Rich Hansen has served as St. Peter’s Prep’s head football coach for 26 seasons and is the school’s all-time winningest coach. He led the Marauders to the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association Non-Public Group 4 state championship last month and Sunday night he’ll coach the East team in the 2015 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
Irish Illustrated caught up with Hansen on Saturday to learn more about Irish commitment Brandon Wimbush, Hansen’s quarterback the past three seasons.
The coach believes Wimbush is both physically and mentally ready to compete in South Bend.
“He’s such a cerebral kid,” Hansen said. “He’s a really good athlete but an even better person and even better guy. He’s going to be a really good leader for them. I think the development you’ll see is on par with what coaches expect. I think he’s going to be an awesome competitor there. I’m sure he’s going in with the mindset that he wants to contribute and see where that takes him.”
Wimbush, who completed 76-percent of his passes as a senior for 1,785 yards and 22 touchdowns to just one interception, represented Team Armour in the Under Armour All-American Game on Friday. He completed just 3-of-6 passes for 44 yards and an interception in a 46-6 loss to Team Highlight.
Hansen wasn’t concerned with Friday’s performance. Instead, he focused on the development he saw from Wimbush the past three seasons.
“Honestly, he’s gotten very, very astute at progressions. The depth of our offense for a high school was pretty good and I think it set the table for him at the next level,” Hansen said. “I think that there’s always a transition that when you go from any high school level, even if it’s a high high school level, to Division I FBS level, but I think the transition is going to be a little bit more smooth for him.
“It should be by design because he’s used to the work ethic, he’s used to film and he’s used to doing all the things that he’s going to be asked to do at Notre Dame. I think he’s going to develop well and I think he’s going to be a good player.”
Obviously, every player must adjust to the speed and intensity of the college game but Hansen is confident Wimbush will fit right in with the Irish.
“I really, really believe he can be as good as they’ve had,” he said. “I think that he’s got a great work ethic. He’s got tremendous athletic ability. He’s a high football IQ kid. I think the ceiling is limitless. I really believe that he’s got a chance to be a great one.”
Notre Dame also offered Minkah Fitzpatrick, a four-star cornerback from St. Peter’s Prep. Fitzpatrick is committed to Alabama but with a month left before signing day anything could happen.
“I haven’t talked to Minkah since we broke. We were texting leading up to his game (on Saturday),” Hansen said. “Our last conversation, Alabama was solid but you never know these days. These kids are all over the place and there are so many people with their hands on them. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had second thoughts but as of the last time I spoke with him Alabama was his pick. We’ll probably have a conversation early next week and we’ll see what happens. Who knows, Minkah is a special kid to and he’s going to in the end make a decision that’s best for him. The rules allow him to do it so he’s going to do it. We’ll see.”
It’s situations like Fitzpatrick’s that has Hansen hoping for a change to NCAA recruiting rules.
“It’s just crazy. This process needs to be fixed,” he said. “They need to do something. Unfortunately the kids are in the middle of it. How many kids de-committed in the last eight months from their initial commitments? It’s ridiculous. There needs to be two signing periods. They need to get a handle on it and they need to open up this evaluation period and contact period. They know how to fix it. I think it’s time for them to fix it because it’s putting kids in the middle and stressing high school coaches and I’m sure the college guys would love to have another signing day, an early signing day.”