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Recruiting stays focused on skill upgrades

Dec 17, 2011, 4:03 PM EDT

Jordan Westerkamp

With the Irish a dozen days away from taking on Florida State, recruiting is still the primary focus of the Irish coaching staff, with this another critical weekend. Focused on improving the skill positions — both wide receiver and defensive back — is the main priority, and the Irish have people on campus that can immediately upgrade those positions.

Headlining the official visitors are a pair of teammates from Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, Yuri Wright and Elijah Shumate. Both are among the state’s top five recruits and slated to play in the Army All-American bowl, and both would fit quite nicely into the Irish secondary. Wright is a long and lean cornerback, an impressive looking athlete with an even more impressive list of offers. He’s taken an official visit to Colorado, and has plans to visit USC, Georgia and Michigan as well. That said, getting to campus is a key step in landing Wright, who is giving heavy consideration to Notre Dame.

“They’re definitely near the top of my list because I’m taking an official visit there,” Wright told Pete Sampson of “Because I’m a tall physical corner, I fit their scheme. I really have a good opportunity to play there. I really fit their program and they have real good academics.”

If Wright fits the profile of a picture-perfect cover corner, Shumate is the prototype strong safety that seeks out contact. He’s a guy that’s played a lot of football close to the line of scrimmage, something the Irish have done more of this season with Jamoris Slaughter dropping down into the box to add some versatility to the defense. In many ways, Shumate is a bigger Slaughter, and plays more like Zeke Motta did in high school (or at least in the limited tape that I’ve seen). Interestingly, the Irish have multiple options with Shumate, impressed by his work at running back as well. Like they are with Wright, the Irish are truly in the mix for Shumate’s services.

“Notre Dame is Notre Dame, Shumate told Rivals. “They want me as either a running back or a safety, which is interesting. I prefer defense, but I’ll play whatever.”

Also on campus is a recruit relatively new to the fray, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp. Committed to Nebraska, Westerkamp recently received an offer from the Irish and even with a full-court press visit from four Huskers coaches earlier in the week, came to South Bend to see what Notre Dame had to offer.

Westerkamp is a two-year All-State first team player in Illinois and was named the Chicago Tribune’s player of the year for 2011, no small accomplishment for a receiver that’s shattered the state’s record for receptions in a career. His offer list is impressive and covers much of the Big Ten, although Michigan and Ohio State haven’t offered. Even more interestingly, Westerkamp seems to think offensive coordinator Charley Molnar’s departure has something to do with his offer.

“I knew I was on their board,” Westerkamp told “Their offensive coordinator left and took a job somewhere else. I’m pretty sure he was a guy that was picking guys based off of 40-times and height and all of that stuff. Whoever the new offensive coordinator is, right after that they offered me.”

Chuck Martin, a Chicagoland native and the Irish’s recruiting coordinator, is handling Westerkamp’s recruitment. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Westerkamp in an Irish uniform next year.

Lastly, Brian Kelly hopped on the university jet yesterday and headed down to Columbus, Indiana, where he had his in-home visit with all-everything recruit Gunner Kiel. All reports have Kiel down to the Irish and Vanderbilt with a decision to come shortly. Obviously, landing one of the top three quarterbacks in the country would be another huge recruiting get for the Irish, especially with Dayne Crist officially moving on from the Irish program. Regardless of what you think about the potential of Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson, Kelly’s made it clear he’s going to try and bring a quarterback in every season. This year, it could be the most highly touted player in the country.

  1. nudeman - Dec 17, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Shumate and Armstead are the guys I’d most love to see ND get. Wright too.

    I also think that if they get Kiel, Golson needs to be sold on a position switch, of possible. Would love to see him in the slot or in the backfield of he’s not gonna’ play QB

    • papadec - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:31 PM

      nudeman – personal preference (from the Seattle area) – I’d rather have Josh Garnett than Arik Armstead – more the RKG (in my opinion). Absolutely agree with you regarding Kiel & Golson. Getting commits from the Don Bosco “twins” would be outstanding. Adding Garnett, Kiel, Shumate, and Yuri Wright, to the 2012 class, would be outstanding. They ALL look like the RKGs, and top notch players.

    • tlndma - Dec 17, 2011 at 10:53 PM

      Golson to WR? How bout we see if Kiel can win the position first.
      That makes as much sense as, not wanting Kiel because someone might transfer.
      Let’s let the coaches fill out the depth chart.

      • nudeman - Dec 19, 2011 at 10:58 AM

        “let the coaches fill out the depth chart”

        Uh … OK

        But I don’t really think my posting is putting any pressure on BK and his coaches

        Re: Golson, from all reports the kid is a gifted athlete and it would be a shame of they don’t find a way to get him on the field, either behind center or somewhere else.

    • joeschu - Dec 18, 2011 at 11:06 AM

      Even if we land Kiel, that gives ND 3 QB’s in successive classes that can play: Hendrix has 3 years of eligibility, EG has 4 and Kiel would have 5.

      While it would be fun to see what he can do in the slot and return game, pushing EG into a position switch would seem hasty. You have to have insurance policies against Kiel turning out to be and overrated Powlus 2.0 and struggling.

      I’m excited to see attention being played to the defensive backfield. Maybe someday we’ll find a guy who can play the ball in the air.

      • 1historian - Dec 18, 2011 at 12:25 PM

        I saw Powlus play once. It was the 1994 Blue & Gold game. On his first play he dropped back to pass and he threw to the tight end who was crossing left to right in the back of the end zone. It had to be a perfect pass – throw it so only the TE could catch it. It was a perfect pass, the TE caught it and the place went nuts. Given that he had missed the 1993 season because of injury hopes were sky-high, but they never materialized. He had been the most coveted H.S. QB in his senior season and the fact that he chose ND was even highlighted in Sports Illustrated.

        Goes to show you never can tell

        I think Chuck Berry said that

  2. jerseyshorendfan1 - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    This team needs more Jersey.

    • papadec - Dec 18, 2011 at 2:02 AM

      jersey – that sounds like a Charlie Weis kinda statement. But, I agree with it. Too many very good Joisey guys going to Rutgers, Penn St, & BC over the years – instead of ND.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Dec 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM

        We don’t need Weis to have that Jersey swagger.

    • mbutch6 - Dec 18, 2011 at 10:13 AM

      What they NEED is to make sure they don’t lose Darby, Shepard and Greenberry. Those guys will make me nervous until signing day and/or EE (for Tee). I think Garnett and Kiel are the next 2 dominos to fall. Those 2 would be big additions…especially for next year’s recruitng on RB’s and WR’s. Garnett would add to a pretty impressive haul on the o-line this year and last.

  3. ndrocks2 - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    get everything you can and sort the positions out later we need talent and depth everywhere.

    • 1historian - Dec 18, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      Agree with you and I would argue that it IS happening. EG – if we can get 1 more OL and keep that up we can redshirt them every year. We’ll never know for sure but I will always feel that Sam Young would have turned out much better then he did if he had redshirted for a year instead of being pushed into starting as a freshman.

      Next year’s team will be 5/8 BK and 3/8 CW. Kelly & Co. seem to be much better at recruiting than their predecessors and with BK’s first full recruiting class being sophomores next year I think it will start to show dramatically around mid-season and get better after that. 2013 will be the year they are a major force again, and after that – we’re back.

      We need a ‘we’re back’ game. Beating FSU does not qualify.

  4. gtizzo - Dec 17, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    I think Wright was quoted as say his dream place to play was Michigan. I’m sure BK and his staff can keep him from making that mistake (as least from an Irish fans point of view, nothing against Michigan). ND is in there with a lot of good high school players should make NSD interesting.

  5. Jennifer - Dec 17, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    All I want for Christmas is…EVERY RECRUIT I WANT!!!

    • papadec - Dec 18, 2011 at 2:12 AM

      Jennifer – very true – but, there was a very good item at Irish Sports Daily outlining the ND recruiting board & potential 5th year players returning. There just isn’t enough room for all of them, unfortunately. If ND was like LSU, & too many other programs, there wouldn’t be a problem getting more than 22-23 commits per year. Take a look at espn’s class rankings – how many programs have more than 22-23 commits?

      • Jennifer - Dec 18, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        Thanks Papadec. I realize that, of course. My four year old niece had just fed me that line, substituting the word “recruit” with “toy.” I told her I understood what she meant because that’s how I feel about ND getting ND recruits. I punctuated this point with an off-key rendition of Mick Jagger’s “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED!” Cracked us both up!

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Dec 19, 2011 at 12:26 AM

        Hey Jennifer……you’re an ND and a Stones fan? I think I might be in love.

  6. 10of14 - Dec 17, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    So if alright wants to play in MI, then why is he Dicking around with ND? If he hasn’t figured out that ND is in the State of IN, then he couldn’t qualify for ND anyhow.

  7. nsisk157 - Dec 18, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    Comparing potential recruits to Zeke Mortal, in any respect, will give Irish fans a chill. Nice kid and all, I’m sure, but terrible in coverage.

    • 1historian - Dec 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM

      (With thanks to Ann Landers)

      You may have a point, but if you keep your hat on maybe no one will notice.

  8. nsisk157 - Dec 18, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    Comparing potential recruits to Zeke Motta, in any respect, will give Irish fans a distinct chill. Nice kid and all, I’m sure, but terrible in coverage.

  9. acieu - Dec 18, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    There aren’t enough scholarships available to fix this mediocrity of a football program. Notre Dame is all hat and no cattle or as they say in Indiana all corn and no cob.

  10. dbldmr - Dec 18, 2011 at 3:32 PM


    Save yourself some time and the rest of us some aggravation. We get it…you don’t like Notre Dame. Why not take your witticisms elsewhere? Or as we say when we think about you, “He’s all ass and no smart.”

    • 1historian - Dec 19, 2011 at 12:09 AM

      ignore him and he’ll go away

      even if he doesn’t – just ignore him

  11. papadec - Dec 18, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Jennifer – Great song. I hope the kiddo gets ALL the toys she wants – not just the warm, pretty clothes she needs. But, I’m not worried about that – she has an aunt with a sense of humor. I’m the parent that always ran around, to all the toy stores, looking for the hard to find toy, or video game. Probably not that much different from the ND coaches running around trying to find that “much needed” recruit just before the year end quiet period. Merry Christmas.

  12. cpfirish - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    ND needs some help in there defensive secondary. We know there D line is goin to be good. Our secondary was kinda weak against the pass…

  13. acieu - Dec 19, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    Notre Dame….Indiana’s answer to Temple University.

    • ohioirish - Dec 19, 2011 at 2:24 PM

      I just never understood the mentality of taking the time to get a user ID on a website where I hate the team, and then spending so much time on said site to bash the team and it’s fans. Oh well maybe over the xmas break, I will get a Buck-Nut account and bash them.

      Probably not.

      @acieu … dude get a life.


  14. mattnef - Dec 19, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    I don’t understand these kids that are down to Notre Dame and USC. How could you be equally interested in both these schools, when they are sooo different.

  15. jdmemphis - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Everyone is saying that golson might need to switch positions?….I’m not drinking the Indiana koolade. Keil’s high school stats 7348 yds and 89 tds….golson’s high school stats…11,634yds and 151 td’s…..maybe Keil can play linebacker?

    • nudeman - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      Let’s just get Everett on the field, preferably behind center
      Probably pne of the most talented skill position guys on the roster, and that includes Kiel (if he comes)

    • nudeman - Dec 19, 2011 at 7:37 PM

      I understand your point, and Exhibit A is Ron Powlus. No one was more highly touted (much to his detriment) and in my opinion he never really blossomed. Lou and the media (especially Beano Cook) did him no favors with all the predictions of grandeur.

      So there’s no guarantee Kiel is the Messiah.

      HOWEVER …

      You just can NOT compare HS stats across states. The variation in the competition is too significant. Not sure, but my guess is Indiana football is – in general – more rigorous than South Car.

      Additionally, who knows how many years each started, what type of offense they ran, etc etc. If I had to “settle” for 89 TDs I’d be ok.

      BTW, your message doesn’t specify if those are total TDs or passing. I assume it’s total. How could anyone throw 151 TD passes?

      • papadec - Dec 20, 2011 at 1:39 AM

        nudeman – you line up behind the Center, you take the snap from the Center, you throw the ball to an eligible Receiver, the Receiver catches the ball and scores a TD. You do that 151 times. That’s pretty much it. But, you’re right – it’s probably total TDs. Still a pretty high number, even if it was spread over 4 years.

      • mcirish27 - Dec 20, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        Anyone who has seen 2-3 minutes of EG’s highlights from high school knows that he can be special, not just as an athlete, but as a QB. As far as competion, just watch what he does in the SC state championship his senior year against a little guy named Jadaveon Clowney and co.

        The first frame of his Sr. highlight reel says A LOT – 19 quarters of football, 25 TD’s, 2 INT’s. No one’s a savior, but i’d love to see him under center.

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