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Counting down the Irish: 15-11

Jul 27, 2012, 3:15 PM EDT

Atkinson 3

Now that we’ve got our math mistakes cleaned up, let’s get back to some analysis of the Top 25 so far. The inclusion of Zeke Motta at No. 25 makes plenty of sense, and if there’s a breakout senior waiting to make his name, Motta is a pretty good candidate. Playing in the shadow of Harrison Smith, Motta has seen plenty of action for two solid seasons, and should feel comfortable anchoring the secondary, regardless of where Jamoris Slaughter is lined up.

A snapshot of the top 10 names on the list shows the Irish program seems to be in good shape for the future. Of the names listed, only Motta and Toma are finishing their eligibility this season, adding credence to the thought that 2013 might be a very promising year for the Irish.

More evidence that the youth of this roster is its strength comes from names 15-11. Once again, all five players listed will have eligibility remaining after ’12, and three are true sophomores. On-field experience might be the weakness of this group, with Chris Watt entering camp entrenched at his guard position, and Prince Shembo in and out of the starting lineup last season.

The third and final quarterback of the rankings slots his way in here, with Everett Golson coming in at No. 14. Golson, who redshirted during his freshman season, impressed during the Blue-Gold game, but also showed difficulties with game management duties and ball security, two very large issues that seem to be sticking points for Brian Kelly and new offensive coordinator Chuck Martin.  Still, anybody who doesn’t think Golson is going to find his way into the Irish offensive package is fooling themselves, and even if he isn’t the “starting” quarterback, expect to see a healthy dose of Golson in the Irish game plan.

Once again, here’s our voting panel:

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune @HansenSouthBend
John Walters, The Daily @jdubs88
John Vannie,
Eric Murtaugh, representing  @OneFootDown
Ryan Ritter, representing @HLS_NDtex
Keith Arnold,’s Inside the Irish @KeithArnoldNBC

Here’s the list as it stands:

IRISH 2012 Top 25
25. Zeke Motta (S, Sr.)
24. Tommy Rees (QB, Jr.)
23. Andrew Hendrix (QB, Jr.)
22. Davonte Neal (WR, Fr.)
21. TJ Jones (WR, Jr.)
20. Robby Toma (WR, Sr.)
19. Christian Lombard (OL, Jr.)
18. Davaris Daniels (WR, So.)
17. Troy Niklas (TE, So.)
16. Bennett Jackson (CB, Jr.)


15. Ishaq Williams (OLB, So.) After putting together the least impressive freshman season out of the “big three” defensive recruits, Williams turned it on this spring, taking advantage of Prince Shembo’s injury and rededicating himself to football after bouts of homesickness. Physically gifted, Williams is the prototype of what the Irish want in a ‘Cat’ linebacker, and has looked good enough in space that Bob Diaco might not hesitate to put he and Prince Shembo on the edges together. With some of the best pass rush potential on the roster, Williams could help this unit get more heat on the quarterback this season, something missing last year.

(Highest ranking: 9th. Lowest ranking: 20th)

14. Everett Golson (QB, So.) We’ll find out soon whether or not this ranking is a product of optimism or talent. Golson, a record-setting prep quarterback that sat out last season after enrolling early, has all the tools to be a perfect fit in Brian Kelly’s spread offense. He might not be as fast as Irish fans hope (he clocked a 4.8 forty during spring testing), but he’s elusive enough to supply a running threat at quarterback and has plenty of arm to make any throw in this offense. While rumors of ball security problems were semi-confirmed during the Blue-Gold game, so was the talent that make putting the keys to the offense in his hands a promising proposition.

(Highest ranking: 5th. Lowest ranking: 20th)

13. Chris Watt (LG, Sr.) At 6-foot-3, 310-pounds, Watt fits the profile of a left guard perfectly, and his first season starting showed him an effective partner with Zack Martin on the left side of the line. With a year of experience under his belt, not to mention another year with Paul Longo, Watt should be ready to thrive under new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who preaches a physicality that jives with the type of football the Illinois native likes to play. If Watt and Lombard play up to their potential, and the Irish find one more piece on the right side of the offensive line, this could be a very effective unit.

(Highest ranking: 6th. Lowest ranking: Unranked)

12. Prince Shembo (OLB, Jr.) Shembo’s lofty rating surprises me, yet also give you an idea of the pass rush potential the rising junior has. Playing mostly out of position at drop linebacker last season, it wasn’t a lost sophomore year, but a step back, as he logged only two sacks after having 4.5 during his rookie campaign. With Darius Fleming graduated, Shembo will likely step into the ‘Cat’ linebacker spot, though a foot injury this spring gave Ishaq Williams plenty of time to get comfortable there. Still, with Aaron Lynch no longer on the roster, Shembo might be best suited to put a hand on the ground and chase the quarterback. He’s not big enough to play end in the 3-4, but when the Irish slide a fourth man down, Shembo could be at his best rushing the passer.

