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Lemming talks Irish recruiting

Jun 30, 2010, 1:22 PM EDT

Recruiting guru Tom Lemming hit the airwaves in South Bend with Eric Hansen and Bob Wieneke on WSBT 960 to talk Irish recruiting. If you don’t have 15 minutes to listen, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some of the best nuggets:

On Bubba Starling’s decision to pick Nebraska over Notre Dame:

I was really surprised that Bubba Starling picked Nebraska because they were putting all their eggs in the Bubba Starling basket and obviously it didn’t work out. Shawn Watson, the quarterback coach at Nebraska did a great job recruiting Bubba, and I think trying to relate to the family that it’s only a four hour drive to Lincoln, not even four hours, and Notre Dame was a lot farther. He had made three trips to Notre Dame and each time the indication was that he was going to commit. So Notre Dame didn’t pursue any more players.

With 12 commitments, why the pace will likely slow down:

They’ve got enough guys offered. The key is to get quality players, not numbers. Fans sometimes just want to get guys committed, but you want to make sure they’re good ballplayers. I remember when Tyrone Willingham was there, they kept signing MAC Conference-type players, and the fans were excited, not knowing. The key is to get blue-chip players, even if it takes until February. They didn’t get Manti Te’o until the last day of recruiting. I don’t think numbers mean anything, but right now 18-21 is what they project.

Comparing the freshman QBs with the ones in this recruiting class:

I don’t think any of them compare to the five guys they lost. Braxton Miller, Kiehl Frazier and Bubba Starling were head and shoulders above everybody else… Hendrix has good potential, but he played on a run-oriented Moeller team last year, so he needs some developing as a passer and a quarterback, like all freshman do. Tommy Rees is an efficient passer, good kid, but I don’t think he’s going to be a lights-out type guy. I think Massa came along so they could get Matt James… They’re all guys that could project, and Coach Kelly has shown magic when developing quarterbacks, but magic appears much quicker when you’ve got great talent.

What is the greatest area of need for the Irish:

I always thought what Charlie Weis always overlooked was the defensive side of the ball. Defensively they’ve gotten four or five of these guys that can be pass rushers, but they’re all down the line guys. Getting a guy like Aaron Lynch could really help as a pass rusher. This year there are a lot of great ones. Ray Drew — Georgia seems to be loaded with them,  I don’t know if any of them are really considering Notre Dame, besides Aaron Lynch. It’d be great to get a pass-rusher like him. Another impact linebacker. I think Wayne Lyons coming in could be a great catch if they could get him. A good character kid, a straight-A student.

Five big-time guys that ND has really targeted:

Wide receiver, George Farmer would be their the top guy — but Kasen Williams might be more logical — though they’ve offered two of George’s teammates. He’s the speed guy.  When I saw him two years ago, just finishing up his sophomore year, he was as good or better than Robert Woods. (Another blue-chip recruit that signed with USC.) He could be that go-to guy right away. Savon Huggins or Brendon Bigelow I think as a tailback would be an impact guy they’d like to get. Left tackle, if they want an early Christmas present, Cyrus Kouandjio would be absolutely fantastic. He’s 6-7, 290, and he looks thin at 290. He’s got the athletic ability, he’s at a Catholic school, he’s a Notre Dame type of a guy… Their high school coach there sent his daughter to Notre Dame, so he’s very aware of Notre Dame. If they don’t get an Aaron Lynch, look for Ray Drew. He’s an ordained minister down in Thomasville, Georgia, he’s a Notre Dame type of guy, however he’s less than an hour away from Florida State. There are a lot of good guys out there. Notre Dame has done a good job recruiting, but they haven’t signed the players that normally don’t go to Notre Dame.

What the USC sanctions could mean for ND’s West Coast recruiting:

The kids that are serious about academics, could be looking at Notre Dame now because of the two-year probation. USC with Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron are going to do a great job, but now they’re limited to 15 guys a year, and they’re a lot of them on the West Coast. USC with their national recruiting efforts are going to go after 7 or 8 on the West Coast and the rest nationally, so it gives Notre Dame an opening to come after some of those big names and land some of them and beat UCLA and some of the other schools that are targeting some of those players.

