Notre Dame Football: 3 Best recruiting classes under Brian Kelly

Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Tommy Kraemer was a key piece of Notre Dame football’s 2016 class (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame football top recruiting classes under Brian Kelly: Class of 2016

The best class under Brian Kelly, that has had time to prove their caliber at least, is the Class of 2016. During their time, they went from a four-win freshman season, to lead the rebirth of success under Brian Kelly.

The fifth-year seniors of the 2016 class are just moving on from the program now, meaning they’ve been to the CFP twice now, while those who left after their academic senior at Notre Dame still managed to make the one.

Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg were the two top recruits by ranking coming into this class, and they more than panned out for the Irish. They’ll both be in the NFL next season, after great careers at Notre Dame.

Chase Claypool, who after a standout rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers is looking like he has one of the best futures of any NFL player at his position group, also came in through this class. Javon McKinley, meanwhile, had a productive if not outstanding career with the Irish.

Tony Jones Jr. the running back who is now a New Orleans Saint, was also a part of this class.

That’s before you consider that Ian Book was a part of this class. Book, a former three-star recruit, is the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history. He’s also second to Brady Quinn in all the major passing records.

There’s no way to look down on that, as it’s historically one of the great careers in Notre Dame history. He may have been frustrating at times for fans, but he was worlds better than any other Irish quarterback under Brian Kelly.

Defensively, the amount of talent to come in here was even better. Khalid Kareem, now of the Cincinnati Bengals, Daelin Hayes who will be drafted, Julian Okwara of the Detroit Lions, Adetokunbo Ogundeji who had seven sacks in 2020, and Jamir Jones made up a front seven that has dominated for the Irish.

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Despite how good these players have been for Notre Dame, the secondary players Notre Dame got in this class are likely better. Julian Love of the New York Giants, whose injury possibly tanked Notre Dame’s 2018 Cotton Bowl hopes, Jalen Elliott of the Lions, Donte Vaughn of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Troy Pride Jr.of the Carolina Panthers all came out fo this class as well.