Ohio State made it official four days ago, when Tim Hinton and Ed Warinner were announced as members of Urban Meyer’s first Buckeyes staff. Hinton, long rumored to be one of Meyer’s targets, will coach tight ends and fullbacks. Warinner will ascend to co-offensive coordinator, adding to his offensive line and run game duties for Meyer, likely part of the enticing package that pulled him to Columbus.
On their way out the door, Hinton and Warinner will apparently be bringing with them Taylor Decker, a six-foot-eight, 310-pound offensive tackle from Vandalia, Ohio that had long been pledged to the Irish. Decker visited Ohio State over the weekend, and while the details are scant, Decker has officially backed out of his commitment to the Irish, less than three weeks before Signing Day.
The loss of Decker hurts, especially coming on the heels of Ronald Darby reopening his recruitment. The Irish now only have two true offensive linemen in the recruiting class, with Ronnie Stanley and Mark Harrell among the 16 verbal commitments.
That said, the Irish won’t likely feel Decker’s departure for three seasons, with a strong depth chart at tackle ahead of him with players like Zack Martin, Christian Lombard, Tate Nichols, Nick Martin, Matt Hegarty, and Jordan Prestwood already established at the position and each with at least two years of eligibility left. While the sting of Meyer pillaging two coaches from the staff after they were assumed to be returning is likely adding to the scorn coming from Irish fans, Decker is a developmental project, who likely sees a more inviting depth chart ahead of him in Columbus.
Notre Dame isn’t likely to stop recruiting Decker, though he’s reportedly solid in his new commitment. Notre Dame and Ohio State are also going head to head on Davonte Neal, a hybrid wide receiver-running back from Arizona that just officially visited Columbus last weekend.
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.