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The road to 85

Jan 22, 2013, 2:58 PM EDT


It’s a dead sprint for Brian Kelly and his staff. Two years of hard work identifying, evaluating and developing relationships with recruits hits the home stretch, with the Notre Dame staff doing its best to finalize a recruiting class that’s expected to be one of the best in the nation.

Finishing off that class is the first key part of roster management for the 2013 season. With 22 commitments in the ’13 class, including five student-athletes already enrolled, any additional recruits joining the 2013 class will likely determine how many fifth-year players the Irish welcome back for next season.

Some early answers will likely come this weekend, when the Irish host one of their biggest late season recruiting weekends of recent memory. Difference makers like defensive end Kyle Fitts, linebacker Deon Hollins, wide receiver Sebastian LaRue, tight end Durham Smythe, and five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes will all be on campus. So will five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith, who reportedly is coming to down to help with the sales pitch. Add in an impending visit from linebacker Torrodney Prevot the weekend before Signing Day, and how the Irish fill their 25 man allotment will be incredibly interesting.

Reading the tea leaves, we can start to get a handle on the fifth-year candidates that might return. Let’s roll through the roster and look at all the options:

Cierre Wood, RB — Declared for NFL Draft.
Tyler Eifert, TE — Declared for NFL Draft.
Jake Golic, TE — Not expected to return.
Chris Watt, LG — Expected to return.
Zack Martin, LT — Announced return for fifth year.
Tyler Stockton, DT — Not expected to return.
Dan Fox, LB — Expected to return.
Carlo Calabrese, LB — Expected to return.
Nick Tausch, K — Not expected to return.
Jamoris Slaughter, S — Appealing NCAA for a sixth year.

It’s worth noting that last year, surprising defections like Ronald Darby and Deontay Greenberry likely effected the decision making on the fifth year candidates, with a guy like Dan McCarthy the recipient of a bonus season of football because of it, and Chris Salvi earning a scholarship as well. The official announcement for fifth years came in late March, when the Irish were set to kickoff spring practice.

While some wonder if the Irish can afford to bring back five players — with Slaughter’s appeal seeming less than likely after news that his original request was denied — any decision will be made after the faxes are in on Signing Day. There are log jams at positions (quarterback, safety) that might create a transfer situation. There are lingering health concerns (Tate Nichols, Matt Hegarty) that contributed to some roster uncertainty as well.

It’s all part of the high wire act elite programs walk as they maximize their 85 scholarships, something Notre Dame is finally in a position to do after replenishing a roster that had holes and deficiencies dating back to the Willingham era. The Irish will never be a program that oversigns, a strategy that’s led to dominance by the SEC over the past few years. But Notre Dame has until fall camp to get down to the number, so it’ll be worth watching as the roster numbers take shape.



  1. 4horsemenrideagain - Jan 22, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    I wonder if the NCAA, in all of its profound wisdom, has ever put together a task force to address the odious practice of over-signing/grey-shirting.

    For an organization that bills itself as an “Amateur Association,” the NCAA is surprisingly slow to deal with what can only be described as an unhealthy trend among powerhouses. Any ideas why the NCAA has been so hesitant to address this and issue some protective regulations to keep its “amateurs” from getting abused by this practice?

    • notredameirish1980 - Jan 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      Of course part of the problem is a lack of due diligence regarding eligibility by the schools involved. They accept commitments from players that will not qualify academically and then drop them from their rosters. How is A&M able to have 34 commits and still be recruiting?

    • dickasman - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      NCAA is like Obama, absolutely worthless…what do we expect?

  2. NotreDan - Jan 22, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    First off, GREAT post. Everyone says it’s sour grapes but if any SEC team even came close to the standards of ND, they wouldn’t even sniff the BCS.

    Second of all, I do have 3 ideas on why the NCAA won;t address it: 1) Money, 2) Power and 3) Money.

    • dickasman - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      No pooc? Usually it’s money, power and poo c!

