One of the few bright spots of the weekend was the announcement that ND managed to land another commitment. The recruit in question this time was Georgia wide receiver Tai-ler Jones, who switched his commitment from Stanford to the Fighting Irish.
"It was the team chemistry outside of football activities and how the coaches interacted with the players outside of football," Jones told Irish Illustrated. "It wasn't anything in particular, just the whole atmosphere...Despite the early Cardinal pledge, Jones's connection to ND do run pretty deep though as his father Andre played on the 1988 national championship team (this is when you go "man, I'm getting old"). His god father is someone you maj have heard of as well: Rocket Ismail.
"I feel that I may have committed (to Stanford) before exhausting all measures. Now that I have exhausted all measures and looked at every aspect of all the schools I was interested in I feel I made the best choice for me."
On the recruiting sites, the 6'0" 185 pound Jones is a unanimous pick as a 4-star recruit. Rivals gives him 4 stars and slots him as the 16th best receiver and 121st overall recruit in the nation. Scout lists him a bit lower as a receiver at #21, but higher overall at 106. ESPN gives Jones the highest overall ranking as the 77th best recruit in the country, along with an 81 grade, which is the highest grade given to any ND commit so far this year. Their evaluation ends in this glowing summary.
Overall, Jones is versatile and extremely productive with gamebreaking ability and he is a guy that could hurt you from a variety of positions, which gives him terrific value. He runs well, can make you miss and possesses great ball skills. Excellent prospect.Offer-wise, Jones can match scholarships with just about anyone in the country. Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Miami, Florida State, Michigan, and many other programs all extended offers to Jones. His highlight clips on youtube have pretty terrible resolution, so here are a few from summer time 7 on 7 games and 1 v. 1 drills against other 3 and 4 star recruits.
Like fellow Cardinal de-commit Chris Badger, Spencer Boyd, and Lo Wood, Jones is on track to enroll early at ND and participate in spring ball.
Usually I don't look ahead to future recruiting and leave that to the recruiting sites, but I figure with the possibility of the next few months going in a few drastically different directions, it would be worth preserving for posterity where we are in recruiting at this moment.
ND currently has 16 publicly committed recruits. Add in 17 seniors for the 2010 season, 22 juniors, and 18 sophomores, and you get 73 out of a possible 85 scholarships off the table. That leaves 12 more scholarships for recruits and 5th year seniors (possibles: Burkhart, Gallup, Gordon, Mullen Stewart, Wade ,Walls, Wenger, West) Factoring in attrition and a limited number of 5th year guys coming back, it's a reasonable guess that ND has room for 8 to 10 more recruits in the current class. 10 would put ND over the 25 man limit per class, but early enrollee candidates can count against the previous class and let ND effectively bring in more than 25 new recruits as long as the total number of scholarship is under 85.
With that 8-10 number in mind, here is a brief rundown of the positions with already committed players and main targets that are still by most accounts seriously considering ND. As you can see, there are a lot more names on the board than open slots. After a few years of just filling back up the roster depth, now ND is hitting up against the 85 man scholarship limit and will have to be selective in filling up the remaining few slots.
Have: Andrew Hendrix, Tommy Rees
Notes: ND is done at QB with Hendrix and Rees in the fold.
Have: Cameron Roberson
Targets: Jordan James, Gio Bernard, Marquis Flowers
Notes: With Roberson filling the big back role, ND might like to land one of the three remaining targets to compliment Cameron.
Have: Daniel Smith, Bennett Jackson, Tai-ler Jones
Targets: Kyle Prater, Corey Cooper
Notes: With Jones, ND has a full set of receivers, but it's hard to turn away the nation's top WR in Prater if he wants to come. Cooper, Prater's friend, is also a safety prospect.
Have: Alex Welch
Notes: With both freshmen tight ends preserving a year of eligibilty (Eifert is likely to get a medical redshirt), Welch is going to be the only tight end in the class.
Have: Christian Lombard
Targets: Seantrel Henderson, Brandon Linder, James Stone, Matt James
Notes: ND is looking too add a few more with tackles being the priority. Still a number of excellent candidates conisdering ND, but there isn't much margin for error.
Have: Chris Martin, Blake Leuders, Prince Shembo, Justin Utupo
Targets: J.R. Ferguson
Notes: ND has four ends already committed with each bringing a slightly different size and skill set. Keeping Chris Martin in the fold will be one of the bigger tasks from now until Signing Day.
Targets: Louis Nix, Beau Allen, Bruce Gaston, Jr.
Notes: ND needs to land at least one DT every year. Odds are ND will get one of the three here and maybe more.
Have: Kendall Moore
Targets: Anthony Barr, Christian Jones, Hayes Pullard
Notes: Barr is one of the bigger names still left on the board as he could wind up at RB, DE, or LB. Jones might be a longer shot, but he's set to visit this weekend.
Have: Spencer Boyd, Lo Wood
Targets: Joshua Shaw, Cody Riggs, Lamarcus Joyner, Toney Hurd
Notes: Two solid CBs on board already, ND has a very impressive list of remaining targets.
Have: Chris Badger
Targets: David Amerson, Dietrich Riley, Sean Parker
Notes: Like at CB, ND has a a lot of very talented safeties seriously considering the Irish.
Notes: With Turk, Cowart and Tausch all looking like four year starters, ND doesn't need any special teams players this year.