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Irish back in Fresno after losing both Shepard and Greenberry

May 22, 2012, 3:48 PM EDT

LJ Moore

You couldn’t blame assistant coach Mike Denbrock if he never stepped foot in Fresno again. After landing blue-chip cousins Deontay Greenberry and Tee Shepard last year out of Fresno Central, Denbrock and the Irish coaching staff had to weather the roller-coaster that the high profile California duo put the staff through during their months as “committed” Irish recruits, before losing both before either put on an Irish uniform.

Greenberry famously left Notre Dame at the altar, pulling a Signing Day 180 when he decided to commit to Houston over the Irish. Shepard’s departure was more mysterious, with the cornerback leaving South Bend after enrolling early at Notre Dame, leaving a trail of questions as health and academic related rumors followed him back home.

Yet the Irish are back in Fresno, with Denbrock returning to Central in pursuit of L.J. Moore, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound defensive back that fits perfectly into the mold the Irish are looking for at cornerback. While the Irish aren’t the only ones pursuing Moore — he counts offers from Cal, Oklahoma, UCLA, Georgia, and Washington — he’s still interested in the Irish, even after seeing it not work out for Greenberry and Shepard.

Christian McCollum of IrishSportsDaily.com caught up with Moore to get his take.

“When my friend Tee went up there, I was getting more interested,” Moore told ISD. “There was something out there that made him fall in love with the school. Me and him have some things in common, so I thought I would like to go see it and from talking with Coach Denbrock, I’m starting to like it even more.”

McCollum also pushed on Moore to see if he had any insight into Shepard’s transfer, but he wasn’t biting.

“I didn’t really want to ask him too many questions about what happened because I know he was getting 100 million questions about it, but it doesn’t really affect me with him leaving,” Moore told ISD. “There was something that initially made him like the school, so I’d like to explore it for myself and see how it feels.”

That the Irish are back in a high school that certainly doesn’t profile well for the Irish says a lot about both the player they are pursuing as well as the tenacity of the coaching staff that’s chasing Moore. (It also says quite a bit about the talent that’s emerging at the school.) With two cornerbacks already committed to the 2013 class, the Irish won’t have to put all their eggs into Moore’s basket, but it sounds like both recruit and coach have sincere interest in seeing this work.

Moore is set to make an official visit to Notre Dame towatch the Irish take on Michigan on September 22.

  1. nudeman - May 22, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    1) Unfair to say Tee/Dee = LJ Moore
    2) Unfair to say “all Fresno athletes are dumbbells”

    Having issues those two disclaimers …

    3) All signs point to Tee and Dee being less interested in academics than the 420
    4) All signs point to the fact that neither should have been recruited in the first place

    Moral: Tee & Dee don’t necessarily = LJ, but please do your homework this time

    Just sayin’ …

    • andy44teg - May 22, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      I knew as soon as I saw there was 1 comment up at the top that it HAD to be the nudeman’s….I have to 100% agree w/ you here. It’s totally unfair to lump all these “Fresno” kids together, but how’s the ole saying go..fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I’d have to say that tee/dee would count as once.

    • tedlinko - May 23, 2012 at 4:13 AM

      I agree with you that it’s unfair to generalize from Shepard and Greenberry to other athletes, from Fresno or wherever. They are different kids. They have nothing to do with one another.

      But saying that neither Tee nor Dee should have been recruited in the first place is just typical Monday Morning QBing from the Nudeman. I recall reading a couple of profiles on Shepard last fall and he seemed like a great kid — potentially a great fit. For whatever reason it didn’t work out, That is unfortunate, but saying he shouldn’t have been recruited based on that is a little unfair, unless you’ve got more inside informaiton than the rest of us – which I doubt.

      • nudeman - May 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        Let me clarify my earlier comment.
        From all I’ve read and heard, and from what I’ve been able to deduce from reading between the lines, etc etc:
        1) Tee/Dee had zero interest in academics, and had the grades to prove it
        2) Dee had a reputation as a talented but lazy athlete
        3) Tee was never eligible at ND. That tells me there was an Admissions “oooops”
        4) Tee had a hell of a good time while at ND, but was on track to flunk out, like by a mile.
        5) I have never believed that Tee had a med issue that required him to go back to Fresno for treatment. Fresno? C’mon man.
        6) FresnoIrish (I think that’s the screen name) posted here and had credible inside info on both of them as well as the overall Fresno academic scene. It wasn’t pretty.

        So my point was NOT that ND made a mistake because these guys crapped out. It was that they erred in ignoring numerous warning signs that they had ZERO CHANCE of cutting it at ND.

        How they got them past Admissions and why deluded themselves into believing Tee/Dee would make it at ND is a mystery to me.

        Last point: I predict these two guys will largely never be heard from again in terms of the college football scene. Immature, lazy excuse makers.

    • bblack55 - May 23, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Not to say Fresno kids aren’t just as smart as other kids, but the Fresno-area school system consistently produces some of the lowest average SAT scores in the state – and CA isn’t at the top in the first place. I’m sure bright kids come out of that system and do well at Stanford and Cal but we certainly need to look beyond 40 times when scouting this area.

  2. bernhtp - May 22, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    My guess is that Moore well understands why Shepard didn’t make it. Notre Dame won’t accept him if they don’t have confidence he can be successful.

  3. irishaggie - May 22, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    This is a double edge sword. Just like andy said fool me twice, shame on me, but it would be big to land this kid just to increase our confidence to continue to recruit in California. We talk about all these recruits from out west. The last really good player we had from out west was Jimmy and that was 3 years ago ( Cierre has been good i guess, but i still wanna see him be more physical). Fauria, Shepard, Greenberry, Mcdonald, Crist either left before proving anything, or really disappointed on the field. I hope Cierre, Troy, George, and Davonte step up because we’ve had our fair share of disappointing players from out west, and thats suppose to be our strength.

    • tedlinko - May 23, 2012 at 4:22 AM

      Something tells me the Irish aren’t going to stop recruiting California any time soon — whether or not we land this kid.

      In any case, there are more than a couple of CA kids who are looking to make an impact this year. I think you’re being a bit nitpicky on Cierre. He’s been a damn good player, and I expect him to take another step this year. NIklas got significant playing time as a freshman. Not sure what more you want out of him. And the Atkinson brothers stand to both make an impact this year — also don’t forget Amir Carlisle.

      • irishaggie - May 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM

        Cierre has been a very good player, but he has never stepped up in big moments. I dont ever recall Cierre making a big play in a big game. He had a lot of yards but most of the yards did not come at a big time in any game. He had 5 yards against USC, 41 against Stanford, and 60 against Florida State. He only had 3 one hundred yard games. One fifth of his yards came against Purdue. I like him hes good, but I wanna see a lot more from him, especially at big times in games.

        Niklas, Atkinsons, and Amir are very talented, but lets not crown them yet. George had two fumbles in the spring game, we had plenty of that last season. I dont care how talented he is I would not put him on the field if he puts it on the turf like that. Niklas still has a lot to prove, Amir hasn’t taken a snap at Notre Dame yet, and Josh Atkinson hasn’t seen real time yet. I guess we’ll see, but for now i wanna see results before i give them praise.

      • brazilianirish - May 25, 2012 at 3:50 AM

        Look, Stanford is out there, isn´t it ?? So, the guys are there… The only thing they needed was a Harbaugh… We have to find them and, well, recruit them. But the talent are there, both in and off the field. Find and Recruit. That´s our job to do it. By the way, Dayne Crist and Troy Niklas may speak something about talent there. Good job done. Neverthless, the message of what we really are as a high profile academic AND athletic institution must be clear, always.

  4. 9irish - May 23, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    ESPN “College Football Live” was predicting today that Notre Dame is going to get their asses kicked alot this season (5-6 wins…one said 8) because of the schedule. I really don’t see the schedule being a whole lot different than normal, really. Always nice going in as the underdog…don’t give games away, we are almost as good as anybody else.