    • ibleedirish - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:55 AM

      I know I’m a little late with the comment Dan, but I completely agree. When I first heard about the common practices of the SEC my first thought was how doesn’t the media know about this? My real disappointment came when I realized it was common knowledge and that they were ignoring this blatant advantage. Not to even mention what it does to these young men, who often lack the support system to point out that they are being sold down the river. The sports media is actively choosing not to report on this, and thats much worse than just not knowing.

      To echo a previous post of mine, ND and everyone else will continue to get crushed by the SEC as long as this is allowed. And I’m cool with it. I NEVER want to got there just to win a so called NCAA Championship.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:58 AM

        *go there

  3. pacific123ocean - Jan 22, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    I thought I read somewhere that the 6th year appeal for Slaughter was denied? Am I mistaken?

    • ndfi78 - Jan 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      It was, he is appealing

      • bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        Few appeals are successful. My guess is that there was insufficient documentation on the injury nature of his freshman redshirt.

  4. notredameirish1980 - Jan 22, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Based on the information I’ve seen elsewhere, if all 22 commits sign there would be 2 more scholarship slots available (assuming Martin, Watt, Calabrese and Fox come back and Slaughter’s appeal is denied).

    • ibleedirish - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      I for one wouldn’t be suprised if Calabrese and Fox don’t get asked back. Assuming the existing 22 sign, the LB core gets a lot deeper, even minus Anzelone. I’d take Grace, Spond, Shumate, Okwara, Ishaq and Smith over Jersey Shore and Fox any day. Way more ability period. Pretty annoying at times watching Fox get burned in coverage (I know, he tries hard) and watching guys run around Calabrese non-stop. Excited to see Jarron Jones and Okwara get some time next year. And if we get Vanderdoes and Fitts? Scary D for a few years.

      • dickasman - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM

        Lololol…jerseyshore. Bleeder, I agree! Carlo should graduate and work for papa johns already. He’s too slow!

      • papadec - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:24 PM

        I like Carlo – he brings attitude, he’s got family, and he’s got his buddy’s back.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        Watch it, Carlo has people.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        Yikes, you’re right. I’ve already said too much.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        Yikes, you’re right. I’ve already said too much.
        I’ll be sleeping with the fishes…

  5. bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Oversigning is just a symptom of lack of commitment to the student athlete. They grayshirt players until they make room on the roster. Players that underperform effectively get cut – told to transfer, flunked out, conversion of scholarship via medical hardship, drop out, etc. They get to reuse all of these scholarships and thus gain the ability to oversign.

    My belief has always been that the basic scholarship system should be changed. Don’t allow the reuse of scholarships regardless of reason. Only let colleges grant 85 (or 90) total scholarships in the four-year window looking backward. If kids drop out, transfer, get injured, etc., that scholarship does not return until its four-year expiration from original grant. This type of change would dramatically limit most of the nefarious practices that the SEC is famous for. It would give incentives for coaches to commit to the student’s success, academic, athletic, and otherwise.

  6. schuey73 - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Someone help me out here. Jaylon Smith tweeted today that he will wear #9 at ND. How can he do that if Louis Nix already has it? Doesn’t that mean they both couldn’t be on the field at the same time? That seem highly unlikely.

    • dmac4real - Jan 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      Louis Nix could change his number…..To #1.

    • 1notredamefan - Jan 22, 2013 at 6:07 PM

      Yea that is the rumor, Nix would switch to #1 since he had no real preference to begin with. He wore #9 If I remember correctly to honor Kyle Rudolph…. or something of that nature..

      • dickasman - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        Nix should switch to 69 and wear it loud and proud! hes a funny cat right? I dunno, He looks like a 69 to me.

      • bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:35 PM

        He’s big enough to rate a three-digit number.

  7. elwaysmilehighdenver - Jan 22, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    The South Bend Tribune is reporting that this weekends recruit visits have been canceled. They are reporting that the nd
    football team is a hoax. Students need not visit.

    • dickasman - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      Tell that to me on Facebook or twitter and ill believe you. Not on this board son, no sir! on this board we are way smarter than Mantits. Have you ad any of the comments on here? Uh huh, get that $hit outta here!

