Matt Cashore /

O’Malley’s Monday Musings

Defining the recruiting maven, my best of the best, identifying the annual trap game, four-stars to dominate in ’16, and the return of the written word.

1 – Text Lives! Raise your hand if you need a video of me telling you what I wrote about below? No? Congratulations on passing the second grade…

2 – Off and Running: Irish Illustrated’s Pete Sampson and Tim Prister both offered a quintet of Irishmen they planned to closely monitor at Saturday’s first training camp practice (back to Culver we go). I’ll add another handful to the mix:

-- Senior Max Redfield: Force of habit…
-- Sophomore Brandon Wimbush: Both his approach and usage by the staff.
-- Junior Nic Weishar: August Camp Star 2.0? And can he parlay that into impact playing time, this time?
-- Junior Nick Watkins: Recovery from a broken humerus is no joke. Can he match Shaun Crawford’s competitiveness?
-- Junior Drue Tranquill: The jack-of-all-trades now must master one (SS).

3 – The Most Troubling Trouble Spot? My annual Trouble Spots series begins today on Irish Illustrated.

These things rarely play out as projected, but there’s one element of this ranking system that has come to fruition far more often than not in my seven seasons of Trouble Spots publishing – the “Trap Game.”

Previously identified traps include:

  • 2009 – Purdue (Clausen-to-Rudolph wins it at the gun)
  • 2010 – Tulsa (Hoyo!)
  • 2011 – Air Force (Nope, ND once led 59-19)
  • 2012 – Pittsburgh (Bingo, 3 OT win by the Irish in SB)
  • 2013 – Pittsburgh (Outright loss at Heinz Field)
  • 2014 – North Carolina (53-46 W after trailing 14-0)
  • 2015 – BC (That’s 6 out of 7 if you’re scoring at home)

This season’s choice? You’ll have to read the series. (It’s in Part 2.)

4 – To Get You Ready for the Opener, Part I: Video made by some 16-year-old kid in South Bend circa 1989 (and later published by BGI).
5 – Learned Behavior?: I’m going to miss swim lessons (not mine, the back-to-back sessions nearly every weekday since June’s outset for my kids). The final session is early next week, and that’s a good thing, because I’m about to have to, you know, “be somewhere” with football season afoot.

But there was something pure about writing Monday Musings and player profiles on a shaded patio nearby where your kids are learning something I’ve always taken for granted.

Which reminds me: can any of you (that can swim) remember not knowing how to swim? Because I can’t.

6 – Eureka! It took about 15 years, but I’ve finally come up with a sentence to aptly describe the rabid recruiting fan – the message board maven that’s truly as concerned with landing a random 5-star prospect as she or he is with beating Michigan State or Stanford or USC on a given Saturday:

Recruiting is the only endeavor in which two in the bush is worth more than a bird in the hand.

It’s the promise of a new day phenomenon. Targeted 17-year-old prospect (likely replete with not-yet-detected flaws) is for some reason more desirable than the junior collegiate starter whose (fewer) flaws have already been exposed.

7 – Speaking of Which… Want to start at ND? You better be a 4-star prospect. Remarkably, in 2016, all 22 projected starters and 10 of the 12 or so viable competitors for various starting positions received at least 4-star status from

Offense (17): Kizer/Zaire, Folston/Adams, Hunter, Sanders/Holmes, Boykin/St. Brown, Smythe/Jones (5-star), McGlinchey, Nelson, Mustipher, Bivin/McGovern, Bars.

Defense (14): Rochell, Jones/Cage, Tillery, Trumbetti/Hayes, Onwualu, Morgan (5-star), Martini, Luke, Crawford/Watkins, Redfield, Tranquill.

The only potential starters not bestowed four stars are linebacker Te’von Coney, who theoretically could beat out Martini on the weak side (fellow WLB competitor Asmar Bilal was also dubbed a 4-star) and three-star true freshman safety Devin Studstill – whose three-star status was always in question by the staff on this site.

8 – “Overrated”: I despise the term – and on an unrelated note, the fan-base chant. If an opponent is “overrated” why are you reveling in beating them?

Anyway, college football fans prone to denigrating Notre Dame without qualification (I respect a level of distaste from the likes of Michigan, USC, Stanford, Michigan State, Purdue fans…regular Irish foes) often point to Notre Dame’s pre-season rankings that don’t come to fruition when the final wins and losses are tallied.

Did you know that Notre Dame has been ranked in the pre-season on 53 occasions and they’ve finished ranked 52 times? (Not “52 of the 53” but 52 times nonetheless.)

A quick look at the nine other all-time power programs (unordered, but reasonable minds can agree) shows the following pre- and post-season rankings:

Michigan 45 pre and 58 post…Ohio State 62 pre and 55 post…Oklahoma 57 pre and 55 post…Alabama 49 pre and 53 post…Nebraska 45 pre and 48 post… USC 55 pre and 47 post…Texas 50 pre and 46 post…Tennessee 39 pre and 43 post…Penn State 40 pre and 43 post…(Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Miami, Florida and Auburn missed my arbitrary cut. Argue away, but we’re talking more than a century of football, not the last 40 years.)

That places the Irish fifth, one season behind Alabama, for total times ranked at the end of a given season. Fifth at the finish with the fourth-most pre-season rankings – hardly out-of-whack.

9 – 4HL’s Best of the Best – Enjoyable topics started by our Steve Hare this week on the premium message board: Your best player at (name the position) in program history.

Limiting it to only those I’ve seen live (so pre-1981 players not included), my quick-hit list (based on careers, not one season) is as follows:

  • Option QB Tony Rice
  • Dual Threat QB Jarious Jackson (he’d be dynamite today)
  • Pro-Style QB Brady Quinn
  • RB Jerome Bettis
  • WR Tim Brown
  • OL Zack Martin
  • TE Tyler Eifert
  • All-Purpose Rocket Ismail
  • Interior DL Chris Zorich
  • DE Justin Tuck
  • ILB Michael Stonebreaker
  • OLB Jaylon Smith
  • S Jeff Burris
  • CB Todd Lyght
  • P/K Craig Hentrich
  • Player: Rocket Ismail

Plenty of room for arguments…wait, no there’s not.

Until next week, Irish fans, remember: Reading is fundamental… Top Stories