Notre Dame already beating Michigan on the recruiting trail

Tom Lemming
NDI Correspondent

Notre Dame and Michigan still recruit head-to-head quite a bit, although not as much as they used to. Under Brady Hoke, Michigan has become more of a national recruiting school.

Locally — and by locally I mean the Midwest — Notre Dame has beaten Michigan this year. When you look at some of the guys the Irish staff has landed — such as Miles Boykin, Josh Barajas, Elijah Taylor and Shaun Crawford — Notre Dame beat Michigan on all of those Midwest kids.

Nationally, Michigan now seems to be doing a little better job in this class. Notre Dame right now has more commitments, but Michigan is after more players, but it looks like similar classes in terms of ranking. I would rank both somewhere between 13th and 18th.

When Hoke came to Ann Arbor from San Diego State, Michigan became more of a national recruiting school. Michigan always recruited nationally under Lloyd Carr, but the staff's main focus was on the Midwest kids. I've seen it at Ohio State under Urban Meyer where they still hit the home state heavily, but they're not taking as many kids locally. Michigan is doing the same thing. They're going after the supers in Michigan but really going after the national kids more. I think it's to their benefit.

What I've noticed being on the road is that Michigan under Hoke is everywhere. They get at things real quick and they don't let up. Michigan was on its way to having one of those great years. They had George Campbell and Damien Harris, two top-15 players in the country, committed, as well as Crawford.

And then they kind of hit the skids with their season. They almost beat OSU but had a bad second half, and that kind of cost them. All three of those kids decommitted. And then DeShawn Hand, who was leaning to Michigan, ended up going to Alabama. They didn't recover.

It shows you how well Notre Dame, at times, has recovered. When Charlie Weis had a 3-9 season in 2007, they ended up having a spectacular class the following year with Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph among that group. When ND has a bad year, they promote everything else. Other schools aren't typically that fortunate. When they start heading south, the kids start heading elsewhere.

Philosophy-wise, Notre Dame and Michigan are fairly similar, except Notre Dame has been more Midwest this year than national. The last couple of years they didn't take very many from the Midwest.

Notre Dame not playing Michigan and Michigan State here the next few years won't affect its presence in the state, in my opinion. Notre Dame hasn't done well there anyway. They have three kids on the roster this year from Michigan — offensive lineman Steve Elmer, kicker/punter Kyle Brindza and defensive end Jhonny Williams.

Elmer was the big-name guy, but Williams could turn out to be the best of the bunch. Both schools came in on him at the same time after he had already committed to Toledo and then Missouri. But Williams is right up the road from Notre Dame, and they're going to get that kid almost all the time.

If you look back through the years, Notre Dame has not done well in Michigan since the Lou Holtz years, so it's not going to hurt anyway. Most of the time they are not able to beat Michigan head-to-head on Michigan kids. They did with Elmer.

Recruiting-wise, it helps more going into the ACC. Notre Dame needs to recruit Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia and New Jersey. Those are loaded areas. Now that Rutgers and Maryland are in the Big Ten, their focus might be more on the Midwest, and Notre Dame might be able to take advantage of that.

In terms of this weekend, Michigan is a big-name school, and Notre Dame doesn't have a ton of big weekends on the schedule outside of this and Stanford. It always helps to have great home games. I know it's tough to win national titles if you do it that way, but Michigan has always been a major draw, not only for the fans, but also for the recruits. 

So it will hurt that way with the game going off the schedule. A lot of kids come in wanting to see two national powers. They'll replace Michigan with another national power, but I've found that if that school is from far away, some kids don't want to come see them play.

Michigan's Brady Hoke and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly meet not only on the field but also often on the recruiting trail. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)