(Highest ranking: 8th. Lowest ranking: 18th)

11. George Atkinson III (RB, So.) You wonder where Atkinson would be in these rankings if it weren’t for his electric spring game performance. Even without it, the 215-pound speedster would’ve surely tallied his share of votes thanks to his work in the Irish return game, where his two touchdowns tied a school record. Cierre Wood may be the starting running back and Theo Riddick will certainly deserve carries, but the homerun threat in the Irish backfield is Atkinson. Whether it’s from behind center or split wide, expect the offense to put an emphasis on getting Atkinson touches, and his world-class blend of power and speed should do the rest. Ball security issues aside (and that’s a big assumption), Atkinson showing comfort lined up in the backfield was the best surprise of the spring.

(Highest ranking: 5th. Lowest ranking: 17th)

  1. dmac4real - Jul 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Lot of potential in this grouping obviously. Hopefully it comes to fruiting.

    Also, I’m excited to see the ranking bc each individual voter. Very intrigued to see who put EG at 5.

    • dmac4real - Jul 27, 2012 at 4:07 PM


  2. kiopta1 - Jul 27, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Our best QB and RB will be the ones that protect the ball the best.

  3. dickasman - Jul 27, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Counting down the Irish fans 1-9878987996427897546:
    1. Nudemang
    2. Dickasmang
    9878987996427897546. Jerseyshorendfan

    Goooo iriiiiiiiish!

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      I tried with every fiber of my being not to sink your asinine level but I can’t help myself: I am rubber, you are glue, it bounces off me and sticks to you…….ahole. Isn’t it time for your NAMBLA meeting you Sandusky wanna be? The Dick Ass Man moniker is because you’re gay right?

      • dickasman - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:34 AM

        Yes I am gay and I think you’re hott!

      • bernhtp - Jul 28, 2012 at 10:43 AM

        Re: “I tried with every fiber of my being not to sink your asinine level but I can’t help myself”

        Dick is obviously beyond your current capacity. You need more fiber. May I suggest bran, prunes, or Metamucil?

      • nudeman - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        Pretty good cat fight you guys have going

        Russian judge: 9.225
        French judge: 9.99
        US Judge: 10.0

      • dickasman - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        Dam it. Major fail. I was going for6.6969696969.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 28, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        Thanks dick I’ve been told that before but really you just have to accept that I don’t swing that way.

  4. dickasman - Jul 27, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    I agree w this nd grad. Time to win something guys!

  5. rrussellndfan - Jul 27, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    If EG can throw the ball ND will be great. If Hendrix or Reese starts its going to be a long season. Reese seems to screw up everything and Hendrix is even worse to me. I couldn’t watch a down with him in. I doubt many agree but he just seems uncoordinated on his feet like he’s always in quick sand. The running back position with Carlisle will be pretty good but only if we have a mobile QB who can scramble and can check it down to the running backs. Screens and draws will be crucial this season. Wood Atkinson and Carlisle will all be great moving from the backfield to the slot. EG being the real deal is a must for a 10+ win season.

    • dmac4real - Jul 27, 2012 at 6:33 PM

      It’s Rees, not Reese.

      I wouldnt put Carlisle at the head of the backfield. The coaches havent seen him play at all, and that would put him behind 1.Wood, 2. Riddick 3. Atkinson. Also, Im not so sure you want GA3 or Wood in the slot. Neither have been praised for their hands.

      • irish4006 - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:09 PM

        Riddick has not impressed me at all with his running abilities. IIRC, I saw him being chased down by LBs on more than one occasion. I really don’t get why so many people are so high on him.

        If Carlisle is healthy, he may be ahead of both Riddick and GA III. Since we have not seen him in blue and gold, it’s hard to predict, but according to some, Carlisle is the most talented RB on the roster.

      • bernhtp - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:33 PM

        From looking at his video, I am a big Carlisle fan and think he can contribute heavily. He is that little back that can cut, squirt and run with the best of them. With that said, my reservation is his proclivity toward injury. I hope he can shake it.

      • dmac4real - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:28 PM


        People are so high on Riddick because the coaches are high on Riddick. Apparently he looked just as good as Wood in the backfield this spring. But that is just reports, so who knows.

