Monday Morning Briefing

A verbal pledge, two injury concerns, names of note through three spring practices, and an annual mid-March whimper on the hardwood are among topics touched on in today's Monday Morning Briefing.

Notre Dame hosted a combined nine prospects this weekend for its late-March junior day, and the event yielded an immediate return with Saturday's pledge from Demarest, N.J., defensive end Andrew Trumbetti.

Trumbetti is the fifth member of the 2014 recruiting cycle with fellow defensive line prospect Jay Hayes, offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne, wide receiver Justin Brent, and linebacker Greer Martini all pledging before or during the 2012 season.

A new feature for 2013 on Irisheyes.com, the "Big Board" posits head coach Brian Kelly and his staff need a minimum of three and preferably four true defensive line prospects in this cycle. Already 6'5" 250 pounds as a high school junior, the FOX Sports NEXT top 300 prospect appears an ideal fit as a four-technique defensive end when Notre Dame shows a 3-4 front.

A likely additional 25 pounds before he's pressed into collegiate action suggests he can shift inside when the Irish alignment moves to 4-3 as it does nearly 50 percent of the defensive snaps.

I'll have more on Trumbetti's fit with the Irish, both for 2014 and beyond, in a forthcoming "Recruit Fit" column.

Note: Click here for the most recent "Big Board" edition. An update will be published Wednesday, March 28. Click here recruiting analyst Dave Berk's initial take on Trumbetti.

Early Attrition

Notre Dame has completed one-fifth of its 15-practice spring allotment and it appears Saturday, the session's first in full pads, claimed at least one casualty: promising running back Amir Carlisle, who according to multiple sources (two confirmed with Irisheyes.com) and multiple websites has suffered a broken collarbone.

Said Kelly of Carlisle following Saturday's practice, "He did well. He's going to be an exciting player. He's what we thought he was. He got injured (broken ankle in March 2012), you didn't really see anything. He was limited by the ankle and then the nerve that would not stop firing up on him (through last September's practices).

"We had a lot of the veterans out there today and Manti (Te'o) was out there, Robby (Toma) was out there, (Kyle) Rudolph, everybody noticed No. 3. He's gonna be a guy that definitely impacts the program."

Kelly will likely bring official word of Carlisle's status at his post-practice update Wednesday morning.

Also reportedly banged up was junior defensive end Chase Hounshell, who missed all of last season with shoulder surgery. Hounshell's injury is again a shoulder though the severity is not known, nor if its related to the prior procedure.

Asked about Hounshell Saturday, Kelly offered, "Really impressed with Chase's work ethic. He's gotten himself up into the 280 range. Did 225 (on the bench) 22 times. So he's really come back from two shoulder surgeries. He's worked really hard, he looks good. He's in good shape. He'll just continue to develop and get more reps. He hasn't played a lot of football quite frankly. That's why the spring is really important for him."

Stock Up?

In addition to Carlisle, the following starters, potential starters, and potential two-deep backups have been lauded for early spring efforts, either by Kelly or their position coaches:

Cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks on CB Lo Wood's return from Achilles Surgery: "This is my first experience as a defensive back coach with that kind of injury. I didn't think he'd even be ready to go through spring, but through the off-season, he came back and did drills, was running around and doing all the agility stuff and looked great. And in the first two days of practice, he looked like he never had an injury. Very pleased and excited about where he is.

"Now for him, he hasn't played in a year. So its regaining a feel for the game, going against wide receivers, pushing against other people and really letting it go, being confident, and planting off the Achilles in full-speed drills is really the next step. But he doesn't show any signs of hesitation."

Cooks on Eilar Hardy, now 18 months removed from ACL surgery: "In year three now, he's a night-and-day difference from even last year.

"Physically right, his whole game you can tell he worked on it this off-season. He's cleaned up a lot of things in areas he needed to, and he's putting himself in position right now through what he's done this off-season, and through the first two practices, to be a viable option."

A 2011 pledge, Hardy awaits his first collegiate action after missing his initial season following an August (2011) ACL tear.

Kelly on sophomore DE Sheldon Day: "He's got a unique first step quickness and ability to get off blocks. Whether he's 6'1" 6'3" or 6'2", his skill set overcomes any lack of length at that position…There's nobody that we have defensively that gets off blocks like Sheldon Day. The only way I've found to get a guy off a block is just to yell at him louder, in other words, it's an innate trait that you have. And he has that."

Kelly on senior wide receiver Daniel Smith, who was seen working inside: "As you know we like Danny with his size, but we also like his ability to block. Moving him around closer to the ball gives us a bigger body if we're having a hard time. Let's say matching up against a bigger guy like (linebacker) Danny Spond. If you put a slot that's not as big, he could get overwhelmed. Danny (Sith) gives us the flexibility to move him inside and he can really do a nice job playing a will linebacker or a dog backer in that sense."

Kelly on senior tight end Alex Welch, returning from August ACL surgery: "I think he's been good. He's in there taking a lot of reps. He was in our live three-on-three drill. Now, there's rust in terms of alignments and some assignment stuff, but he's a tough Catholic League kid from Cincinnati, so he'll stick his nose in there."

Not Unique, but not enough, either

The Notre Dame basketball program isn't alone in its lack of tournament success. Perennial power Georgetown and head coach John Thompson, III have been bounced in three of the last four seasons by a double-digit seed (including #15 Florida Gulf Coast this season and #14 seed Ohio in 2010).

Prior to this season, Michigan hadn't made it past the tournament's first weekend since 1994.

And Gonzaga, those purported darlings of mid-March? Just two Sweet 16 appearances in the last 12 seasons.

Mike Brey's Irish have made Notre Dame fans mad in March for the last decade as well. Two wins and six losses since last qualifying for the Sweet 16 in 2003 and five of the team's six exits have been against lower seeded teams, each #10 or worse.

The lack of March success hasn't negatively impacted the program's recruiting, which appears its healthiest in years.

And it doesn't mean the Irish will struggle in their new league, the Athletic Coast Conference. (Duke is the only ACC team is still playing basketball). But it does mean, unfortunately, that a legion of doubting Irish are unlikely to jump on board in 2013-14 regardless of any continued regular season success the team enjoys.

For 90 percent of modern college basketball fans, March is all the matters. The journey is hardly anything. And Notre Dame's epic annual flameout means football season lasts about 50 weeks for the program's followers.

Only an NCAA Tournament run will change that long-standing reality.

And still we wait...


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