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Friday notes: Top 25, recruiting, Spielman, etc.

Jul 23, 2010, 2:52 PM EDT

I had a really good time putting together my Top 25 list, and really liked the diverse opinions we pulled together. If I had to do it over again, I can’t say that I forgot anybody, but I’m taking a leap of faith on guys like Trevor Robinson, Brian Smith, and Cierre Wood — all guys that I heard good things about in spring camp.

I took a look back at the recruiting rankings of the guys in my Top 25 list, only Ian Williams, Taylor Dever, and kicker Nick Tausch had a recruiting ranking below four stars on Rivals. While I’ll admit that I’m not a huge believer in the star-system, and there’s plenty of bias in our ratings and projections probably based on said rankings, this is a pretty good reminder on why recruiting top-rated high school players will always be important for the Irish.

*****

If you’re looking for an Irish commitment that’s climbing up the recruiting boards, look no further than linebacker Jarrett Grace.

Pete Sampson over at IrishIllustrated.com has a nice piece on the ascension of the linebacker from Cincinnati, whose commitment to Notre Dame wasn’t cheered like some of the deadline pledges in the past, but could turn out to be one of the best pick-ups of the season. Either way, it’s always nice to have a linebacker with an offer from the defending national championship.

“When Alabama first came in February, I loved what they were saying
and I wanted to go down and see coach (Nick) Saban,” Grace said. “But
the more I thought about things, I still knew Notre Dame was the right
place for me. That was even before I committed, but I knew where I
wanted to go. Taking visits would have just been flirting with other
schools and building egos.”

So Grace followed his hunch that Notre Dame was the right place for
him, committing to the Irish a couple months later. Notre Dame offered
Grace in early January, but as it turns out, Brian Kelly’s program was
far from the final team to put a scholarship in the mail.

Not only did Alabama offer, so did Ohio State, Tennessee, Arizona,
Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville, Duke, Connecticut and Miami of
Ohio. In fact, Grace might have more offers than that, but he usually
tosses mail from other programs directly into the trash.

“That may have happened,” Grace laughed when asked about the chances
he threw away other offers before opening them. “My recruitment ended
when I committed to Notre Dame. My coach told everyone that I was done
with it and Ohio State came in after the fact and offered me then.”

Irish fans have learned that nothing is final until Signing Day, but it looks like Notre Dame has a potentially great one in Grace.

*****

On the subject of uncommitted recruits, the Irish entertained blue-chip wide receiver Kasen Williams from the Seattle area, and the Irish made quite an impression, according to IrishSportsDaily.com’s Steve Wiltfong.

“Before I didn’t see myself there, but they’ve always been a good football team, and they have a great tradition there,” Williams told Wiltfong. “Anytime there is a school with great tradition, you want to see what they’re all about. I’m glad I took the trip.”

Wiltfong reports that Williams’ mom took the trip to South Bend with him and that the star wideout had a nice sit-down with head coach Brian Kelly, which likely moved the Irish up in Kasen’s already declared top ten.

While his hometown Washington Huskies are the team to beat, the Irish might be a dark horse in this one.

*****

It’s not often that former Ohio State Buckeye and ESPN broadcaster Chris Spielman has something to say about Notre Dame football, but when the subject came to the hiring of head coach Brian Kelly the former linebacker had nothing but good things to say.

“To me, he’s the right guy at the right time for the right job,” Spielman said while in town for his College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement.

“He’s won at Grand Valley, he’s won at Central (Michigan), he’s won at
Cincinnati. There’s no reason why he can’t win here with the caliber of
athlete that he’s able to recruit. When I looked at the hire I knew it
was inevitable when Charlie (Weis) was no longer the coach that this
would be the guy that I would go after for this particular job. He
understands and respects what’s here.”

While scarlet and gray still bleeds out of Spielman, he even spoke of the allure of Notre Dame from a recruit’s perspective.

“My brother-in-law went here and took us on a tour, it’s beautiful,” Spielman said. “I made the comment to him, ‘Man, I’m glad I didn’t visit here. This is nice.’”

*****

Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune reported on his Twitter feed that coach Brian Kelly will be throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field on Sunday night during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Kelly will also sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. 

Let’s hope BK doesn’t bounce one up there.

  1. ugetwutuask4 - Jul 23, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    Hey Keith, love the insight and I love the Cubby’s but I think B.K. is a better option at pitcher than anything else the north-sider’s have right now including Samardzija, whom I think the Cubs tried to rush to the majors too soon and I walways felt he would have been better suited entering the NFL Draft. Boy he could go up and get that ball with the best of them! That being said I couldn’t agree any further with you about Grace he reminds me alot of “The Big Kat” Andy Katzenmoyer on game film and him and Te’o I think will make a monster inside linbacking corp next year coming in as a true freshman. Also to follow up on your comment about the allure of ND from a recruit’s perspective I’m hearing Barry Sanders Jr. class of 2012 running back is also highly interested in ND. Boy, sure hope we can get him to visit campus and show him around a little bit, this kids the real deal and looks like the second coming!
    Go Irish!!!

  2. Ray McConaghy - Jul 26, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Of the top-10 high-school football players in February, 2006, six (Percy Harvin, Andre Smith, Chris Wells, Gerald McCoy, Matthew Stafford, and C.J. Spiller), or 60%, subsequently became first-round NFL draft picks. A seventh (Sergio Kindle) became a second-round pick. Of the approximately 1,322 former three-star high-school football players available for the NFL draft in April, 2010, seven, or 0.5%, were chosen in the first round. That means that a college-football coach who is able to recruit randomly from the top-10 high-school football players is 120 times (60% / 0.5% = 120) more likely to recruit a very successful college-football player than a coach recruiting randomly from the pool of three-star high-school football players, where a very successful college-football player is defined as one who subsequently becomes a first-round NFL draft pick.
    The recruiting services are not perfect, but they are very, very good. A college coach ignores their evaluations at his peril.
    I address these points in my Web site, http://www.ndfantofan.com. All are invited.

  3. kj - Jul 26, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    @ray
    great points! further PROOF that to be a BCS contender school every year, you MUST recruit at the highest levels. i still think the jury is out on BK as that type of recruiter. too many ND fans seem to think that we can win with “RKG’s” just because CW recruited pretty well and still lost. that is flawed thinking, to say the least.

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