Mike's Mailbag

I'm back with another round of questions answered that were left over from Power Hour. Keep those questions coming.

Bike, Boston:

Is it fair to say that Brady Quinn and shark are five-star guys now? In high school they were not.

Mike: I'd say that's a very fair statement. I don't know of another QB in the country that I'd want running ND's team. I certainly think Samardzija is one of the top wide receivers in the country.

Larry, Rochester:

Great show. ND is getting a lot of bad pub from the talking heads considering they are a one-loss, top ten-ish team. Do you think they are hurting recruiting? Is Charlie already a victim of his success, even if it has been limited?

Mike: Good question. I really can't say for certain, but I will say this. I'd guess most of these top prospects watch a lot of ESPN and read various sports media outlets. Does what these guys say impact their thought process? I'd have to say yes. Compound that with the negative recruiting ND continues to deal with and I'd guess it does have some impact, yes. It doesn't seem logical that the Irish could struggle in recruiting if they finish their season strong and undefeated the rest of the way. I'd be very surprised if they did.

Julian, St. Louis:

Mike, with all the talk of negative recruiting potentially hurting/delaying ND's chances with several high-profile recruits, I am wondering how any staff combats this type of bile. Ultimately, in your opinion, does maintaining the "higher ground" during the process ultimately pay off?

Mike: The staff needs to educate. One, they need to identify there is a problem. Two, they need to identify exactly what that problem is. Is the player concerned about weather? Is he concerned about the academics? Three, they need to educate the player on life at Notre Dame. If ND is proudly selling their academic standards and high rankings, and the player is worried about if he can make it there academically, you have a problem. Education is what needs to happen. They need to let the player know that ND VERY rarely ever has a player in academic trouble.

As for the high road….ND coaches have always said they don't engage in any negative recruiting. I suppose that's the best path to take, but I also think negative recruiting really hurts ND. I think it's been a very effective tool for other coaching staffs to sour prospect on ND. I think you're seeing that right now with a few guys. I'm not sure it would be wise for ND to say to a player, "if they're saying that about us, did they tell you about this bad thing about their program." What I think would be a much more effective way with dealing with negative recruiting is to educate the prospect and get it out there up front before it starts. A simple, "listen, some schools are going to negatively recruit against us. They're going to say this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this about ND. They are only saying this because they have nothing to sell against ND. They don't have the things that we can offer, so they're just going to try to point out or make you think some bad things about ND and here's why they're not true."

I'm sure some of that is done to some extent, but I'm not sure how much.

Jack, Buffalo:

Is it true that Mel Kiper has five ND players in the top 15, at least as far as seniors go? If so, how many of these players, if any, were five- star guys in high school? Mike: The last I saw he had Brady Quinn, Ryan Harris, Tom Zbikowski, Jeff Samardzija and Victor Abiamiri in his top 15. While I think they're all great players, I'd be surprised to see all five go in the top 15. None were actually five-star players coming out of high school, but all were four-star players coming out of high school.

Gary, LaMont, Pa.:

What's the latest in recruiting. Is ND in trouble? A lot of people are starting to get in the panic mode. I think this is premature. What are your thoughts?

Mike: I do think it's a little early to start panicking. But I also think the Irish are going to have to hit on a very high number on their wish list to make this a knockout class. It's long been said that the Irish would like to take 25 players in this class. Right now they have nine commitments and really only 22 players by my count that they have offered that they still have a shot at. I expect more offers to surface soon, but I'm not sure when. I'm hoping a plan B is in place in case plan A doesn't work out. Our problem is we don't know what plan B is, and that makes people nervous.

Matt, Peekskill:

Is there any possibility for another wide receiver might be coming in early enrollment other than Arrelious Benn? (ie. Kamara or Little).

Mike: I haven't heard of any possible wide receivers that ND is recruiting that want to enroll early other than Benn.

Bike, Boston:

What are the chances that Justin Trattou could grow into a tackle?

Mike: I suppose that is possible, but have you seen his senior film? He's a holy terror out on the field. I like Trattou exactly as he is. I think he's going to be a dynamite defensive end. He's finally getting the respect he deserves with his new five-star ranking.

Richard, Nantucket:

In your opinion is there any truth to the recent allegation that ND is the victim of negative recruiting? And, related to that, has that hurt us with Benn, Barksdale or others as the allegation claims?

Mike: Yes, I believe that ND is the victim of negative recruiting. I can't say for 100 percent certainty that it has hurt ND's chances with Benn or Barksdale or anyone because they haven't said anything to us about it. However, I've heard they and many others are experiencing a lot of negative recruiting against the Irish. But again, that hasn't been confirmed by them. This is a common occurrence and has happened over the years, but it sure seems like it's worse this season for whatever reason. I'm sure the coaching staff is aware of it and battling it the best they can.


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