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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame boasts a level of mystique and tradition that’s unmatched in college football. With over 130 years of history and 11 claimed national championships, the Fighting Irish have earned a devoted fanbase that extends far beyond alumni and locals in Northern Indiana. The football program has been legendary enough to inspire multiple movies and secure an exclusive broadcasting contract with NBC. Seven Heisman Trophy winners and more than 100 Consensus All-Americans have played for the university. It’s important to remember that all of this success began with Notre Dame football recruiting.

While Notre Dame may have a stellar academic record and beautiful campus, the university is known for football first and foremost. The football program has been ranked as the most valuable in college sports by Forbes. Of course, much of that value has come from consistently winning games. The Fighting Irish have won national championships in six different decades. As of 2019, Notre Dame has had 495 of its players drafted into the NFL. Of those, 52 are members of the College Football Hall of Fame and 13 are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This history has certainly made Notre Dame recruiting a little easier for the football program. What high school prospect wouldn’t want to get noticed by Notre Dame football coaches? However, the university does not sacrifice academic standards when picking the Notre Dame football recruiting class. The Notre Dame acceptance rate is just under 19%, and athletes are not given special treatment.

Overview of Notre Dame University

Notre Dame University was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1842. The 1,261-acre campus is located in the unincorporated CDP of Notre Dame, which is adjacent to South Bend, IN. With roughly 12,300 students (about 8,600 undergraduate), Notre Dame is the 11th biggest private Catholic college in the U.S. The previously all-male school began accepting women in 1972.

Considering the tough Notre Dame acceptance rate, it’s no surprise that the university is well-regarded academically. U.S. News & World Report has Notre Dame at No. 18 in its rankings of the nation’s top colleges. The university offers 72 distinct undergraduate degrees that are concentrated into 57 majors. Some of the most renowned programs are in the university’s business college, law school and architecture school.

The birth of Notre Dame football

Notre Dame football recruiting began when the Fighting Irish fielded their first team in 1887. In its inaugural game, Notre Dame lost 8-0 to Michigan. This marked the beginning of a fierce rivalry between the programs; although, the Fighting Irish did not beat the Wolverines until 1909.

While the team was respectable at the turn of the century, Notre Dame football earned its legendary status after Knute Rockne was named coach in 1918. Rockne, who coached the team to three national championships, revolutionized the game and is considered one of the best Notre Dame football coaches. The program continued its success under coach Frank Leahy, who led the team to four national championships in the 1940s. Some other legendary Notre Dame football coaches who won national championships include Ara Parseghian (1966 and 1973), Dan Devine (1977) and Lou Holtz (1988).

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The success of Notre Dame football recruiting has put the school on the map and brought in revenue that has helped to boost the athletic department. Football may be the biggest draw, but the school fields teams in 11 men’s 11 women’s varsity sports (plus co-ed fencing). Notre Dame has also won national championships in women’s basketball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer.

Notre Dame University and the NCAA

Most of Notre Dame’s varsity teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. However, ND football has a different arrangement with the NCAA. The program competes as an Independent at the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level.

While the team does not play for a conference title, it schedules five games a year against ACC opponents. There are also rivalry teams, including USC, Michigan, Michigan State and Navy, that face the Fighting Irish almost every season. Notre Dame’s intense fanbase, financial viability and strength of schedule allow it to remain an Independent and often be a strong candidate for the FBS playoffs.

Notre Dame football recruiting classes

Notre Dame football recruiting is both an art and a science. Coaches are looking for talented athletes who can fit into the team’s culture and fill specific roles. At the same time, the players must be able to squeeze into the narrow Notre Dame acceptance rate. The program’s iconic status may attract a lot of prospects, but it also puts a lot of pressure on Notre Dame football recruiters.

Ultimately, the Notre Dame recruiting classes are usually among the top 10 in the nation. When you play teams like Michigan and USC every year, it’s vital to have highly developed athletes. The team has a good mix of ready-to-compete underclassmen and senior leaders. Coaches find these Notre Dame recruits from all over the country. Since the Fighting Irish enjoy a national following, recruiters have no trouble casting a wide net from the Midwest to the South and West Coast.

Notre Dame’s style of play

Over the years, Notre Dame football coaches have excelled in various different styles of play. There has been the legendary Notre Dame Box formation utilized by Knute Rockne and Ara Parseghian’s strong passing game. The Fighting Irish have never shied away from adopting modern strategies. However, the team is generally known for being remarkably balanced on offense and defense.

In recent seasons, the Fighting Irish have specialized in an efficient offense that’s highlighted by sporadic big plays. Their quarterbacks typically stay in the pocket and have excellent game management skills. Since Notre Dame recruiting has attracted many great receivers, the QBs often have multiple deep threats.