    • 9irish - May 23, 2012 at 12:08 AM

      that was supposed to be “eight”…don’t know where that stupid happy face comes from

      • nudeman - May 23, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        I think there is a bug here
        That nhas happened to me several times and it’s always with the number eight
        Seriously

    • jrct2450yahoo - May 23, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      “Almost as good as anybody else”! Have you watched the SEC teams lately??? Best case 7 and 5.

      • 9irish - May 23, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        ehhh…should have said “as good as anybody”. SEC teams are sooooo fast. ND is working on that. I don’t take these predictions seriously, because they don’t know. College football is very unpredictable.

    • joeschu - May 23, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      Nothing better than “the worldwide leader” rolling out talking heads to bash a team that plays 1/2 its games on another network. Don’t bother with that garbage. The year May predicted 0-6, the Irish went to a BCS bowl. We’re not fantastic, but simmer down on worrying about what an off-season ESPN advertisement has to say about ND.

  5. runners00 - May 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    This is pretty weak — this article. I mean, all kids are different. Period. What works is accepting that all kids are different — even those fast kids from Fresno are different from one another. Greenberry and Shepard are different and left for different reasons. Greenberry apparently liked the less-pressure-packed Houston program and Shepard, it sounds, may have had a medical reason for leaving. I don’t know. But it’s not realistic to assume that because Greenberry and Shepard left, that any other recruit from their high school is going to do the same thing.

    And, yes, ESPN’s prediction sounds about right: 2012 is going to be a long season with a very difficult schedule. There are no rebuilding years in South Bend but from everything I’ve seen so far — from the indecisiveness at Q to the best defensive player departing to a fairly strong senior class having graduated — 2012 is going to be very tough. Eyeballing the schedule and not knowing a whole bunch about the opponents, I can see eight wins if we play very well early in the season. But with Southern Cal and Oklahoma on the road, and tough home games against Stanford and Michigan, 8 wins is ambitious (particularly when you consider that Pitt has been tough on us at times and so have BC and BYU). There are no gimmees. It’s a very tough schedule.

    • nudeman - May 23, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      Agree on tough schedule
      Disagree that 8 wins is best scenario
      I see one unexpected loss (MSU) and maybe 2 expected losses (USC and OK)
      They will beat MIchigan and Stanford

      9 wins; possibly even 10 if they can pull an upset
      Decent bowl game
      Prob not BCS though

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - May 23, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        You scooped me Nude, this is exactly how I see the upcoming season turning out. Could not agree more.

      • runners00 - May 23, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        Let’s hope that you are right.

        I won’t say, out loud, that Stanford reminds me a lot of the Pete Carroll early Southern Cal years and so they will be difficult to beat. They tackle well. They block well. They’re getting bigger and stronger and landing decent recruits and are very well coached. But, we’ll see. It’s a tough schedule. and we’ve had a fairly difficult off-season, all things considered. . . .

    • schuey73 - May 23, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      “to the best defensive player departing to a fairly strong senior class having graduated — 2012 is going to be very tough”

      I hadn’t heard that Manti Te’o left :) .

      • runners00 - May 23, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        Fair point — Te’o is a machine but Lynch is an amazing talent as well and someone we’ll miss. I really do love watching Te’o and his effort strength and skill. And perhaps that defense, which really kept us in a lot of games and won a few, too, will recover from the loss of Lynch. But it’s a real loss.

      • schuey73 - May 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        Yeah, no question that it was a real loss, and I can’t believe we are almost at Te’o’s last season already. It seem like he just got here, but I suppose that’s how it always seems with the great ones.

    • bernhtp - May 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      If you go by preseason polls – whatever they’re worth – Notre Dame ends up 7-5. We are generally rank in the 20-25 range and five of our opponents – USC, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan St., Stanford – are all consistently ranked higher.