Of the 12 committed recruits, the guys that could make the biggest impact:

If Kyle Rudolph leaves early, I think Ben Koyack can. He looks like he needs some weight work, but he’s very agile, and a great body control-type tight end that can run. Matt Hegarty really blew us away down in San Antonio at the combine. He was an efficient, tough, aggressive, 6-5, 260-pounder at the time. He can play tackle or guard. Jordan Prestwood has gained 25 pounds since last year, he’s almost 280, he could be the surprise left tackle in this class, even though he’s never played tackle before. Within a year or two, he’s got one more year to develop in high school and a freshman year to develop with the strength coach, and maybe he’s thrown into the left tackle spot. I really like Terry Hanratty’s son Conor, because he’s a blue-collar guy, but what makes me really like him is that Kirk Ferentz likes him, who I believe is the top offensive line coach in the country.

As always, encyclopedia-like stuff from Lemming, who covers recruiting 24-7. 

  1. TLNDMA - Jun 30, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Don’t sell Andrew Hendrix short, remember he committed when Weis was still coach. Kelly then came in and he remained committed. Weis did have a good eye for Qbs.

  2. Art Vandelay - Jul 1, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    I love how Lemming just dismisses Luke Massa as the guy who came along so we could get Matt James. Massa is a talented kid who led St. X’s offense, a perennial Ohio powerhouse, in a very efficient manner last year against some of the nation’s best teams. He routinely had completion percentages in the mid-60 percentile and didn’t throw a lot of INT’s. He was definitely a good pick up by Kelly and not just because of the James connection.

  3. E-Man - Jul 1, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    I agree with the above… pretty dark outlook on the QB situation for the next couple of years from Lemming. This on top of what I’m reading elsewhere that the current “plan B” after Bubba Starling is an unhearled 3*. It’s just a rumor, and I’ve also heard of links to other top-flight option QBs in the country, but there’s a lot of negative stuff out there that wasn’t there a month ago.

  4. Joe - Jul 1, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    I think the Irish have to have a successful season under Kelly to start the recruiting ball rolling.

  5. TLNDMA - Jul 1, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Art, agreed on the Massa comment, it bugged me when I read it too. It’s no stretch to think Kelly likes this kid at Qb. He had committed to Cincy before Kelly took the ND job. Lemming is guessing, I think it’s in his job description.
    As far as ND having a “dark outlook” at Qb, I wonder how many coaches would like to trade places with Kelly right now. Let’s see, the projected starter was rated ***** coming out of high school, the back up had a very good spring game, and three pretty good freshman are coming in to try to usurp the back up. Granted there is not a lot of experience but, that’s how it usually works when the starter leaves.
    Another thing, as of now I have alot more confidence in BK’s evaluation of players, than I do in Tom Lemming’s.

  6. John Galt - Jul 1, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    I think Notre Dame is in a major bind and they just need some luck on there end. I Concur with what Flemming believes 1oo percent. Its just too bad the guys over at Blue and Gold wont let fans speak their minds. I was suspended from the forms for saying exactly what Fleming said, which is until Notre Dame can recruit the 5 and 4 impact players, we are just wasting time. Texas, reloads year after year with top talent. A coaches Job is more than half done when this is the case. Brian K no way in hell is going to be able to take the talent level at ND and bring them to a National Championship. Its never going to happen until they recruit for play.

  7. John Galt - Jul 1, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Here is the problem if you are going to play the Spread the QB is everything. Bubba was the best fit for Notre Dame we dont have a QB now that comes close to Bubba. Remember we don’t have time to train QB we need play makers now.

  8. John Galt - Jul 1, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Keep in mind you have to think Bowl Game or Nation Championship. This is what Notre Dame needs. Brian Kelley is still in the mind set of the Big East. He is going to need this season to get his ass handed to him by USC before he realized he cant be a big fish until he gets the size and play makers. And in order to keep up on the top, you have to do it year after year. We have one maybe two play makers of the 12 recruits. This guys is bringing in 3 star recruits. All of you should go watch the Texas, Alabama game again and tell me how BK is going to trick that level of talent. Its not going to happen in a million years, and if ND fans think for s second we are going 9-3 this year, and will be at a national Championship within five years, its wishful charlie Weiss thinking. TALENT TALENT TALENT is the name of the game today. Brian Kelly is a great coach there is no denying that, but talent is what he is going to need just like Holtz had.

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