We didn't get our 14th 2006 commitment until 22 Dec. of last year. Do you think our early success in 2007 is just because Charlie has offered so many more athletes this time, or it's because the students are generally wanting to end their recruitment early to avoid all the hassle?
Mike: I think the entire thing has sped up for almost all schools. The media attention on these young athletes starts sooner. These players are having more contact with schools sooner. Many of them take multiple visits to schools before their senior season even starts. I think the media's attention to these star athletes is driving a lot of early decisions. Five years ago we would just now start calling the top seniors-to-be. With combines, and many younger players showing up to these combines, the recruiting sites know who these top young players are much earlier than we previously did. So I think all of this factors into why we've seen so many early decisions this year. I'm not certain it's the best thing for college football, but it is what it is.
From your observation of practices, which QB has the most potential, and who will emerge as the starter?
Mike: Potential is a tricky thing. If I say pure potential, I'd say it would have to be Demetrius Jones. He can do things with his legs that Evan Sharpley and Jimmy Clausen can't do. That potential might earn him the first start against Ga. Tech. But, I'd say Evan is clearly the most ready to play, and having said all of that, my guess is Clausen ends up starting the majority of games this season. Why? The Irish are going to need a very accurate passer in the short passing game this year, and I think Clausen will be the best in this situation.
Who's next to commit?
Mike: I think I need to start my own Miss Cleo 900 line. I really can't say for sure who will be the next commitment. If I had to guess, I'd say Robert Blanton is the most likely, but he also might not be the only defensive back who might commit soon. If Jamoris Slaughter decides he wants to commit before his senior season, I believe he'll choose the Irish. Dan McCarthy has also said he'll probably decide before his senior season.
Should ND be offering a few more offensive scholarships? or maybe wait ....
Mike: Good question. Right now I don't think there are that many offensive scholarships left on the board. I see one offensive lineman, maybe two more receivers and probably a running back. But I do think the Irish might want to take a strong look at offering another wide receiver. I have to believe that they'll land another elite receiver, but I don't think this is a position where the Irish can afford to miss. I do believe they lead for Michael Floyd, but anything can change. They have to land another quality target to go with Goodman. I think they'll be fine at the other two positions.
If we get to the magic number of 22 recruits before January, and players like Hayle, Brown, or Forston are still interested in ND, do you think we'll continue to recruit these players for fear of a decommit?
Mike: Tough decision to make in that instance. I don't think you can really recruit a kid if you're not prepared to take him if he wants to commit. "De-commitments" are happening more and more each year, so as a staff, you really have to stay on your toes. I think ND probably has a better chance of convincing those committed to sign than coming back late on a player like Brown or Forston or Hayle. I'd guess that Weis and his staff will likely be recruiting one player in that situation….the one they have the most chance at landing. But they'll have to be prepared to take him if he wants to come, which I'm sure they will.
Given we've got 6 scholarship DBs with 2-4 yrs of eligibility left, wouldn't we be better off with 2 DBs and maxing out the D-line?
Mike: I know everyone is excited about the D-line, myself included, but we can't forget about defensive back. The Irish have struggled for awhile with landing top corner prospects. Right now the Irish have Darrin Walls, Raeshon McNeil and Gary Gray as the future at corner, but I don't think you can stop there. Some teams plays 50 percent nickel defense, meaning five defensive backs on the field half the time. The Irish do have a number of safeties on scholarship, and I wouldn't be surprised to see ND not take a safety if Dan McCarthy doesn't want to come, but I do think they'll try to land three defensive backs if they can. You also don't want to take too many D-linemen in one class. It comes down to balance in a class. If you have six D-linemen in one class, what happens when all six graduate in one year? You've got a serious depth problem. And, with six D-lineman in one class, not all are going to play. What if one transfers? Would you be better off not wasting that scholarship and find a player who can help and has a great shot to play?
How many scholarships will Charlie give out this year, and what will the breakdown by position be?
Mike: Right now the number appears to probably be 22. If anyone transfers, the number would obviously increase. I can't really accurately guess how it will be broken down because I'm not certain which guys will likely end up at ND. My best guess would be 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 4 OL, 2 TE, 5 DL, 4 LB, 3 DB. If they have another scholarship available, I think they'll try to take a fifth linebacker or third wide receiver. That's just my best guess because I don't know which players will eventually commit to ND.
Jonathan Baldwin is listed on scout.com as 6-foot-6 and 4.4 speed. Those seem out of this world. Even if he is 6-4 and has 4.5 speed, that is amazing. Do you believe we can land him?
Mike: I don't put a lot of stock into reported 40 times. I don't know what Baldwin would run in the 40, but there are few players who run a 4.4 coming out of high school, but I do think he's a good player. He visited Notre Dame recently and said a lot of positive things about the Irish. He's not an overly excitable guy, so he doesn't say glowing things about anyone. I think the Irish are in the race, but I'm not sure that ND would be considered his leader at this point. I think ND still has some work to do for him.
Why do the recruiting services underrate Omar Hunter? Rivals doesn't have Omar on their top 250 list, and Scout only gives him 3 stars. Omar is clearly a stud.
Mike: I can't speak for Rivals. I really don't know their situation. With Scout, it's simple. They don't have film to rate him yet. Once they've seen his film, I think he'll definitely be a four-star player at least. Hopefully Scout will get his film soon.
How many more D-line commits do you think we will take? If Forston and Ethan Johnson wanted to come would we take both? Same question for O-line. Substitute Page and Patchen.
Mike: I think ND will take five D-lineman. As for if the Irish would take both Forston and Johnson, hard to know. Again, I think it comes down to numbers. If the Irish fail to land three DBs, they might consider taking both Johnson and Forston. If the Irish fail to land a fourth O-lineman, I think they might consider it. Even if Ethan Johnson were to commit today, I do think the Irish will continue to recruit Forston because we don't know what will happen the rest of the positions just yet. As for Page and Patchan, I think the Irish will stop at 4 O-line, especially considering their D-line success. Their success at D-line probably means Emeka Nwankwo and Andrew Nuss will land on the offensive line.
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