  6. irishmurphy25 - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    I didn’t realize that Golson only runs a 4.8. He is definitely quick and elusive, but I thought he was fast too…doesn’t matter a whole lot, he is still our best option at QB and will be very good.

    I really think Shembo could have a big year. A lot of people seem a little down on him because he seemed to step back last year, but he was out of position. He was a great pass rusher as a fr. and made some big sacks in not much playing time. I hope both he and Ishaq step up and have breakout years while making game-changing plays.

    • nudeman - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      Everything is relative
      When you consider Tommy runs a 7.2, then 4.8 doesn’t sound so bad

      • bernhtp - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:59 PM

        I understand the cabbie runs a 6.2 and the cop a 6.9. Despite not having Rocket speed, Everett seems safe from Tommy’s fate.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 28, 2012 at 1:34 AM

        Most importantly, EG has the speed to outrun a cop if he decides to go party and the quickness/shiftiness to get around a cab, should he need to.

    • georgegipp - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:10 PM

      I agree, IrishMurphy. It almost doesn’t seem correct (the 4.8 forty time for Golson). Remember that scramble of his from his first BG game (2011 BG game) when he ran probably 40 yards laterally back and forth across the field for something like a 12 yard gain? He sure seemed faster than a 4.8 then.

  7. rrussellndfan - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Oh looky here dmac has a soft spot for Rees. Yeah he put ND in some games but he also took the big games away as did Hendrix. So EG is at the top of my list even with no experience. And I don’t care who plays behind Wood as long as we actually have a QB who can check the ball down or use his legs to extend a play instead of throwing pics all game. Hendrix can run but just watch the replay of him tripping over himself or throwing pics right to the other team, his awareness of the field is horrible. ND will never utilize their running backs without the proper play at QB. I’ll take EG or Kiel before I’d give either a shot again.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 28, 2012 at 1:41 AM

      Did this guy just say “Oh looky here”?

      I best be hiding me lucky charms if this oul fella is gonna be hanging about. No worries rrussellndfan, just slagging ya a bit.

  8. norcalirish - Jul 28, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    This a total aside, but the woman carrying the American flag in the opening Olympic procession tonight was a classmate of mine at ND. Thought that was cool.

    • Jennifer - Jul 28, 2012 at 8:35 AM

      She was on the Fencing team, and yes, that was really cool. But I wish the announcers would have mentioned she was a Notre Dame grad.

      • dickasman - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:24 PM

        Hiiiiii Jennifer, hows it going? How’s joe?(waves hello) I hope sellout nick has great year this year!

    • dickasman - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      NorCal I must say that you guys grow some of the finest marijuana up there. All 1000% medicinal of course. Cheers to a great growing season this year

    • dickasman - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      If we don’t start winning soon, I might have to start smoking some…..again!

  9. norcalirish - Jul 28, 2012 at 5:08 AM


    PS: if anybody has any info on ND/Navy tickets, is selling any or can recommend a good aftermarket ticket site please let me know…I need 2! Thanks.

    • don74 - Jul 28, 2012 at 10:44 AM

      Might want to try Linkedin. The ND alumni group has a sub group dedicated to game day experiences. Tickets, lodging, tailgating and the like. I used it last year to sell tickets to a game and it was painless.

    • bernhtp - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Have you checked the obvious, e.g., Stubhub UK?

  10. nudeman - Jul 28, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Tommy checks us into good plays

    • jmfinsd - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      I’m not sure checking to a dive play from a quick slant with an open defensive center because you don’t have the arm strength or confidence to hit a quick 6-yard slant is a good check. I like Mayock, but I’m amazed at his “good check” calls when he can’t know what the original call was.

      • nudeman - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        OK, well how about “Tommy knows the playbook and can run our offense”?

    • cameronemclaughlin - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      Tommy’s checks at the line of scrimmage were rudimentary. Our opponents quickly learned this and developed checks of their own to counter Tommy’s predictable check to the dive. Whether this is Tommy’s fault because he lacked the creativity to check to a wider array of plays, or the coaches fault for not providing him with multiple options, I don’t know.

  11. goirishnd - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Question for any play formation gurus – assuming we run alot of 2TE sets this year (seems to be hinted at given the position switch for Niklas) would it be the slot or an outside WR who gets taken off the field?

    • bernhtp - Jul 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff does this, but I suspect that the formation will usually stay the same, but slip Eifert into one of the non-TE positions, especially the X WR, to create a personnel mismatch, along with a TE such as Koyak in the standard role.

