Kelly tunnel

Live Blog: National Signing Day 2012


The faxes will begin rolling into the football offices at Notre Dame before sunrise. With cornerback Tee Shepard, defensive lineman Sheldon Day, and quarterback Gunner Kiel already enrolled in school, the Irish are expected to receive at least fourteen letters-of-intent Wednesday, finalizing a recruiting season that will bring another class of student-athletes into the Notre Dame family, the culmination of thousands of hours of work by the Irish football staff.

There are a handful of names Notre Dame will be chasing until the end. But even if the Irish don’t manage to swing a signing day surprise, the Irish have put together a more than solid recruiting class that filled some major roster needs with impact players from around the country. For those disappointed in the status quo, a friendly reminder: A big name that picks your hat live on TV means the same exact thing as a commitment you’ve had since August, even if it’s not quite as exciting.

We’ll keep you posted on the minute-to-minute activity in the live blog below. While our friends at will be broadcasting the events live from The Gug, we’ll be co-hosting the official Signing Day live-blog here, where we’ll be the first place to report when faxes come in, breaking down the action as it comes.

We’ll keep a running tally of the commitments as they come, keeping you up-to-speed as the Irish finalize their recruiting class. The live blog will be here for your enjoyment, and will feature some special guests and some in-depth analysis as the day unfolds.

As usual, keep your comments clean, keep them coming, and keep checking in as we celebrate another recruiting class.


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(Updated throughout the morning)

7:05 a.m. — John Turner, DB — 6-2, 205-lbs. Cathedral High — Indianapolis, Indiana

7:14 a.m. — Romeo Okwara, OLB — 6-4, 235-lbs. Ardrey Kell — Charlotte, North Carolina

7:21 a.m. — Mark Harrell, OL — 6-5, 275-lbs. Charlotte Catholic — Charlotte, North Carolina

7:28 a.m. — Justin Ferguson, WR — 6-2, 205 lbs. Flanagan High — Pembroke Pines, Florida

7:47 a.m. — C.J. Prosise, DB — 6-2, 205 lbs. Woodberry Forest High — Woodberry Forest, Virginia

7:56 a.m. — Chris Brown, WR — 6-2, 175 lbs. Hanahan High — Hanahan, South Carolina

8:04 a.m. — Will Mahone, RB — 6-0, 210 lbs. Fitch High — Austintown, Ohio

8:14 a.m. — Scott Daly, LS — 6-4, 230 lbs. Downers Grove South — Downers Grove, Illinois

8:28 a.m.  — Jarron Jones, DL — 6-6, 305 lbs. Aquinas Institute — Rochester, New York

9:12 a.m. — Nick Baratti, DB — 6-2, 200 lbs. Klein Oak — Spring, Texas

9:23 a.m. — Elijah Shumate, DB — 6-1, 205 lbs. Don Bosco Prep — West Orange, New Jersey

11:30 a.m. — KeiVarae Russell, RB — 6-0, 180 lbs. Mariner High — Everett, Washington

11:46 a.m. — Ronnie Stanley, OL — 6-7, 290 lbs. Bishop Gorman — Las Vegas, Nevada

Restocking the roster: Wide Receivers

Notre Dame v Florida State

Some believe that the best way to look at recruiting is in two-year increments. As programs rebuild and rosters turn over, covering the needs of a football team over two recruiting cycles  allows a coaching staff to balance its roster.

That balance is critical to the health of a program. And it’s not just the work of a rebuilding coach. As we saw in Brian Kelly’s sixth season, injuries, attrition and scheme change impacted the defense, especially in the secondary.

Another position set to deal with major change is wide receiver. Gone is All-American Will Fuller, departing South Bend after three years, scoring 29 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He’ll look to run his way into the first round of the NFL Draft. Also gone are veterans Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle, putting the Irish in an unenviable position, needing to replace the team’s three leading receivers.

Reinforcements aren’t just on the way, they’re already on campus. While there’s not a ton of production to see, the recruiting stockpile has created a chance to reload for Mike Denbrock’s troop. So let’s take a look at the additions and subtractions on the roster, analyzing the two-year recruiting run as we restock the receiving corps.

