Friday notes: Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting


It seems like many of you are searching for recruiting news. There are plenty of places out there on the net to get your fix, but it might cost you ten bucks a month. It’s money well worth it at a few different sites if you want to know who’s visiting who, and when it’s happening, otherwise you’re stuck with me. I’ll do my best to keep up with the ins and outs of recruiting better over the summer months. 

That said, there’s some great free information out there, too. Brian Smith’s blog over at has been some great reading the past few weeks, and earlier in the week he put together a  great run down of Notre Dame’s recruiting targets and who is likely to receive a scholarship offer this summer, and who might even be ready to pull the trigger and commit. 

Here’s a taste:

Two recruits that appear to be the best bets to commit to ND by early
July should not surprise anyone.  Both of the Dixie products do not
hide their affinity for Notre Dame.

Ben Councell, OLB, 6-5, 220, Asheville, N.C.,
(Reynolds) — It’s rare to find linebackers with a knack for defending
the pass.  Councell’s proficiency within that particular area makes him
more than just an ordinary linebacker target.  The height and wing span
will also help Councell adapt to the college game.  Councell plans to
roam through North Carolina to visit a few schools before sojourning to
Notre Dame this summer.

Aaron Lynch,
DE, 6-6, 245, Cape Coral, Fla., (Island Coast) — If Lynch inhabits the
Notre Dame campus during the month of June, as he plans to do, that
will likely be enough for him to conclude his recruitment.  Perhaps
Lynch will need further proof that Notre Dame should be his future alma
mater, but do not expect him to drag his recruitment out past this

There’s plenty more to dig through, so those of you that are getting on me about recruiting news, that’s one good place to look.


While the info isn’t free, Tim Prister of IrishIllustrated takes a look at outside linebacker recruiting. It’s a key position for this year’s recruiting class, with the depth chart heavy on upperclassmen right now. 

From Prister:

Smith and Neal are in their final years of eligibility,
and Fleming and Filer begin the home stretch of their two remaining
seasons with the Irish. The only other scholarship outside linebacker in
the spring was sophomore Dan Fox, who did not play as a rookie in ’09.

Help is on the way with the freshman class that
arrives for summer school next month. But it’s uncertain as to exactly
which of the incoming freshmen will play outside linebacker. Danny Spond
appears to be the most likely candidate.

In other words, by the time any of the names on
Notre Dame’s outside linebacker recruiting list would arrive in South
Bend to begin their collegiate careers, Smith and Neal would be gone,
Fleming and Filer would be in their final years of eligibility, and Fox
and the freshmen would just be getting started.

Translation: the Irish need at least two outside
linebackers in the 2011 recruiting class, and a third probably wouldn’t

Currently, there are six outside linebacker
prospects on Irish Illustrated’s defensive master list. They are Clay
Burton from Venice, Fla., Anthony Chickillo from Tampa, Fla., Ben
Councell from Asheville, N.C., Christian French from Cedar Rapids, Iowa,
Anthony Rabasa from Miami, Fla., and Ishaq Williams from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Irish would be happy with any one of these guys (or two), and will likely have their shot with most of them. Burton has the Irish in his top two behind leader Clemson, but will be visiting the Irish this June and already has his official visit set for September 11th versus Michigan. He’s also got Tony Alford recruiting him, so the Irish have to feel good about their chances.

Chickillo has the most impressive offer list of any of the players and is the son of former Miami Hurricane Tony Chickillo. He lacks the size of some of the other guys, but he’s as close to a ready-made football player as the Irish will find. He plans to visit the Irish this summer with his dad and again Tony Alford is on the case.

Councell is a long and lanky player, at 6-foot-5, 220-pounds he has some growing into his body to do, but he’s got a high ceiling and is a raw athlete that has elite speed and is a great student. He lacks the offers that most of the other OLB targets have, but certainly fits the big-skill mold Kelly looks for in edge players.

Speaking of raw athletes, Christian French is one of the more intriguing ones out there. The Iowa native has been clocked in the 4.4s, ridiculous when you see his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame. French logged a 11.18 100 meter time at the prestigious Drake Relays, so his wheels seem legit. His offers are mostly Midwestern, and his position is still in question, but if properly coached up, French could turn into a freakish player off the edge. 

Rabasa hails from Miami, playing in a premiere conference and putting up silly numbers. At 6-foot-3, he doesn’t have ideal height, but he’s a terror on the football field, the kind of guy that Brian Kelly and company are making a priority to get. Rabasa has guaranteed Notre Dame an official visit this fall, and he’s already comfortable playing the outside backer position in the 3-4, something he does in high school.

