In 2006, after Charlie Weis's first season as Notre Dame's head coach and a 9-3 record, the Irish pulled in Rivals's eighth-ranked recruiting class: 28 players, with an average rating of 3.46 stars. Now three of those players - QBs Zach Frazer and Demetrius Jones, and TE Konrad Reuland - have all left the team, and another - OL Chris Stewart - is thinking of doing the same. In each case, these have been players low on the depth chart - Frazer was the #4 quarterback and Jones was a backup at best, Reuland was reportedly in a battle with freshman Mike Ragone for the #3 spot, and Stewart hadn't seen the field at all this year - apparently looking for a place where they'll have a better chance to play. Following up on a suggestion from domer.mq at Her Loyal Sons, though, it seems worth comparing this rate of attrition with those at other top programs.
Let's start with Southern Cal, which had the #1-ranked 2006 class according to Rivals, with 25 total players. That class has seen the following players depart (USC's current roster is here):
- 4* RB Kenny Ashley transferred to Ole Miss.
- 3* DT Walker Ashley transferred to Minnesota.
- 4* WR Jamere Holland was dismissed from the team.
- 4* RB Emmanuel Moody transferred to Florida.
- 4* DB Antwine Perez transferred to Maryland.
- 4* LB Joshua Tatum has left the team and is reportedly considering a transfer to Michigan.
- 3* WR Brent Brewer left to play professional baseball.
- 4* OL Matt Hardrick transferred to South Florida.
- 3* LB Tim Rawlinson was declared academically ineligible and is currently at Pearl River Community College.
- 5* WR Brandon Warren left the program, but his request to transfer to Tennessee was denied by the university.
- 4* LB Akeem Hebron had some, err, "off-the-field troubles," and is reportedly planning on transferring to Georgia Military College.
- 3* OL John Miller left the team.
- 4* OL Clifton Gethers withdrew his commitment and enrolled at South Carolina.
- 3* DB James Henry was arrested on two felony charges and has been suspended indefinitely.
- 4* DB Robert Joseph was suspended from the team as well and has decided to transfer.
- 4* QB Jevan Snead transferred to Ole Miss.
- 3* OL Roy Watts has transferred from the team.
- 4* OL J'Marcus Webb has also transferred.
Moreover, note that with an NCAA-imposed limit of 85 total scholarships, having a class of 28 can be a bit problematic. The Irish can get away with it - and indeed, can use all the bodies they can get - right now because of their incredibly small junior, senior, and fifth-year classes, but the size of the '06 class could have posed a problem down the line. That said, other schools make up for players who transfer away from their program with others who transfer TO it - whether from junior colleges or other D-I programs - and ND has a policy of not doing this.
Don't jump, though. At this point there's every reason to think these transfers have been a product of what's happened on the practice field and the players' inabilities to rise to the top, rather than ND's lack of success this season on Saturday afternoons.