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Irish getting unlikely transfer in USC’s Amir Carlisle

Jan 8, 2012, 5:36 AM EDT


Last year, the Irish came down to the wire for the services of blue-chip running back Amir Carlisle, only to see the California native stay in his home state and play for Southern Cal. After whispers of a surprise transfer flew across the Irish blogosphere over the past few days, Bob Wieneke of the South Bend Tribune broke the story that Carlisle, a year after almost coming to Notre Dame, was leaving Los Angeles and headed to South Bend.

Here’s more from Wieneke’s report:

Carlisle will transfer to Notre Dame and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2013 season. He will enroll at ND for the spring 2012 semester, which begins Jan. 17. Carlisle must sit out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements.

“It was a very tough decision for him to select USC over Notre Dame last year,” Duane Carlisle, Amir’s father, told the South Bend Tribune on Saturday. “It came down to the wire, and it was neck-and-neck the whole time. Very close decision. They’re both great places with great traditions.

“He’s excited. He’s very excited about the opportunity to continue his career as a student-athlete at Notre Dame.”

Carlisle was granted his release from USC, and on Friday he met with Irish head coach Brian Kelly, tight ends coach Mike Denbrock, who recruits the West coast, and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin.

“It’ll be good,” Duane Carlisle said. “He’s got a real clear picture with how he’ll be used, and he’s excited about getting on the field.”

Kelly cannot publicly comment on Carlisle until he signs his scholarship form, which essentially serves as a national letter-of-intent.

The story sent shockwaves through the USC program, with players reportedly blindsided by the move. Carlisle’s freshman season was ruined by a variety of injuries, but the youngster did plenty to impress Lane Kiffin, and even with Curtis McNeal stepping up and claiming the starting running back job, Carlisle was likely the No. 2 back in the program heading into spring drills, ahead of players like George Farmer and D.J. Morgan.

The Irish’s dogged chase of Carlisle last recruiting cycle came back to be a huge benefit after his father, Duane Carlisle, took over as the Director of Sports Performance at Purdue, after spending three years as the head of strength and conditioning for the San Francisco 49ers. Not wanting to split from his family, Carlisle decided to transfer to the Midwest as well, leaving the Trojans for one of their biggest rivals.

“This definitely was a family decision,” Duane Carlisle told the Tribune. “It wasn’t just an Amir decision. We felt as though Notre Dame would be the best fit for him for the next four years.”

The fit is an excellent one for the Irish (made even better because it puts a large dent in the Trojan backfield depth chart as well). Carlisle will sit out the 2012 season and still have three seasons of eligibility, likely replacing Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick after next season and joining a depth chart that’s filling quickly, thanks to players like KeiVarae Russell, Will Mahone, Cam Roberson, George Atkinson, and Cam McDaniel.

Garry Paskwietz of didn’t downplay the loss of Carlisle, talking glowingly about his “explosive playmaking ability that Lane Kiffin likes plus he also brings an element of toughness so his future was bright in terms of playing time.”

After worrying that the loss of running backs coach Tim Hinton would cost the Irish the commitment of Mahone, reeling in a running back that was one of the top 100 players in the 2011 recruiting class and impressed early in a Trojan backfield filled with highly touted players is just a gigantic victory. After years of not pulling a single significant scholarship transfer, the Irish have now pulled in two blue-chip prospects that had the Irish No. 2 at Signing Day, only to come back to Notre Dame after choosing at another school. If that doesn’t speak to the dedication of this coaching staff on the recruiting trail, I’m not sure what does.

Carlisle will participate in spring drills with the Irish.

  1. domer77blowsgoats - Jan 8, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    Holler!! Love this!

    And not to mention the obvious, but now this really improves our chances of getting past Navy…

    • domer77blowsgoats - Jan 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

      Hey Nude, can this 18 year old go f himself too? Anything you don’t approve of re: this transfer?

      Can’t wait to see your neurotic spin on this

      Thumbs up below if I should change my handle to nudeman blowsgoats…

    • Jennifer - Jan 8, 2012 at 8:43 PM

      domer 77 (yeah, right) ~ Are you a pirate at Sea smart guy? fyi ~ Notre Dame is forwarding your x?@# post to Navy and by the time you read this your sailed ship will have been sunk.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Jan 9, 2012 at 7:38 AM


        Thanks for the feeble attempt…

        Nude must be proud to have you in his corner, such a well thought perfectly stated comeback

    • NDfan1224 - Jan 8, 2012 at 10:46 PM

      ND lost Darby the class is still solid but his speed was needed hopefully we can get him back!

