SI All-American has released its final rankings for the 2021 recruiting class, and Notre Dame placed five signees in the SI99. The SI99 is SI All-American's rankings of the 99 best players in the country.
"With the release of the final SI99 for the 2021 recruiting cycle, it's clear Notre Dame has shown the ability to win blue-blood battles across the country," said John Garcia Jr., the Director of Recruiting for SI All-American. "Only four programs have more than the Irish's five SI99 members, with each having been a step ahead of the Irish on the field in having been to a College Football Playoff Championship Game in the last three years (Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia)."
St. Louis (Mo.) Lutheran St. Charles defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio is Notre Dame's top ranked recruit, checking in as the nation's No. 49 overall player and the eighth best interior defensive lineman.
Rubio's senior season was shortened, but as a junior the 6-5, 285-pound defender racked up an outstanding 117 tackles, 46 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. SI99 jumped Rubio up 17 spots from the previous rankings, and the standout defender is ranked higher by SI99 than any other recruiting service.
Jonesborough (Tenn.) David Crockett standout linebacker Prince Kollie ranked right behind Rubio, checking as the nation's No. 50 overall player and the eighth best linebacker.
Kollie had a brilliant senior season, racking up 111 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, five interceptions and 17 pass break ups on defense. He rushed for 1,951 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior running back, and hauled in 68 passes for 1,085 yards for nine touchdowns as a junior while playing wide receiver.
Kollie was not ranked in the SI99 in its last installment, but he's ranked higher by SI All-American than any other service.
Notre Dame's top two players were on defense, but the rest of the SI99 was filled with Irish offensive players.
La Mesa (Calif.) Helix quarterback Tyler Buchner checks in as the nation's No. 59 overall player and the eighth best quarterback in the 2021 class. Buchner's ranking was stunted by the fact California canceled the 2020 fall football season. As a junior, Buchner passed for 4,474 yards and 53 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,610 yards and scored 28 more touchdowns on the ground.
Despite not playing this past season, Buchner fell just four spots in the SI99 ranking, which simply means other prospects saw their ranking go up due to strong senior seasons, and it isn't about Buchner's status with SI99 changing at all. Only ESPN (No. 39) ranks Buchner higher than SI All-American.
Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County tight end Cane Berrong ranked as the nation's No. 61 overall player and the third best tight end. Berrong was one of the top players in the state of Georgia the last two years, and only ESPN (No. 49) ranks him higher than SI All-American.
Berrong hauled in 26 passes for 405 yards (15.6 YPC) and four touchdowns as a senior. He caught 43 passes for 486 yards (11.3 YPC) and four more scores as a junior.
The fifth and final member of the SI99 is Avon (Ind.) High School offensive tackle Blake Fisher, who checks in as the nation's No. 64 overall player, which is up four spots from the previous ranking. The 6-6, 330-pound tackle had a tremendous senior season.
"While the top two ND members ranked the highest are on defense, including new SI99 addition and linebacker Prince Kollie, the remaining three are on offense," Garcia said. "That has to be welcome news for Brian Kelly and company, especially when the positions are realized in quarterback Tyler Buchner, offensive tackle Blake Fisher and tight end Cane Berrong.
"The top of the Notre Dame class reflects what the roster has specialized in over the years along with one of Kelly's top signal caller signees since he arrived in South Bend with the dynamic Buchner," continued Garcia.
"Few prospects have as high a ceiling as the Californian at any position this cycle."
Fisher is ranked as my top offensive signee in the 2021 class. You can read my full analysis of Fisher, Buchner, Berrong and the rest of the offensive class HERE.
I also rank Kollie and Rubio as the top two defensive signees in the class, although my order is flipped. You can find my analysis of Rubio, Kollie and the rest of the Notre Dame defensive signees HERE.
Notre Dame tied with LSU for the fifth most SI99 signees. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia were the only programs to sign more. Just behind Notre Dame is Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and USC with four players apiece.
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