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Weekend notes: Recruiting, SEC title, HeIsManti

Nov 30, 2012, 7:41 PM EDT

Pittsburgh v Notre Dame Getty Images

For the first time in a long time, Saturday will be spent watching football for enjoyment’s sake. We’ll still have five weeks to break down either Alabama or Georgia, but just because this SEC Championship will be a bit more interesting to Notre Dame fans than usual, we’ll be live-blogging the proceedings tomorrow.

Joined by our buddies over at The Observer, we plan on hopping online and just hanging out. Consider it a three-hour chat session, where I’ll do my best to answer any/all questions on the Irish, the BCS Championship Game, and just about anything else. (Like Wreck-It Ralph, which I’ll be watching tonight.)

For those looking for some easy reading to take you into the weekend, here are a couple stories I thought were worth following.

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After getting a visit from Irish assistant Mike Denbrock, blue-chip defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes has decided to take an official visit to Notre Dame. At 6-foot-3, 305-pounds, Vanderdoes is one of the elite players in this recruiting class, and while he’s committed to the USC, the changes in the Trojans defensive staff — mainly the “retirement” of Monte Kiffin — have him checking his options.

While the Irish haven’t focused their recruiting efforts on a true defensive tackle in this class, Vanderdoes might be a terrific replacement for Louis Nix, who will likely exit Notre Dame after his senior year, forgoing a fifth-year of eligibility as his draft stock has continued to sky-rocket.

For those looking for some highlights of Vanderdoes in action, here’s a nice look at what he did during his junior season.

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With a nearly full bus in the ’13 recruiting class, many Irish fans are trying to make sense of the math. But if you’ve been keeping tabs on things, two recruits in particular are seeming less and less likely to be heading to South Bend.

Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated dig some digging on linebacker Danny Mattingly‘s recruitment. The lanky 6-foot-5, 225-pounder from Spokane has been taking official visits while still committed to the Irish, not usually a good sign for a player. With Pac-12 schools chasing hard, and Mattingly also interested in playing offense at the next level, Sampson caught up with Mattingly’s Mead High school Sean Carty.

“Something is going to happen in the next few days if it hasn’t already,” Carty told Irish Illustrated. “He’s just trying to make the best decision he can. I don’t press him very much on it.”

While Mattingly is an intriguing athlete, there are a few edge players that Notre Dame is still chasing, namely Al-Quadin Muhammad, that have Irish fans feeling a little better about the fall back plan.

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Meanwhile, as Notre Dame chases blue-chip, five-star running back Greg Bryant, you begin to wonder if it’s because Irish commit Jamel James has expressed interest in taking some official visits. While Brian Kelly and company don’t draw the hardline Charlie Weis and company did about visits, they have expressed displeasure in any of their recruits taking a look elsewhere, and reportedly have taken a “If you’re looking, we’re looking” approach to the situation.

That makes things interesting with James, a nice power back prospect from Texas, who would like to look at UCLA and Arizona State. As Christian McCollum of IrishSportsDaily.com reports, James is weighing that decision heavily, while also working on his grades, a point of emphasis for James from the Irish coaching staff.

The Irish have a few running backs at the top of their list so any decision James makes likely puts him in limbo, so this is a situation definitely worth following.

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I just mentioned it on Twitter, but if you are looking for something to do Saturday afternoon while watching the SEC Championship game, head on over here for a live-blog of the proceedings. Without a Notre Dame game to stress about, we might even keep things light and loose, and I’ll be answering any and all questions you might have on the Irish.

As usually, I’ll be joined by the crew at The Observer, and it should be a ton of fun.

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Lastly, Manti Te’o, fresh off his appearance with Dicky V during the Irish basketball upset of Kentucky, was on Dan Patrick this morning. As always, it was a good interview as Te’o talked about the team’s improbable run to the BCS title game, and how all this team’s hard work isn’t over yet.

Both front-runners for the Heisman Trophy visited with Patrick today, as Texas A&M finally let Johnny Manziel out, with his first discussions with the press coming this week after his breakout season.

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  1. bernhtp - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    Keep them coming Keith. We have five weeks without a Notre Dame football game and need our (multi) daily fix.

  2. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Nice job KA having the live blog tomorrow. I missed the one for the SC game…..went up to Hoboken for a game watch with some seriously crazy ND fans. There was bratwurst, beers and a great time was had by all. One thing was missing though, the live blog. It felt like I wasn’t getting the full game day experience. Will def be there tomorrow!

  3. heisenbyrg - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    I’ll be on the live blog too, Keith, but don’t be prepared for a relaxing evening. Be prepared to answer tough questions about the fiscal cliff, the Gaza strip, and Nick Saban’s emerging bald spot.

  4. irishdodger - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    I’ve written off both Mattingly & James. Mattingly wants to play TE & ND recruits have been quoted as saying they doubted James was coming to ND….grades may also be an issue.

    All the reputable Heisman prediction sites have Manziel winning the Heisman by a wide margin. That’s ok, I know he’d rather win a National Title….& he should still win the Butkus if he anti-ND press doesn’t totally screw him.

  5. kiopta1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Kelly and crew are aiming to hit some home runs in recruiting before the Nat Champ game. Also getting in with some elite junior prospects. Success breeds success. Regardless of how this game ends…I think Coach has set up a process and recruiting that will bring ND consistent victories and championship contention.

