News and Notes

Since new defensive coordinator Corwin Brown was announced by Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis a few weeks back, people have endlessly speculated as to the new scheme for the Irish. Under Rick Minter, it was a base 4-3 defense. With Brown's background, many thought that a complete switch to a 3-4 alignment would be the case. Weis explained on Wednesday that this is partly true.

In response to a question about incoming recruit Ian Williams, Weis uncovered the truth about how the 2007 Notre Dame defense would look like. Williams is a 6-1, 290-pound defensive tackle suited to play the nose tackle spot in a true 3-4. But the Irish won't be playing a 100 percent 3-4 defense. They will have 3-4 personnel on the field, able to switch back and forth between a 4-3, 3-4 or whatever scheme Brown wants to employ.

"You can count on one hand the number of teams that play a 3-4 as the main part of their defense," Weis said. "What they do is they play 34 personnel. Why do you do that? To get more athleticism on the field. That's why they do that."

Instead of four defensive linemen on the field, this opens the door for players such as sophomore Morrice Richardson and incoming freshmen Kerry Neal and Brian Smith to see the field as the hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end. All three of these players possess the speed and size for the position and being quick to the ball has been a problem for the Irish in the past two seasons.

"There's a difference between 34 personnel, which we are going to play, and a 34 defense, which will just be a part of what we're going to play," Weis said.

***In Wednesday's edition of the Washington Post, Illinois early enrollee Arrelious Benn stuck it to Notre Dame once again. Benn, who had given a silent verbal commitment to Notre Dame only to back out and chose the Illini, was critical of the way former quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas aggressively pursued him after his public announcement.

In the article, the freshman wide receiver let the staff writer from the Post read text messages and hear voice mails that Vaas had sent him. An example of a voice message was this: "You don't want to do anything except bury your head in the sand. . . . I guess you're not tough enough to compete at the big level." Vaas did not refute this in the article. On Wednesday, Weis responded to the piece in the Washington Post.

"My wife told me about that," Weis said. "She actually sent me an email of that very thing. I think he put Coach Vaas out to dry on that one. I want to side with Coach Vaas on that one.

"You ask me if Coach Vaas sent him texts. Sure, he sent him texts. You probably could go ask the kid if he committed to us beforehand, too, see what he says to that one. It comes down to those silent verbals, all that other type of stuff.

"I wish Regis well at Illinois. I don't think now is the time for him to be hanging Coach Vaas out to dry for sending him texts, because signing day for him was when he matriculated into the second semester. For guys that go midyear, the day they enroll in classes is like their signing day. That makes that time in December a much more critical time period because that time in December, once they start in January, that's when their clock starts. Their signing day is not February 7th. Their signing day is the day they matriculate into classes.

"I don't think Coach Vaas was trying to do anything unethical. I think Coach Vaas was trying to give him everything he possibly could get him, to a guy who once verbally committed to us, then switched to another school. I think we should wish him well and not point a finger at Coach Vaas."

***Wednesday was the first time Weis had talked to the media since Darius Walker decided to skip his senior season and enter April's NFL Draft. Walker ran for 1,267 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006. If he would have come back for another year, Walker would have had to contend with sophomores James Aldridge and Munir Prince and incoming freshmen Armando Allen and Robert Hughes. The decision caught Weis off-guard.

"I was surprised," Weis said of Walker's move to the pros. "I was surprised mainly because it's the first time since I've been here a player has come and told me what he was doing before asking my advice. That's why I was surprised. I can't say I was shocked.

"The kid's had a very good career. He's played three solid years here for Notre Dame, finished up the season with probably his best game of the year. He thinks it's in the best interest of his future. He's another guy that all you could do is wish him well. That's what I do. I wish him well.

"Obviously he can work out at our facility, go to pro time and day when those other guys are going. But I was surprised."

With the gluttony of talent at the running back next season, is there a chance that Travis Thomas will move back to offensive backfield from last year's position of linebacker?

"Absolutely, there's a chance," Weis said. "There's a chance. The chance would obviously be running back. I'm saying there's a chance. First of all, we have to have him first. Once we have him, we're going to put Travis in the best position for him to be successful and us to be successful, wherever that may be."

***With Evan Sharpley vying to be the starting quarterback in the spring time, Weis said on Wednesday that he expects him not to miss any football practices. This will cause the sophomore signal caller to miss a few baseball games, where he plays third base for the Irish. Also, tight end Will Yeatman, who plays lacrosse, will not be there for every session in spring ball.

***Weis did not rule out offensive lineman Chris Stewart making a move over to the defense. The 6-5, 367-pound sophomore has been rumored to be possibly making a move over to the middle defensive lineman in the 3-4 personnel grouping. Weis did make clear that such a move would be limited to Stewart and nobody else on the current roster, excluding the incoming freshmen. Top Stories