Mike's Mailbag

I had a good number of questions left over from Power Hour. I've answered most of them here.

ND has offered Josh Jenkins, a highly recruited OL from Parkersburg WV. Josh has made an oral commitment to WVU and stated in the local news that he looks forward to playing there near family and friends. Do we have a chance with this player? West Virginia doesn't produce many legit DI prospects but this guys appears to be real!

Mike: Jenkins is listed as a soft verbal to West Virginia. However, I think Ohio State might be the team to beat at this point. He seems very interested in the Buckeyes, and seemed to really love his visit there last weekend. He's stated many times he plans to visit Notre Dame, but so far he hasn't scheduled any dates to visit South Bend. I'd guess the Irish are on the outside looking in unless they can get him on campus sometime this summer.

What are your thoughts concerning Brice Butler saying that he only wants to be in school for three years and then leave for the NFL? Is this just the day in age that we live in now with college football? With Weis going after the top players every year, is this the kind of thing we need to start getting used to on a regular basis?

Mike: The very best players usually have the opportunity to leave early for the NFL draft if they'd like. I believe Butler has the kind of talent to be that type of a player. You have to remember his dad spent a lot of years in the NFL, so naturally that would be a goal for Brice. He's a great kid. I think the Irish have a legitimate shot to land him. I think this will end up at ND/USC battle, and I also believe the Irish just might win this one. I think he recognizes he can likely play very early at ND and he'd probably have to wait at USC.

Any chance that the freshman Golden Tate can step up to be the wide receiver we need for the deep ball?

Mike: There's a very good chance that could happen. He certainly brings some speed. I think Irish fans will need to be a bit patient with Golden. He wasn't a true WR coming out of high school, and he played a lot of running back mostly. He's in a similar situation as Barry Gallup coming out of high school. There will be an adjustment period, and he'll have to learn, but he certainly has talent. I'm sure he'll get a look on special teams. If he can earn a spot on special teams, there's a good chance we'll see him on the field on offense as well.

Which is easier to teach a young offensive line, pass protection or run blocking?

Mike: I'm not an O-line coach, so I'm probably not qualified to answer that. Maybe one of the board coaches can probably better answer this. However, I will say most O-linemen usually show up as better run blockers than pass blockers because most high school offenses aren't as complicated and usually don't throw the ball as much as Notre Dame does/will. Most high school offensive linemen won't play against the type of athletes they'll face in college, so technique and quick feet are important in pass blocking, as well as strength.

How did the defensive players show in spring game? Who performed well and who didn't? Your impressions?

Mike: I didn't really see anyone who performed poorly, really. I think that was the best news of the day. It seemed everyone on defense knew what to do and executed quite well….a big reason the scoring was so low. I thought Trevor Laws, Toryan Smith, Joe Brockington, Anthony Vernaglia and David Bruton stood out the most to me. It was kind of set up for those players to look good as a lot of plays came their way. Overall, I was very pleased with the pass coverage. I thought they could improve against the run a bit, especially the second team defense/defensive line.

I think Corwin Brown has the potential to bring in at least one big time defensive recruit. In your mind who could that be, maybe a surprise guy that we thought we probably wouldn't get?

Mike: A surprise is usually a surprise. Just kidding. I'm not sure that many players the Irish are recruiting on defense would be considered a surprise at this point. The Irish appear to be doing quite well with the players they've offered on defense. The one guy that I think Notre Dame has a better shot at than most believe is Marcus Forston. Corwin Brown is developing a very nice relationship with Forston, and while it's nearly impossible to pull an elite athlete from Miami, the Irish just might have a shot to land him. The most important thing is to get him on campus early. I'm sure ND is working on that right now.

Since we have two good interior offensive line players do we take 2-3 tackles, and who are the candidates. Robinson has us as an offer, is this true?

Mike: With the commitment of Shugarts to Ohio State, I think you'll see a couple more offensive tackles will be offered soon. I think ND would like to take at least two tackles in this class. Lane Clelland, Art Forst and Matt Patchan appear to be the most likely candidates, but I wouldn't say the Irish lead for any of them. This is the one area of concern I have for Notre Dame this recruiting season. They need to land two quality tackles, and they've struck out on a lot of good ones already.

Any news on where ND stands with Jonathan Baldwin? He would be a great addition, especially if Floyd and Butler committed.

Mike: Baldwin would be a non-factor if Floyd and Butler committed as the Irish won't take more than three receivers. I wouldn't doubt if the Irish end up taking only two in the end. I think that will depend on how the numbers end up at other positions. Baldwin has expressed interest in Notre Dame, but he hasn't visited yet. I don't know of any planned visits to South Bend, either. He has said he'll take an official visit to ND, and the Irish appear to be in his top five. Until a player takes a visit to ND, I really can't say how interested they are. Normally most players will show up to the schools they're very interested in before the season begins. Some can't do that, but most find a way to visit their top schools. Many think Pitt and Michigan might have the inside track on Baldwin.

Is there a situation where ND would take 3 WRs and/or 5 LBs? Seems we are lining up the ducks in such a way, wonder if you feel the numbers make sense with taking that many LBs and WRs?

Mike: I think that's quite possible. The most important thing is to fill the needs at each position. Then I think you look to land the best players available. It appears the Irish have a good shot at some excellent wide receivers and linebackers at this point. Unfortunately, O-line might be the area they miss on this year. They already have two good players. I think they'll land a couple more, but I think ideally the Irish would've loved to land five quality lineman. D-line also needs to be addressed with at least four D-linemen needed to be signed. I think they'll get there.

Why so few defensive back offers thus far?

Mike: I think the answer to that is because the Irish are in great shape with those they've offered at this point. I think ND would ultimately like to take two corners and one safety in this class. Right now I'd say the Irish lead for Robert Blanton, Jamoris Slaughter and Jeremy Brown (the three corners they've offered), and they're in pretty good shape with Dan McCarthy (the only safety offered). Blanton and Slaughter are big corners, who might be able to move to safety if need be. I think ND would really like to land McCarthy, so they're staying patient with Dan. At some point they'll probably have to offer another safety, but I don't think they're at that point yet.

If you are willing to voice your opinion, do you feel a quarterback transfer(s) is inevitable when the QB situation finally shakes out?

Mike: I can only speculate here, and my answer would be purely speculation. I do think you'll see at least on guy transfer. My guess is whichever QB ends up fourth on the depth chart will probably look for greener pastures. Knowing those competing fairly well, I think they all chose Notre Dame because they believed they'd start and loved the competition. I don't think that would suddenly change. I'd think the fourth guy would want a chance to play college football. If he's fourth on the depth chart at ND, the chances of him playing wouldn't be good, so I do think you'll see that guy probably move on. I think all Irish fans should wish him well if/when he would leave. From all I've heard, all the quarterbacks handled this competition with total class and deserve our respect for doing so.

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