      • joeschu - Jul 30, 2012 at 11:28 AM

        Agree completely… you’ll either see both tight to the line with a 2 RB set and one WR, or a combination of 1RB and on WR in the slot. I think we’ll see a heavy dose of shotgun, single back, 2TE with a WR in the slot as our base package. As Bern said, when they want to spread people out, they’ll flank Eifert to exploit matchups against small CB’s or suspect Safeties in 1:1 situations.

  12. bearcatirishfan - Jul 28, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    It depends on how the tight ends line up, it has more to do with how many men are on the line of scrimmage. Typically u leave your best receiver on the field and call him a wide out and he lines up either on or off the line depending on the tight ends. If there’s toe tight ends you would probably still have two wide outs unless there is a fullback in the game which is rare these days.

  13. ndgoldandblue - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    This is probably way off topic, but I’ll try to find the relevance of this by the end. But, anyway, tonight I watched a highlight clip of the 1992 Sugar Bowl between Florida and Notre Dame. That was definitely a fun game to watch, but what I didn’t remember (since I was 12 at the time) was that no one thought the Irish had any business being on the field with Florida. As we all know, the Sugar Bowl is one of the big ones, and a team ranked eighteenth in the country generally doesn’t get an invite to one of the four premier bowls. I think we can pretty much assume the Irish got there on name recognition, alone. But, what I remember thinking at the time (again, I was 12, so I was maybe a bit naive) was that, even in down years, if Notre Dame played their “A” game, they could beat anyone in the country. Now, we all know that the 91-92 season was, at the time of Holtz, a down year at 9-3, but they still went out there and defeated the number-three ranked team in the country.

    After reminiscing about this a little bit, I got to thinking. If this Irish team played their “A” game, would they even have an undefeated regular-season record? For this upcoming year, I doubt it. If someone had posited this question to me last year, I would have definitely said yes. With the schedule they had to face and the talent they had on their team, I think they would have won every game if they played up to their abilities. This year: too many questions. Too many questions at WR, too many questions at CB, and definitely too many questions at QB. At #14, Golson’s inclusion is strictly based on potential. I mean…really. We got a good vibe from the guy after the BG game, but that’s all we can use. And we shouldn’t forget that Kelly had the play clock turned off so that Everett could have more time to call the plays. High school highlight videos don’t mean much in the college game, so we should avoid bringing those up. Really, all we’re going with here is potential. If Golson is the man this year (and I hope he is), do we feel confident that we can beat everybody on this difficult schedule? As fans, we really should ask ourselves that question before we start throwing out minimum win requirements for Kelly before calling for his head.

    As an aside, if Golson does win the job, I feel bad for him in the years to come. Could you imagine constantly looking over your should at Kiel and Zaire, who are both chomping at the bit to take your job? With that kind of talent waiting in the wings, if Everett wins the starting job and actually lasts 4 years as the starter, then it’s because he’s accomplishing some big things. Sign me up for that. Frankly, I don’t care who starts (and who transfers) as long as the starter helps lead Notre Dame to football greatness. Hell, if winning a national championship meant sending Massa out there, I’d be for it.

    • ndgoldandblue - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      Sorry. It should be “looking over your shoulder”. The only way one could look over a “should” is if that person is a grammar teacher and the current unit in class is modals.

    • nudeman - Jul 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      Everett Golson:
      Free education at University of Notre Dame
      Opportunity to be the starting QB for most legendary college football program
      Talented keyboard player
      All around bon vivant

      I do not feel sorry for him

    • joeschu - Jul 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      Welcome to competitive team sports. There’s ALWAYS someone “chomping at the bit to take your job.” It is called having a recruiting pipeline, and those position battles are how guys drive themselves to get better. Injury risk alone dictates you have 3 scholarship QB’s ready to go each fall. The Irish exit this year with great depth and recruiting timing at the QB slot:

      Hendrix eligible thru 2014
      Golson eligible thru 2015
      Kiel eligible thru 2013-2016 (unless he does something AMAZING to warrant pulling that red shirt off his back)
      Zaire eligible thru 2014-2017

      Coming out of this year, the Irish will have the option of a guy with game rep’s or a “fresh” guy each year. Ideally, a stud QB red shirts, spends a year (or two) in a prominent backup role, and then sets the world on fire for 2 years. ND is posed to start on a run of much more promising QB play in 2013 and beyond. Hopefully, this is the last year where we have to spend worrying about what we’ll get out of that position.

      • joeschu - Jul 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        poised… damn you autocorrect!

  14. rrussellndfan - Jul 28, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    I cant stand smart mouth people on here. We’re all ND fans reading others thoughts about football not about typos. But anyways I can see this team defensively ready for a 10+ win season as long as the offense limits turnovers. I wouldn’t count out this team just yet I’m getting pretty excited for September 1st.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 29, 2012 at 12:41 AM


      I’ll agree with you on one front, defensively we could be a 10+ win team, but offensively the potential ranges from train wreck to star struck…the one thing that most of of haven’t talked about much is special teams….ND hasn’t been too impressive in that category over the past few years. If you watch us return a punt, we do more hand waving than the crowd at a New Kids On The Block concert.

      As for the smart mouth people, don’t sweat it too much. The ribbing and correcting of others happens BECAUSE we’re a family, not because we’re trying to be spiteful. It’s kinda like picking on your buddy when he craps his pants while he’s drunk or making fun of your sisters 9th grade picture when she had braces and zits….we do it because we’re family.

      I bust nudey’s balls because we share this passion….never met the guy (assuming nudey is a dude), but i expect the same jovial comments in return.

      Bottom line….it gets us ALL through the 9 months of offseason.

      • nudeman - Jul 29, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        I’d have to agree with all of that; well said
        People who want perfect decorum here are looking for it in the wrong place

        And yes … I am in fact a dude

  15. idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 29, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    Interesting quote from CS at Big 12 media day…

    Q. Coach, you just talked about Dayne and his adjustment to town. We haven’t heard a whole lot about Anthony McDonald, Mike Ragone, the other Notre Dame guys. Do you have any update how they’re adjusting and kind of getting along in town?

    COACH WEIS: My blockheads? Yeah, both these guys really like being here. They’re doing well in school, which was always a little bit of a concern when you’re bringing in fifth-year guys. You want to make sure, hey, look it, anyone that’s taken a fifth year somewhere else for anyone who hasn’t figured this one out yet, they’re doing that to enhance their value to play on Sunday. That’s why they’re doing it.

    They’re not doing it because they want to go to another school all of a sudden. They want to go somewhere that gives them an opportunity to enhance their value on Sunday.

    So both Anthony — Anthony’s behind Manti. Well, that wasn’t looking too well. And Ragone, he would have been behind Tyler Eifert. And if he went back, that wasn’t looking too well either. Because if you picked the two best players on that team that they came from, that’s who they were behind.

    So I think that these guys are looking forward to the opportunity to compete to be on the field on a regular basis. And that gives us a lot better chance.

    • waydomer - Jul 30, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      Interesting comments by Weis, but no way are two injury proned and questionably productive players like McDonald and Ragone going to be playing on Sundays. Crist maybe.

  16. norcalirish - Jul 29, 2012 at 4:23 AM

    bernhtp: yeah, I’ve tried quite a few, just trying to avoid paying 500 or so per ticket, figured I’d try my luck on here and see if anybody had any. Thanks tho.

    Don74: thanks man, nice tip! I’ll check it out.

    Dick: lmao, you’re welcome

  17. rrussellndfan - Jul 29, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    If its all fun and joking I’m all for it but at least add some humor. Aside from that the newest commit looks pretty good. Check him out. It might be poor competition but he looks like a bruiser.

    • bernhtp - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Jamel seems like a nice pickup. His highlights show really good speed against high-quality HS competition. He also has really nice size, though I don’t see him running over many defenders.

      With that said, I see many comparing him to Jonas Gray – similar size and speed – but Jonas was ranked much higher coming out of HS. I also hope that Jamel blossom’s faster than Jonas did.

      We don’t have many spots left and the 5-stars are falling off the table (e.g., Hargreaves to FL). I hope we can get another couple of elite athletes in the 2013 class.

      • nudeman - Jul 29, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        This guy could be a real steal
        He had a down junior year; sounds like he got a little heavy
        But the light has supposedly gone on, he’s recommitted and in shape
        It’s likely he could knock it out of the park this year and get a 4th star

        And by the time he’s an ND soph, could easily have another 15 lbs of muscle on him

  18. goirishnd - Jul 29, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Anyone have a definitive answer on how tall Golson is? Big difference between being 5’9 and being 5’11 3/4. With his quick release, athleticism, and HS numbers he should’ve been a consensus 4/5 star with decent height. I’m worried he’s like 5’8.

    • bernhtp - Jul 29, 2012 at 8:23 PM

      Golson’s profile from HS (Rivals, ESPN, etc.) says 6’0″ 172, but this is an exaggeration, politely put. He appears to be in the 5’10-11″ range and I didn’t see any obvious weight gain when I saw him up close at the BG game. He was a consensus 3-4 star.

  19. ravenseattheirownpoop - Jul 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Get er done!!

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