As the rumor mill churns… Day 2

68 Comments

(This will be a daily feature until Notre Dame actually decides who
will replace Charlie Weis as the head coach of the Fighting Irish. I’ll
report rumors, hearsay, speculation, anonymous tips, absolute
falsehoods, and predictions. If you’ve got a hot lead, email me at
KeithArnold@nbcsports.com)

If you thought there were fireworks on day one of Action Jack’s crusade to find a new coach, then day two probably blew you away.

What started out as a seemingly mundane morning full of cyber-water cooler gossip, turned into pandemonium, when word leaked on a few message boards that not one, but two different coaches were done deals and ready to sign with Notre Dame by the end of the week.

But before we get there, let’s pack-pedal and cover some familiar ground…

* For those of us looking for a timetable on the changing of the guard, quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus may have given us the best idea, without providing an actual timeline. Cincinnati Enquirer writer Mike Dyer reported that when Powlus was visiting St. Xavier high school and five-star offensive lineman Matt James, Powlus confided to James’ coach Steve Specht that he thought the job would be filled within 7-10 days. (Dyer doesn’t mention this in his actual column, but he did on his Twitter page.) I’m not sure if this qualifies as news exactly, but it certainly got people thinking that maybe Action Jack has a coach already in hand…

* Meanwhile, in Chicago, Sun-Times writer Brian Hanley threw out a new name into the coaching search, claiming that a source told him that UConn coach Randy Edsall had been “contacted by a Notre Dame representative to gauge his interest in becoming the next Irish coach.” This had a large faction of Notre Dame fans panicking, because even if Edsall did manage to get a victory in South Bend (the victory that likely sealed Charlie Weis’ fate), he’s far from the glamor coach many were hoping for.

Of course, a local Connecticut writer caught wind of this rumor and actually thought to check it, and he found out that it was false. Courant writer Desmond Carter also told Huskies fans to chill out about Kansas rumors as well. (Apparently Randy Edsall is a popular guy…)

* Also add Kirk Ferentz’s name to the list of coaches who have distanced themselves from the Notre Dame job. Ferentz, who inexplicably finds his name linked to either a high profile college or NFL job every year without ever actually winning big at Iowa, said he wasn’t likely to consider going to Notre Dame, even if the Irish asked.  Here’s hoping that’s true. I’ve watched Iowa for years and never have I once hoped that Kirk Ferentz would come lose two or three early games for my team and then sneak back into the tail end of the Top 25.

BEST RUMORS OF THE DAY:

This has to be a tie between the Bob Stoops report and the Brian Kelly “news.”

* For those of you that weren’t glued to their computer today, news broke this afternoon on the message boards at IrishSportsDaily.com from a poster named “radioactivegoldfish” who said that he worked for a search agency that Notre Dame hired and a coach was already in the fold. Word spread so quickly that within minutes ISD’s servers crashed, and a few minutes after that the servers at NDNation grinded to a halt. Nevermind that the poster turned out to be a complete fraud…

* Some website called IrishCentral.com reported that Brian Kelly will be the next Notre Dame coach. Writer Sean O’Shea said that “informed sources tell IrishCentral” that the Cincy coach is the next man for the job, playing out the season and BCS Bowl before reporting to Notre Dame. The only bit of “reporting” in this report is this snippet: 

The source, who is a well-informed person of influence at Notre Dame, says the Cincinnati coach is the preferred choice for the job, and that he is expected to eventually sign a deal.

Wow. I’d rather ask the girl at 31 Flavors if Ferris Bueller is sick than take that report to the bank. I’m not really sure that qualifies as a scoop, but good work by IrishCentral. I’m guessing their hits are up about 4,000,000 percent.

And now to our FAVORITE THEORY OF THE DAY:

Comes from Twitter, where John Sullivan (not the former Notre Dame center) reveals he’s got the inside scoop on why Bob Stoops is really still coming to Notre Dame.

Got word from my aunt, the principal at st joes elementary, the Stoops’ asked about open seats for Drake and Isaac.

There you have it folks. Bob Stoops is still coming, according to John’s aunt, who I’m assuming is named Mrs. Wiwi.

 

Restocking the roster: Running Backs

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Josh Adams #33 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs for a 26-yard gain against the USC Trojans in the first half of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Getty Images
7 Comments

Notre Dame’s running back depth chart was tested to its max less than 10 minutes into the season opener. The projected two-deep, Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant, were both lost for the year—Bryant out of school as an academic and disciplinary casualty by the start of fall camp and Folston because of a knee injury suffered on his third carry of the season.

Welcome back to Notre Dame, Autry Denson.

The school’s all-time leading rusher in his first season as a running back coach had to be feeling a little woozy. He had a converted wide receiver taking featured-back carries and a true freshman a little over a year removed from his own major knee injury serving as his primary backup.

That the Irish had their most prolific running season under Brian Kelly says quite a bit about the job that Denson did. It’s also a credit to the offensive line blocking, the adjusted scheme that also protected two new starting quarterbacks, and the talent that remained at the position.

Spring presents new challenges. Tarean Folston should be a little over seven months removed from ACL surgery, making him doubtful to do anything more than wear a red jersey. With C.J. Prosise‘s departure, Adams goes from record-setting rookie to spring starter, with Williams likely carrying a large load as well.

Tony Jones Jr. and Deon McIntosh arrive this summer, reinforcements on the way. But before we get there, let’s take a look at the pre-spring roster at running back.

