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The Commitments: Running Backs

Jan 26, 2012, 3:34 PM EDT


[A few days ago, a commenter mentioned how little talk there was about wide receiver Chris Brown, a freakishly good athlete that’s joining the Notre Dame recruiting class from South Carolina to little fanfare. Consider these columns a response to a very good comment.]

In the next six days, the recruiting rollercoaster will surely rumble down the tracks one last time, with twists and turns we already know are coming, yet somehow surprise and amaze us every time. For Notre Dame, we’ve already taken a look at who’s left on the board, with the Irish still in the running for almost half a dozen of the top 100 players in the country.

But while most the attention in the media stays focused on those players still openly considering multiple schools, the Irish coaching staff hasn’t forgotten about the fourteen verbal commitments that plan on faxing their letters-of-intent into the Gug on Wednesday morning. While we’ll certainly recap the names when they become official next Wednesday (more info to come on what will be a crazy, sleep-deprived day), here’s a quick look back at what the Irish have done with this recruiting class, and what it means for the football program.


With the depth chart down to Cierre Wood, George Atkinson, Cam McDaniel, and an injured Cam Roberson‘s future unclear, landing two running backs was a priority for Notre Dame. The Irish cast a fairly wide net, offering around a dozen potential running backs that fit two distinct criteria: powerful one-cut runners, and dual-threat backs that can also split out wide.

While the Irish got official visits from blue-chip prospects like Keith Marshall (who eventually committed to Georgia) and Byron Marshall (who will be in Eugene next season), they also landed two of their top targets, running backs that are perfect complementary parts in the 2012 recruiting class.

High School: Mariner High — Everett, Washington
Measureables: Six-foot, 175-pounds
Other major offers: USC, Washington, Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Oregon, Boise State
Fun Fact: Class president at Mariner High.
On choosing Notre Dame: “Once you get a degree from Notre Dame, you’re pretty much set for life. My goals are bigger. I’ll have a chance to go to the NFL. At Notre Dame, you get your degree in 3½ years. And when I graduate – it’s money.”
What he’ll bring to the offense: The ability to make plays in space. Whether or not Theo Riddick stays at running back, Russell will have an opportunity to see the field either in the backfield or the slot. He’s not the biggest of prospects, but he’s an electric open field player, something the Irish clearly missed last year, and will miss even more without Michael Floyd.

High School: Austintown Fitch — Youngstown, Ohio
Measureables: Five-foot-eleven, 210-pounds
Other major offers: Penn State, Tennessee, Pitt, Iowa, Michigan State, West Virginia
Fun Fact: Chuck Martin told him his jumper looks like Ray Allen’s. Be the judge yourself.
On choosing Notre Dame: “They graduate I think 98, maybe it was 99 percent of their players,” Mahone told Irish Illustrated. “After talking with the academic advisors and everything, I felt I could definitely succeed there and there would be no problem getting all the help I need, but I’ll definitely be buckling down and getting my studies done.”
What he’ll bring to the offense: He’s not as physically imposing as Jonas Gray was coming out of high school, but Mahone fits the mold close enough, and shows good power and vision. If Russell has the opportunity to play out on the edge of the offense, Mahone looks like a great fit in the backfield, making one cut and getting up field, which he did incredibly well in high school.

  1. schuey73 - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    I read a Huntsville Times article that says ND is apparently out of the running for Arik Armstead. Anybody else hear this? Or is this just a hometown paper making something up to try and help their cause?

    • captainspaulding22 - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Didn’t hear anything about that, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. I get the feeling that if he wanted to be hear; he would be enrolled in classes already. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t see this one ending in ND’s favor. My guess is he ends up at Cal or Washington.

      • dmacirish - Jan 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        did you guys miss the point of this article entirely? here is keith saying “we have talked, and will continue to talk at a later date, about all the recruits left on the board but for right now let’s concentrate on what we have fully committed. here are you guys saying “hey what about the armstead brothers.” cmon guys – to put an end to it nude says they are not coming just so he can say he said it first, i am saying they are coming so i can say i said it first, now lets agree no one knows the truth no matter where you read it.
        to the point of the article – these guys sound like a great duo, glad we are getting a hammer back. give him a few months in the new notre dame diet and he can gain some muscle. we need the combo of porsches and dump trucks. also glad to see they both were excited about the academic opportunity in college, imagine that.

      • 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:16 AM

        I think he’ll wind up at Auburn. I’m more than a little tired of this soap opera.

      • nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 1:48 PM

        I don’t get why when someone states the obvious, like 1historian, he gets thumbs down?

