Wayne, Puyallup, WA:
What's the deal with no commitments from the D for some time?
Mike: The Irish haven't had a lot of commitments lately, period. I wouldn't be concerned about it. Many expected Tennessee prospects Harrison Smith and Chris Donald to decide by now, but neither has done that yet, and I believe that works in Notre Dame's favor. Many, myself included, felt both would eventually commit to the home-state Vols by now but that hasn't happened. ND gave them something to think hard about. Both are now down to Notre Dame and Tennessee most likely and plan to take official visits. I believe this is a good sign.
I'd guess the guy most likely to make a decision on the defensive side of the ball might be Gary Gray. So far we haven't heard many rumblings of other top prospects thinking about deciding soon from the defensive side of the ball.
Dave, Playa Del Rey, FL:
Any thoughts on Nwankwo?
Mike: I think the Irish are definitely in the race for Emeka. I do think it's very important that they get a visit scheduled with Nwankwo soon. He's mentioned a number of time he'd like to visit, and it appears he'll try to schedule something for a game this season. If they can get him up on a visit I think they'll leave a very positive impression on him. Funnily, one factor that might come into play is Sam Young and what he thinks of Notre Dame. Nwankwo is very much aware of the freshman offensive tackle. Florida is the other team in this race.
Brian, West Palm Beach, FL
What is the status of Aldridge's knee?
Mike: I can only guess because I don't have any factual information on it, but I just don't think James will be ready by Georgia Tech. He's been on the bike, which tells me he's nowhere near being ready to compete. Players about ready to come back from injury usually stand with their unit and try to do what they can. Also, Weis mentioned that he might not be ready to start the season, which to me tells me he won't be. There would be no reason for Weis to say that otherwise. I'd guess he'll probably be out a couple of games. Even if he comes back healthy, I'm not sure he'll jump right into the mix because he was very, very limited in the spring as well and hasn't had many reps at running back as of yet.
Brad, Tampa, FL
Mike, how do you feel about our chances against this Def. Coordinator of Tech and this new offense that they are supposedly running?
Mike: Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta certainly has an impressive resume' and reputation. Tech has played a number of games at a level way above what many think they're capable of playing—ask Auburn. But I just see some holes in this Tech defense. They have to replace a lot of starters in their secondary and they lost some key defensive linemen and linebackers as well. I do believe Tenuta is a good coach and will have a good plan against Notre Dame, but I'm not sure they can stop all of Notre Dame's offensive weapons. I expect a real tight game for at least a half.
As far as the Tech offense; I think it all comes down to stopping Reggie Ball. Yes, I said Reggie Ball. Why? If you stop Reggie Ball, Calvin Johnson, the star Tech receiver, won't be a factor in the game. I'm going to guess ND comes hard after Reggie Ball. I assume Tech will try to counter by rolling him out of the pocket.
The key to the game? If the Irish can stop their running game, I think it will be a very long day for the Ga. Tech offense.
Keith, Stamford, CT
Is there someone on the front four who will provide a pass rush this year? Wade is a year away, right? Richardson maybe?
Mike: I believe you'll see a better pass rush this year. I'm sure you'll see it more often. The big question though for me, will you see it in the big games? I expect Victor Abiamiri to have a pretty good year as well as the two defensive tackles. The other defensive end spot is the key. Chris Frome showed at times that he can get after it. If he's fully healthy he could be a player. Both Ronald Talley and Justin Brown have gained considerable size and strength in the off season. Maybe we'll see one of those two emerge. It needs to be addressed and I think Weis and Minter know this and they'll have a plan in place.
Can we expect that Gary Gray will commit to ND since he de-committed from S. Carolina to look at ND?
Mike: I'm not sure of the stats, but it's been my experience that when kids de-commit, they usually don't re-commit to the same school. However, that could happen in this case. But what has changed at South Carolina?
I say that because I think it's interesting. Gray already knows everything he needs to know about South Carolina and feels very comfortable with the staff, players, school, town, etc. He checked out ND again, it shouldn't be a hard decision if he was leaning towards South Carolina I believe. I'd guess he'd just re-commit if that was the way he was leaning. I think ND has a good shot to land Gray with a good visit to ND. I think the real key is how he feels around the ND players.
Brian, Columbus, IN
Who are the most likely DTs (defensive tackles) to commit to ND?
Mike: I'd say at this point that Will Blackwell is probably the most likely at this point. He seems to be the guy showing the most interest and Notre Dame is at least No. 2 on his list if not leading. He'll be visiting for the UCLA game.
Recruiting wise, has Weis reached the level that Vinny Cerrato had the program at in the late 80s & early 90s?
Mike: I don't think he's there yet, no. I think that they're landing some very top and elite players, but Vinny also landed elite players on defense, and while the Irish are in the race for a number of those types of guys, the'll have to land them to be in that category. The good news is I'm optimistic they'll land at least some of these elite guys on defense. Offense shouldn't be a problem for quite some time.
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