      We can obviously do better or worse than this consensus pundit assessment. Two or three of these presumptive losses are winnable without being considered a major upset, but this is also true of the opposite.

      My belief is that 8-4 is a step forward relative to last year – same record but more difficult schedule. I think that 7-5 may be a slight step backwards, just because of the worse record in context of increasing expectations.

      It’s hard to make predictions given the instability and uncertainty around the critical QB position. I believed (wrongly) last season that QB would become a strength. I thought that Crist would take a big step forward to reaching his five-star potential. At worst I saw a significantly-improved Rees, a developing Hendrix, or a prodigal Golson. I was terribly wrong. None of this materialized and the QB position was a major weakness that cost us at least three games.

      Given the uncertain QB situation, it’s impossible to have any confidence when making predictions. However, my evolving take is 8-4 where we win one of the Michigans, steal one from USC/OK/Stanford, and then lose one we are expected to win.

      This season will be a huge test for Kelly and co.

  6. pjm79nd - May 23, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    “Me and him have some things in common.”

    Anyone care to put a spin on that comment?

    • nudeman - May 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      That’s perfectly acceptable English
      In Fresno

      • pjm79nd - May 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM

        No problem. He’ll score 100% on the Wonderlic test and be a credit to the undergraduate institution he attends.

  7. irishaggie - May 23, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    I am a huge fan of Notre Dame Football, I really am. I am very realistic about things and I say things like they really are. If we get Golson to perform at a high level (which i really hope he starts cuz the rest are turds) they can go 10-2. If our QBs under-perform we WILL be a 6-6 team no doubt about it. 10 good reasons why.

    1. We have trouble winning in East Lansing as of lately add our QB issues and we have a recipe for disaster.
    2. Playing in Oklahoma against the #1 QB they’ve ever had statistically. ouch
    3. Going against Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, and Marquis Lee at the Collisium, are you kidding me.
    4. Michigan has beat us 4 of the last 5 and they have a QB that we haven’t stopped nor contained. p.s. he eats our D alive.
    5. We play a much more physical Stanford team.
    6. Our punt return team is horrific and I dont see any immediate improvement soon.
    7. Our corners are gonna be eaten alive, dont tell me a converted wide receiver will be our best CB, come on.
    8. We dont have an elite receiver.
    9. We dont force turnovers.
    10. We turn it over too much.

    Only a good QB will save us. Otherwise, like I said, we WILL go 6-6. Its Notre Dame for goodness sake, we recruit 5 and 4 star players, but yet every year we are overrated and underperform. I hope this year is different. All we need is an outstanding QB and we will be back.

    • 9irish - May 24, 2012 at 12:49 AM

      I agree with pretty much everything you said…but. There is such a huge gray area out there right now. Nobody execept Stanford really beat the Irish last year, USC was touch and go. They have got to get Golson going as the QB. They have to stop beating themselves. Michigan should be looking at 3 straight losses to ND, not the other way around. Bizarre coaching decisions, bad secondary, etc, turnovers, have cost us so many games over the past few years I can’t even count them. They have hardly ever been man-handled, and they should be even better. If they get that “eye of the tiger” alot of people will be very surprised.

      • 9irish - May 24, 2012 at 12:55 AM

        Oh yeah, agree on the punt returns, too…it boiled down to, “just don’t fumble it!” It was very anemic, at best.

      • pjm79nd - May 24, 2012 at 10:47 AM

        USC was touch and go? What game were you watching? There was more to that game than the Crist fumble.

      • 9irish - May 24, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        that’s a good point….what I was meaning was that they had a chance to get back in it before that fumble. I don’t think they would’ve won, either, but they had a chance to make it interesting.

  8. 1historian - May 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    We have a tough schedule this year.
    We have a tough schedu8le

  9. 1historian - May 24, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    We have a tough schedule this year.
    We have a tough schedu8le EVERY

  10. 1historian - May 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    SORRY FOR THE FLUBS

    We have a tough schedule this year

    We have tlough schedule

  11. 1historian - May 24, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Disregard 12:57. 12:58 & 12:59, as in “whoops!”, as in “my bad!”

