Mike's Mailbag

We had a number of questions left over from Power Hour. I answered most of them here. Enjoy!

Mike, since recruiting is off to such a great start do you see any concern with the current commits decomitting?

Mike: I really don't. Usually players who commit early rarely de-commit. It happens, just look at Justin Trattou last year, but it's usually due to circumstances changing, like losing your defensive coordinator and changing schemes. It's possible, but I think the Irish would really have to lay an egg for that to happen, and I don't see that happening under Weis.

Hey Mike, love the show. Who do you see as our next commit at wide receiver? It seems to me that this could be a great area of concern and from what I read, and no one is looking like a certainty at this point.

Mike: Notre Dame's best bets right now would be Michael Floyd and Brice Butler. Both have visited Notre Dame, and both have indicated they might decide early. Many expect Floyd to make his decision before his senior season. Butler might take a bit longer, but the Irish are very high on both of their lists, and both could decide before the beginning of their senior season.

Mike....with Clausen & Crist in the fold, what is your thought on the lack of some of the big time receivers jumping early to ND offers.

Mike: I don't consider this 2007 receiver class to be very strong this year. Notre Dame is in the hunt for two of the very best in Butler and Floyd. AJ Alexander has mentioned he'll take a visit to Notre Dame as well. I think kids know about Notre Dame's quarterback situation, but I think seeing them play will help out a lot. If Clausen starts and performs well early, that will definitely help ND's situation with receivers. I will admit it's somewhat surprising considering the type of seasons Jeff Samardzija, Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight had previously. It's surprising more receivers haven't jumped on board knowing how easy it would be for elite players to compete for playing time.

Your doom and gloom is killing me...the offense will be better than most think. Why?...OLine and running game. RB\'s will be lights out and the big tight ends will cause opponents Defense problems.

Mike: (Note: The e-mailer is referring to comments I made during the show about the Irish struggling next season on offense.) I believe the Irish will struggle next year offensively, at least initially. There aren't many teams who perform well with an inexperienced quarterback (see Georgia and a host of other schools). The Irish replace three starters along the offensive line, and Notre Dame can't seem to clearly name a second wide receiver at this point, which likely means they don't have one, at least not yet. ND does have some talented running back and tight ends, but they'll need good play from the QB, O-line and receivers for the backs and tight ends to really shine. While we've heard some good news about the O-line progressing, we didn't see it in the spring game, at least not against the first-team defense. That doesn't mean they won't improve, and they will, but they're also playing ND's defensive line and not USC, UCLA or Michigan. By the end of 2007, I believe the Irish offense will be playing much, much better, and we'll start to see the future of Notre Dame football. But like anything, I believe it takes time, and there will be growing pains.

Mike, what are your thoughts on the running backs ND has offered. Where do we stand and who do we have a real shot at?

Mike: Right now I couldn't point to any one guy and say the Irish are leading for this player at running back. I'd say they have their best shot at Ryan Williams, Cyrus Gray and Carlton Thomas. All three have expressed some strong interest in Notre Dame and have mentioned visiting South Bend. So far none of them have. I also couldn't say for sure the Irish are leading for any of the above or are their top two teams. None of the three really give any indication as to which teams they might favor. With the Irish taking James Aldridge and Armando Allen previously, it's going to be hard for this staff to land an elite player at running back. It's not a great year for running backs, and it's also not a big need for the Irish, but they would like to land one elite player at the position. I really couldn't guess who that player might be at this point.

Do you see Ambrose Wooden holding down that 2nd corner spot?

Mike: Yes, I do. I've heard Ambrose has had an excellent winter and spring. He looks to be in great shape and very dedicated. I've heard he had a great spring and appears to be Notre Dame's top corner at this point. Hopefully he'll have a strong senior season as they need to solve the problems in the secondary.

Do you think Charlie Weis has already made the QB decision?

Mike: I'm not sure he's made a final decision, but I'm sure he probably knows who it's going to be. He'll let the two compete for it this fall, but I'm going to guess he probably already has a very strong idea which player will end up starting this fall. What I don't know is which player that would be at this point.

ND has apparently offered 3 safeties..Blanton, McCarthy and Slaughter....all 3 have shown great interest...who and how many do we take?

Mike: Notre Dame has offered Robert Blanton and Jamoris Slaughter as corner prospects, not safeties. You are correct that all three appear to be very interested in Notre Dame, and I think Notre Dame would take all three if they wanted to commit. The Irish appear to be in very good shape with defensive back recruiting. When was the last time we could say that?

What teams can ND upset next year?

Mike: ND can beat anyone on their schedule next year, but some will obviously be tougher than others. I'm going to guess the Irish won't be favored when they play Michigan, Penn State, USC and possibly UCLA next season. I assume they'll be favored to win the other games they play. I think ND's best chance for a win in these four games will be against Michigan. The Irish should be highly motivated to win this game after their embarrassing loss last season, and Michigan could be suspect on defense after losing many top players from their good defense last season. If the Irish can run the football on Michigan, they'll have a chance to stay in the game. I also think the Wolverines could struggle a bit at offensive line, and if the Irish can disrupt Henne's timing, they'll have a shot to win. I also have to think Corwin Brown will probably want to win this game as he played for Michigan. I really think the Irish have a great shot at an upset in Ann Arbor in the fall.

Is Brandon Newman going to be Irish or is he second-guessing?

Mike: I believe Newman will choose the Irish in the end. I just think he wants to make sure that's what he wants to do. Right now college coaches are coming in left and right to see Brandon. They're calling and telling him all kinds of wonderful things. That has to be very flattering to anyone in a similar situation. Nobody tells the pretty girls to stop paying attention to them. I think he'll take a bit of time yet to decide. I just think he wants to have zero doubts about which school is the best fit for him. I think he'll choose ND, but anything can change when a player starts taking more visits.

Which freshman, who is not on campus yet, will have the biggest impact in your opinion?

Mike: That's a tough one. Will you let me get away with choosing Brandon Walker? I firmly believe he'll make the biggest impact as I think he'll have the best shot to take a starting position. I think Ian Williams, Mike Ragone, Kerry Neal and Duval Kamara probably have a great shot to see the field early as well. Kerry Neal probably has the best chance as a pure pass rusher.

Do you think that Michael Floyd and Brice Butler are the type of WRs that can play right away as freshman? Do you still feel that ND has a good shot at both?

Mike: The simple answer for both questions is yes. I think both can and would get on the field right away for ND, and I do believe the Irish have a good shot at both.

Have you seen film on Carlton Thomas? If so, can you please describe his playing style? Who would you compare him to as a player?

Mike: Yes, I have watched his film. He's an excellent running back. He's very elusive in a Barry Sanders type of way, but he also runs with good power for his size. He's not afraid to run inside, which a lot of smaller backs appear to be. He has excellent speed and feet, and he turn on a dime. He's a player who with "wow" factor. He'll make plays that make you say "wow."

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories