Courtesy if

Taylor Decker is commit No. 2 for the Irish

Leave a comment

It turns out that the recruit that couldn’t make it to last weekend’s Junior Day was one of the first to give his commitment to the Irish.

Offensive tackle Taylor Decker, a 6-foot-8, 285-pound lineman from Butler High School in Vandalia, Ohio pledges his commitment to running backs coach Tim Hinton this afternoon, giving the Irish their second commitment of the week and another massive human being to add to their collection of offensive linemen.

“I really started talking with my parents last night about how Notre Dame has always been my top school,” Decker told “I almost committed right away and I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it back because that’s the one I’ve been waiting for.”

Decker’s decision to join the Irish means he’ll cancel upcoming visits to Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin. According to, Decker has offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana and West Virginia as well. rates Decker as one of the top five linemen in the state of Ohio.

If you were looking for early leaders in the clubhouse for one of the Irish’s first commitments, Decker was certainly a candidate, as he was on the record earlier in the week as a heavy Notre Dame lean, telling Boston College website, “Notre Dame has been my top school for a long time and I got offered by then,” Decker said. “If I didn’t have my parents and my coaches telling me to take some visits then I probably would have committed right then to Notre Dame.”

That decision came less than a week later, bringing Decker into the fold for Notre Dame.

Decker’s commitment continues a trend of head coach Brian Kelly and his staff bringing in elite sized power players to campus, making Decker the 18th recruit of the Kelly era that checks in at over 6-foot-5.

Of the 48 players that have committed under Kelly, 18 of them are 6-foot-5 or larger, checking in at 37.5% of players. The numbers in the Weis era, where he recruited 102 athletes to campus, were much lower, only 25.4% of athletes.

Looking closer at those numbers, consider that four of the six players meeting that threshold in Kelly’s 2010 class (that was largely assembled by Weis) were recruits that Kelly either identified or signed. For a more accurate assessment of size and its importance to Kelly’s recruiting system, consider that 10 of the 12 recruits signed in the 2011 class that played outside linebacker, defensive end or offensive line we’re 6-foot-5 or taller. Compare that to Weis’ 2008 class, where only four of eight players signed at those positions were taller than 6-5.

Decker plans to take an unofficial visit to campus in the next week.


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.”