  6. mtflsmitty - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Dead Poet Society. Wow. I never heard that story. Was moving for sure.

    There are plenty of wonderful players on and off the field who are never really recognized. And there are those who God gifted with amazing athleticism, but frankly lack good character off the field, but still receive the accolades. Manti may not with The H, but I’m so glad such a fine young man is being recognized. He reminds me of a young Dick Asman, a man of uncompromising goodness and character. :)

    • papadec - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      smitty – surely you jest?

  7. irishbornraised - Dec 1, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    So, turns out there’s a reason Manziel jumped Te’o in the Heisman vote. You can actually vote more than once a day, which they figured out and we’re just catching on to. You have to clear you whole history, including your cache and cookies, and then reclick the link (not just refresh) and you can vote as much as you want. Get Manti back where he belongs!

  8. 9irish - Dec 1, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    Just saw that Monte Kiffin is stepping down as USC def co-ordinator. Ouch. Notre Dame is at such a high level now, it’s nice (not in a mean way, just factual) to see so many of these major programs that are just in a state of confusion.

    It’s so funny…it’s like watching the 1960s Green Bay Packers or something, with ND. Such low scoring games (we need to pick up the offense!) But they said that against Oregon USC scored 51 pts…and lost. That’s not right.

    Good old hardcore football. I’ll take it any day.

    Go Irish.

    • papadec - Dec 1, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      9irish – “stepping down”? I guess that’s the PC term for the AD (Haden) cleaning house – ’bout time!

      • 9irish - Dec 1, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        yeah, I know…maybe “under pressure” would be appropriate. This might turn into the man on the grassy knoll type of thing

  9. mimefrog - Dec 1, 2012 at 8:14 AM

    This is a welcome rest. My defibrillator needed a cool down.

  10. yaketyyacc - Dec 1, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    the old saying,”what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” sums up the schedule for Notre dame in 2012. watching the Pac 12 Championship game, highlights just how good our Irish are.
    There’s a new sheriff in town pard’ner, and he wears an ND on his badge.
    The Irish are coming!

  11. 9irish - Dec 1, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    • NotreDan - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:11 AM

      Great video!

    • seadomer - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:52 PM

      Correction, other than BC and Wake
      All the other 10 teams that ND beat are bowl eligible except Miami (7-5) that chose not to

  12. nudeman - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Keith
    Great article. Would love to see more on recruiting as we go through the doldrums the next few wks

    There are varying opinions on James
    Some say he’s no big loss, if he does go elsewhere, and there are RBs like Bryant who’d be better anyway
    Others say he’s a potential Ray Zellars type runner, or “Bettis light”; a 230 lb beast who can take over a game in the 4th qtr and practically run the clock out all by himself. I love those type of RBs

    But the other part of what’s going on sounds like academics.
    Reading between the lines it sounds like there are concerns about his ability to either gain admission or cut the mustard once he’s at ND
    Probably the most interesting recruiting story to watch

    • bernhtp - Dec 1, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      I haven’t checked, but my guess is that they’re getting more strict with academics after the Shepard debacle last year, and are less inclined toward academic stretches with as many options they have now.

      • papadec - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        bern – as well they should!

  13. nchdomer - Dec 1, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    Just saw Alabama beat Georgia. They look very tough but not invincible. Looking forward to the inevitable stories about the 1973 Sugar Bowl and 1975 Orange Bowl games between ND and Alabama. Almost forgot how much fun it is when ND really is in the hunt for the National Championship.
    Many people tell me that they will be cheering for the Irish even though they generally are not fans of ND. Apparently, so I am told, years of mediocrity have softened the ND fan and we are no longer perceived as arrogant – more like the plucky underdog we once were under Rockne. Not sure how accurate this is but it was an interesting perspective to hear.

  14. mediocrebob - Dec 2, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    All of my friends still think we’re arrogant. I love it though BC most of them are Buckeye fans. Doesn’t get more arrogant than that fan base generally speaking.

    • 9irish - Dec 2, 2012 at 7:24 AM

      Man, don’t get me started on that one! I know that when the Irish win this thing everyone in Ohio (well the OSU fan part) is going to be saying, “Yeah well, we would’ve beat them if we weren’t on probation!” Dial 1-800-555-WAAH

  15. irishadrian - Dec 2, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I’m tired of Mattingly already and James, I think he’s a liability academically anyway. Focus on the guys that are here and recruits that want to be here and we don’t have to kiss anyone’s butt in recruiting anymore. Just think what Darby (he looks terrible in that FSU uniform and played lousy last night), Greenberry, Shephard, Prestwood, and Lynch must be thinking right now, in 5 weeks they could be playing for the NC.

    Alabama looks suspect defensively, ND will move the ball on them especially thru the air. They certainly can run the ball though and I think that is the key matchup for this game and can ND stop the run and make them beat us thru the air. Georgia was weak up front all year and I can’t imagine ND will be that bad against the run in the NC game. Got to give Georgia credit for almost winning the game though. I don’t think Alabama is an elite team this year and I like our chances and I think the SEC had a down year. They don’t play everybody every year, they might only play 2 really good teams each year and this is the first time Georgia and Alabama played in 5 years. Alabama played 3 good teams this year and almost lost to LSU, lost to A&M, and almost lost to Georgia…..Go Irish ! 31-17.

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