Mike: ND certainly can get there, but it takes a lot of hard work and time. It also will take some selling. These elite kids can go to school anywhere in the country. They don't have to go to ND. The Irish might be able to offer early playing time, but if a prospect is good enough, he'll find the field anyway. However, playing time is very important to many of these elite players, and the Irish have many, many opportunities for these kids to see the field early. That's what this staff will have to sell these final two months of recruiting. I doubt the Irish will sign a class as impressive as USC's, but it should be very close in talent. To be the best you have to beat the best, either in recruiting or on the field, and the Irish haven't done that yet.
As for Recruiting, I don't think getting only 18 players this year is a big loss. I'm saying 18, because I think we're going to land 4 more offensive guys and 3 more defensive guys that we have already offered. Looking at the glass half full, maybe Charlie isn't going after a Plan B strategy because he's happy with the 18 he's going to get, and realizes that having another big class will hurt recruiting for next year.
Mike: That's a valid point, and I do think if the Irish only sign 18, they'll be 18 very good players. What the Irish have to avoid when closing out this class is taking a player just to take him. It will do no good to take a player you honestly don't feel can help you because he'll just stand on the sidelines for 4-5 years and waste a scholarship. But I think the "glass half empty" guys are more concerned with why the Irish missed on some top guys. I think they're thrilled with the players they'll land, but I also think they're concerned that they'll lose some of the guys that looked like very strong possibilities three months ago. You'll loose some guys during recruiting. That just happens. The Irish still have a good number of elite guys left on the board. They'll have to finish strong and close at a very high rate if they want this class to land in the top five.
Mike, Joe Mcknight? Any shot? I know he listed us, but what is your honest opinion?
Mike: McKnight is about impossible to reach on the phone. However, we do know that his team is playing right now in the playoffs. He also will not deal with recruiting until he season is over. He won't set up or take any visits while his team is still playing. McKnight has said he plans to visit Notre Dame, but if he has to wait until January to visit, he'll only be able to take four official visits as there are only four weekends in January that a prospect can visit. I don't feel very confident about McKnight. Many think it's a LSU/USC battle. He just hasn't has said a whole lot about Notre Dame compared to the other schools when he's been interviewed.
Okay, be honest with me on this...does this team really have a shot next season? How do you think Weis does with such a young team?
Mike: If you mean shot at the national championship, I'd say no way. I don't expect the Irish to have a very good year next year. I think Notre Dame will be lucky to win eight games next year because the beginning of the schedule is so difficult. If you look at who the Irish will be losing…..Quinn, Samardzija, McKnight, R. Harris, Morton, Santucci, Abiamiri, Landri, Frome, Richardson, Ndukwe. Plus the Irish could also lose guys like Zbikowski, Laws, Sullivan and Carlson to the draft (although I bet all four come back), next year doesn't look very promising. That's not meant as any disrespect to those replacing these starters, but the Irish struggled against the good teams with these starters. I can't imagine inexperienced guys would fair any better. I expect a rough year for Irish fans in 2007 thanks to back-to-back poor recruiting years under Willingham.
I know there will be many recruits announcing during the Army All-American game, but are there any kids who have either scheduled or are expected to announce prior to January? Mike: As many know, Armando Allen will announce his decision this Friday. I still feel the Irish have a good shot in this race. After that, I don't know of any scheduled to announce, but that doesn't mean they won't. Golden Tate will be in for his official visit this weekend, and I wouldn't be surprised if he committed over the weekend. However, he might want to check out a few more schools before deciding. Normally what happens is you might see a prospect or two end the recruiting process earlier than anticipated so they can enjoy the holiday season without any hassles. It wouldn't surprise me to see one or two unexpected announcements coming because of this reason.
After seeing these freshmen for almost a full year, are you confident that they will live up to their high recruiting ranking?
Mike: Good question. The problem with the answer is we really haven't seen much of the freshmen. A good number have played, but they haven't played a great deal. They don't take a lot of reps in practice as the first team guys get the vast majority of reps, and we don't get to see most of practice when they do get reps. So really, we haven't seen much of the freshmen since fall camp. What we did see was a group of kids who could run pretty well. Now it will be a matter of grasping the offense/defense, and then becoming productive players on the field. I wouldn't doubt that you might see 6-7 freshmen starting next year.
Does Landri have a shot at being voted an All-American? I have been very impressed with him all this year.
Mike: Unfortunately, probably not. The problem with these All-American teams is they seem to be decided before the season really begins. If you're not a pre-season All-American, it's hard to make the post-season team. You rarely see that happen unless a guy makes a couple of big plays that make the highlight reels. I think Landri's numbers would stand up against about anyone in the country, but I doubt anyone notices.
How is Paddy Mullen doing? Lots of hype during the summer, but haven't seen too much of him lately. Any insight on his future role with the team?
Mike: I've heard Paddy has played quite well. The problem you have is guys like Mullen, and many other freshmen, is they end up on the scout team. They're not playing Notre Dame's defense, they're playing the opposition's defense. They're also not usually going full speed and taking Irish players to the ground, so it's hard to stand out when on the scout team. But the Irish will definitely need him next year. I think you'll see him settle in at defensive tackle next year unless the Irish sign some elite defensive tackles that can come in right away and play.
Mike, Every year kids develop between their JR/SR year in high school and become very good football players. It seems that almost all of the current recruits were identified last spring and very few were identified as a senior year developer. Any thoughts?
Mike: That is an excellent question, and I agree with you fully. This is also how a lot of teams out of the top 25 fill their rosters and end up with players that leave recruiting nuts wonder how they feel under the radar. What happens is teams like ND, USC, OSU, Michigan, etc. target their list early and go after them and don't prospect enough once the senior season starts. They still look for top prospects who develop as seniors (like Taylor Dever), but they don't prospect it near as hard, and they should. I think there are many, many Taylor Dever's out there. And they'll end up at places like Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and places like that and develop into first round picks. I really do believe a lot of teams miss the boat by not continuing to prospect because sometimes these players are better than those they're recruiting. Julius Jones was such a prospect. He wasn't an elite guy until later in the year. People knew of him because of his brother, but he wasn't highly ranked until people got to see him perform as a senior. However, time becomes a real issue here. Right now many teams are prospecting for junior prospects as well as recruiting seniors, and you don't want to fall behind on junior recruiting as you'll be behind the eight ball once recruiting begins for the next season.
If you have any questions you'd like me to answer, feel free to send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org