Naples News

Early Enrollees: Mike Heuerman


With Notre Dame skipping the tight end position in the last recruiting cycle and saying goodbye to All-American Tyler Eifert and reserve Jake Golic, adding numbers at the tight end position was a key in the 2013 class. With early enrollee Mike Heuerman, Notre Dame landed one of their early targets and another key building block at a power position for the Irish.

Naples, Florida

Measureables: 6-foot-4, 220-pounds
Impressive Offers: Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Ohio State
Accolades: Four-star recruit on Rivals, 247, ESPN and Scout. All-Area first-team defensive end by Naples Daily News. Ranked No. 8 tight end in country by
Projected Position: Tight End.

Quick Take: One look at Heuerman’s scholarship offers lets you know he’s an elite talent. That’s good because his numbers might not show you much. In a high school offense that transitioned to a Wing-T system, Heuerman only caught three balls his senior season, a year where he missed time after a tonsillectomy.

Still, projecting Heuerman’s skills was an easy task for the Irish staff. A strong junior season showed his ability to make plays down field. And a senior season where Heuerman also starred as a defensive end showed the disposition necessary to succeed at college. The Irish coaching staff beat out Urban Meyer and Ohio State among others, where Heuerman’s brother Jeff is the starting tight end. His father played basketball for Michigan before being drafted by the Phoenix Suns.

What it means for the Irish roster: Adding Heuerman early allows him to work with Paul Longo and put some weight on a 220-pound frame. It also gives him a shot to find his way in an offense that’s used the tight end creatively since Brian Kelly came to South Bend. After years of stability, the tight end position is in flux. Troy Niklas learned on the job last season. Alex Welch is recovering from a torn ACL, and Ben Koyack struggled in 2012. Somebody needs to step up and be the next big thing at a position that’s been dominant for almost a decade. Heuerman has some growing into his body to do, but he’s got the disposition and athleticism needed to play.

Obligatory YouTube highlight tape: These highlights are from Heuerman’s junior season:


Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.