As the rumor mill churns… Day 2

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(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.

 

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
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Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
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Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
Getty
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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)
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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.