      • dmacirish - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:33 AM

        this is the same pile of dung you posted on keith’s previous post. keep it to yourself – especially when it is a bunch of “we might have lost him, not sure, hope we didn’t” garbage. i will not be clicking on this or any of your other links again.

  2. hihochopsuey - Jan 8, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    “It wasn’t just an Amir decision. We felt as though Notre Dame would be the best fit for him for the next FORTY years.”

    -fixed it for them :)

  3. 1historian - Jan 8, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    This is BIG

  4. irishbuckeye - Jan 8, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Keith, he won’t really be replacing Cierre after next season would he? Doesn’t Cierre have 2 seasons of eligibility? Unless, of course, you’re counting him in for the NFL Draft.

    • bernhtp - Jan 8, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      Cierre would have the option for a fifth year.

  5. irishfan2791 - Jan 8, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    I love this we took a play-maker away from USC. That is awesome, if this coaching staff has showed us anything, it is that they have the ability to close with key players. This staff is taking weaknesses and creating strengths, plus adding talent to make sure there is no let down once players move on. Everywhere I look all I see is SPEED which is awesome, we’re getting bigger, faster, stronger and looking more and more like a team out of the SEC. Don’t get me wrong there is still work to do, but our defense in a year or two is going to be scary. Now we just need to find that guy on offense (hopefully Golson or Hendrix) that can make it roar, that is really the only thing we’re missing on that side of the ball. I am excited for next season and hope some of these young players can make a difference in a hurry.

    • arizonapetdoctor - Jan 11, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      Not sure taking a “playmaker away from USC” is entirely accurate. He asked to transfer closer to his family and USC allowed him to with no restrictions. We wish him the best, and hope that he succeeds for you at ND. Say what you will about Kiffen, but letting an athlete transfer to the school of his choosing shows that he has more character than his replacement at Tenn, which wouldnt (initially) allow a player to transfer to Mich St to be closer to his dying father. Good Luck Carlisle

  6. bernhtp - Jan 8, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    As a Notre Dame guy, incoming transfers are new to me. Does the scholarship count toward the limit during the first year where the transferring student is ineligible to play? Did the Prestwood scholarship count for this past season?

    We now have consecutive years where elite players that chose another school over Notre Dame grew up and came to their senses. This fact should be added as a slide to the presentation for recruits.

    • papadec - Jan 8, 2012 at 3:33 PM

      bernhtp – I believe I read @ Irish Sports Daily that Carlisle’s scholarship counts toward the current class (2012), and that would mean that Prestwood was counted toward the class of 2011.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 8, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        Yes and what about Badger? Where does he fit in re: scholarship count?

      • bernhtp - Jan 8, 2012 at 8:25 PM

        Badger will count, but did not count the years he wasn’t enrolled.

  7. don74 - Jan 8, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    This makes sense for everyone. I read somewhere (since it’s on the net it’s suspect) the kid’s injury is more severe that thought and he may need it repaired. If lost for the season for SC it’s a scholly they can better use on a recruit that can play now. With their restrictions everyone needs to play immediately. Close family, father at Purdue and SC’s AD holds no animosity to ND. He sits out 2012, gets healthly and he’s ready to role. There will be another recruiting surprise before NSD. I’ve said it before, the powers that be decided the time is now to win at football. And so it will be.

    As far as the QB is concerned, why can everyone else’s fresheman, redshirt freshman or first year soph play winning football. Didn’t Barkley start game 1 as a frosh, Andrew Luck was a redshirt frosh and played pretty well. Heck, we open against Navy this year which is a challenge for the D not the O. If our size up front can’t dominate that game on the offensive side it doesn’t matter who plays QB cause it will be a very long season.

    • bernhtp - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      Both Barkley and Luck were elite 5-star recruits. We haven’t had one of those at QB since, uh, Dayne Crist. Our last successful 5-star, Clausen, had a pretty miserable freshman year, though in fairness, that was mostly attributable to a terrible team overall, especially a porous O-line, and his elbow injury.

