Alex Bars

Irish receive commitment from blue-chip OL Alex Bars


The future depth chart along the offensive line for Notre Dame just received another star-studded name when Tennessee’s Alex Bars gave his verbal commitment to the Irish coaching staff. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound linemen picked Notre Dame over an elite offer list, turning down Michigan, Ohio State, LSU, Penn State and Stanford among a slew of other top programs.

Bars is following in his father’s footsteps, as his dad Joe played for the Irish from 1981-1984. But the sway of a family connection wasn’t the only thing factoring into the decision, as Bars has a brother on the offensive line at both Penn State and Michigan, two schools that recruited the four-star prospect heavily. Home state Tennessee made a huge push with Bars as well, as did Ohio State and Urban Meyer.

What most teams see in Bars is a very athletic big body, and a lineman that is showing technical skills to match. If Bars does actually measure out at 6-foot-6, that’s plenty of height to play tackle for the Irish, giving this recruiting class a nice combination of inside and outside players, with Quenton Nelson and Bars looking like tackles and Sam Mustipher and Jimmy Byrne profiling as guards.

With depth dangerously low along the offensive line at portions of this season, Brian Kelly, Chuck Martin and Harry Hiestand committed to restocking the cupboards. They’ve done so in fairly miraculous fashion. It’s still too early to know how well these players will develop, but from a recruiting profile point-of-view, here’s what the Irish have done so far, with one spot likely still open in the ’14 class for an elite target.

Offensive line recruiting ’13-’14
Hunter Bivin
Steve Elmer
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
John Montelus
Alex Bars
Jimmy Byrne
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson

The only lineman in that group that didn’t garner four stars from Rivals was Colin McGovern, who was good enough to get an offer from Nick Saban and Urban Meyer.

Bars announced his commitment on Twitter and also made probably the comment of record ($) to Irish Illustrated’s Jake Brown when discussing his decision:

“I thought about it real hard for like the last month,” Bars said. “Pressure started coming on and spots started filling up. I just realized that was the school for me.”

Those spots are now filled with four very highly rated linemen, and Bars the highest ranked player, currently No. 55 in the Rivals100. He’s the tenth verbal commitment in the Irish recruiting class.


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.