    • 1historian - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      a week late and about a million dollars short

      your season ended 10 days ago

      have a nice day

    • tony34343434 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      what is a hoax is Denver being the one seed in the playoffs!!! they are out, out, out!!

  8. borromini - Jan 22, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    BGI/247 has posted that Sebastian LaRue will not make this weekend’s trip.

  9. dickasman - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    Guys, which of these incomers are fit to crack the starting line up? I’d love to see a hard hitting ball hawking safety back there. I hope red fields the guy!

    Will jaylon smith crack the starting line up?

    • bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      Smith won’t take the starting job from Spond. Danny has experience and played really well this year, but I bet Jaylon gets into the 2-deep and gets significant playing time. He’s too talented to keep off of the field.

      Safety will be interesting. Motta’s spot is up for grabs and Farley will need to fight for his. Besides the incoming Redfield, you have a long list for these spots: Collingsworth (back from injury), Shumate, Barrati, Prosise, Turner and Badger. Safety is traditionally a tough position to come in cold, though Farley proved otherwise. I would be surprised if Redfield didn’t get snaps pretty quickly. He’s really good.

    • stedward - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      If Jaylon Smith really is one of the top recruits/players in the country I think it would be a huge mistake to keep him off the field. I’ll let our coaches figure that out.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:02 AM

        I think its really about the elevated speed of the game. As with any freshman, if he adapts quickly to it he will play. If not (more likely) he won’t.

  10. dickasman - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    Keith, where did you get the umber 85? Couldn’t you have picked a better number like 69 and make us all warm n fuzzy after the stressful week we had?

    • 1historian - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      rich – you’re grasping here dude,

      Take a few days (weeks?) off and come back with that razor-sharp wit we all love so much

  11. dutch31 - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Check the numbers. Carlo and Fox ( who were never on the field together) had 112 tackles. Teo had 113. Teo had a grand total of 5 more solo tackles.

    It’s not Calabrese fault that he would be on the field covering a slot receiver on 4th and 10 against Purdue. Calabrese was great in short yardage and goal line situations. Check out the goal line stands.

    So to say ND should stay under 85 scholarships just to not take them back is flat out stupid. Injuries are part of football. You can never have too much depth.

    • bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      I can’t imagine not taking Fox and Carlo back. We won’t have any freshman that can play at their level. Manti wasn’t as good his freshman year, and both of them should be better this year.

    • ibleedirish - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      Who said stay under 85? I’m saying I’d trade two 5 star freshman defensive players for The Situation and Fox if it came down to it. They are both easily replaceable with the talent already on the team in my opinion.

      To clarify, I’d never be ok with pulling a Saban and dumping a kid before their 4rth year. I never want to go there even if it means getting our asses stomped by the SEC every year. But this is a 5th year of scholarship we are talking about. They should already have their degrees. And hey, if we don’t have the opportunity to sign extra 4-5 stars, then welcome Pauly D and Danny back with open arms.

  12. irishinmich - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    You’ve got to love J. Smith rolling in to show the boys around. If they lock down Vanderdoes’ verbal this weekend, this will be (assuming everyone’s faxes arrive) the best haul in my memory. With Tausch probably not returning, does that make Brindza the punter too? Still laughing at the “Jersey Shore” crack up top. Hahaha!

  13. dutch31 - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    First off Shumate not a linebacker and Jarron Jones is a D lineman. Schumate will compete at corner ((slot corner) or safety. I thought Farleys play slipped as the season went on. Need to have open competitions in the Spring

    D line is where we need the most help. When we had to go to Springman and Schwenke there was a noticeable drop off. Which was a lot in the BCS game with Kaps injury on the 2nd play and Chocolate being gassed 3 plays into the game.

    Also I have not seen Ishaq make an impact play in 2 years . Certainly wouldn’t count on him to put us over the top!!

