Mike's Mailbag

We had another batch of questions left over from Tuesday's Power Hour. I did my best to answer them all. Here's the latest installment of Mike's Mailbag.

Mike...is there real concern amongst the coaches with the wide receivers consistently continuing to drop passes last year and through the spring?

Mike: I'm not sure I can definitively say that. I do know none have expressed that to me. However, after watching last season, and the parts of spring that we could watch, it does continue to be a problem for some players. I'd be concerned if I were them. It can be fixed, but you'd hope it would be fixed by now. Hopefully it will be by spring.

What are your thoughts on Manti Te'o? Should recruiting nuts even entertain the possibility of him coming to ND?

Mike: Good question. I think Charlie Weis has done an excellent job of recruiting Mani thus far. I doubt many other coaches have gone the lengths that Weis has gone in recruiting Manti, and he's definitely noticed that. The big key is getting a visit. They'll have no shot unless they can get him on campus sometime this year. I know that they've spoken to him about coming this summer, and if he does, I'd say they'll have a shot. But until he visits, I really don't know what to think. South Bend might as well be Mars to Manti, as it's probably nothing like where he currently lives. Either he'll like it, or he won't. But the first step is to get him on campus. I know Weis will work real hard to make that happen this summer. I think you either want to be in or out of the Te'o race early. If you're out you can move onto someone who is interested. If you're in, you still have a very long time to convince him to come to your school.

Mike...what is your thinking where we go for a QB this class?

Mike: I've heard Notre Dame is going to look at 5-6 quarterbacks this spring. They'll gather as much tape and information as they can and get it back to Weis to look over and then they'll offer another quarterback or two. I think we're probably a few weeks away from knowing who will get offered if not longer.

Mike - Early in the year it seemed that recruiting was not looking good for 2008. Is it looking up now? What changed?

Mike: I do think recruiting is looking much better than it was earlier in the season. What's changed is the staff could focus their attention on this class and not the previous class. They're not developing important relationships with the key targets in this class and are having some good success with that. The recent additions of Stockton and Wood were two critical players for this class. Wood should help the Irish get the interest of other players, and Stockton fills a big need at nose guard. I think both are excellent prospects, and both need players. I think we've seen the Irish move up on a lot of their top target's lists, but I still think there's a lot of work to do. I still think they're behind the pace for last year, and some extra work needs to put in right now to get caught back up.

Mike, do you think Golden Tate will jump to number 3 on the depth chart? Also, besides Riddick, who else do you think is leaning towards ND at this point?

Mike: I think Golden Tate probably did jump to No. 3 on the post-spring depth chart (which will never be released). But, will be No. 3 in the fall? That's up to him. Tate makes plays. He makes big plays. He also makes bad plays. And, his bad plays keep him on the sidelines more than he needs to be. But there's no denying he makes a lot of big plays, and this team needs playmakers. If Tate can become consistent, a good route-runner, and become more solid with his hands, the sky is the limit for him. He'll get there, but the question is when, and if it will be too late by then? I think you'll see him really take off next year. That's just my guess.

Thoughts on OL/DL/WR recruiting? Is ND recruiting pointing upward now?

Mike: Good questions. On offensive line recruiting, it's too early to tell. I do think they have a good shot at a number of top guys like Chris Watt and Eric Shrive. I also think they're definitely in the race for players like Xavier Nixon and Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Alex Hubbard, and have a realistic shot at players like Corey Lindsley and Stavion Lowe. I do believe they'll get visits out of most of these kids. But until a kid is about to choose ND, or says ND clearly leads, I wouldn't count your chickens before they're hatched. The Irish have a lot of work left to do, but they do have solid interest from this group.

At D-line they commitment of Tyler Stockton was very important. Now the Irish can remain patient and wait for another elite player at nose guard as they don't really need another at this point. ND has a good shot at players like Anthony LaLota, Craig Roh, William Ming and Gabe Ikard. I expect more names will surface as well. The Irish are looking for two at defensive end.

As for wide receiver, I think Notre Dame is having less luck thus far. I do think Marlon Brown has an interest in Notre Dame, but I also think he'll be a "wait and see" type of guy watching what happens with ND this fall. Notre Dame does seem to have solid interest from Uzoma Nwachuwu, which is a great thing because the Irish need a speed guy at wide receiver.

Sorry if this was discussed before but considering NDs great recruiting the last couple of years addressing needs, is Charlie Weis offering any kickers this year?

Mike: I think that all depends on Brandon Walker and Ryan Burkhart. If either of them becomes a trustworthy kicker, I doubt it. Walker is starting to look like a solid kicker, but it's just one spring. If Walker can do the job, I doubt Weis will offer another kicker. If he struggles, then I'm going to guess he will. I knew the kicking game would cost Notre Dame at least one game last year, who would've thought it would be Navy?

I was thinking with Nixon father being an officer in the military, education would be a big factor in his recruitment. I haven't heard anything about him lately.

Mike: Xavier Nixon is definitely interested in Notre Dame, and the plan is for him to drop by Notre Dame again this summer. He camped at Notre Dame last year. Corwin Brown has been working him since then. I think the Irish will be a finalist for him, especially if they have a solid season next year.

Mike, I'm worried that Charlie is too focused on keeping all the backs happy and not focused enough on finding a starting running back. Last year he didn't pick out a clear starter, and I felt it was hard for any of our running backs to get into a rhythm. Do you think Weis will pick the top back and give him 20-some carries a game, or will we continue to see multiple backs get nearly the same amount of carries?

Mike: I don't think that is a real worry. When Darius Walker was clearly the better back, Weis had no problem playing him almost all the snaps. I really do think the problem here has been none of the backs has separated themselves or made enough plays yet to warrant most of the carries. That may change this fall, but until someone is clearly better than the others, we'll probably have this problem.

Mo. Richardson led the defense in total tackles...is this a positive sign for him, and what can we expect out of him this year?

Mike: I've heard Morrice had an outstanding spring. I've heard he really has become one of the better players on the defensive side. The only question with him will be can he take the pounding playing with a hand down? Can he hold the end and his responsibilities? He'll certainly be a terror off the edge on pass plays, but the run game will be the question. He should be fun to watch next fall.

Just wondering if Devonte Holloman visited for the spring game, and if he did, what do u think our chances are with him?

Mike: He did visit. He seemed to be very complimentary towards Notre Dame, but I think the Irish have some ground to make up. Again, Corwin Brown has been recruiting him for awhile, so they should have a shot with him, but I do think they have some work to do.

Any chance Darius Winston gets offered soon?

Mike: Winston is a fine player, but I don't think he's qualified for Notre Dame at this point. He's also committed to Arkansas, so unless he qualified and opened his recruitment back up, I don't see him becoming a prospect for the Irish.

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