        This kid had a golden oppty to get going at one of the finest Universities in the world
        Early enroll, play b-ball

        HE PASSED

        He ain’t coming to ND

    • nudeman - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      Saw that in another pub; can’t remember which

      I told everybody 3 wks ago he was not serious about ND. You guys need to listen to me more closely.

      • nudeman - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Just to elaborate and reinforce what captain said above, I agree: The telling development was when he decided NOT to EE. That told me he wasn’t coming to ND.

      • gtizzo - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:36 PM

        Your screen name is “nudeman” not exactly a name that says “listen”, not that I disagree, just a thought. Nice job Keith, solid breakdown and shows that wins and BCS titles are all that matter to these kids like ESPN would have your believe. Keep up the articles! Does anyone know if you can watch the Irish spring game on TV? I know it has nothing to do with the article, but I really couldn’t think of a good time to ask.

      • schuey73 - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        Last year the spring game was on the VS. (?) network I believe. Keith should know. I believe he was on the sideline and got interviewed during the game.

    • bb90grad - Jan 27, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      Wouldn’t sweat it. I subscribe to the Times daily. Yesterday’s article said ND is out, Auburn, Oregon, Washington and Cal are in. Today’s article says Auburn, Oregon, Washington, Cal, USC and UCLA. Until NSD this is entertaining but, to quote the bard, sound and fury signifying nothing.

      • bb90grad - Jan 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        BTW Huntsville is 4 hours north of Auburn. Plenty of folks push you to choose Bama or Auburn but town is split 50/50 between them. Have of course declined and continue to follow the sons of Our Lady.

  2. schuey73 - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    BTW Keith, thanks for doing this type of article. It’s great to get a glimpse of these recruits that we no little about.

  3. dickasman - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Good Reminder article…I forgot about Chris Brown. He seems like he could be a dark horse in this year’s recruiting class. “Let me see if you can run it, run it girl indeed I can run it, run it…” (note to Notre Dame Stadium DJ. If this Chris Brown kid starts playing right away, please note that there is a song by singer “Chris Brown” the woman beater, song titled “run it” that you can play at the games in lieu of crazy train).

    Hey I noticed that Schiano is taking a job w Tampa Bay. Is there anybody on Rutgers team worth anything that BK can go “urban meyer” on?

  4. dickasman - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Devin Fuller? He’s headed to Arizona though, right?

    • nudeman - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      The other sites that predict this stuff have him going to Nebraska.

    • schuey73 - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      He really wants to play QB. Getting Kiel pretty much ended us getting him.

  5. tony34343434 - Jan 26, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    dont want armstead he is looking for some deal, too much involved with the brother and parents, let him go to Auburn and sit the bench for a while. if he cared about academics and hoops the Dome is better than Auburn any day of the week. Focus on Wide Receiver and DB, if not darby someone we need one more DB or we might be in trouble, also Neal would be perfect, do not think we are getting Aghlor. Isnt Collingsworth a DB? he should be ready right?

    • nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      I agree completely. I know that the older brother’s situation is complicated, and frankly I’m hoping NO ONE gets narrow minded and puts him back on the field if his body can’t handle it.
      I commend USC for not clearing him to play when they knew he was a solid player but would be in danger.

      As for the recruitment, the young kid has been all over the place. I want academics. I want basketball. I want to play with my bro. I want to EE. I want to wait until after signing day.
      Jesus. Anything else?

      So ND recruits his brother, offers him the oppty to play hoops, EE and he says “No thanks; I’ll wait”.

      If that doesn’t smell just a little, I don’t know what does. Most definitely.

  6. ct111 - Jan 26, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    I’m still believe in Bruce Heggie

  7. Keith Arnold - Jan 26, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Irish are still in it for Armstead. That article came out of an Auburn website, so take it for what it’s worth.

    • nudeman - Jan 29, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      No they’re not
      And realistically I’m not sure they ever were, except on paper
      This kid was never serious about ND

  8. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 26, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    Keith, you’re right, I think we all tend to fixate on “who we didn’t get” when it comes to following recruiting. Thanks for pointing out that the glass is half full, not half empty, with the quality guys we did get.

  9. idratherbeinsouthbend - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    You have to absolutely love the fact that both of these recruits sited academics as their reason for ultimately picking Notre Dame.

    Why is that important? It shows a level of maturity that’s not common among 18 year old FB players making major decisions like this.

    I’m all for bringing in kids that get “the big picture”. I don’t care how many stars they have behind their name.

  10. ct111 - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    Tommy Rees should move to the running back position.

    • papadec - Jan 27, 2012 at 1:48 AM

      ct111 – Ouch. That was cold!

    • jdmemphis - Jan 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      I was thinking punt returner….we couldnt do much worse.

  11. treeplaydomer - Jan 27, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    Is there a set date for a decision regarding the other incoming RB, Amir Carlisle? Anyone know if he will have to sit for a year or not?

    • nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      What decision are you referring to? He’s enrolled and attending classes.
      And yes, he has to sit for a year.

    • jdmemphis - Jan 27, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      yes….he will have to sit out a year

  12. 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Keith – I want to thank you for keeping us out here in the hinterlands so up to date with what is happening @ND. Well written and informative articles.

    Comment – your detractors, specifically dickasman and nudeman sound

    • nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Why do people think I’m a “detractor” of Keith?

      For the record, one last time:

      1) I love this site and think Keith does a great job

      2) I have suggested to Keith that he stay more engaged after writing a piece. He says that’s not his approach and he has more going on than just this. I accept that.

      3) He wagged his finger at me for commenting on what other sites had written. I wagged back. End of it. Only problem with it is the suggestion that I’m “plagiarizing” from other sites, as was suggested by Keith and specifically said by some knucklehead. Wrong.

      4) Occasionally I see stuff on another site, reference it here, but ALWAYS acknowledge it came from somewhere else. Why is that a bad thing?

      I think guys like YOU who rush to Keith’s defense when it’s completely unnecessary are patronizing.

      Relax. He’s a big boy and can handle himself in small matters like this.

      • 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 10:56 AM

        I know he can handle himself, but thanks for reminding me

  13. 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    like wannabes

  14. norcalirish - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    “You have to absolutely love the fact that both of these recruits sited academics as their reason for ultimately picking Notre Dame.”

    Well put idratherbeinsouthbend, great post. While (of course) we want kids with lots of stars, I’ll take a clean 3 star kid over a 5 star bum any day of the week. Let those kids go to Miami and usc. They breakin bread.

  15. nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Any thoughts on a big NSD surprise for the Irish?

    Many are speculating that there is a big “get” coming. Most who believe this think the most likely one is Poole, but if you read his comments after the Muschamp visit he sounds awfully solid. He raved about Fla but said the ND visit was “ok” by comparison.

    Any idea?

  16. mtndguy - Jan 27, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    Good to see the commitment of William Mahone. The last few games without Jonas Gray illustrated just how important a big back who can pound it up the middle is to this offense. Now they just need to get him in the weight room with Longo, and keep him bellied up to the training table.

  17. 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    nudie – I am NOT rushing to Keith’s defense – he does not need me to defend him. I was expressing an opinion – no offense intended.

    Lighten up and PLEASE don’t take anything too seriously.

    4 1/2 days to go.

    Any last minute predictions? ANYONE?

    BTW – This is a lot of fun. Snow is falling outside, a beer at my side (with a few more in the fridge) the dog is snoring peacefully, etc.

    And of course after NSD and the SB immediately there is THE NFL DRAFT

    • schuey73 - Jan 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      Last year was a lot of fun here in South Bend. We had such a bad snow storm on NSD, that ND actually closed, even though the coaches trudged threw it to get to the Gug. My office was closed that day too, so I got to stay home and watch the press conference and interviews of the coaches. I believe I watched it all online.

      I hope this year is as much fun too, only without the snow!

    • nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM


      This site is to pass the time and for entertainment value only. Occasionally I rack up record setting amounts of thumbs downs, but in an odd way I enjoy being the proverbial turd in the punchbowl. If I can annoy 77/goat/UAW and ruin at least 15 min of his day, I’m happy.

      dickasman has the right attitude here. Edgy, stirs it up. Makes me laugh

      Others, particularly the “I WENT TO ND and YOU DIDN’T” crowd need to get a life.
      This is a blog, football talk. Not life itself.

      As Jerry Garcia used to sing:
      “If all you’ve got to live for is what you left behind,
      Get yourself a powder charge and seal that silver mine”

      • 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        nudie – this site is indeed to pass the time. No argument there.

        JOKE – What did one Grateful Dead Fan say to the other Grateful Dead fan after the dope wore off at the Grateful Dead Concert?

        “This band really sucks.”


        FYI – I saw the Dead 3 times when I was in California (once upon a time) in 1970.

        Yes – I am an old fart.

        Feb. – Family Dog on the Coast Highway, openers Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen.

        March – Fillmore West, opener – Miles Davis

        April – Fillmore West – “3 bands for $3”

        Openers (8p.m.) – Quicksilver Messenger Service,
        2nd act (10:15) Jefferson Airplane, played until 12:15 or so.
        At 12:30 the Dead came on and they played until 4 in the morning.

        At which point Garcia stepped up to the mic and said “good night”.

        Good memory.

        I listened to the 1966 USC game on a short-wave radio in Turkey. After the game was done (51-0 ND) the USC coach – Robinson or McKay I think – is reputed to have said “I’ll never lose to that Armenian bastard (Parseghian) again!”

        The next year he showed up in SB with O.J. Simpson.

        Anyone out there remember “Ara stop the snow!”?

        Over and out

      • nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 1:56 PM

        Great sidetrack. I am a little younger than you but not much.
        Saw the Dead probably 80-90 times, but 1st show wasn’t until 1974

        Also remember the 51-0 trouncing; not on TV; it was Van Patrick on the radio
        I think it was the wk after the MSU 10-10 tie in E Lansing
        Coley O’Brien taking the snaps with Hanratty hurt

        My 1st ND game was 1970 or 71; last home game of the year I think
        Beat LSU 3-0 on a late FG; epic defensive struggle
        My dad swears that was the point in time where Theisman threw away the Heisman
        Brutal cold but seats on the 44 yd line about 20 rows up

      • papadec - Jan 29, 2012 at 3:07 PM

        nude – how about “You don’t always get what you want, but………………you get what you need”

    • ndfan311 - Jan 27, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      “Snow is falling outside, a beer at my side (with a few more in the fridge)”

      dude its 11 in the morning. seek help.

      • 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        for what?

      • nudeman - Jan 27, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Sounds perfectly normal to me

      • oldestguard - Jan 27, 2012 at 3:10 PM

        ….Help for shoveling that snow….so you can get back to those brewski’s quick enough !

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 27, 2012 at 7:21 PM

        It’s 5:00 somewhere, am I right?

      • ndfan311 - Jan 27, 2012 at 11:59 PM

        Great…a bunch of unemployed democrats living off my tax money

      • ndfan311 - Jan 28, 2012 at 12:01 AM

        Great…a bunch of unemployed democrats living off my tax money drinking beer when they wake up. Nice.

  18. 1historian - Jan 27, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    Thanks for the support, folks, and for your concern, ndfan311

    Jerseyshore – Born in Trenton, grew up in Flemington and Hopewell (once upon a time) and I used to pass by the house where the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped on the way to school.

    (Or did I make that up?)

    At the time there was a guy named Einstein at Princeton. Dick Kazmaier of Princeton won the 1951 Heisman.

    nudie – I saw my first ND game in 1961. Norb Roy and Nick Buonoconti were captains, Joe Kuharich was coach and we went 5-5. Saw the Syracuse game in 1962 when we beat them on a last-second field goal after a roughing-the-kicker penalty on the previous play was called, so we got another chance 15 yards closer. We stormed the field. Ernie Davis played for Syracuse.

    The two years I was there we could NOT beat Northwestern. Guess why?

    I was in the service when I heard that 1966 game. it was 17-0 late in the 1st half and I started thinking that it was going to be 1964 all over again. Not a problem. I was in country the weekend of the MSU game – I took a train to Ankara to see a friend. On the way there I talked to a Turkish detective. interesting guy. Good memories.

    The 1966 team – probably one of the all-time greats. 38 points given up in 10 games.

    Theisman originally pronounced his name Theesman then changed it. Remember the 1970 SC game he threw for over 500 yards. SC could NOT stop him and ND could not stop SC.

    I’m an old fart (and proud of it) – you guys all talk techno talk WAY over my head, and that is cool. In my day (NEVER thought I’d start a sentence with that phrase) recruiting was no way like it is today.

    Dick – keep being a PITA. You’re very good at it, methinks you practice a lot. You are enjoyable.

    Remember folks – it’s only a game.

    ND will be in the top 15 next year and in either 2013 or 2014 we’ll be right in the mix.


  19. papadec - Jan 28, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    ndfan311 – not everyone works a day shift. Some people are just getting home after working midnight til… Some people (democrats/republicans/independents) are retired after working a shitload of years and deserve to kick back & have a beer whenever they damn well feel like it – living off their pensions, retirement plans, social security – NOT your tax dollars.

  20. norcalirish - Jan 28, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    “This site is to pass the time and for entertainment value only. Occasionally I rack up record setting amounts of thumbs downs, but in an odd way I enjoy being the proverbial turd in the punchbowl. If I can annoy 77/goat/UAW and ruin at least 15 min of his day, I’m happy.”

    Lol! Nothing against the dude you’re trying to annoy, but that was pretty funny.

    Great thread.

  21. kibbee2545 - Jan 28, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    ND will always have a clean program, and always graduate good young men. They don’t cheat like OSU, USC, Tenn. however they may never be number because of their program

    • papadec - Jan 29, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      kibbee – ND will run a clean program, and they will be #1 with a National Championship again. I believe we will see that NC in the next few years with this coaching staff & recruits we are getting. I think we are closer than the 8-5 records, of the last two years, would indicate.

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