At 1-2 after a loss this past weekend against Michigan State, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish need to cling to any good news they can find. Thankfully for head coach Brian Kelly and his staff, recruiting has been a major bright spot for the Irish so far in the 2017 cycle.
Notre Dame’s class features 18 commitments and is ranked No. 6 nationally, only behind Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma. Of the 18 commitments, all are ranked as four-stars, according to 247Sports.
The most recent commit, strong-side defensive end Donovan Jeter from Beaver Falls, Pa. (Beaver Falls), may end up being one of the most important.
Want to thank everyone that helped with the decision.. but here it is ???? pic.twitter.com/yR3VYkEzM8
— 5⃣God (@JeteNificent34) September 19, 2016
Per the rankings, Jeter is the 11th-highest ranked recruit for the Fighting Irish, but that’s more of an indication of how good the class is and not an indictment against Jeter’s abilities.
For proof of that, just check out his offer list. He committed to Notre Dame over schools such as Pittsburgh, Michigan, Alabama, Penn State, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State and Stanford. Other name-brand schools that offered the four-star include Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA and Wisconsin, among others.
And perhaps that’s one of the biggest takeaways for Notre Dame.
Jeter had the opportunity to go to just about any major college football program in the country, but he chose the Irish — even in what could be a “down year” for the program. Even more impressive is the fact that he chose the Irish over Pitt, which was reported to be a major player in his recruitment.
Pat Narduzzi has the Panthers trending upward, both on the field and on the recruiting trail. He especially has in-state recruits excited about his program. Jeter’s commitment — especially considering Pitt’s presence — is one indication that Notre Dame’s draw on the recruiting trail is as strong as it ever has been.
The Fighting Irish are one of the most iconic brands in college football and that type of presence doesn’t change much in regards to winning or losing. Just take a look at what Jeter’s high school coach, Ryan Matsook, told Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports when talking about the commitment.
Notre Dame is still Notre Dame whether its playing in the national championship or struggling to put together a winning season. Of course, too many bad seasons in a row would definitely shake things up for the Irish, but under Kelly, that hasn’t been a huge issue. This is his seventh season at Notre Dame and he currently boasts a 56-25 record.
He’s taken Notre Dame to a BCS National Championship game — a 42-14 loss to Alabama in 2012 — and has made a bowl game every year since taking over (Kelly is 3-3 in bowl games at Notre Dame). The national brand of Notre Dame the school aside, Kelly has done a fantastic job of turning the football program around and keeping it competitive on a national level. Remember, Notre Dame was 6-6 in 2009 under Charlie Weis, so the Fighting Irish have come a long way in just a few short years.
A commitment like Jeter’s really brings that to light, especially considering the numbers surrounding him as a national recruit.
Yes, he’s a four-star, but he’s ranked as the No. 8 strong-side defensive end in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports. He’s also the No. 6 recruit from the state of Pennsylvania, which may not be up there with the likes of Florida, Georgia and Texas when it comes to producing elite recruiting talent, but still has a high-quality of high school talent on a yearly basis.
“A lot of players on board the WPIAL to ND train,” Fighting Irish offensive tackle commit Joshua Lugg told Wiltfong. Lugg is ranked as the No. 6 recruit from Pennsylvania, according to the industry generated 247Sports Composite rankings.
For reference, WPIAL stands for the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League. To Lugg’s point, Notre Dame now has four commitments from the state of Pennsylvania this cycle.
Jeter joins linebacker David Adams, defensive tackle Kurt Hinish and Lugg in what is becoming a very impressive recruiting haul.