Williams is a truly national recruit, and his raw skill set has colleges coast to coast offering the Brooklyn product. He’s playing things close to the vest, hasn’t scheduled a visit to Notre Dame yet, but would be a major get for the Irish if they can manage to reel him in.


While it isn’t Freekbass, our friends over at pulled up a cool video that unearthed a tradition that I didn’t know about either: The Irish Trumpets.

It’s not my favorite Irish video, but it’s a really well put together clip that highlights another great tradition. And it won’t get you laughed at by your work colleagues, so that’s a plus.

Irish prepared to take on the best Navy team in years


Brian Kelly opens every Tuesday press conference with compliments for an opponent. But this week, it was easy to see that his kind words for Navy were hardly lip service.

Ken Niumatalolo will bring his most veteran—and probably his most talented—group of Midshipmen into Notre Dame Stadium, looking to hand the Irish their first loss in the series since Kelly’s debut season in South Bend.

“Ken Niumatalolo has done an incredible job in developing his program and currently carrying an eight-game winning streak,” Kelly said. “I voted for them in USA Today Top 25 as a top-25 team. I think they’ve earned that. But their defense as well has developed. It’s played the kind of defense that I think a top 25 team plays.”

With nine months of option preparation, Notre Dame needs to feel confident about their efforts against Georgia Tech. Then again, the Midshipmen saw that game plan and likely have a few tricks in store.

As much as the Irish have focused their efforts on stopping Keenan Reynolds and the triple-option, Navy’s much-improved defense is still looking for a way to slow down a team that’s averaged a shade over 48 points a game against them the last four seasons.

Niumatalolo talked about that when asked about slowing down Will Fuller and Notre Dame’s skill players, an offense that’s averaged over 48 points a game during this four-game win streak.

“We’ve got to try our best to keep [Fuller] in front of us, that’s easier said than done,” Niumatalolo said. “We’ve got to play as close as we can without their guys running past us. I’ve been here a long time and we’re still trying to figure out how to do that.”


Navy heads to South Bend unbeaten, defeating former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco‘s team just two Saturdays ago. And while Diaco raised a few eyebrows when he said Navy would be the team’s toughest test of the year (they already played a ranked Missouri team), the head of the UConn program couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise.

“I have been competing against Navy for some time and this is the best Navy team I have seen for, let’s say the last half-dozen years,” UConn coach Bob Diaco told the New Haven Register. “I could click on footage from three years ago and see a lion’s share of players who are playing right now in the game as freshmen and sophomores. They have a veteran group, a strong group, a talented group and they look like the stiffest competition among our first four opponents.”

As usual, there will be those who look at this game as the breather between Clemson and USC. That won’t be anybody inside The Gug. So as the Irish try to get back to their winning ways in front of a home crowd, a complete team effort is needed.

“I’ll take a win by one,” Kelly said Tuesday. “That would be fine with me.”


Kelly confident Robinson will rebound

Notre Dame v Florida State

Corey Robinson‘s season was already off to a slow start. And that was before a difficult night at Clemson. The junior receiver came into last weekend with only four catches, held out against UMass after a pregame tweak of his knee put a scare into the Irish.

Robinson’s knee checked out fine. But mentally, it appears that the sure-handed junior is struggling.

Just before halftime against the Tigers, Robinson failed to reel in a long catch that would’ve given the Irish a much-needed touchdown heading into half. Early in the fourth quarter, a high throw from DeShone Kizer on the Irish’s first failed two-point conversion play slid through Robinson’s hands. Made worse was a mental mistake by Robinson, the Irish needing to use one of their second half timeouts when the junior wasn’t on the field.

Coached hard on the sideline by Brian Kelly and coached up by his position coach Mike Denbrock (as we saw on both Showtime and Fighting Irish Media’s ICON), the staff is doing it’s best to get Robinson’s confidence back.

With some wondering if Robinson’s struggles should open the door for talented freshman Equanimeous St. Brown, Kelly talked about their belief that the junior will return to form.

“Corey Robinson is going to get the job done. I had a very lengthy conversation with him yesterday,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I believe in Corey. Corey’s got to believe in himself, and he will. He’s got to go attack the football. He’s letting the football come to him. He’s letting it eat him up a little bit, but I believe in Corey.”

There’s no better place to showcase that belief than against Navy. The Midshipmen don’t have a defender physically capable of matching up with the 6-foot-5 Robinson, who will likely face his share of single coverage with Will Fuller likely demanding safety help.

Then it’s just a matter of Robinson showing the hands and confidence that made him one of last year’s most consistent performers.

“Once he starts attacking the football, I think we’re going to see somebody that can make the plays that we expect him to make,” Kelly said. “So I’m optimistic that we’re going to see the guy that we need to see on Saturday.”