Mike's Mailbag

Here are another batch of questions left over from Power Hour. I have even more than I'll get to tomorrow. Enjoy!

If ND gets 3 to 5 early enrollees and counts them against last year's class, do you think they might take more than 22? Does that change the numbers at all?

Mike: It doesn't change the numbers at all as to how many ND can take. Any team can only have 85 total scholarships, and that's the reason the Irish are likely only taking 22-23 players in this class. Players enrolling early won't change the amount they can take. It only affects how many you can take in each class. Teams are only allowed to take 25 members for each class and 85 total scholarship players each year, so to have more than 25 commits, like the Irish did a few years ago, some would have to enroll early and count towards the previous class. The most important thing to know is that ND can never have more than 85 scholarships, and that's why they can't take more than probably 22-23 this year.

Can (Mike) Ragone, with his speed and size, play WR?

Mike: I suppose it's possible. Ragone obviously has some impressive speed for a tight end. And I wouldn't be surprised to see him out there lined up in the slot at some point as well, but to be a full-time receiver, I'm not sure we'd see that. It's possible, but I think Charlie wants the mismatch of Ragone lined up against slower linebackers. I'm certain Weis will find a way to tap into Mike's vast potential. The future looks very bright at tight end.

Wondering what you think about the secondary recruiting in the upcoming class? Could we really land three CB prospects? Mike: I think it's definitely possible that could happen. I really think it depends on things end up unfolding with the rest of the positions. For instance, if Kyle McCarthy were to commit to Notre Dame sometime soon, I doubt ND would take three corners—I think they'll take a total of three defensive backs at most. But, either Blanton or Slaughter could end up playing safety some day, so the staff might look at three corners knowing either one of those two could end up playing safety. I wouldn't say it's likely ND ends up with three, but it's possible depending how the other positions unfold. When it comes down to a numbers crunch, teams usually start taking the best player available, or the player who can help the team the most. That might end up being a third cornerback. I'm a firm believer in the theory that you can never have too many corners.

I know it's early - but whom do you predict will be returning kicks and punts for the Irish in '07?

Mike: Good question. I've heard Armando Allen has looked very good in the return game. I've also heard Barry Gallup has impressed as well. Grimes and West had been the guys, but with Grimes now likely taking the lead role at wide receiver, I doubt you see him there this year. I still think Zbikowski will be the punt returner. I'd say those mentioned above are the most likely candidates.

What do you believe Notre Dame's chances are of getting another quality receiver, besides John Goodman? Such as a Michael Floyd or Martavious Odoms.

Mike: I'd say they're pretty good. The opportunity to play early is very great for any elite receiver that likes Notre Dame. I really think that the opportunity is so good that it will be too hard for all of these elite players to pass up the chance. Floyd is coming to camp again at the end of this month. He's probably ND's best shot currently.

I was just wondering what ND's chances are of landing Will Hill, as well what are your thoughts on John Goodman. Is he a good fit for ND's offense?

Mike: I'd say ND has very little chance with Will Hill. He's never really shown any interest in ND. That might change, but I don't see that happening.

As for Goodman, I think he fits in very well with the Notre Dame offense. He has excellent hands, good size, and he moves better than a lot of people think. He moves laterally pretty well for a kid his size. I really think he'll develop into a very good player for the Irish. I won't predict he'll be a three-year starter because I haven't watched him against D1 talent, but I do think he has a legit chance to start in his career at ND.

Hey Mike, do you feel that the 2009 class of linebackers is looking to be prime recruits because of the D-line class of 2008 Mike: It should be interesting to see how it plays out. After the 2008 season, the Irish will be without Crum, Vernaglia, Scott Smith and Steve Quinn. Kevin Washington is available for a 5th year, but if he doesn't show up on the field soon, he might not be back. That would leave Toryan Smith, Morrice Richardson, Aaron Nagel, Steve Paskorz and Brian Smith as the only linebackers besides those coming in for this 2008 class. While I don't think it will be a huge need numbers-wise (probably 3 max), it could be a big need for quality players. Out of the 5 mentioned above, only Smith has shown he'll likely be a starter, but it's very early in all their careers to make any predictions.

Are you concerned about the wide receiver & o-line positions this year?

I assume the e-mailer was referring to the actual team and not recruiting. I'll answer as if that was his intention when sending this e-mail.

I'm more concerned about wide receiver than offensive line for this season. At offensive line, you can clearly point to people who have taken a step forward, and it's more than just the first five. I think coach Latina would feel comfortable with as many 8-9 players playing this year on the offensive line. I do think they'll struggle early, and pass protection might be hit and miss for awhile, but I do think this unit has a lot of potential. I do think they'll struggle early.

I am concerned about wide receiver. Other than Grimes, and West somewhat, nobody has really stepped forward. That, to me, tells me we have a large group of guys not ready to play. Can they get better over the summer and fall camp? Yes. Will they? I don't know. ND also doesn't have a lot of size at wide receiver. I think they could struggle getting off the line of scrimmage. I'm guessing most teams will play their secondary and linebackers very close to the line of scrimmage to support the run and make Notre Dame make them back off. The only way teams are going to back off the line of scrimmage will be for the Irish to hit some teams for some big plays. I'm just not certain this team has a lot of home-run hitters at wide receiver right now. This could be a big problem for the Irish next season, but I always think things will be worse than they actually are. Let's hope that's the case here.

Don't get me started on my worries about teams being able to run on the Irish next year…..

You have made it clear that a WR and a commitment for a position in the secondary is what you would like to see before the season starts. How do you feel about the situation at RB, do you think we will wait to get one?

Mike: I really don't see running back as a big need this year. I wonder, if they don't land one of those they've already offered, if they'll even bother with running back unless someone comes along just as good as those that have been offered. The Irish have a lot of talent right now at running back. If they can't land a real difference-maker, I don't see the need to take one. Every year there are good running backs. I wouldn't be surprised if the Irish waited until next year if they can't land one of Calrton Thomas, Cyrus Gray or Ryan Williams.

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