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Weekend recap: schedules & stars

May 29, 2012, 6:19 PM EDT

Jaylon Smith

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and had a chance to step away from the computer for a few days. There’s been little news to report on the football front, and hopefully everyone enjoyed some time with family and friends celebrating the unofficial start of the summer. With everyone back to work and catching up, let’s do the same thing here.

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Friend of the blog Bruce Feldman ran down the country’s toughest schedules. Not surprising, Notre Dame ranks first after Feldman awarded points for various levels of opponents. (A cupcake was worth 1 point, a decent team gets 2 points, 3 for a top 40 caliber team, 4 for a top 25 team, and 5 for a top-five heavyweight.)

Here’s Feldman’s rationale for putting Notre Dame at the top:

1. Notre Dame: Wait, where are the cupcakes? Notre Dame is one of the few programs that doesn’t play any FCS programs. The closest things to “cupcake games” are the opener against Navy in Ireland (the Midshipmen have won 24 games the past three seasons); Purdue (a Big Ten team which won seven games in 2011); at BC (who did beat both NC State and Miami last year) or against Wake Forest (which has beaten FSU four of the past six times they’ve met.) More impressively, the Irish face five teams that have a good shot to be in the top 15: at Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, at Oklahoma and then the Irish finish at arch-rival USC. Perhaps the best proof of how hefty this route is for the Irish, consider that Miami–after BYU (a team that may win 10 games this fall)–could prove to be the seventh toughest game on the schedule. Points: 42

The Irish rank just ahead of a top five rounded out by Washington (they’ll face potential Top 5 teams Oregon, LSU and USC), Oregon State, Michigan, and Kansas. Former Irish quarterback Dayne Crist will get to open with South Dakota State before facing a conference schedule that includes away dates against Oklahoma and rival Kansas State, and non-conference games at Northern Illinois and West Virginia*, not to mention a home game with TCU.

* Former Irish flamethrower Drew Duff reminds me that West Virginia will be in the Big 12 next year. This conference realignment stuff takes some getting used to.

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Rivals just announced an updated Top 100 and there are plenty of Notre Dame targets on the list, topped by outside linebacker Jaylon Smith. The 6-foot-3, 218 pounder from Fort Wayne has visited Notre Dame numerous times and many believe the Irish are the team to beat.

Other players the Irish are in good shape with include:

No. 9 — CB Vernon Hargreaves III — Tampa, Florida
No. 39 — WR Laquon Treadwell — Crete, Illinois
No. 42 — LB Trey Johnson — Lawrenceville, Georgia (Committed to Auburn)
No. 49 — LB Alex Anzalone — Wyomissing, Pennsylvania
No. 50 — RB Ryan Green — St. Petersburg, Florida
No. 58 — LB Chans Cox — Lakeside, Arizona
No. 79 — John Montelus — Everett, Massachusetts
No. 86–  LB Doug Randolph — Richmond, Virginia (Committed to Stanford)
N0. 88 — DE Isaac Rochell — McDonough, Georgia
No. 94 — DE Jordan Sherit — Tampa, Florida

Here’s Rivals rationale for Smith making the huge leap up to No. 4 in the country:

“Smith dominated several offseason camps on a level we have not seen in the Midwest for years. His length and athleticism at 6 foot 3 and 218 pounds is unreal,” said Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt. “Not only does he own the middle of the field from his linebacker position, but we saw him drop down to defensive end and destroy offensive tackles in pass rush scenarios as well as bounce out to a cornerback role and lock down some of the region’s top wide receivers in man coverage. The kid is just a freakish specimen at the linebacker position.”

Landing Smith would be a monumental deal for the Irish, and the best defensive prospect to sign with Notre Dame in ages. Landing any of the other guys in the list above would be huge additions to the class as well. Expect quite a few of the current Irish commits (other than Montelus, who is at No. 79) to show up in the Rivals250, a place where Steve Elmer is now likely listed after being bumped down by the current Rivals staff.

The Irish will likely add eight to ten more names to the class before things are all said and done.

  1. nudeman - May 29, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Keith,
    Of the guys besides Jaylon Smith who you say the Irish are “in good shape with”, it seems to me that only Rochelle fits that description. To me, “in good shape” means “favoring ND to one degree or another”.

    With all the players you’ve listed, ND is definitely in the conversation, but most of these guys are talking to about 5-6 other powerhouses in addition to ND and they haven’t really tipped their hand.

    • nudeman - May 29, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      For example, I just today read a writeup on Chans Cox. I would characterize his assessment of ND this way (my words): “Yes, ND has expressed interest and they’re a great school. But so is USC, ASU, OK, tOSU, Oregon, Michigan, etc etc”

      “Good shape”? Well he hasn’t ruled them OUT. So I guess that’s good. ND was also a finalist for Armstead too.

      Bottom line, it’s interesting reading this stuff, I like it and am glad you wrote this article Keith, but most of these guys are nowhere close to committing and probably have no idea where they’re going yet.

      BTW, Cox’s film looks outrageous, but he plays for a school in Nowheresville, AZ. I wonder about the competition quality.

  2. jimbasil - May 29, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    It appears Rivals has downgraded a couple of ND commits. Is it because they are verbally committed to ND or is it a true re-evaluation of their talent?

