1 – Let’s Pump the Brakes: Irish Illustrated held its second annual player draft this afternoon, with Tim Prister, Pete Sampson, and myself selecting Irish players to write about for our “ND: A to Z” summer feature stories.
The, um, “working lunch” was kicked off with a fitting first overall pick, especially considering the press bestowed upon him this spring – cornerback Shaun Crawford.
Which reminds me: who was the last Notre Dame redshirt-freshman to be feted among the media and Irish fan base as often as Shaun Crawford over the last three months?
Admittedly, there’s nothing not to like about the kid. He’s a top-tier competitor with the mental approach and physical skills to excel at the collegiate level. But Crawford will be a year removed from ACL surgery when he takes the field in Austin, Texas next September and he’s never played a college down – yet we unanimously pegged him as the team’s No. 1 sophomore and a definitive Top 10 projected player.
It’s a standard of which not many rookies prove worthy.
2 – On Tap: Prister and Sampson will likely share their own selections on the board but I drafted and will thus be writing feature stories on the following Irish players this summer (incoming freshmen excluded):
Hunter Bivin, Grant Blankenship, Justin Brent, Devin Butler, Daniel Cage, Shaun Crawford (#1 overall pick), Daelin Hayes, Tristen Hoge, John Montelus, Nyles Morgan, Sam Mustipher, Tyler Newsome, Max Redfield, Avery Sebastiam, EQ St. Brown, Brandon Tiassum, Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill, Montgomery VanGorder, Ashton White, Dexter Williams, Brandon Wimbush, and Malik Zaire.
I had targeted Crawford, Morgan, and Daelin Hayes as the three best summer subjects. That’s arguably a better draft than the Jaguars had…
3 – First Look: Six games in which favored Notre Dame will not beat the Vegas point spread next fall. They might/will likely win the game, but it’ll be a bit too-close-for-comfort:
Nevada, Duke, at NC State, Miami, Virginia Tech, and at USC. Unintentionally, that list includes four of five ACC matchups on theie 12-game regular season slate.
(Last year’s 8-5 mark against the spread included “losses” to Virginia, Temple, Wake Forest, BC, and Ohio State).
4 – Rank Them: A.) November college football, B.) the first and second round of the Men’s NCAA Tournament, and C.) NFL Championship (AFC/NFC) Sunday?
Mine are in order and with great disparity between them, and I’ll offer that each far outweighs other personal sporting event favorites such as the NCAA Championship Game, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the World Series (you could argue the ALCS/NLCS is generally just as thrilling/nerve-racking), and the infancy of the College Football Final Four.
5 – Reality: Whilst typing this column my three-year-old son Declan just threw the remote control to his sister (she wasn’t looking) and hit her in the face, leaving a mark. This is unfortunate because he’s currently about as accurate as Andrew Hendrix was vs. USC, but this remote control somehow hit home.
I then explained to him that the only thing we’re allowed to throw in the house is a ball, and a small or soft one, at that (because let’s be honest, it’s fun playing catch in the house).
Two minutes later my daughter Charlotte threw a Nerf ball and broke a vase. (She actually has a very good arm for a five-year-old – kind of like Clausen only she can run, too.)
Needless to say, I don’t get much done from the home office…
6 – Talent Reigns/Drains: Aggregate drafted players over the weekend from Notre Dame 2015 foes Clemson and Ohio State: 21
Aggregate drafted players over the weekend among Notre Dame’s dozen upcoming foes for 2016: 24.
There are no superpowers on the 2016 Irish slate though by my estimation, eight potential pitfalls exist. As for the remaining four opponents: losing to Nevada, Syracuse, and Army seems implausible while Navy is rebuilding its offense.
7 – 4HL Message Board Feedback: The following are my non-injury related “Boom or Bust” selections for the 2016 season: Max Redfield, Jerry Tillery, Andrew Trumbetti, Corey Holmes, Miles Boykin, and Alizé Jones.
Your task, fearless reader: choose three for the former (Boom) and three for the latter (Bust).
8 – Of (at least) Mild Concern: They by no means the only injury casualties fighting their way back into the fold, but six of Notre Dame’s 20 most important players for next fall must first overcome 2015 injuries if the Irish are to win 10-plus games: Shaun Crawford (knee) Drue Tranquill (knee), Tarean Folston (knee), Jarron Jones (knee/2015 and foot/2014), Malik Zaire (ankle)…and Daelin Hayes (shoulder).
9 – Tough to Top: For the love of all that is pure and holy, thank goodness the 2016 NFL Draft is over. Love it, loathe it, barely notice it, we can all agree on one reality: It’s okay to root for the Dallas Cowboys (at least once in awhile) assuming one former, deserving, and uniquely talented Notre Dame star makes it all the way back.
Until next week, Irish fans…