Mike's Mailbag

We're introducing another feature new to Irisheyes.com today. "Mike's Mailbag" will be a weekly feature (provided we have enough questions) where I'll answer your questions about the Irish—at least the best way I can.

This first group of questions are left over from Monday's Power Hour. I'll take a stab at answering them all.

Chris, from Georgia:
Any idea on what went wrong with Gray and SC (South Carolina)? Did he think that a slew of players would follow him there and whoops...never happened and never would?

Mike: There has been a lot of speculation on what happened. I think only Gary and the South Carolina staff know the truth. I've heard all the rumors: ‘He wasn't getting enough attention from the staff. They're not signing top guys.' I think the bottom line is that Gray likely thought long and hard about his decision and decided he needed to take another look at Notre Dame. I do believe ND has a great shot to sign him in the end.

Brian, Orlando, Florida:
Do you think we will see more zone blitzing by our defense this year?

Mike: I'm not sure we'll see more zone blitzing, but I do think that's an effective way to confuse teams and keep them on their toes. I do believe we'll see a much more aggressive defense this year. I think you'll likely see a combination of the two, and I'm going to guess you'll see safety Tommie Zbikowksi put into positions to make even more plays in 2006.

Mike, from Virginia:
We have eight verbals. I'd like to hear you interview their high school coaches. Kerry Neal's coach is the only one I've heard. It was great. They add a lot of perspective.

Mike: I agree with you, and we'll definitely try to get more coaches on Power Hour in the near future. Our problem has been that most schools are closed right now. So, unless you have the direct line to the coach's office or his cell number, it's kind of hard to reach these high school coaches at this time. Expect more of that coming in the very near future.

Tom, in D.C.: I tuned in late. I'm not sure where you're taking questions from, so I'll just ping you an e-mail with my 2 questions:
1. I haven't heard anything on Jahvid Best except the fact that he has an offer. Do we have a shot? Is he qualified? Any news on him?
2. Jay Smith--The inferior ND site reported that he had an offer. It sounded legit... he said he had talked to an assistant who handed him to CW (Charlie Weis). Have you been able to confirm anything regarding his offer? If he has been offered, do we have a shot? Is he qualified? Any news?

Mike: We've tried to reach Jahvid numerous times. He's involved with a very busy track schedule. Jeff has spoken to his mom a number of times and we continue to call him. What I've heard is that Jahvid appears very open to Notre Dame. I've heard he and coach Weis speak often. He is qualified.

Jay Smith has not been offered. He is a guy the Irish are recruiting, however. Coach Rob Ianello is mainly recruiting him and Smith appears interested in the Irish. An offer could come soon.

Fran, from Smyrna, Del.:
Mike do you think that the NCAA will ever go to an early signing period like BBall (basketball)? If so, do you think it favors ND?

Mike: Yes, I do believe that the NCAA will go to an early signing period. I'm going to guess the coaches will push for this at the next coach's convention that will be held in early January of this year. I would bet you'll see an early signing period as soon as next year. When will it be will be another good question. Basketball is in November. I think August would be ideal for football as those that wanted to get recruiting out of the way before their season could do just that with an early August signing period.

Joe F, from Birmingham, Ala.:
What happened last year in recruiting (Jason) Kates? You have been talking about DL (defensive line) and he was supposed to be a four-star DL. I think he went to MI.

Mike: Kates did sign with Michigan in the end. The Irish offered him very early but soured on him as the year went on. I heard numerous rumors about Kates. Most rumors suggested he didn't have the best work ethic, but I've never confirmed that from his coach or anyone. But those were the rumors we heard all last year.

Ted, Oceanship, N.J.:
Why does everyone forget about Chase Anastasio as our potential third receiver? I'm a recently graduated senior with friends on the team that all said he's the toughest guy on the team, played all year with a broken bone in his foot. If he's healthy he's gotta be a better option than grimes.

I, like you, have heard very similar things about Anastasio. I've heard he's been very impressive in practice many times. Why that hasn't transferred to the field, I have no clue. But as you've mentioned, he has been hurt. I'm not sure if he's better than Grimes. I do know Grimes has been the only player Weis has singled out for that possible third slot so far.

Steve, from Jackson, Mich.:
Could you talk about all the young talent at fullback?

Mike: The Irish certainly have some talent at fullback. Asaph Schwapp performed well for a true freshman. I'd like to see him become a more effective runner and blocker, but he was a true freshman last year, and he was pretty solid at both most of the year.

The scuttlebutt so far about freshman Luke Schmidt has been very positive. Schmidt appears to have the athleticism everyone was hoping for, and I wouldn't be shocked to see a backfield with Schwapp at fullback and Schmidt at halfback in goal-line situations next season.

If you have questions you'd like me to answer in our next installment of Mike's Mailbag, or you have questions for our coaches, please e-mail those questions to:


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