We’re about a week-and-a-half into our three-month-long A-to-Z series featuring each Notre Dame player alphabetically. While I don’t have the unabashed glee for the series like O’Malley (who lives life with more unabashed glee than O’Malley?), I find the most interesting part of the player-by-player analysis to be the comparison with former Irish players.
You can twist and turn the comparisons in just about any way you’d like, so the margin for “comparison error” is fairly great. You can compare a player’s size, position change, playing time, competition etc. just about any way you’d like.
But the category is called Career Comparison, so for the most part, we’re looking for parallels at this stage of their careers.
Through 10 players – David Adams through Ian Book – here is the “comparative team” we’ve gathered up to this point:
• LB-David Adams (Carlo Calabrese)
• RB-Josh Adams (Vagas Ferguson)
• WR-Jafar Armstrong (D.J. Hord)
• OL-Aaron Banks (Chris Stewart)
• LB-Josh Barajas (Anthony McDonald)
• OL-Alex Bars (Christian Lombard)
• LB-Asmar Bilal (Derek Curry)
• OL-Hunter Bivin (Mark Harrell)
• DT-Jonathan Bonner (Brian Beidatsch)
• QB-Ian Book (Evan Sharpley)
Of course, there are no exact comparisons, and some certainly don’t portend success, such as Jafar Armstrong compared to D.J. Hord, who didn’t emerge before transferring. (This is a great comparison at the present time, however, because Armstrong/Hord both were known for their track skills and have/had a similar physical makeup.)
So far, I really like the comparisons between David Adams and Carlos Calabrese, Armstrong and Hord, Aaron Banks and Chris Stewart, Asmar Bilal and Derek Curry (a very productive, underrated player from 2001-04), Hunter Bivin and Mark Harrell, and Ian Book and Evan Sharpley.
Why Bonner with Beidatsch? Some may not remember Beidatsch, but he was a combination end-tackle (like Bonner, only with a larger frame) who never could move past productive players such as Darrell Campbell and Trevor Laws.
Bonner is the projected starter in ’17 heading into the summer, but that could change by the Temple game. Beidatsch never threatened to be a starter. If Campbell and Laws were at Notre Dame now, neither would Bonner. I consider their talents to be on comparable levels.
What kind of team could you build around the comparisons? We’ll find out, and when the process of making comparisons comes to a close on Aug. 1, I’ll put together an all-A-to-Z team of comparisons with a depth chart to see (re: speculate) just what the Irish have on the 2017 team.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE RECRUITING
As Kevin Sinclair wrote a couple of weeks ago with updates coming fast and furious during May evaluation, Notre Dame appears to be on to something big in its defensive line recruiting, particularly at tackle where the Irish are positioning themselves well for 2018 and beyond.
Irish Illustrated bemoaned the interior defensive line situation throughout the spring as it relates to the 2017 season. A tandem of Jerry Tillery-Jonathan Bonner as the projected starters does not strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
The situation could improve with a healthy and fully maximized Daniel Cage, a strong return from Elijah Taylor, and a quick emergence by freshman Darnell Ewell. (Any production that comes from Pete Mokwuah, Micah Dew-Treadway and Brandon Tiassum, though not expected, would be a bonus.)
Go beyond 2017, however, and the picture really brightens, at least on paper. Tillery-Bonner-Taylor-Ewell will be a part of the 2018 line. So will Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Kurt Hinish, who arrive in June. Tagovailoa-Amosa has a chance to be an early contributor as well.
Now add verbally committed Jayson Ademilola and, if things turn out the way many expect on July 1, Ja’mion Franklin.
There’s also P.J. Mustipher, an absolute bull on the interior who could ultimately choose to attend his brother Sam’s school. (Note: Just because I think Mustipher would be a better offensive guard does not mean he wouldn’t be a nice catch for the Irish at nose tackle.)
There remains work to be done at end where Thomas Booker is a real key to Notre Dame’s recruiting Class of 2018. But the makings of a vastly-improved defensive front are taking shape.
THE HUBB OF THE WHEEL
Notre Dame’s basketball coaching staff landed a huge commitment from 6-foot-3, 170-pound left-handed point guard Prentiss Hubb from Gonzaga Prep in Washington D.C. He is the first member of the Class of 2018.
The Irish are looking to reload during this recruiting cycle, and a point guard to replace senior Matt Farrell after the 2017-18 season as T.J. Gibbs moves into his sophomore season gives the Irish nice spacing eligibility-wise at the position.
Frankly, unless Gibbs makes significant improvement handling the basketball, Hubb will be the long-range alternative at the point with Gibbs playing more two-guard.
How big of a catch for the Irish is this? Hubb is Scout’s No. 27-ranked player in the country and No. 8 point guard. He is considered the No. 2 prospect in the East behind point guard Immanuel Quickley (Bel Air, Md.).
Hubb chose Notre Dame over Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova, Maryland and Virginia, among many others. Let’s repeat that since it’s so rare at Notre Dame. Hubb chose Notre Dame over Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova, Maryland and Virginia.
Hubb is a smooth, athletic point guard who shows great hops and frequently plays above the rim. He carries himself as someone who plays under control, yet sees the whole court and can beat you to the opposite end. Shooting-wise, he’s at his best when he blends his dribble into a jump shot, a la Farrell.
Look for a full film review of Hubb on Irish Illustrated. This is a huge catch for the Irish, particularly when you tandem him with the level of talent/athleticism of 2017-18 freshman D.J. Harvey.
Hubb continues the long line of D.C. talent that has been the foundation of Irish basketball squads through the years, dating back to the incomparable Austin Carr.
ODDS AND END(ZONES)
• It’s always great to catch up with Harrison Smith, Notre Dame’s 2012 first-round draft choice and All-Pro safety of the Minnesota Vikings.
Smith is a personal favorite because he is so unaffected by a) his status as an NFL stud and b) the $51 million contract extension he signed a year ago. He’s grounded and real, takes nothing for granted, and approaches his job as if he hasn’t “arrived” yet, which he most certainly has.
My favorite part of our conversation was his laughter when I brought up Jon Tenuta’s relationship with the media. He said the players loved the interaction between Tenuta and the media.
Wish it would have been as much fun at the time for me as it was for them, although in retrospect, it certainly was classic.
• I’m also looking forward to the process of writing the 12-part series called Kelly’s Best, which began with the quarterbacks Wednesday.
The idea is to look at all the players recruited by position, where they were ranked when they signed, and where they ended up/are in terms of productivity.
Many times, as is the case with this series, we’ll come up with a story idea and aren’t exactly sure what all the facts will indicate. You let the facts unfold and tell the story without a full comprehension of just how good/bad the full story will be.
This will be fun to write. Feel free to comment on The Four Horsemen Lounge along the way.
• Who knew just a few days ago that the word “contemporaneous” would be used by political journalists as frequently as it has been this week. We missed the opportunity to say in our spring football practice reports that the following information was based upon the “contemporaneous memos/notes” taken during the open-practice viewing. Next time.