Skip to content

Tuesdays with BK: One last time at Notre Dame

Nov 13, 2012, 7:18 PM EDT

Senior Day

With 26 seniors getting set to play their final game in Notre Dame Stadium, you could understand if media members were less inclined to discuss the challenges Wake Forest present, but rather ask Brian Kelly what it’ll be like for guys like Manti Te’o and Tyler Eifert, All-American performers playing their final game at home.

But with the Irish at 10-0 and in the thick of a three-team race for two spots in the national championship game, Kelly wasn’t too eager to look back at the unexpected success of the 2012 season yet. And as Irish fans can remember from recent years, Kelly knows Senior Day is only special if it ends with the home team walking away with a victory.

“I told our team yesterday that certainly the most important thing is for them to get the proper perspective through the week. Kelly said. “What you’ll remember most is whether you win the game, not that it was your last home game.  So make sure that you keep the distractions to a minimum.  And if there is any emotion let that be after the game.  Let’s have the emotion after the game celebrating a great victory.”

As usual, you can watch the entire press conference in the video below. But I’ve clipped a few sections I found interesting as well.

***

Any worry about KeiVarae Russell‘s availability this weekend has been put to rest, with the freshman cornerback passing all hurdles for any concussion and being cleared to return to practice today. But as the Irish begin to prep for life without fellow (redshirt) freshman DaVaris Daniels, Kelly talked about the opportunities for John Goodman and Daniel Smith to step into the rotation.

For Goodman, it means finally being healthy enough to get on the field.

“He really hasn’t been healthy all year.  He’s battled a number of different ailments.  When we ask him to go in there, he’s the center of some big plays.  Obviously Michigan State and then of course Boston College,” Kelly said. “John has given us everything he has in his senior year.  He’s been a great teammate.  He’ll get a chance now to play a little bit more.”

Just a week or two after Kelly mentioned finding reps for Smith as a pass catcher and not a run blocker, that opportunity will come while Daniels’ collarbone mends, giving the South Bend native an opportunity to make plays via the pass on the edge of the offense.

Expect freshman Chris Brown to get some reps as well, with the freshman now the Irish’s only true deep threat with Daniels on the shelf. With Daniels gone until the bowl game, it might be an opportunity for Brown to run a few routes that don’t merely go vertical.

***

It’s difficult for a football coach to discuss recruiting during the season without running afoul of an NCAA rule or two, but Kelly talked about the advantages that come with a 10-0 record.

“It’s been a great year, there’s is no question. I will tell you that winning helps in recruiting,” Kelly said. “It also solidifies those commitments.  We have a number of mid‑year enrollees that obviously are very excited about the direction of the football program.”

Yet Kelly was also candid about his strategy forr this recruiting class, specifically the work he and his staff did putting together key pieces before Notre Dame ever hit the football field.

“There is no mistaking that that kind of success helps you in recruiting. Having said that, I think we had made great progress coming into the season where we had a number commitments already in place,” Kelly said. “I think the winning has obviously enhanced that and strengthened those commitments.”

It’s hard to quantify the importance of recruits like Steve Elmer and James Onwualu, guys that really carried the Irish flag for a long time, helping to build a recruiting class, and often times acting as recruiters themselves at national events. In an era where the spotlight continues to build as recruits take part in combines and showcases run by shoe companies or recruiting services, a key group of players — even if they don’t have five-stars next to their name — can do more for a staff than any letter an assistant coach can write.

Notre Dame has put together the perfect storm in recruiting, holding onto key commitments like Alex Anzalone and Jaylon Smith while continuing to set their cross-hairs on some elite national talents still available. That’s the kind of success you can have on the recruiting trail at a national school Notre Dame, but only if the product on the field matches up with the sales pitch in the head coach’s office.

***

Saturday will obviously be an emotional moment for Manti Te’o, who will hug his parents before he plays his final game in Notre Dame Stadium. Te’o talked about the effect Senior Day had on him last year, watching his teammates experience such a special moment with their parents and families, and how it played a large part in coming back for a final season.

With rumors swirling that Cierre Wood might be playing his final game and forgoing a fifth season of eligibility, and tough decisions coming for guys like Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt, Kelly talked about the decision Te’o made to return for a senior season, something that Tyler Eifert and Michael Floyd also did under Kelly.

“I think it’s important if you look at getting your degree and how important that is.  You know, it’s what, 2.5% of all college players play in the NFL.  Average career is 3.3 years,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a great case in point for a guy that understands and recognizes the value of a life versus a career. You know.  His life is set up because he’s got a degree from Notre Dame.”

