Mike's Mailbag

Here's is another round of your questions answered that were left over from Power Hour. Enjoy!

Who do you see stepping up this year on offense and defense, making the biggest impact?

Mike: That's a really difficult question because we haven't even had spring practice this year to give me any indication. Some players I think that will take that next step to being very good players would be Duval Kamara, Dan Wenger, Golden Tate, Eric Olsen, Mike Ragone, Armando Allen and Jimmy Clausen. On defense I think you'll see Darrin Walls step up his game. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Raeshon McNeil and/or Gary Gray push Terrail Lambert for the other starting spot. I also think you'll see both Kerry Neal and Brian Smith take their game to the next level, and hopefully Ian Williams and Emeka Nwankwo as well. Someone needs to step up at inside linebacker, but I'm not sure who that might be.

Did you say we had a shot at Dorian Bell?

Mike: Yes, I did say that. I believe Dorian has a legitimate interest in Notre Dame. I believe he'll take an unofficial visit sometime to Notre Dame in the near future, and I do think the Irish will be in the hunt for his signature. A relationship is being built, but they'll have to work this one very hard, which usually hasn't been a problem for this staff.

What kind of shot does ND have at Nick Kasa?

Mike: Nick is another player I feel Notre Dame has a solid chance to land. He and his family seemed very excited when Nick was offered by the Irish coaching staff. Nick mentioned that both he and his parents will try to get to Notre Dame real soon to check out the campus and meet the coaching staff. The Irish will likely have to battle Colorado for his signature, but a good first visit should keep the Irish in the hunt. We should know more after he visits.

Any update on suspension of TE Will Yeatman ? Will he be playing this fall season?

Mike: I can't say for sure as I don't think it's been decided yet. However, I fully expect him to be back and ready to play this fall. As long as Will does what he needs to do to get reinstated with the team, he should be fine. I'd be very surprised if he wasn't back.

I am new to watching recruiting. Was everyone as excited in 2006 like they have been the last two years, or where they not as excited?

Mike: Not sure I understand the question, but I can tell you that every year is exciting once you become a ND recruiting junkie. I don't know what it is about us but we find some kind of euphoria in following the chase. It's a crazy rollercoaster ride with many ups, downs and wild turns. Trust me; I'm as big a nut as any of you. This year hasn't been as exciting yet because there really hasn't been much exciting news to report yet, but it will come. It always comes. And unless Notre Dame has a horrible class, it will always be ranked in the top 10, even though there have been a number of times their class shouldn't have been ranked that high (in my opinion). Still, it's always fun to follow. Once you're bitten by the bug it's hard to give it up.

Why does it appear that nobody is looking at the CB position as a big position to fill with the 09 recruiting class? In 09 with Walls / McNeil being seniors - the depth chart looks small with Prince's transfer / Gray's season-ending injury and Blanton. More and more teams such as Michigan have moved to 4 or 5 wide-out sets, which should mean we need to staff at least 3 legit starters at CB. It just appears the offers at CB haven't been flowing. Your thoughts?

Mike: I agree. I think corner is very important this year. The Irish have some excellent candidates on the current roster, but you can never have enough corners. Walls and McNeil will be back for 2009. Gary Gray will be very healthy this season, and I've heard very good things about his ability. ND also has Jamoris Slaughter at cornerback besides Robert Blanton coming in this fall. But I agree, two good corner prospects are definitely needed in this class. I have no explanation why Notre Dame hasn't offered more corners at this point, but my guess is that will change very soon.

As I mentioned on Power Hour, I think the Irish staff is just a bit behind on offers because they spent so much of the December and January trying to secure this current class—which was the smart thing to do. That has put them a bit behind, and they'll have to make up the ground. I do know a lot of guys are putting in the overtime currently trying to get caught up. More offers should be going out very soon.

How does the structure of spring practice change with only one scholarship TE? Does ND benefit by the extra reps for Ragone and the young WRs?

Mike: I think it hurts Notre Dame to only have one scholarship tight end practicing this spring. Weis likes to use multiple tight end sets often in his offense, so it obviously changes things. Look for Luke Schmidt to play some H-Back this spring and get a look in that role. I think you'll see he'll get a long look in this role for the team next season. But it does change what you can do with practice at the types of plays you can run. However, as Weis mentioned, I think this spring will be much more about individual work and improvement and less team. It does help Mike Ragone develop to some extent, but it would be nice for him to have some competition as well because competition usually brings out the best in people.

What are our chances with Isaac Holmes and Corey Adams

Mike: Notre Dame would have a good shot at Isaac Holmes if they offered him a scholarship. Currently I don't believe he's been offered a scholarship but may be in the near future. As for Adams, I think the Irish have an uphill battle for his signature. He's not shown a lot of interest thus far in Notre Dame, but there's still plenty of time to gain his interest. A good start to the season will help, as it will with anyone ND is recruiting.

Just wondering how much of an impact you think Jon Tenuta will have on our defense this year?

Mike: Good question. I think he'll have a very big impact on the defense. I think coach Weis will have even more confidence in the defense knowing that both Brown and Tenuta are working this thing together, as well as Jappy Oliver. That should allow Weis to let them do their thing and call the defense the way they'd like to run it. I also think it means you'll see a much more aggressive defense. I think you'll see much more blitzing, and the defense playing very physical football. This is probably a better hire than many of us know at this point.

Why didn't Notre Dame make it a top priority this past year to get a kicker who can actually kick? Last year was, to put it charitably, an embarrassment. I don't care how many scholarships they need to give out, but they need to find a guy who actually has the ability to make a kick from the 20. Mike: I really don't have an answer for that. My guess is Notre Dame felt they would use all their available scholarships filling the other positions last recruiting season. At one point it looked as if Notre Dame would be turning a good number of people away. When it became obvious that they wouldn't use all their scholarships I believe the ND staff did sniff around a bit for a kicker, but they didn't identify anyone that they felt would be a "can't-miss" guy. At this point they need a "can't-miss" guy or they'll have yet another scholarship kicker who won't be contributing to the team. So, my guess is coach Weis decided it would be better to grab one this year when they have a full year to research the situation to make a better decision.

I was actually wondering about the coaching clinic that you said would be in early April. I am a soon-to-be high school coach and I appreciate all the opportunities I get to learn more. Do I need to sign up somewhere or do I need to call someone, if you could answer this I would greatly appreciate it?

Mike: We posted a link to the coaching clinic information on the message board, which brings up a good topic. All Irish Eyes members need to remember to check out the messages that we thumbtack at the top of the message boards. We post them there for a reason—they usually contain important information. Remember to check there often for new things being posted. The link to the signup for the coaching clinic is below.

Coaching Clinic Signup

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