Mike's Mailbag

Here's another round of questions left over from Power Hour answered. Keep those questions coming.

We often hear about Corwin Brown but not so much of the other coaches, less Charlie, in their recruiting success. I would think that Charlie would be very demanding of all of his coaches' efforts. Do you know of other coaches' recruiting prowess and determination?

Mike: I think we hear about more coaches than that. It all depends on where the players are. For instance, John Latina has commitments from players like David Posluszny, Lane Clelland and Hafis Williams. Omar Hunter was a Bill Lewis recruit. Brian Polian is in charge of Dayne Crist, Anthony McDonald and Joseph Fauria. All the coaches recruit, but it depends on which area you're responsible for and if there are players in your area that are interested, and more importantly, qualify.

All the coaches recruit and work hard it. Some just have more fruitful areas when it comes to prospects, and areas that traditionally send players to Notre Dame. The midwest and east coast have always been hotbeds for the Irish, so those coaches usually will sign more kids than say Haywood, who is in charge of southern Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas—places where Notre Dame usually doesn't land a lot of players.

Do you think Charlie plays a little more loose this year with the lower expectations? Mike: Interesting question. I do think expectations are less this year, but he'll still have to win games to keep all these top prospects interested. Will he take more chances as less will be on the line? He probably will, but this is the same guy who went for it on his own 30 in the first quarter against LSU. I don't think he's afraid to take chances. But I do think he'll have less on the line and that usually opens up more opportunities to try some different things. I think that will make the season enjoyable to watch.

Have you spoken to Mike Ragone lately? Do you have any inclination on how he will be used this year considering the full stable at TE?

Mike: We haven't spoken with Ragone lately. He's been hard to reach. I'm sure he's busy getting prepared to report to Notre Dame this weekend.

As to how I think he'll be used, I think that's up to Mike. Will he be 100 percent healthy? He was running springs in track, so I think his knee should be fully healed by now. I think the most important thing will be how strong Ragone is to start the season. With any player, being physically ready is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. How much has he been able to lift? However, I think Ragone has an extra gear you just don't see often. I could see him used in some three tight end sets with him lined up in the slot. His speed matched up against a linebacker would be a mismatch that would be fun to watch. If he can learn the offense quickly, and show some progress in blocking, he just might get on the field this season. I'd like to see that speed on special teams.

I have a few questions for you, Is ND is the running for Pryor or Will Hill? How good is John Goodman I don't really know much about him and finally do you see Jones changing position going from QB to WR?

Mike: I really don't think ND has any chance at Pryor or Will Hill. Neither has shown much interest at all in the Irish. I'd be surprised if either visited Notre Dame.

I think Goodman has a ton of potential. He's faster than people think. He's more elusive than you'd usually see for guys his size. He has a nice set hands. Like anyone, he'll need to learn how to play wide receiver at this level. He won't be much faster than most of the corners he'll face, so he'll have to learn to use his technique and precise route-running to get open in the college game. It's up to Goodman as to how good he'll be at Notre Dame. I think he has the tools to be a starter at some point in his ND career.

Mike, have you seen Florida's list of verbals? They only have one and guess what, he's a Defenseive End. At least they didn't have to cherry pick him, i.e. Trattou. They must be waiting to cherry-pick others again this year.

Mike: I did notice that. Florida is in a great position. When you just won the National Championship you can afford to be choosey because there will be a long line of players wanting to check out Florida. And I don't expect the poaching to stop this year. I think you'll see a lot of teams hiding in the weeds this year as the recruiting season winds down. The Irish are just going to have to be prepared for it and educate their commitments on what will happen, why and remind them all of why they chose ND to begin with. What fun would this be if we didn't have things to worry about? Paranoia drives recruiting. Always has. Just have to hope ND wins more than they lose in the end.

Just wondering what you thought about our chances with the two big Florida guys besides Sabino: Carlton Thomas and Patchan. Do you think we lead with Thomas? Is Patchan as good as some think (Sam Young good?)

Mike: I think it's really hard to lead for someone like Thomas or Patchan until they've visited Notre Dame. Florida is so far away that until a player from that state visits Notre Dame, I think it's all a guessing game. I do think Carlton Thomas has a legit interest in ND. I do think he'll visit Notre Dame. We just won't know what to think on Thomas until he visits. Same with Patchan.

I do think Patchan has the same type of talent as Sam Young. He might have even more upside than Young. He's very quick for his size, which means he can play left tackle. He's a nasty player. One of the very best I've seen in some time. Someone will land a great one in Patchan. ND fans have to hope it's ND or someone not on ND's schedule.

Mike, Is John Ryan really suited for the hybrid position. Can he play in space well enough to not be a liability? What are the chances Kerry Neal Starts or has major playing time by mid-season?

Mike: Good questions. Wish I had the answers. Like you, I've wondered if Ryan is athletic enough to play the outside linebacker position as well. My guess is he's the best they have right now because I didn't hear of anyone challenging him this spring. I'm sure he'll have some competition this fall, but he seemed to hold off all challengers this spring.

As for Kerry Neal, I do hear the coaching staff has made Neal very much aware that he'll be counted on to play this year. They've been very forthcoming that they expect him to be in excellent shape and ready to play from the first practice. I think you'll see him a lot on the field. They'll need to generate a pass rush, and I think they already have him earmarked to do that this fall.

Will Corwin Brown be the next ND head coach? Will Weis make it through the end of his contract? What's your best guess? Mike: Good questions. You guys continue to amaze with these questions. Just when I didn't think we had anything more to talk about. It's quite possible that Brown could be the next coach at Notre Dame. Many expect Lloyd Carr to retire soon. Is Ron English their next coach? Sure sounds like he's being groomed for it. Would Michigan pass over English for Brown? Doubtful. My guess is Brown will get a mid-level job in a couple of years. From there, who knows. How long would it take Brown to be successful in a mid-level gig? Judging by his recruiting prowess, not very long.

As for Charlie, I think that depends on if he accomplishes what he sets out to do and when. I don't see him being fired at Notre Dame. He's a great coach, hires good assistants, continues to beat the teams he should, and has done a great job restocking ND with the talent needed to compete with the top teams. This recruiting class will be the final piece of the puzzle I believe. He needs to land a top class this year. That would give him three very good recruiting classes back-to-back-to-back. That will give him all the talent he'll need to turn this around. It then becomes does he win a championship and when? If he wins one in say year five, will he want to continue? I think Charlie's the type that would want to do it twice, so I think he'll be around.

Who do you expect to be our top wide receivers next year along with Grimes? Who else is going to see the field? How much of a factor do you think Kamara and Tate can be for us next year?

Mike: Sounds like George West was the only guy who really stood out besides Grimes this spring. I'm surprised that Rob Parris hasn't stepped into a role yet. Sometimes a hip dislocation can ruin a playing career. Let's hope that's not the case with Parris, but I've heard he's struggled with his quickness and getting separation.

I really think there's a golden opportunity for Duval Kamara to step into a starting position. I think the staff will take a strong look at him this fall camp and see if he can contribute. I think Tate will have some learning to do as he played a lot of running back in high school. He'll need to learn to be a receiver, but once he does, he should have a nice career at ND. We might see him on special teams this year, however.

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