Still, just because the decision made sense for Manti Te’o and Michael Floyd doesn’t stop guys like Jimmy Clausen, Kyle Rudolph, and Golden Tate from leaving early. And while Kelly had less of a relationship with the three Irish stars that went three-and-out from Notre Dame, success on the field, particularly for a guy like Stephon Tuitt, could make for some tough decisions. Kelly talked about how the culture of the Irish program may help keep kids on campus until they have their diploma.

“I think it’s beginning to become more pervasive within our program that our guys are here to get a degree first, and that the NFL calling will take its course,” Kelly said. “You’re not coming to Notre Dame because you’re going to hang your hat here a couple years to go to the NFL.  I don’t want to recruit that way. I want to keep that dream alive that you can have a career in the NFL, but the way I want team and program to be constructed is that you recognize the value of a degree and help your team win.

“Look, Manti doesn’t get any of those accolades unless this team is winning.  Help the team win, and then all the other things are in your grasp.  That’s what we’re hoping that this program is moving towards.”

***

  1. bendario - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    I thought Tuitt was not eligible for the NFL draft after this season as he’s only been out of high school for 2 years.

    • dudeacow - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:03 PM

      Yeah, he is a sophomore, but I’m sure Keith wouldn’t have had made a mistake like that. I just don’t know what he meant.

      • bendario - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:11 PM

        Maybe he meant Shembo.

      • dudeacow - Nov 14, 2012 at 10:21 AM

        Maybe, but I think that Shembo will come back next year. He’s having a breakout year this year and has the chance to become dominant next season and get drafted much higher.

    • dsharp86 - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:19 PM

      I assume Keith is talking about the future in reference to Tuitt.

  2. dudeacow - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    I’m glad Goodman will start his final home game. He is one of those guys that represents ND very well off the field. And as for Wood and Eifert, Wood would (haha) probably be the primaryish RB and Eifert would be the nation’s top TE (again).
    I’m prepared to watch Te’o have the best game of his career. HEISMANTI!!

  3. dermmite - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    Manit is a man amongst boys. He makes the University and all their fans proud. He may be the best (or one of the best) representitive ND football has ever had.

  4. 9irish - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    I think there are a lot of motivating factors for retention after this year, which is not a problem they normally have in the first place. They are looking at a serious run, including this year.

    Go Irish

  5. dutch31 - Nov 13, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    Tuitt only 2 years out of high school, can’t leave for another year. Hopefully Shembo and Nix will stay. I believe they will.

    • bernhtp - Nov 13, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      Keith’s talking about after next year for Tuitt. Nix could leave this year. NFL teams will salivate over both of them. I don’t expect either to leave prior to graduation, though I seriously doubt Nix will stay for a fifth.

      Kelly has been doing an amazing job bringing back the elite talent to graduate: Floyd, Te’o, Eifert. He indicates this is part of the culture he wants to continue, nurture, and recruit for. I believe him.

    • dickasman - Nov 14, 2012 at 12:10 AM

      I think I’d really be worried about nix given his family situation. I know he’s always talked about needing to take care of his family so I wouldn’t be shocked if nix left. I presume he’d be a first round pick, probably later than earlier. Wood probably should come back. I can’t see him going any higher than 3rd or 4th round.

  6. heisenbyrg - Nov 13, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    I heard Coach Kelly is leaving too. Sources tell me he will take the Boston College job after the USC game.

    • dickasman - Nov 14, 2012 at 12:12 AM

      Awesome! Is oleary available? Hopefully he’s cleared up his résumé by now.

    • irishbornraised - Nov 14, 2012 at 1:23 AM

      OH COME ON GUYS! IT WAS A JOKE!

      at least I really hope it was a joke….

      It was a joke right????

      • heisenbyrg - Nov 14, 2012 at 1:28 PM

        Yes, it was a joke. He’s actually leaving for Holy Cross.

  7. yaketyyacc - Nov 14, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    Thank you Seniors! A special thanks to Manti T’eo. Good luck to all of you in your life’s work.
    You have made all of us very proud to be a part of Notre Dame. Your work will be done on Sat at home. That is at home. I am sure you get my drift.
    Play hard tough and fast, and crush Wake Forest! THE IRISH ARE COMING!

  8. phillyj - Nov 14, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    Interesting to hear BK talk about the culture change that has taken place post-Charlie. I think ending the ND-as-springboard-to-the-NFL-only paradagim that was touted by CW in recruiting is the single most important change BK’s made since he was hired.

    • italianirish - Nov 14, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      In my opinion, winning football games is the most important change, but both are very good things :)

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!