 

DEPARTURES
C.J. Prosise (156 carries 1,032 yards, 11 TDs)
Greg Bryant (lost preseason 2015)

 

2015-16 ADDITIONS
Josh Adams (117 carries, 835 yards, 6 TDs)
Dexter Williams (21 carries, 81 yards, 3 TDs)
Tony Jones Jr.
Deon McIntosh 

 

PRE-SPRING DEPTH CHART
Tarean Folston,* Sr.
Josh Adams, Soph.
Dexter Williams, Soph.
Justin Brent,* Junior

*Additional year of eligibility remaining.

 

ANALYSIS: This might be a position battle deferred to fall camp, especially if Folston is still in recovery mode. At this point, it doesn’t make sense to rush back from an ACL tear for 15 practices, so while the rising senior may be chomping at the bit to return, it’s better to save it until August.

Folston will likely be the team’s most versatile back, but keeping Adams off the field will be a hard chore. His breakaway speed was on display multiple times in 2015, with his record-setting run against Wake Forest the team’s longest play from scrimmage. Adams also likely added some mass and physicality to his game in the offseason weigh-training program, giving the Irish someone capable of hitting the big play and also moving the sticks in short yardage situations.

The staff believes that Dexter Williams is a talented back, so with three solid contributors on the roster before Jones or McIntosh hit campus, it’ll be fun to see how snaps get sorted. (From that perspective, you can only wonder how they’d have dealt with the champagne problem of having Prosise around…) Justin Brent remains an option as well, though the attrition from the receiving corps makes you think he’ll be back at receiver.

The wildcard in all of this is Folston. He’s a unique talent with natural ability you just can’t teach. If he’s fully recovered and ready to engage in a position battle, there won’t likely be a drop off even with the early departure of Prosise.

 

Notre Dame gets 10 invites to NFL Scouting Combine

2013 NFL Combine
Getty Images
6 Comments

Notre Dame will send ten former players to the NFL Scouting Combine. The annual event in Indianapolis serves as the unofficial apex of draft season, a meat-market where the best professional prospects are poked, prodded, questioned and tested in a variety of on- and off-field drills.

Heading to the festivities from Notre Dame are:

Chris Brown, WR
Sheldon Day, DT
Will Fuller, WR
Nick Martin, C
Romeo Okwara, DE
C.J. Prosise, RB
KeiVarae Russell, CB
Elijah Shumate, S
Jaylon Smith, OLB
Ronnie Stanley, OT

For a prospect like Smith, it’ll be teams first opportunity to talk to the elite prospect and check his progress medically as he returns from a Fiesta Bowl knee injury. Russell will also be a non-participant in physical drills, waiting until Notre Dame’s Pro Day to go through testing.

Invites to Chris Brown, Romeo Okwara and Elijah Shumate are crucial in finding their way into the draft, as the three former Irish starters participated in the Shrine Bowl, where scouts had an early look at them. Likewise, Nick Martin and Sheldon Day continue their ascent, both coming off strong Senior Bowl weeks.

For Irish fans, it’ll be fun to watch early-enrollees Fuller and Prosise test. Both are expected to be some of the fastest players at their position. Brown may also have the ability to surprise teams, with his track background and leaping ability capable of earning him an extended look. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley will look to impress as well, hoping to check out as one of the draft’s most impressive athletes at offensive tackle.

Ohio State led all schools with 14 invites. National Champion Alabama had nine former players invited.

 

WR Corey Robinson named Notre Dame student body president

6 Comments

On Wednesday, wide receiver Corey Robinson added another impressive title to his resume as a student-athlete at Notre Dame: Student Body President.

The junior, paired with classmate Becca Blais as his vice presidential running mate, won a majority of the votes cast by his fellow students, a runaway winner with 59.4% of the votes, nearly triple the next highest vote getter.

Robinson posted the following on Twitter, thankful for the opportunity to serve his fellow students:

Robinson’s time at Notre Dame has been filled with accomplishments both on and off the field. He was named an Academic All-American as a sophomore. He’s a six-time Dean’s List member in the prestigious Program of Liberal Studies and is also pursuing a sustainability minor. He’s won the team’s Rockne Student-Athlete Award as well.

That’s quite a bit on the plate of Notre Dame’s lone senior wide receiver. But as you might expect, Robinson is well prepared for the next challenge ahead.

“I’ve planned ahead, gotten all of my hard work out of the way this semester, and I’m finishing up my senior thesis,” Robinson told The Observer. “I’m doing all the hard stuff now so in the fall and the spring, I just have to take two classes pretty much.”

Robinson’s other contributions as a student-athlete at Notre Dame include One Shirt one Body, an opportunity for college athletes to donate their athletic apparel to local communities. Robinson has presented the plan to the ACC as well as the NCAA, earning immediate support from both organizations.

 

Mailbag: Now Open (scheduling input requested)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JUNE 01:  Actors Mike Myers (L) and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth from "Wayne's World" onstage during the 17th annual MTV Movie Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre on June 1, 2008 in Universal City, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Getty Images
11 Comments

Okay folks, we’ve had enough semi-positive encouragement to keep the video mailbag going for another week. With that said, I’ll need some reader participation to keep this thing rolling on.

As always, submit your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold. You can also ask your questions live via Facebook. You’ll need to LIKE THIS PAGE first, and then at the appropriate time, head on over to watch and participate.

To that point, let’s pick a time that works for everyone. Right now, here are the options that work at Inside the Irish HQ.  Weigh in and the best time wins. (How’s that for a democracy?)

***