    We have a tough schedule this year.

    We have a tough schedule EVERY year.

    Among the 12, is there any team we have NO chance of beating?

    No

    Among the 12, are there some we are going to have to rise to the occasion to beat?

    Yes

    What’s the problem?

    • 9irish - May 24, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      Exactly! I am tired of this new trend that just writes Notre Dame off as not having a chance to beat such and such. We need to correct that. It’s a mental thing. They pretty much hung in with everybody last year, in spite of making the most goofs in the history of ND football.

      • 1historian - May 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM

        Thanks for that.

        There is undoubtedly a lot of talent on this team, but there is no swagger. We need that swagger back. We used to have it, but we don’t have it any more.
        I’ve been saying this for years and I’ll keep saying it – IMO we need a turnaround game to get it back.

        For Lou Holtz it was the 1986 USC game. People STILL remember that game.

        We need ‘take charge’ leadership on offense. On defense we need “if you don’t knock that guy on his ass you answer to ME” leadership. We need attitude we need swagger.

        Right now we don’t seem to have either – it’s up to the players.

      • 9irish - May 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        I know that in this media age, and the “kinder, gentler” age that we live in, things have changed. But why is everyone all upset about Kelly going ballistic on the sideline? Does anyone remember Lou Holtz, sideline maniac, facemask grabbing terror?! They were more afraid of him then the enemy (er, the other team). That’s where they got their swagger…the games were easier than practice.

      • 9irish - May 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        Willingham and Davie would smile and shake their heads when things were going to hell…we all know how that worked out.

    • bernhtp - May 25, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      The problem is that there are five opponents that have preseason rankings above us. Two of them are in the top five, and both of those games are away. Beating them, while certainly not impossible, would constitute major upsets. The other three would be big wins. It’s been a long time since the Irish beat top-ranked opponents.

      Several opponents ranked below us are quality teams that will clearly bring their best games to the Irish. A good season for the Irish in this context will require over-achievement for a change, starting with the QB position.

      • 1historian - May 25, 2012 at 12:14 PM

        “It’s been a long time since the Irish beat top-ranked opponents.”

        Precisely my point – it’s been TOO long.

  12. zman713 - May 28, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Nudeman,

    It was I that gave you the inside information about 3 months ago, and I will help elaborate this time.

    1. Anyone within a few hundred miles of Central California knew FULL WELL the academic and off field issues of D.Greenbury. Due to his physical gifts and “potential’ many tried to get him to fit their system and admissions, and they overlooked the obvious problems. DGreenbury would never have passed ND admissions, and would have been a problem off the field anyway.
    2. TShephard is a very good kid. He will be one heck of a football player somewhere. He never fulfilled his academic ‘promises’ to the university prior to enrollment, there were issues with his Clearinghouse informaiton, and some of the California approved, but not Clearinghouse approved courses used to get his GPA up over the last few years(can you say online courses) The issue at ND had NOTHING to do with medical. The medical was known, treated, and cleared long before he left campus. He just never went to class.
    3. LJMoore will NOT have that or those concerns. He has none of the issues(420/grades/school hopping from year to year, etc) that the the first two had. His parents are very involved(both) and he is very well on top of academics and personal stuff.
    4. That being said, LJMoore will be going to college in California. Others have a shot but with such involved parents, I dont see anyway he doesnt stay within 3 hours of Fresno so his parents can be a part of his next level athletics.

    Please do not lump Fresno into a few, well publicized boneheads who were good athletes. Every city and state has those.

    Notre Dame took a gamble to try and bring in kids who, if due diligence were done correctly, was easily known would never fit into our system. Local blogsters were very vocal about it the first week the offers and the commitments were made.

    Den needs to keep up the good work, just focus on the ones that dont have the off field issues at that early age because changing THOSE issues are a lot more difficult than changing on field bad habits.

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