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Notre Dame to the ACC: Will it affect Tampa Bay recruiting?

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September

So Notre Dame is headed to the ACC in all sports but football (kind of). The Fighting Irish will play five games against ACC opponents – that means Florida State and Miami, too – each year.

I don’t expect Notre Dame’s move to affect Tampa Bay recruiting much. Here’s why.

The Fighting Irish have already been fairly active down here. Notre Dame has offered scholarships to eight recruits, according to our archives. That’s higher than the ACC average (6.4 offers per school), and it trails only FSU (14), UM (12) and Boston College (9).

You can make the argument that Notre Dame’s move will give it more visibility in Tampa Bay by giving it a bigger footprint in the Southeast.

If it comes to Tallahassee or plays the Hurricanes regularly, maybe more recruits will think about Notre Dame. After all, their parents will be able to watch them play a game every now and then in their home state. Missouri hadn’t even started SEC play before it landed Indian Rocks Christian TE Sean Culkin last year.

But the most important number with Notre Dame and Tampa Bay recruiting is this one: Zero.

That’s the number of players from the area on the Irish roster. It’s also the number of commitments Notre Dame got from the eight offers it’s handed out this year, although Leon McQuay III (2013 prospect) and Vincent Jackson (2014) haven’t decided yet.

The Irish have had some players consider going to South Bend, including St. Petersburg Catholic RB Ryan Green and Berkeley Prep ATH Nelson Agholor. But since Rivals began tracking recruiting in 2002, only one area player has signed with Notre Dame: TBT linebacker Maurice Crum, in 2004.

The (partial) move to the ACC probably won’t change that because ACC schools outside of FSU and UM just don’t have much recruiting success down here.

The 10 other programs in the league have a combined eight Tampa Bay players on their rosters. For comparison, Iowa State (Big 12) and Vanderbilt (SEC) combined have seven players from the bay area on their rosters. No recruits in the 2013 class have committed to ACC programs outside of FSU and UM.

It’s not due to lack of effort from recruiters. The ACC, SEC and Big East are the only three Division I-A leagues to have every member offer at least one Tampa Bay prospect. No, area recruits are just choosing other colleges and other conferences. Many head to the SEC or Big East, and UCF is becoming a larger force, too.

If Notre Dame’s move to the ACC makes its coaches consider recruiting Tampa Bay harder, it faces a tough sell. The Irish not only have to battle UM and FSU here for top recruits; they have to go head to head with Florida, Alabama, Georgia and other Southeastern powers that have had more on-field success and on-campus success in recruiting this area. Is it worth it, when they could focus their efforts on the Midwest, where the aura of the Four Horsemen means more?

What do you think? Will this move give Notre Dame more recruiting success in Tampa Bay?

[Last modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 12:21am]

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