Cole Luke

Faxes In: Cole Luke

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Notre Dame just made it official with one of the elite cornerbacks in the country, with Arizona’s Cole Luke sending in his letter-of-intent. Playing his high school ball for former Irish quarterback Steve Belles, the Irish held onto one of the West Coast’s premiere cover men. Let’s take a closer look at Luke.

Chandler, Arizona

Measureables: 6-foot, 165-pounds
Accolades: First-team All-State, AZ high school football coaches. First-team All-State, Phoenix Gazette. Four-star Rivals, 247, ESPN. Semper Fidelis All-American.
Impressive Offers: Michigan, Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas.
Projected Position: Cornerback

Quick Take: Versatile cover man who can do just about anything that Notre Dame will need from him. Needs to put mass on his frame, but great ball skills. Physically similar to KeiVarae Russell, only more natural at defensive back.

Notre Dame doesn’t beat Texas and Oklahoma for skill position players all that often. One of the stars of this recruiting class and one of secondary coach Bob Elliott’s favorite recruits ever. Nephew of former All-Pro NFLer Darren Woodson.

What it means for the Irish roster: Luke is another building block that also solidifies a position where the Irish are still in need of depth and talent. Even with Bennett Jackson and Russell returning to the starting lineup, the Irish believe there’s a chance for Luke to find his way into the secondary rotation quickly, especially with his speed and height. Right now he’s a willing tackler, but he’ll need to add 10-15 pounds to his frame.

Obligatory YouTube highlight tape: Here’s a look at Luke’s senior highlights from Hamilton High. If the Irish are looking for punt returners, it looks like they have another candidate.



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.