Will Fuller
, Jr. (62 catches, 1,258 yards, 14 TDs)
Chris Brown, Sr. (48 catches, 597 yards, 4 TDs)
Amir Carlisle, GS (32 catches, 355 yards, 1 TD)
Jalen Guyton, Fr. (transfer)


Equanimeous St. Brown

Miles Boykin*
CJ Sanders
Jalen Guyton
Chase Claypool*
Javon McKinley*
Kevin Stepherson*


Corey Robinson, Sr.
Torii Hunter, Sr.*
Justin Brent, Jr.*
Corey Holmes, Jr.*
CJ Sanders, Soph.
Miles Boykin, Soph.*
Equanimeous St. Brown, Soph.
Kevin Stepherson, Fr.*


Brian Kelly expects St. Brown to step into Will Fuller’s shoes. If the Irish are able to pluck another sophomore from obscurity to the national spotlight, it’ll say quite a bit about the depth and productivity the Irish staff has built at the position. At 6-foot-5, St. Brown has a more tantalizing skill-set than Fuller—and he was a national recruit out of a Southern California powerhouse. But until we see St. Brown burn past defenders and make big plays, assuming the Irish won’t miss Fuller is a big leap of faith.

The next objective of the spring is getting Corey Robinson back on track. The rising senior had a forgettable junior season, ruined by injuries and some bruised confidence. A player who has shown flashes of brilliance during his three seasons in South Bend, the time is now for Robinson, not just as a performer but as an on-field leader.

Torii Hunter Jr. is also poised for a big season. After finding reps at slot receiver and possessing the versatility to see the field from multiple spots, Hunter needs to prove in 2016 that he’s not just a utility man but an everyday starter. His hands, smooth athleticism and speed should have him primed for a breakout. But Hunter might not want to stay in the slot if CJ Sanders is ready to take over. After a big freshman season on special teams, Sanders looks ready to make his move into the lineup, perhaps the purest slot receiver Brian Kelly has had since he arrived in South Bend.

The rest of the spring depth chart should have modest goals, though all face rather critical offseasons. Justin Brent is three years into his college career and the biggest headlines he’s made have been off the field. Whether he sticks at receiver or continues to work as a reserve running back remains to be seen. Corey Holmes is another upperclassman who we still can’t figure out. Will he ascend into the rotation with the top three veterans gone, or will he give way to some talented youngsters?

Miles Boykin earned praise last August, but it didn’t get him time on the field. He’ll enter spring with four years of eligibility, same as early-enrollee Kevin Stepherson. The Irish staff thinks Stepherson has the type of deep speed that they covet, capable of running past cornerbacks and stretching a defense. Boykin has size and physicality that could present intriguing options for an offense that’ll be less reliant on one man now that Fuller is gone.

Live Video Mailbag: 40-year decision, more BVG, freshmen and more


We’ve done plenty of mailbags, but this is our first shot at a Live Video Mailbag. This should be a better way to answer more questions and hopefully interact with a few of you as we try to work off some of yesterday’s Super Bowl snacks.

Topics on the list: The 40-year decision, more Brian VanGorder talk, the incoming (and redshirt) freshmen and a whole lot more.


Kelly and Swarbrick turn attention to science of injury prevention


Amidst the chaos of their live Signing Day show, ran had a far-reaching interview with head coach Brian Kelly. It was conducted by his boss, athletic director Jack Swarbrick, and his former team captain, Joe Schmidt.

So while there was a little bit of talk about the 23 recruits who signed their national letters-of-intent, there was also a very illuminating exchange on an issue that’s really plagued the Irish the past few seasons: Injuries.

Football is a dangerous game. And for as long as people play it, there’ll be impactful injuries that take players off the field. But as Notre Dame settles into what looks like their longest run of stability since the Holtz era, the focus of Kelly and Swarbrick has moved past modernizing the team’s medical services, strength program and nutrition and onto the science of injury prevention.

Here’s what Kelly said about the efforts currently taking shape:

“I think the science piece is very important, because no longer is it just about strength and conditioning,  it’s about durability. It’s the ability to continue to play at an optimal level but also with the rigors of a college schedule, and particularly here at Notre Dame, how do we maximize the time but maximizing getting the most out of our student-athletes and not lose them?

“As you know, we’ve had a couple years here in a rough stretch of injuries. And how do we have an injury prevention protocol that brings in the very best science? You’ve done a great job of reaching out in getting us those kind of resources. so I think tapping into that is probably the next piece. As well as providing the resources for our student-athletes. Continuing to look at facilities. Continuing to give our student-athletes maybe that little edge. Because everybody’s got 85 scholarships.”

It’s clear that the issue is one that’s on the radar for not just Kelly, but the athletic administration. So it’ll be interesting to see some of the steps taken as the program begins investing time and additional resources to an issue that’s really hit the Irish hard the past few seasons.

There’s plenty of other good stuff in the 13-minute interview, so give it a watch.