Notre Dame football recruiting: ND making inroads in ACC country

ND Insider

It’s been more than a year since Notre Dame announced its agreement with the ACC, and I have seen the football program making recruiting inroads in that league’s territory.

Defensive line coach Mike Elston has done a very good job in North Carolina. In South Carolina, there aren’t a lot of great students on a yearly basis, so it’s got to be limited there. And I think there’s room for improvement in Virginia and Maryland. Those are two great states.

Maryland is joining the Big Ten, but it’s still an ACC area, and it’s a loaded state, one that Notre Dame has not taken advantage of over the years. Two kids from the northern Virginia/Maryland area in recent years come to mind — Ronald Darby who ended up at Florida State, and Tom Carter’s son, Alex, who now plays at Stanford.

Maryland and Virginia are typically schools where there are good grades and there are a lot of Catholic schools. ND has not taken advantage of those factors, but going into the ACC could allow it to happen.

Also, getting Stephon Tuitt a few years ago out of Georgia helps ND because Georgia Tech is there, and the Atlanta area could be a prime area for Notre Dame. Notre Dame is still going to have its Midwest contacts, but moving into the ACC country makes them a little bit more visible when it comes to recruiting and telling people they can watch the games, either in person or on TV.

Tony Alford already does a good job in Florida, but it also helps having two schools — Miami and Florida State — as schools ND will play.

They’ve already done a good job in some areas, but it should get better next year once they start playing five ACC schools each year.

Poaching season

Everybody has a pretty good idea of schools that may be firing coaches at the end of the season, so other schools are starting to make moves.

The USC job is already open, and Notre Dame has jumped in by trying to bring in all the big names in California.

The schools that have great organization will move into the areas where it looks like the coach is either going to get fired or he’s on the hot seat entering next year.

A lot of times, it’s better just to have the coach in trouble and he gets another year, because then you can go in and recruit against him for this year and next year. A lot of kids are hesitant to go to a program where they think the coach is going to get fired.

That’s part of the game. It’s always been that way. The schools that always do well in recruiting, you’ll already see them in areas where there’s trouble brewing with the coach.

A national look

In terms of who is doing well nationally, Alabama is leading the way. I’ve had them No. 1 all year and I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’re No. 1.

Ohio State is No. 2, and No. 3 is Tennessee because of numbers. They have a lot of kids committed.

Fourth is Miami. Now with the ruling behind them, I think you’ll see them take off. They’ve already done well with the restrictions. I expect to see them take off next year. No. 5 is Texas A&M, which is doing well not only in Texas but also other areas. An example is quarterback Kyle Allen of Arizona. He’s a guy that Notre Dame wanted.

Sixth is Georgia, doing well as always in Georgia, but their big guy is Sony Michel from Florida. Seventh would be Florida State and Texas is eighth. They’ve got a lot of big names in Texas. Ninth would be Mississippi and Clemson is tenth.

Notre Dame is 11th. ND is doing well and would have been in the top 10 had it not been for the decommitment of running back Elijah Hood.

Be sure to watch the Lemming Report Friday nights on CBS Sports Network. Check your local listings as times change. On this week’s show, standout offensive tackle Braden Smith mentions ND in his top five, and mentioned the Irish first.

Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston, right, speaks with his players on the bench during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, at Falcon Stadium in Air Force Academy, Colo. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER via FTP