    Go Irish

    • ibleedirish - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      First off dude, I know Jarron Jones isn’t a linebacker for gods sakes. I was commenting on the overall look of the defense for the next couple of years. Secondly, they absolutely used Shumate as a hybrid safety/outside linebacker very often in different packages. Similar to how they used Slaughter. But hey, thanks for the comment.

  14. dutch31 - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Jaylon Smith looks like a starting LB for sure. Expect him to find a spot.

    • bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

      He’s projected to play dog. I don’t believe he will beat out Spond, at least not at the beginning. He will get playing time, though.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM

        bern, I agree, I’ve read the same things about him playing the dog linebacker. Doesn’t it seem like a guy with that much ability needs to eat some quarterback for lunch though? I mean, its almost like it’d be a waste of talent to have him in coverage. But then again, I’m probably to caught up in highlight plays for my own good.

        • bernhtp - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:17 PM

          Jaylon certainly has ability in spades. He is more athletic than Spond, but coverage schemes, offense reads, and responsibilities will take a while to learn.

  15. dutch31 - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    Bern, I agree. Farley played well, but just seemed like he wore down as season went on. Just was not around the football as much later in the year. Should have 4 quality safeties heading into the opener.

    • bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      Farley will need to compete, but some of his problem late in the season was the hand injury where he had surgery. I really like the kid.

  16. dutch31 - Jan 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Spond can be moved around. I agree Spond brings a lot of good things But Smith stood out in that all star game he has immediate impact flashing on his helmet!

    What’s the word on Folston?? Bet ND asked him to consider D back I Csrlisle is as good as some say there is a log jam at RB

    • bernhtp - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      Shembo and Williams have cat locked up. Manti’s mike spot is only LB position up for grabs, but that doesn’t fit Spond very well.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        bern, any idea on who fills that mike spot? do carlo or fox slide over (if they are back) or is it a foregone conclusion that grace steps in? I fully recognize the good things fox/calabrese did this year, but I have to admit, the thought of them filling the will/mike linebacker spots scares the piss out of me. Team speed would take a nosedive.

        • bernhtp - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:14 PM

          Given that Manti was onfield approximately 100% of the time, his replacement is speculative and certainly will be highly competitive. My guess is that Grace, Councell and Calabrese are frontrunners, but anything can happen. Too bad that Anzalone didn’t make it because I think he could have had a share of the position by the end of the year.

  17. cpfirish - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    And what about our punt return game?? Can we please do a better job on that area. Wow.. I think we average .6 yards a return. Better field position is always a great thing.. Lol. I am not getting down on Neal at all but he looked lost out there. Anybody with any ideas there??

    • bernhtp - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      The depth in safeties, linebackers, and running backs will do wonders for special teams. These positions all will have an extra man or two of quality depth and these are the types of athletes that make special teams go. I expect a big uptick in ST performance.

      Oh, I’ll repeat my recommendation to make Hendrix the placekicking holder. He can run, he can throw, and he can keep the opposition honest. The “special” in special teams needs to stop being suggestive of the word special in Special Olympics.

  18. gtizzo - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Good to see some offensive linemen returning. I’m not to concerned if Slaughter can’t come back ND had a lot of youth in the secondary and Collinsworth and Lo Wood should help with depth. Fox and Calabrese returning should help secure the middle of the linebackers. The ND defensive won’t be the group they were last year, but should still be a very solid group. I would be very interest Keith if you did a depth chart before spring practice and then revisited it at the end of spring. Thank god we don’t have a QB debate going into next season.

  19. irish4me - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Dickassman: Nothing more pathetic than someone at the party that thinks they’re funny and they aren’t. Give it a rest, no one believes you’re an Irish fan and the humor isn’t the “A” material you think it is.

    • 1notredamefan - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:15 PM


      • 1historian - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:30 AM

        As i said – he seems to need a few weeks off because he has definitely lost his edge – then he can return once again to regale us with his incisive wit and cutting edge humor.


  20. 1notredamefan - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    actually think he is that USC fan from about 2 years ago that was always pushin buttons until we beat them that year… I remember he said his dad was a ND fan. Dick or nude are my opinion to that likelihood

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