There are rumors flying all over the internet that Notre Dame has received the commitment of Gunner Kiel, one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Kiel was an early target of the Irish before he committed to Indiana and new head coach Kevin Wilson, where he planned to join his brother Dusty in the depth chart. Kiel’s decommitment from the Hoosiers, then subsequent visit to Notre Dame for the Irish’s home game against USC, showed that the Irish were indeed back in the conversation for the Indiana native with Fighting Irish bloodlines.
While none of the premium recruiting websites have confirmed it yet, Sportscrack.com — better known for their witty t-shirts than breaking news — is reporting that Kiel has committed and will enroll early at Notre Dame. Kiel has always been an early enrollee candidate, but news that he’s committed to playing in South Bend would be a pretty big game-changer in the recruiting circuit, and another late-season coup for the Irish.
Just last year, it seemed like the Irish would go without a quarterback in their recruiting class until North Carolina commitment Everett Golson visited South Bend in early November. He committed to the Irish just a few weeks later, giving the Irish a dual-threat QB that was a prototype for Kelly’s offense that planned on enrolling early.
Whether or not Kiel will be in attendance this Saturday night at FedEx Field is up for debating depending on the reports you read. Either way, it seems that both offensive coordinator Charley Molnar and head coach Brian Kelly are leading the charge for Kiel and they’re doing a good job.
Again, there’s no proof that Kiel has committed or even plans to. He’s said in the past few weeks that he plans to make all his recruiting visits before he chooses a school from a list of the country’s finest programs. That said, there’s an awful lot of smoke around the Irish and Kiel. Whether that means a commitment from Rivals.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback remains to be seen.
Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.
The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.
He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:
It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.
Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.
Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.
Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.
With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.
When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.
While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.
“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.
Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.
Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”
This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.