On defense, the team likes to mix in a lot of pass rushes with some more conservative play calling. This has resulted in many good performances against some of the nation’s strongest offenses. Draft-wise, Notre Dame has recently seen many of its defensive backs make the NFL.

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Notre Dame football recruiting by position

Like most big football programs, Notre Dame recruiting puts a lot of focus on the quarterback position. Four of the university’s Heisman Trophy winners have been quarterbacks. However, the program’s most famous passers did not win the award. Before leading the 49ers to four Super Bowls, Joe Montana played on Notre Dame’s 1977 national championship team. Joe Theismann, who won a Super Bowl with Washington, was also a starting QB for the Fighting Irish. Some more recent Notre Dame quarterbacks who went on to the NFL include Brady Quinn and DeShone Kizer.

Notre Dame football recruiting has also been known for bringing in some of the best pass catchers in the nation. In 1987, Tim Brown became the first ever wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy. The Notre Dame alum went on be the Raider’s top receiver for several seasons. Some notable current NFL players who caught passes at ND include Kyle Rudolph and Golden Tate.

Notre Dame recruiting and the NFL

The Fighting Irish have a long history of supplying quality players for the NFL. In 1946, Notre Dame had a whopping 16 players picked in the NFL draft. While such a strong showing is no longer realistic in today’s NFL, the Fighting Irish are still well represented in most drafts. Between 2009 and 2019, the program had 44 of its players selected by NFL teams.

Here is the breakdown by position for the 2009-2019 NFL drafts:


Players Drafted



Running Back


Wide Receiver


Tight End


Offensive Lineman


Defensive Tackle


Defensive End




Defensive Back


ND Football pride and tradition

With winning and mystique comes a lot of pride and tradition. This is all evident the moment you step into the Notre Dame football stadium, which has seen sellout crowds for well over 250 straight home games. When the players enter the field before kickoff, they are accompanied by the Notre Dame leprechaun. This mascot is a campus figure known for leading the student section, the “Leprechaun Legion,” through traditional cheers. Each year, the person who plays the leprechaun must go through a tough tryout and selection process.

The football team is also supported by the Band of the Fighting Irish, known as the nation’s oldest university band. This 376-member band is famous for playing the “Victory March,” one of the most recognizable college fight songs in the nation. You’ll see the band playing at pep rallies, during halftime and throughout the game to keep the crowd motivated. At the end of each home game, the band leads players, coaches and other team associates as they sing the Notre Dame alma mater in front of the student section.

Notre Dame football recruits are often won over by the lore of the program and the spirit shown by fans. Before taking the field, each player touches the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign in the team tunnel. There’s also the Player Walk tradition, in which the team walks across campus to the stadium. Images of fans cheering the Player Walk are often used to promote Notre Dame football recruiting.

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Staying current on Notre Dame football recruiting news

Every potential recruit should stay up to date Notre Dame football news. There are plenty of college sports portals, including the NCAA website, 247Sports and CBS Sports, that provide Notre Dame football scores and general updates. You can also check out Notre Dame’s place in NCSA’s best football college rankings — the program lands at No. 3 in the nation.

If you want to learn more about Notre Dame football recruiting, head over to the ND portals at ESPN and Rivals. Both sites have loads of information on all of the Notre Dame recruiting commitments. You can also check stats, watch videos and read scouting reports on every major Notre Dame football prospect.

How does Notre Dame football recruiting work?

As an FBS powerhouse, the Fighting Irish has a big team of scouts that follow talented high school players. These Notre Dame football recruiting professionals have to follow several NCAA rules that place restrictions on when and how often they can contact recruits. If you impress a Notre Dame football scout, you’ll be invited to a team camp and an official campus visit. That could then lead to a scholarship offer and signing a National Letter of Intent. However, attending the university will depend on passing through the Notre Dame acceptance rate.

Get noticed by Notre Dame football recruiting scouts

Getting attention from the Notre Dame football recruiting team can be difficult. Unless you’re a five-star prospect, which is less than 1% of high school student-athletes, you won’t be on the team’s radar right away. To get noticed, you’ll need to be proactive and reach out to coaches. One way to raise your profile is to sign up for Next College Student Athlete.

NCSA is the world’s largest recruiting network for college athletics. When you create a profile on the platform, you can upload important personal information, verified stats and video clips of your highlights. The NCSA team can even review your academic standing and recommend a plan for getting through the Notre Dame acceptance rate.

Earning Notre Dame football scholarships

By gaining exposure, you’ll be more likely to secure a football scholarship. That’s why joining NCSA is a good idea for any student-athlete. There are more than 35,000 coaches who use the network to find players. In fact, the “coach view” has become an integral part of recruiting. You’ll get a notification every time a coach looks at your profile.

NCSA is designed to simplify the recruiting process for everyone involved. Since the platform was launched in 2000, more than 100,000 clients have committed to a college team. Start today by creating a free profile or contacting NCSA at (866)495-5172.

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