      I think it’s hard for a HS QB to pick up the offense, especially read opposing defenses at a far higher speed. My grapevine tells me that even Hendrix, a smart pre-med guy, struggles with knowing all of the plays, their positions and reads, and Golson is even further behind and has had the additional stress/distraction of classroom difficulties. Of course, football IQ appears only lightly correlated with general IQ, so not too much should be made of this.

      I hope that Hendrix or Golson get more reps and accelerate their progress, where one emerges as The One. We desperately need it.

      • don74 - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        I understand they were 5 stars and ours aren’t but guys can play or they can’t. Clausen played cause he was promised by CW he would start, bum elbow and all. He played injured behind a line that couldn’t support the offense. Guys come play early in other programs and do fine, why is ND so different? I think if they have it, they have it. Everyone said rookies couldn’t do it in the nfl, last i looked there are plenty of rookie qb’s playing and doing fine. Will they be the second coming of Peyton? Heck no, but they don’t have to be. Play error free, take what’s there and don’t put the defense in undefendable positions. All of us want the stud at every position. I’d be happy with a qb the coach has confidence to run the offense error free and can find Eifert and whatever wide out that gets free down field. Ability to throw a screen and a fade would help but not mandatory.

        Kelly has a plan that he shares with the coaches, the AD and the admin. The team gets most of it, the press very little and we are left to read the tea leaves. i bet this year was a disappointment to him but I will also bet he views it a a bump in the road and not a detour. He wins in the off season, we say it doesn’t count but you can’t win during the season if you don’t do it off season.

      • bb90grad - Jan 9, 2012 at 11:28 AM

        Just gimme someone who doesn’t turn the ball over (goes for RBs too). I’ve seen enough 14 point swings to last me a while…

  8. cameronemclaughlin - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    With some depth at RB, I’m wondering about previous speculation that we’d see GA3 at WR. Stretching the defense vertically.

  9. smurphdoggy29 - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    I want to to know what the drama is that’s going down at Heritage Hall !
    I mean come on we all know Lane Kiffin is a dirtbag, but really with this kid transferring (legitimate reasons), the situation with the Armisteads, and the fact Pat Haden was made AD after the Bush Carnival of excess, I really would like to know what is happening !

    Literally just for drama’s sake. In today’s world of reality TV it wouldn’t (couldn’t) get any better than to turn USC into a sitcom like Real Life (or whatever). Tell me the ratings wouldn’t soar.

    Curiosity is killing me, when does the other proverbial shoe drop in LaLa land ?

    I commend Amir for making a sound decision based on logical reasoning and wish him the best. I also commend the coaching staff for again showing off one of their strengths and exhibiting it for the world to see.

    GO Irish !

  10. mbutch6 - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    It makes a lot of sense to have GA3 and Riddick flip positions. Riddck looks much more comfortable at RB, and it certainly looks as if GA3 has the play making ability that the offense would want on the field. I’m optimistic about what Coach Martin has planned for a unit that most won’t expect to excel, at least not at the same high expectations as the defense. I’m looking forward to see what D Daniels can do on the field, see how TJ Jones plays as an upperclassmen, and see TE one year bigger, faster, and stronger. And obviously excited to see what DG and the other receiver recruits can do.

    On a side note, if ND doesn’t sign a QB in this cycle, my crystal ball sees Luke Massa moving from receiver to scout team QB.

    • bernhtp - Jan 8, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      Given his elite speed, it would be nice to have GA3 pose a vertical threat, especially if Hendrix or Golson are behind center with their bigger arms. However, I don’t believe he hasquite the elite quickness and elite ball skills to go with his flat-out speed. There is a lot of work that would be required to learn routes, cut precision, defensive reads/adjustments, etc. That clearly vexed Theo and made him less of the receiver Kelly had hoped for.

      • tedlinko - Jan 8, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        Agree with that. There is much more to being an effective receiver than just turning on the afterburners and beating your guy deep — especially in the spread. In this offense, every snap is a read for both QB and WR. Both need to recognize what the defense is doing and adjust the routes and throws accordingly. They have to be recognizing the same thing or it doesn’t work. Not saying GA3 couldn’t make the transition, but there is far more involved in it than many people realize.

  11. herringbonesports - Jan 8, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    I think this is a great pick-up. The last few national championship games have featured teams with multiple elite backs, and stocking up at the position is so key for success.

    I think this may mean that the slash guys like Atkinson/McDaniel from the last class will get a chance to move into the Percy Harvin type role. We weren’t running a true spread this season, no matter who was in at QB. Those slash WR should be taking rocket swings and sweeps in the backfield as much as the RBs are running the ball.

    The recruiting targets for what ND needs continue to be dead-on. Front 7 was the biggest 2011 priority and they got it done. 2012 is WR/RB/DB and they have stocked the cupboards at those positions. Impressive work so far, and we’ll just have to wait and see on the QB stuff. No use bitching about it now.


  12. bostonjan - Jan 8, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    One of the things I like most about this announcement (as well as the other recruiting news) is the message it sends to so called “ND Nation”: top notch players, recruits, their families, etc. don’t think the sky is falling at ND – far from it. I view these people are far more reliable in their assessment of the future of ND football and the expertise of our coaching staff than we bloggers.

  13. michigandomer1984 - Jan 8, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    For a “small timey” coach that won’t be able to recruit, Brian and team do pretty well. I am sure those idiots on Rock’s House will rationalize this away somehow.

    • thepiper3 - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      Oh I don’t know…

      “I can’t believe he let Darby get away. [Insert Ara/Lou/Leahy HERE] would’ve never let this happen. And so we just lost another DB like [insert Lyght/Restic/Burris/Duerson HERE].”

      “Kelly just can’t get the team speed. If the ND leadership would step up and give [Insert Meyer/Stoops/Saban/Miles/Carroll HERE] what they want, we could have them all by tomorrow. In fact, we should give them all a few million and maybe they can all be our coordinators/asst coaches under Knute Rockne.”

  14. leftcoastirishfan - Jan 8, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    We get 85 Scholies total, 25 max a year. Help me break it down.
    Class of 2015: Atkinson Atkinson3 brindza brown corrico Carlisle councell Daniels Farley golson grace hanratty hardy hegarty hounshell koyack lynch Martin McDaniel nicklas prestwood rabasa springman tuitt Williams I. (25)
    Class of 2014: badger heggie Hendrix Lombard massa Moore Nichols nix Roberson utopo welsh Collinsworth Jackson jones Rees swenke Shembo smith d spond wood L (20)
    Class of 2013: Calabrese Eifert fox golic j Martin z Stockton watt wood c coward motta riddick tausch te’o toma Turk. (15)
    That’s 60
    5th year possibilities: Lewis-Moore cave cwynar slaughter
    We have 18 commits for the class of 2016
    That’s 82
    The way I see it unless we have some transfers we have room for 3 more in this recruiting class
    Now that RD is waffling we have 4
    Add more with the reduction of 5ths

  15. borromini - Jan 8, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    Darby just decomitted…let’s see if we can pull another Lynch/Tuitt miracle.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 8, 2012 at 11:03 PM

      Let me off this roller coaster!

      • papadec - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:45 AM

        Awwwwwwww joisey – make yourself a nice tall drink, sit down, buckle up, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride. It’s the last month – now is when it gets really crazy. It does every year.

  16. acieu - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Wow! This almost guarantees an ND win over Navy and a great 7-5 season for the punchless Irish football program.

    • bernhtp - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      I like some good banter, but you’ll have to add some intelligence to your snark to make it interesting instead of insipid.

  17. runners00 - Jan 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    These kids that all want to go to Southern Cal and LSU are starting to find out that, well, it only takes about 22 super-talented athletes total to have a great program. Southern Cal is aggressively courting top-knotch kids just like we are. The difference is that SC has a lot more of them — and has had a lot more of them in recent years — so there will be a large number of these top-knotch kids who won’t play much until they are juniors or seniors — if at all. The same is true at LSU.

  18. acieu - Jan 9, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Excuse me 6-6 projected 2012 record. I guess I aimed too high for the fairy leprachauns

    • 1historian - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:39 PM

      go to your room

  19. dickasman - Jan 9, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Guys but we lost Darby which I thought was real need…im pi$$ed.

    • nudeman - Jan 9, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      Aren’t you always pissed though?

      • 1historian - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:40 PM

        nudeman & dickasman – would you two please just get a room?

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