Still, what I've attempted to do is create some semblance of objectivity by devising a point system to compare the hype of the class coming in against the reality of production and contribution once they arrived on campus. Here's the breakdown:
The Hype...This is what the classes perceived value was when they signed on NSD. I've assigned point values to each player of the class based on their Rivals rating.
5-star = 4 Points
4-star = 3 Points
3-star = 2 Points
2-star = 1 Point
The Reality...This is what the class actually contributed while at Notre Dame. Each player is individually assigned a point value on a scale of 4 to -1.
4 Points - Superstar (One of the best players of the decade for ND)
3 Points - Major Contributor (Solid multi-year starter or someone who made an undeniably large impact)
2 Points - Contributor (Someone who played a relatively significant role but was unspectacular)
1 Point - Played with No Impact or Was a Liability (Pretty self-explanatory)
-1 Point - Transferred or Never Played (Once again, self-explanatory)
Now that everything is outlined, let's get to the class breakdowns and see how things shake out!