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Why 2016 is an Important Year for Notre Dame Football

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Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and his staff are putting together another nice recruiting class. The 2017 group currently checks in at No. 6 on 247 Sports’ Composite Team Rankings. Each of the past three classes (2014-16) were similar, ones filled with solid players that are capable of producing at the top FBS level.

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But there is something missing in this year’s recruiting class; something that has been missing since the 2014 cycle. While the Irish have been successful in getting quality depth, they have been light on the landing the elite prospects. It is true that recruiting rankings are inexact. But it is also a well-documented fact that perennial national contenders like Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and now Clemson land at least a couple of top-50 prospects every cycle.

Since 2014 — including the class of 2017 — Notre Dame has brought in just two prospects that have been ranked in 247’s Composite Top 50: quarterback Brandon Wimbush at No. 45 in 2015 and offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer, the nation’s No. 27 overall prospect on the most recent National Signing Day.

This past February, Notre Dame came very close to landing two big difference-makers in Georgia wide receiver Demetris Robertson and California linebacker Caleb Kelly. But in the end, both went in other directions and the Irish again came up short.