Mike's Mailbag

Wednesday's Power Hour left me a large batch of unanswered questions. I'll do my best to answer most them now and this weekend with another couple of installments of Mike's Mailbag. Please keep those questions coming!

Juan, Southern California:
Is the negative vibe from the South Bend Tribune (Paddy Mullen Quote) indicative of a separation between South Bend and Notre Dame. Is their a segment of SB that resents the university?

Mike: I can only answer this from my own personal thoughts. It shouldn't be taken as absolute truth—just my personal observation. I don't personally think the South Bend Tribune dislikes Notre Dame. I think their job is to spark interest and debate. But I do think there is a segment of South Bend that does not like Notre Dame. I do think there are South Bend residents that are not big fans of the University. I think you'd find that in any college town, however.

John, Lafayette, Ind:
I was wondering how much weight I should put on three-star vs. four and five-star recruits. How does that translate in college with respect to playing time and national championships? We almost beat USC last year with a much lesser recruiting program. Interesting...

Mike: Good question. Recruiting is far from an exact science. One cannot measure heart, desire and happiness. I think all three play a major factor in success. I also think it's very hard to weigh a great running back in New Jersey versus a top running back in Kansas. Too many factors and variables to weigh to know if X player will be better than Y player.

Having said all of that, I do think some of these recruiting services get it pretty close to right. Take this senior class for instance. Scout.com rated Notre Dame's current class pretty high. They also seemed very accurate in picking out the better players as Brady Quinn, Ryan Harris, Tom Zbikowski, John Sullivan, Ambrose Wooden, Victor Abiamiri, Jeff Samardzija, Trevor Laws and Chinedum Ndukwe were all rated four-star prospects—the most highly rated prospects in this senior class—and all are starters and will be at least two-year starters for Notre Dame. That's pretty accurate.

Josh, Pittsburgh:
I personally watched Darrin Walls last year several times, I don't think this kid will be an immediate impact player. Do you think (Raeshon) McNeil could be that guy who could contribute right away in the secondary?

Mike: I think it's possible that Raeshon McNeil could jump right into a playing time role. During the Army All-American game, we heard constant updates about McNeil's solid play against some of the very best players from the 2005 recruiting class. This wasn't a one day situation. We heard many good things and it seemed to come every day—and not just from Jeff, but from all the Scout.com recruiting experts. Everyone seemed very impressed with Raeshon's ability in pass coverage. If he can show that early in fall camp, I'll bet you see him on the field. I think with pass coverage, some are just naturals. Let's hope he's one of those guys.

Chris, Indianapolis:
Why hasn't Notre Dame offered Miles Stroter? I know he went to the ND camp in June, and I was just wondering what the hold up was with him.

Mike: While I think Miles is a nice kid and a pretty good player, so far he has very few offers. He's been to camp at places like Notre Dame and Michigan and neither has offered. I think the Irish coaching staff knows if Stroter can play for them or not. So far they haven't extended an offer. I'm not sure one will come.

Matt, Battle Creek:
What's next in the works for Irish Eyes. There have been a lot of new features over the past year or two (Power Hour, mailbag, stock report, etc). Anything else in the works, or are you just going to be perfecting what you now have in place?

Mike: I'd like to think we're the leaders in this industry and we're always looking for ways to improve Irish Eyes. We do have a few new ideas that will probably be surfacing soon. I wouldn't call them earth-shattering, but I do think our Irish Eyes subscribers will enjoy them.

Will, Chicago:
Mike: Your thoughts on Gary Gray. He made an unofficial to South Carolina on Tuesday and told the South Carolina Scout publisher that he favored the Gamecocks after.

Mike: I think Gary Gray is very comfortable with his situation at South Carolina. He knows the coaches, players, town and everything about the University very well. It's a very comfortable choice for him to make.

So why would he open up this can of worms if he was sold on South Carolina? Something doesn't sit right with him about the current situation or he wouldn't have decommitted.

My guess is that Gary likes Notre Dame quite a bit. I believe he likes a lot of things that Notre Dame can provide for him. But I also think the Irish will have to find a way to make him feel the same type of comfort and familiarity he feels at South Carolina to steal him. That's why I think he's taking official visits. I think he wants to experience a Notre Dame weekend, and more importantly, I think he wants to see how he really fits in at Notre Dame amongst the players and coaches.

Chris, Indianapolis:
What's the latest on the cornerback situation? Ronald Johnson's grades? Is Dionte Allen's interest waning? And what about offering Tony Logan?

Mike: I don't think the Irish will have a shot at Ronald Johnson when all is said and done--too bad because he's a great player. I think the Irish have a long way to go with Dionte Allen. I believe Florida State is likely his leader, and then I believe Ohio State would probably be next followed by Michigan and Notre Dame. The Irish seemed to have decided against offering Tony Logan. They may come back to him, but as of now, he's not a main target.

