Mike's Mailbag

Here is another round of questions left over from Power Hour. Keep those questions coming.

You just mentioned it wouldn't be surprised to see some of our commits waver, and possibly take another visit. If this happens, do you think Charlie Weis completely drops the kid, opens up the spot and potentially offers another kid at that position, or what?

Mike: I think we need to clarify why I made these comments. Someone wanted to know if I was worried that other teams would come after ND's commitments this year. I don't expect kids to waver, but they do. Let me be clear in saying that every single year we have kids waver. We hear reports of it every year. We also usually have a kid or two who ends up taking a visit. Maybe one or two who de-commit. It happens. Nobody likes it, but it does happen, and not to just ND. An early signing period would sure help.

I'm not sure how Weis would handle that. I'm sure Weis has an idea, but I really don't know what he'd say. Unfortunately for the coaches, they have very little recourse other than drop a great player. Some schools do just that. I doubt Charlie would do that unless he knew he could replace that player with someone close in potential, but that is just my guess.

Do you think we have a placekicker who can prevent opposing teams from starting at the 50-yard line this year?

Mike: I do sense some sarcasm in this, but sadly I also think there is a bit of truth considering how ND can't find a guy who can consistently kick the ball to the 5-yard line let alone the goal line. Tack on another 5 yards and some teams are going to get some good field position. The good news is that I think ND will also have some electrifying players who might be able to even this out when ND gets to return kicks.

To answer your question, I'm not sure at this point. Reports out of spring would say we should worry. I don't know what to expect from Brandon Walker yet. I really haven't heard much on how well he's doing thus far. Different tees usually take time to get adjusted to, and that's usually the big stumbling block for kickers coming from high school. Hopefully Walker at least gives ND a real option at kicker. And maybe the light bulb will come on for one of the current kickers like it did for Geoff Price last season.

With commitment of Ethan Johnson, isn't it nice how the sting of losing Justin Trattou has become easier to take?

Mike: It does, but Trattou's loss still stings. ND fans are very excited about this recruiting class and want to give out as many scholarships as ND can. But let's look at this from a team standpoint. One of the fifth-year players on the fence will be Justin Brown.

If ND doesn't renew Justin Brown's scholarship for a fifth year, ND only has Kuntz (if he moves outside), Paddy Mullen and Kallen Wade at defensive end besides true freshmen. That would mean Ian Williams and Derrell Hand would be the only two nose guards minus the freshmen. That's not a lot of experience at D-line for the future. As I said on the show today, I wouldn't be surprised to see John Ryan move to defensive end after this season. But I agree, Ethan Johnson is a great pickup, as was all the D-line in this class thus far. Don't forget about them as well.

Do we have a shot at Jonathan Baldwin? I think he is going to be a stud with his size and speed Charlie can do wonders with him.

Mike: Notre Dame definitely has a shot. I think ND is right there with Michigan right now. Baldwin doesn't say much though, and I don't think that stops with reporters. I don't think he lets anyone really know what he's thinking. I wouldn't say he's leaning heavily towards anyone at this point. I agree though, a 6-foot-6 guy who can run a 10.7 100 meters is quite a prospect.

How do you compare the optional 5th-year approach versus the Red-Shirt approach? How do teams do it differently? Pros/Cons in your opinion?

Mike: Each scholarship becomes renewable each year. It's not a guaranteed scholarship anywhere for five years. Some teams reserve the right to decide if a fifth-year is needed, others just kind of run people off if they don't think they're needed. That's just the reality of it. That's why the NCAA is toying with the idea of a mandatory fifth-year for all colleges. I'm in favor of that, even though I think it can hurt ND at times, but it will hurt everyone. I'd just prefer there's one set of rules for everyone.

What day does fall camp start? Also do you think DJ Hord can step up and win a starting WR job?

Mike: Fall camp starts on August 6. There is a media day early and then practice starts at 3 p.m.

As for Hord, I'm not sure what to expect from D.J. because he hasn't been100 percent healthy yet. He didn't make much noise this spring, again, probably because he wasn't healthy. He can certainly bring some speed if he can get some luck and stay out of the infirmary.

I want to know what our chances of landing Marcus Forston, and if T.J. Bryant is visting later this month.

Right now ND has five commitments at D-line. It's doubtful they'd take a sixth. But, I do believe ND will still recruit Marcus Forston. Why? Because you never know how things will shake out. While I don't anticipate one of ND's commitments to leave the nest, it's not uncommon, and with how aggressive recruiting has become the past two years, I think you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I believe you'll see ND recruiting kids even though they may have already accepted their allotment of scholarships for this season. As for Bryant, he's said he's going to visit. I'm not sure of the actual date at this point. Also not sure where he stands with ND currently. He'll probably be another prospect the Irish continue to recruit, if he's eligible to get into ND, even if they have filled their slots at corner because he won't be deciding any time soon.

Mike, What if a the group of five-stars we are recruiting want to jump on board, let's say we are at 22 and four want to come on board, do we really turn down guys like Hill, Forston, Patchan, Baldwin? I think these are the only four we say you have a spot either way.

Mike: If the Irish are at their allotment, say 24 is that number, and a five-star guy wants to commit, I'd be shocked if Weis accepted his commitment at that time. Weis has made a commitment to those 24 that have accepted, and I'd be stunned if he didn't honor that. You have to take those that want to come that you truly like when they want to come. If others want to wait, they risk not having a scholarship. That's just the way the game is played.

With Warren Central high school (Indianapolis) becoming a constant national program ,do you think Notre Dame will begin to recruit more in Indy or even central Indiana?

ND recruits Indiana very hard. They just don't find many players they think fit their system and have the talent to play with Notre Dame's current roster. There will always be a number of Indiana boys who end up becoming elite players on the college level, many go to Purdue and Boston College and teams like that. For whatever reason, ND just doesn't see a lot of guys they really like across the state of Indiana. They're hardly the only team. I do think they do scour the state thoroughly to find the best players available. They do miss on some, however.

Which team do you foresee winning the Big 10 this year? Also can anyone beat USC this year?

Mike: My guess on the Big 10 winner is Michigan, although it wouldn't surprise me to see Ohio State back as Big 10 champ. Michigan has the more veteran team and the veteran QB. Ohio State should have another great defense but questions at quarterback, wide receiver and other positions.

Can anyone beat USC? Yeah, it's possible, but I don't think it's very likely. As much as I hate to say this, I'm picking the Trojans to win it all. Their defense is going to be outstanding. They have too many weapons on offense. I think they only way USC loses a game is if they beat themselves. They did against UCLA last year, but that hasn't happened often under Pete Carroll.


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