    A question: Do kids see their star rating as something important and should they select a school would they be afraid their rating would fall because of their choice?

    • nudeman - May 29, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      I know there are ND haters out there but why would Rivals downgrade somebody for committing to ND?

      Their reason on Elmer was based on some add’l film study.
      I have no idea if they’re right or wrong, and it doesn’t really matter. This seems like a great kid and a great recruit. Big, athletic and really wants to be at ND.

      Who else did they downgrade? He’s the only one I saw. Smith got upgraded.

    • bernhtp - May 30, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      Performance in various camps is a major basis for ratings changes at this time of year. I think that several ND commits have reduced their camp attendance since they no longer need to be noticed. This may account for at least some of the downgrade.

  3. jimbasil - May 29, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    I was sure there were three ND commits in the top 100.

    You’re working for Rivals these days?

  4. idratherbeinsouthbend - May 30, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    “Former Irish quarterback Dayne Crist will get to open with South Dakota State…”

    BOOM, My alma mater makes the irish blogs! whooda thunkit!

    Being a big fan of Dayne Crist and a friend of South Dakota State’s head coach, John Stiegelmeier, I asked him to take it easy on Kansas in the opener. He got a good chuckle out of that and then offered me tickets if there are any still available after player requests.

    • danno27 - May 30, 2012 at 7:59 AM

      oh boy – I’ll admit I was a little surprised to see a reference to any South Dakota school on here. Too bad it’s the ag school up north… (I’m a USD grad – ’06 political science)

  5. jerryball22 - May 30, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    “Best defensive recruit in ages” – you mean since Manti a few years ago?

    • borromini - May 30, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      …or Lynch?

  6. wyomissingfootballassociation - May 30, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Coach Diaco was in Wyomissing this morning to see Anzalone

    http;//www.wyomissingfootballassociation.com

  7. wyomissingfootballassociation - May 30, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Coach Diaco was in Wyomissing this morning to see Anzalone

    http://www.wyomissingfootballassociation.com

    • bb90grad - May 30, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      how is his name pronounced? Does it rhyme with (Guns of) Navarone?

      Just keeping entertained during a slow news cycle. Just like when “Kelly’s Heroes” makes the cover of SI. Of course we’re still waiting on that one.

  8. bernhtp - May 30, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    ISD has a good summary: http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/isdblogs/smitty-blog/7066-three-two-one-boom

    • nudeman - May 30, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      Article has some interesting stuff, but the frankly it’s poorly written.
      Anyway, Journalism 101 aside …

      – Jaylon Smith: Why am I getting a funny feeling here? From his tweet the other day about committing to the same school as his buddy Hutchings who appears headed to USC, to USC’s newly stepped up attempts to land him, to his upcoming visit to LA.
      Let’s see: good looking, stud football star has to choose between LA and SB?
      Like I said, I ain’t making any bets here, despite so many other people who think he’s a “lock” for ND. If so, then why doesn’t he just commit and stop the circus? That always makes me nervous.
      PREDICTION: USC

      – Alex Anzalone – how many times in one paragraph can a writer say, in essence, “I have no clue”. So I guess none of us do either. I don’t. But I’ll predict anyway, based mainly on father ‘s alum status.
      PREDICTION: FL

      – Doug Randolph: I like that he’s communicating with Prosise. And I think I read somewhere that he wants to early enroll, which Stanford doesn’t offer.
      PREDICTION: ND

      – Danny Mattingly is the one he’s the most certain about, and of course the kid plays TE, probably the position LEAST in need at ND. But this will be great for those 9 TE formations BK is planning.
      PREDICTION: ND

      – Isaac Rochelle seems stable and a likely commit. Seems like a good kid, too.
      PREDICTION: ND

      – LJ Moore doesn’t, if for no other reason than he’s from Fresno.
      PREDICTION: Houston

      – Chans Cox: No mention at all?
      PREDICTION: U AZ

      • brazilianirish - May 31, 2012 at 5:07 AM

        Jaylon Smith and Alex Anzalone play the same position and have the same height, weight. High Profiles. They´re being recruited by the best in the game. Difficult to land both.

      • nudeman - May 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM

        Jaylon Smith has a distinct “Armstead feel” to me

        Unlike Armstead, I don’t think he’s being disingenuous and “using” ND
        I just think he’s gonna’ get wowed by the glamor of LA and USC

        Hope I’m dead wrong
        Kid looks like the ultimate diff maker

      • bernhtp - May 31, 2012 at 11:00 PM

        Nude: Armstead(s) was a strange and unique deal. Since Jaylon Smith took unofficial visits, I think he’s a real possibility, but do agree that USC has their advantages and will press hard. Let’s hope he has some Manti in him.

      • nudeman - Jun 1, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        Armstead used ND.
        Never seemed like he was truly interested in leaving the left coast.

  9. irishfan2791 - May 31, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    I think like the O-Line if we land a Jaylon Smith the other linebackers (i.e. Alex Aznalone and Doug Randolph) will commit as well. Im confident in this coaching staff and a 10 win season would go a long way in securring a lot of these guys for ND, its not offical until signing day so we have a while to win some of these guys.

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