It was announced today that Notre Dame is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football.
Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson signed with the Irish out of Myrtle Beach (S.C.) High School in the 2011 class.
It’s a great move for the Fighting Irish in terms of their overall athletics department. Leaving an unstable Big East for a stable ACC is an excellent move and helps most of the sports sell a future on the recruiting trail that is more certain. But in football, where the agreement is for Notre Dame to play five conference games a year and to be a part of the league’s bowl selection, it’s not a move that will have a huge positive or negative impact on that sport's recruiting efforts.
Simply put, Notre Dame already is a big dog up and down the East Coast when it comes to competing for the best prospects.
There have been arguments that the five-game agreement and affiliation will suddenly give the Irish the ability to recruit Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida with greater success.
But the reality is, Notre Dame already is extremely competitive recruiting top prospects from those states as an independent in football and a member of the Big East in its other sports.
Looking at the Class of 2013 commits, nine of the 20 hail from states (and territories as we are counting D.C. as the University of Maryland is located just outside the district, so it’s an ACC territory if you will) that include current ACC programs (including Pittsburgh and Syracuse here). Notre Dame went to Georgia and beat most of the Southeastern Conference and ACC programs on lineman Isaac Rochell, just as it did for Stephon Tuitt in the 2011 class. The Irish have been very good in south Florida, particularly the west coast (Tony Alford is a dominant recruiter there), and have a commitment from Top247 tight end Mike Heuerman and linebacker Michael Deebs. Furthermore, four-star cornerback MacKensie Alexander recently named Notre Dame his leader. He’s holds offers from every program in the SEC and ACC and most of the programs from throughout the country. Doug Randolph, one of the top prospects in Virginia, de-committed from Stanford to Notre Dame and Grant Martini, a Top247 prospect from 2014, also is already committed and hails from Virginia (both are from the same school).
Glancing at the current Notre Dame depth chart, there currently are eight starters listed just from the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia.
Everett Golson, QB, Myrtle Beach (S.C.)
T.J. Jones, WR, Gainesville (Ga.)
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Monroe (Ga.) Monroe Area
Louis Nix, DT, Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines
Ben Councell, LB, Asheville (N.C.) Reynolds
Prince Shembo, LB, Charlotte (N.C.) Ardrey Kell
Zeke Motta, S, Vero Beach (Fla.)
Jamoris Slaughter, S, Tucker (Ga.)
So, I am not sure that as intriguing as Notre Dame at Virginia Tech or Clemson sounds, and I am looking forward to those games, that it’s going to matter one way or the other simply because of the level at which the Irish are currently recruiting.
It’s also important to note that Notre Dame isn’t going to shift its recruiting strategy from its national “best of the best” approach. The Irish still will recruit Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. They will still recruit Texas and California. They still will get in the mix when there are players in states like New Mexico worth signing. In Georgia and Florida and the Carolinas, it’s a “get your share” approach for all schools and Notre Dame is already doing just that.
Most prospects that decide to head to South Bend do so because of the relationship they have with the current staff, the program’s rich history and tradition and because of the academic virtues of the university. So while it’s an overwhelming positive for the Irish and quite frankly for the other ACC programs that this happened, the impact on Notre Dame’s football recruiting efforts is not an overwhelming positive or negative, other than something new to share with prospects within the standard recruiting pitch that they can judge for themselves.