Mike's Mailbag

We had another Power Hour last night and I wasn't able to answer all the questions from the show. I've attempted to answer the remainder in another installment of Mike's Mailbag.

Alec from Georgia: If you had to pick the best player on our defensive list for 2008 - who would it be? Arthur Brown? Or would you go with "need" along the D-line with guys like Cwynar and K. Long?

Mike: Alec, this is a tough call because there are so many great players the Irish are after on defense. It's no secret the Irish need defensive linemen, but I think in order to run the type of defense that Corwin Brown wants to use, I really think you need a disruptive linebacker, and Arthur Brown definitely fits that bill. In fact, I think it's vital that Notre Dame land two outstanding inside linebackers and two outstanding outside backers this year. The linebackers will be very important in this defense and asked to make a lot of plays.

Josh from Pennsylvania: Who do you think could have a break-out year?

Mike: I assume Josh means on the current ND roster. As we mentioned on Power Hour last night, there are more open spots heading into spring practice than I can ever remember. That amounts to a lot of opportunity for Irish players. I think there are a good number of players who could break out this year. David Grimes, Toryan Smith, Morrice Richardson, Dan Wenger, Travis Thomas, James Aldridge…..there are many guys that could really take off this year.

I think Travis Thomas will surprise though. I think he'll hold off the charge, at least initially, of the young backs to win the starting spot at RB. Can he hold onto it?

Matt from Seattle:

Other than not accepting silent verbals; what changes in recruiting do you think coach Weis and staff will make for '08 and beyond?

Mike: Good question. I think the biggest change you'll see is Weis casting a larger net this year and offering more players than he has previously. I also think you'll see Weis become more aggressive when recruiting players, and players committed to other schools. I think Weis, and rightfully so, took the high road when it came to recruiting committed players aggressively…..that was until the poachers came out. "All is fair in love and war" and I think you'll see that this year.

Please don't think that means Weis will be shady or unethical, but I do think he'll approach recruiting on a level playing field this year and be more aggressive if other team's coaches start coming after his committed players. I also think you'll see more communication, and Weis giving players a much better understanding of what's expected of them when they commit to Notre Dame.

Colin for Omaha:

I was wondering what your thoughts were on Ron Powlus. How do you think he will do on the recruiting trail?

Also, I know we are recruiting that dual QB that wants to play basketball as well. What are your thoughts on signing a QB next year? Do we really need another QB?

Mike: I think Ron Powlus is going to be an outstanding recruiter. Ron has a very engaging personality. I was actually somewhat surprised by how inviting he was the first time I met him in person. You instantly feel comfortable talking to him. You can tell he's a guy who doesn't take himself too seriously, and he's a guy who likes to have a laugh. I think he'll be very, very effective on the recruiting trail. Nobody has a better story to sell than Ron Powlus. I think he'll be very effective selling it.

As for taking a QB this year, I really don't think they will. That will depend on how the QB situation shakes out at Notre Dame, and how each current QB at Notre Dame feels about their position on the depth chart. I think if someone were to leave, ND might consider taking a QB. I doubt they do in the end though.

T. Baynard from Charlotte:

Mike, we need a front seven!!!

Mike: Hey, I don't disagree. Notre Dame won't be a championship level defense until they can dominate up front. I do think Weis did the smart thing here by switching to this 3-4 look. I think it best utilizes the personnel on hand, and I also think it suits the type of players Notre Dame can better recruit in the future.

The Irish have struggled for years finding elite defensive tackles. They'll get some now and again, but they don't land enough to get quality depth. Notre Dame can have success recruiting for the 3-4 look, however. I think it's easier to find a guy like say Morrice Richardson or Kerry Neal, two players who are off the charts athletically but you're just not sure where they fit. They fit in well in the 3-4 look. Now all you need to do is find some physical inside backers, and some strong, physical down linemen and you have a chance to be really good up front. I think it was a great move based on ND's current personnel, and the types of players they'll be able to attract.

John from Philly:

Doesn't this upcoming season remind you of the upcoming '93 season? Unproven QB.

Mike: Not really, John. While it's true the Irish had an unproven QB heading into the '93 season, they did have A LOT of talent on hand, and everyone knew the team was loaded with players who could produce. We might not have known exactly who would start, but we knew the eventual starter would be pretty darn good. At this point, heading into '07, I don't think we can say that for certain.

First, we have a brand new defense. None of us are really sure how anyone actually fits into this defense. As is now, ND will have two new starters at D-line, at least two new starters at linebacker, and at least two new starters at defensive back. The Irish will have a new starter at QB, RB, two new starters at WR, and three new starters at O-line......that's a lot of new faces. While I'm hoping for the best, I think we all should expect some growing pains next season.

Clayton from Peoria:

Any chance at getting Mike Golic Jr. or senior on the show?

Mike: We'll certainly try. He's in Italy right now and won't be back until Saturday. We'll see if we can get him on next Tuesday's show. I doubt Mike Golic Sr. could come on the show. I'd guess ESPN probably dictates what types of shows he can be involved with, but it can't hurt to ask.

Jeff in San Diego:

With the commitment of Golic Jr., another guy on the horizon who has media ties is Kyle Long (son of Howie Long).

Is Kyle Long a potential Irish commit, and if we got him, would this help influence other kids to commit to ND?

Mike: I think ND has a shot at Kyle Long. He's already visited Notre Dame, and made a special trip just to come to Notre Dame. His visit wasn't for a game but an actual trip his family took to stop by and check out Notre Dame last summer. Most players who travel from California to see Notre Dame usually have a fairly strong interest in the Irish. He has a brother who played for Virginia, so you have to figure the Cavaliers have a shot. I think it will also depend on how schools want to use Kyle. Some like him at O-line, some like him at D-line, and I think that will play a factor in where he ends up in the end. Hopefully the Irish can get him on campus again sometime soon. If they can, I'd say his interest is pretty strong.

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