Irish In Good Shape With Recruiting

2007 Notre Dame recruiting appears to be off to a very fast start. Notre Dame currently sits at just one verbal commitment, but they've done an excellent job of evaluating talent and getting on top of recruiting for the very start. In fact, they're further along than I can ever remember at this early stage.

If memory serves me, Notre Dame offered a total of 65 players during last recruiting season. So far, as of March 1, 2007, the Irish have sent out at least 36 scholarship offers that we know about. I'm going to guess there are still a few that we haven't yet uncovered.

Regardless, even at 36, that's an impressive number of offers this early in the process. People often ask me: "Why does it take so long for Notre Dame to offer some players while others schools seem to be able to get their offers out sooner?"

There are a lot of reasons it takes Notre Dame more time than other schools.

1) Notre Dame has to find the player. That means they have to locate those players that are elite players that could possibly be a candidate from the football side of things. There are thousands of high schools across the country, and the number of players and the size of this country make it hard to know about everyone. It takes time to uncover all the best players around the country….especially if you're a new staff compared to a veteran staff.

A veteran staff would already have many relationships built with feeder schools and coaches that would make it easier to get the information required. A veteran staff with the same guy working the same territories over the years would pick up the phone and call X coach and say; "who do you have this year that can play for us? Can you send over his info." Likely it would be sent right away. If you don't have a relationship built with the high school staff, you're likely going to have to physically go out and get that information until you do.

Let's take Rob Ianello for instance. Irish fans know he's a great recruiter, but where did he recruit for Wisconsin and Arizona? I know he did a lot of recruiting in Houston for Wisconsin. I'm not certain of his other responsibilities, but I doubt they were the exact same territories he has now. So coach Ianello has had to go out and form some new relationships with different high school coaches and it takes time. It's starting to pay off now.

2) Getting film can be a real hassle. As Irish Eyes customers know, it can be a real pain as it takes us considerable time to get it all. Most kids put together a highlight tape of all their games. They just take the best plays they made over the course of the year. Say the Irish coaching staff watches a player on film and like what they see, but they haven't seen enough of X player in say pass coverage…..back to the phones for some actual game film. This happens much more than people realize. College coaches continue to ask for more and more tape to make the most informed decision they can. As I've often said; "anyone should be able to find 20-30 plays where they did something right or they wouldn't be playing." Sometimes the mistakes a player makes can give a staff more information than the actual highlight film.

3) Another problem that can surface are "tweeners." Is the guy really 6-foot-4 or is he 6-foot-2. Why would it matter? Say a guy is only 6-foot-2, does he have the frame to grow into a true defensive end? At 6-foot-4, the likelihood is greater he can. This is why colleges really try to get kids to show up to campus so they can get an actual look at the prospect. They'll know if he's actually 6-foot-4 or not, and that can often times be the difference between an offer and not receiving an offer.

This can also be a weight issue as well. Say a corner prospect looks good on film but is only 160 pounds. The player might have enough speed to play the corner position currently, but will he have enough speed, quickness and agility with another 25-30 pounds added to his frame?

4) The prospect also has to be able to qualify for Notre Dame. Just knowing someone's core g.p.a. will not be enough to make that judgment. Previously (and I still believe currently), the Irish required two more core courses than the norm for most schools, so the Notre Dame coaching staff must research the transcript of each player to find out if they have the correct core courses already, or if they plan to have them once they graduate. It's hard to know what a player plans to do unless you talk to the player, and/or talk to some of his teachers, guidance counselors, the principal, etc. Notre Dame must also get each transcript to make sure he can qualify, and that can be a problem as some people just don't send it right away. Sometimes multiple phone calls are needed to get the full transcript.

5) Obviously, Notre Dame also requires a higher S.A.T or A.C.T. score than most schools. Has the prospect taken any pre-test that might indicate how he'd score on the real thing? If not, how can you determine what he might score? Back to the phones…..

6) I've also heard that Notre Dame spends considerable time finding out about the character of each player they recruit. That won't show up on a piece of paper that can be mailed in. More phone calls need to be made, and sometimes it's hard to get people on the phone. If the staff might hear conflicting things initially, you can bet they'll be calling a number of people to make a judgment.

There are a lot of phone calls to be made in determining who might be offered, and a lot of film to be watched. Say coach Weis finds a player who really stands out on film, is a solid kid, should test well but currently has a 2.6 core g.p.a. Obviously coach Weis would love to offer the player, but will that 2.6 be good enough? A phone call would then be made to find out how they can improve the core g.p.a. in the future to make sure he'll qualify for Notre Dame. The call wouldn't be just to the high school, as I'm certain the Irish staff would have the Notre Dame admission department also take a look at each borderline prospect to get their thoughts on who might clear and who might not.

As you can see, this all takes considerable time. While each school will have to go through this same process, they likely don't have to scrutinize nearly as much……at least initially, to make the determination if X prospect is the right fit for their school and football program.

I think it's obvious that Weis, Ianello and the support staff (Ron Powlus and Dave Peloquin) have recruiting in fine shape this early in the process. Now it's just a matter of convincing them to come to Notre Dame…easier said than done.

Note: I'd expect a few more offers could go out after this junior day as well.


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