Chris Martin and the self-fulfilling prophecy


So there’s more news about blue-chip recruit Chris Martin. And it’s news that Irish fans aren’t too happy about.

Martin spoke with USC recruiting site and made waves by openly admitting that he’s taking visits and looking at other programs while long being committed to the Irish. This contradicts what Charlie Weis hinted at last week when the initial rumors of Martin’s wandering eyes started to make news.

While the most rosy-eyed of Notre Dame fans could dispute a USC recruiting site — I mean, consider the source! — just to make adamantly clear that Martin is looking at other programs, former NBC Sports writer and current contributor John Walters caught up with Martin’s mom who confirmed the same thing.

“Chris probably should not have committed so early,” Cheryl Martin said. “He proclaimed Notre Dame would be his school last February thinking that would quiet things down. It only encouraged everybody else… We kind of put the cart before the horse when Chris committed a year early.”

Before Irish fans start proclaiming that the sky is falling, they should take a deep breath and relax. Martin is still taking his official visit to Notre Dame for the biggest game of the year and likely the most electric home atmosphere the Irish will have all season.

Irish fans should also stop and think before they start throwing gas on the fire. Like many 17 and 18 year olds (and 30-year-olds), Martin has a Facebook page. And like many other kids his age that know nothing different than a life packed full of social networking websites, Martin is eager to accept friends. Over 600 of them. And if you’re one of the 600 or so people that Martin has befriended, a pleading message supporting your favorite team probably isn’t helping.

This is the first time through the adventure for recruits like Chris Martin. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s going to make quick decisions, think with his heart before his head. We all did it when we were teenagers, and we weren’t getting phone calls from Charlie Weis, Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, and Jeff Tedford.

Every college kid wonders if he made the right decision when he finally picks a school. For most of us, the options were far more limited than talented student-athletes like Chris Martin. The fact that Martin is wobbling on his college choice isn’t the end of the world scenario for Notre Dame. He’s still incredibly high on the Irish and head coach Charlie Weis.

“I love the school and I absolutely respect him,” Cheryl Smith said of head coach Charlie Weis. “He’s given me his word that he’ll take care of my son.”

You’ve got to wonder if Martin’s commitment issues are still a product of the heat being applied — mostly by Notre Dame fans — on Charlie Weis. If Weis’ job was no longer a topic being discussed weekly on Notre Dame fan-sites and message boards, then this might not be an issue. Likewise, if Notre Dame fans didn’t panic when they heard Chris Martin was looking around, and quickly morph themselves into self-preservation/”we-don’t-need-him-anyway” mode, none of this would be an issue.

While there is a very real chance that Chris Martin is gone, there’s also a very real chance he’s going to be Irish. Just a few years ago, message boards were going nuclear questioning the motives of a blue-chip wide receiver that had supposedly given his commitment to Charlie Weis, but wasn’t really discussing anything with the press.

I’m not talking about Arrelious Benn, who ended up flipping his silent commitment from the Irish to Illinois. I’m talking about Michael Floyd… who turned out pretty good for Notre Dame.

Let’s not turn the possible decommitment of Chris Martin into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
1 Comment

Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.



Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.

Will Fuller brings his game-changing skills to the Texans offense

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Will Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a pass before running into the endzone for a touchdown in the second quarter in front of Avonte Maddox #14 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

In all the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft, one key tidbit linking Will Fuller to the Houston Texans never seemed to come up. The relationship between Brian Kelly and Bill O’Brien.

The two coaches share a high school alma mater, a friendship that made the due diligence on Notre Dame’s prolific playmaker easy. And it was clear that after all their research, Houston was aggressive in their pursuit of Fuller, trading up to make Notre Dame’s All-American the second receiver off the board, triggered a run at the position.

“He was a guy that we felt strongly about,” Texans general manager Rick Smith told the team’s official website. “We didn’t want to take a chance on not getting him. We were aggressive. We went and made the move.”

That move made Fuller’s decision to leave Notre Dame after three seasons a good one. While it’ll require the Irish to rebuild at a position where Fuller served as one of college football’s best home run hitters, it gives Houston a vertical threat that can extend the top of a defense for a Texans offense that was serious about finding some solutions for a team already in the playoff mix.

Yes, Fuller has work to do. Completing the easy catch is one big area. But for all the pre-draft talk about his limitations, Brian Kelly took on some of the criticism head-on when talking with the Texans’ media reporter.

“Some people have compared him to Teddy Ginn, that’s not fair. He can catch the ball vertically like nobody I’ve coached in 25 years,” Kelly said (a sentiment some hack also laid out). Teddy Ginn is a very good player, but this is a different kind of player. If you throw the ball deep, he’s going to catch the football.”

Fuller is never going to be the biggest receiver on the field. But while most of the banter on his game focused on the negative or his deep ball skills, expect Fuller to find a role not just running deep but unleashed in the screen game as well. After the Texans spent huge on quarterback Brock Osweiler and have invested in fellow Philadelphia native and 2015 third-round pick Jaelen Strong, Fuller wasn’t selected for the future but rather expected to be a day-one piece of the puzzle.

“This will change the speed on offense immediately,” Kelly said. “It was not ‘Hey, let’s wait a couple of years’. It was ‘Let’s go get this right now’ and I think Will will do that for them.”