Irish 12, Philadelphia:
Hey Mike, any new feelings on (Jospeh) Barksdale? It seems like there is a ray of hope now?

I suppose there is some hope with Barksdale. There is time, and with time comes hope. Still, I think Notre Dame is behind Texas and Ohio State on his leader list. If Notre Dame can land some top defensive talent, they could very well jump right back in the race. But the Irish do have time on their side. I also think his family likes Notre Dame.

Keith, Passaic, NJ:
Mike, I think the better comparison would be Robert Hughes and Ray Zellars, with Hughes being a little more agile, what do you think ?

Mike: Keith is talking about a comparison someone made on Power Hour between Jerome Bettis and Robert Hughes. Keith, I think you're probably right. He does remind me of a quicker and more agile Ray Zellars. That's a pretty good player right there.

Irish Zip, Pennsylvania:
Mike are we slipping on Martez (Wilson) and Ben Martin?

Mike: Not sure why you'd think that. I think the Irish are in very good shape with Martez Wilson. He's taking another unofficial visit to Notre Dame again this weekend. I think that's a good sign. As for Ben Martin, I think there is a long way to go with him. I don't see him deciding any time soon. I think it will come down to the official visits and between Ohio State and Notre Dame. I think he'll pick the school he feels the most comfortable at, and the official visits will likely tell him that.

Mungro, Trumball:
Have you noticed any trends with the players we are recruiting as staying away from players "that take plays off" or any trends like that...and thoughts on Paddy Mullen's comments.

Mike: Not sure how to answer that. A guy like Jason Kates from the 2005 recruiting class had that reputation and the Irish passed on him in the end. Not sure if that reputation was valid, but many Irish fans who had seem him play agreed with that reputation. I just think the Irish are trying to land the best players and it seems like they're in on a lot of this year.

I don't understand why some people were coming down hard on Paddy Mullen for his comments. To me, I thought it showed a real leadership quality and a kid that's in touch with reality. Paddy knows full well that he's not accomplished anything yet and I think he was just trying to remind the subject of the same.

In my dealings with Mullen, I found a very, very mature kid who seems extremely motivated to becoming a great player. I think it's obvious Jimmy Clausen has that same work ethic. I don't think you'll see any bad blood over this at all.

Joe, Harrisburgh, Pa:
I was reading over on Gatorbait.com (UF's rivals site) about their "Friday Night Lights" camp just held recently down in Gainesville. Some of the top prospects in the nation were there, including ND recruit Greg Little. The article didn't have anything kind to say about Little. It said that he didn't look very good in his position drills. Do you see him playing WR in college or somewhere else on the field? If he doesn't play WR, who else would Coach Weis recruit harder to be the third WR of this class?

Mike: Notre Dame is recruiting Greg Little as a wide receiver. Little will also likely get a look at running back as well. If he were to sign with Notre Dame, I believe he'll definitely start out at wide receiver. If that doesn't work out, Little has unique skills that could allow him to play a number of positions including tight end, safety or linebacker. I read the same thing. His hands are the question mark. I'm quite sure Greg knows that as well. I'm sure it's something he'll work on and then we'll see what happens. Regardless, he's such a great athlete that you just take him and then figure out where his best position is.

As for other players the Irish are recruiting at wide receiver. J.R. Hemingway is still on the list. Ron Brooks is another top player the Irish appear to be chasing.

IrishRI, Providence, RI:
The OL from Hollywood, Fla,. Emeka Nwankwo, looks very quick off the ball on his Scout tapes. He's very quick to the second and third level of the defense, and he's got good size. He certainly looks to have starter potential. What do you feel Notre Dame's chances are with him?

I think Notre Dame's chances of signing Nwankwoo are very good if they can get him on campus. That will be the real key. I think it's clearly Notre Dame and Florida at this point, but I worry that Florida will put a lot of pressure on Emeka to jump on ship, much like we saw USC do with Michael Reardon. That's what I'd do if I were Urban Meyer, and what I would've done if I were Pete Carroll in the Reardon case. It worked out well for Carroll.

I do believe if Notre Dame can get him on campus that they'll have a good shot to land him. He does seem very interested in Notre Dame and really would like to check out a game. Look for Notre Dame to try to get him up for an early game like Penn State or Michigan.

Carsten, Palm Springs Calif.:
Any thoughts on DL recruiting? Like Ben Martin and his recent trip to OSU or Everson Griffen.

Mike: I'm not so concerned about Martin's recent trip to Ohio State. I've heard Martin may be making a similar trip to Notre Dame in the future. So far we haven't been able to confirm that. As mentioned above, I don't think Martin is close to deciding at this point. I think there are many cards left to be played in this game.

As for Everson Griffen, I'm not sure Notre Dame has much of a chance with him. He did seem to really like Notre Dame in the beginning, but I think others have jumped into the mix earlier and Griffen is aware of that fact. If the Irish can get him to visit, they could have a good chance.


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