Mike's Mailbag

Here is another batch of questions left over from Tuesday's Power Hour. Enjoy!

Is this recruiting class comparable to what I saw on LSU's team last night?

Mike: I think it's quite telling that LSU's 2003 class (the fifth-year senior class) was ranked No. 2 in the country when signed. It's also telling that the 2004 class (the senior class) was also ranked No. 2 in the country. Thus, the experience on the LSU team was vastly talented as well, and it showed last night.

Notre Dame had a top 10 class last year, and they'll also sign at least a top 3 class this year. That should also show up on the field 4-5 years down the road. For Notre Dame to get back to the elite status they'll need to sign another top 10 class next season.

Has the date been set for this year's Blue-Gold Game.

Mike: Yes, the date is April 19. I don't believe a practice schedule has been released at this point, but the date for the spring game is the 19th.

Do you think (Braxston) Cave will move to a four-star status?

Mike: Yes, I do think you'll see him move up to a four-star prospect. You also may see Brandon Newman move up to a four-star prospect as well. Both players should make a move in the next rankings, but not sure both will. Cave is the most likely at this point.

What is your opinion on what the receivers mix will be? Is (David) Grimes going to be the odd man out?

Mike: Next season should be interesting. A number of current Notre Dame receivers will have to improve greatly over the spring and summer to hold off the charge from the talented freshmen and sophomore classes. Not only will Grimes be pushed, but so will players like Robbie Parris and George West.

My guess is only one of West and Grimes sees considerable action because they're similar players, and there's a lot of talent below them that will push to see the field. I'd guess you'd see a rotation of probably four players who see considerable time next year, and then a few more who get in occasionally.

Two things that irritate me about the Army All-American game. I love the game, but do the coaches on the West squad have to switch these QB's every series? How can anyone get into any kind of rhythm> Second, it seemed that (Tyrelle) Pryor got the most reps of any of the QB's and the only person these announcers talked about was Pryor.

Mike: That can be frustrating. I'd probably rather them get a quarter and the guy who played the best get the last quarter. I agree. It's hard to get any kind of flow going. The game works perfect for a guy like Pryor though because he makes plays with his legs. His natural ability takes over. In the passing game, many people have to be in sync, and it's harder for a passing quarterback to look great in these games. I agree though, it seemed obvious they wanted Pryor to win the MVP.

Do you think this is the best recruiting class to come to ND in the last 15 years?

Mike: Without question. Notre Dame currently has seven top 100 players. Most likely 19 of their 22 commitments will be ranked four stars or higher. This class is also very balanced and addressed all needs. I'd still like to see Notre Dame land another interior defense lineman and maybe even a defensive end in this class because defensive linemen have been difficult to lure the past 15 years. Anyone else would be icing on the cake at this point.

Is long-snapping mostly technique, mostly touch, or....?

Mike: You're asking the wrong guy. I really don't know much about long-snapping. My guess is it's both of what you mention and a whole lot of practice.

What does Mike Ragone have to do in the off season to jump ahead of Will Yeatman to be the starting TE for the Irish?

Mike: I'd guess a few things. First, Mike isn't the biggest guy. He was probably 230 tops at the end of the year. He'll have to get much stronger to be able to hold the edge in blocking. Even at 240, it's very hard for any tight end that size to handle a 270-pound defensive end.

Mike is tough though, and he has no problem sticking his nose in anywhere. He has all the physical tools, and I think you'll see him back to close to 100 percent next fall. He's vastly talented, but I think he'll have a hard time replacing Yeatman because Yeatman is a very solid blocker at this point, and you have to be able to block to play for Weis at tight end.

How solid is Deion Walker's commitment to ND? There has been a lot of talk about Joe Paterno having an in-home visit, and also, Walker didn't seem to be 100 percent on whether he would take another visit.

Mike: I believe he's very solid. There were some rumors about this, but I checked with some people and they believe they're just rumors. I think Deion is pretty solid.

USC isn't making as big of a splash in recruiting this year compared what we normally see out of Pete Carroll. Do you think this has anything to do with Pete thinking that this is his last year at USC and he takes a NFL job this year?

Mike: No, I think it has to do with USC having so much talent at most positions that some top guys think they can find earlier playing time elsewhere. They're still having an excellent recruiting class, and USC always finishes strong. Right now they only have 14 commits, but six are top 100 players. Five are five-star guys, as many as ND currently has in their 22-man class. I think USC will definitely close strong and sign another great class.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories