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Weekend catch-up: Schmidt earns scholarship (and more)

Jun 10, 2013, 5:41 PM EST

Notre Dame Purdue Football

We’re a week away from freshman reporting to summer school — finalizing the assembly of the 2013 Fighting Irish football team on campus and beginning offseason workouts. Across the country, guys like Greg Bryant and Jaylon Smith say goodbye to home and high school and prepare to go from All-Everything recruits to freshmen football players, a harrowing transition to be sure.

We’re going to spend the next week or two looking at the freshman class, examining the floors and ceilings for each newcomer, if only to memorialize how bad we are at predictions. But before we get to that, let’s run through a few headlines that caught my eye this weekend:

***

Congratulations are in order for linebacker Joe Schmidt. The six-foot, 225-pound junior linebacker from Southern California earned a scholarship for the upcoming 2013 season and will be a part of the Irish’s 85-man allotment.

Schmidt’s story is a great one –he was a recruited walk-on that turned down other opportunities to come to South Bend and compete. Undersized from the get-go, Schmidt was a highly productive player at Orange County powerhouse Mater Dei, where he was teammates and best friends with USC quarterback Max Wittek. Schmidt played in ten games last season, appearing primarily on special teams, making six tackles.

Congratulations poured in across social media, with guys like Danny McCarthy, Chris Salvi, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Eilar Hardy, Kyle Brindza, Nicky Baratti, Romeo Okwara and Stephon Tuitt all publicly congratulating Schmidt.

Schmidt’s post on Twitter likely said it all: “I am so blessed. Thank you God thank you God thank you God.”

***

Another Irish football player received quite an honor this week when wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. was drafted in the 36th round by the Detroit Tigers. Hunter, who is set to enroll in summer school in the coming weeks and begin workouts with Irish strength coach Paul Longo and trainer Rob Hunt, is still recovering from a freak accident at the US Army All-American Bowl, where he broke his femur.

Hunter, the son of baseball All-Star Torii Hunter, was regarded as an elite two-sport recruit, and was drafted by the Tigers even after sitting out his senior season rehabilitating his broken leg.

The elder Hunter was excited for his son.

“It’s just awesome, man,” Hunter told MLive.com. “This is my dream, I don’t know what his dream is. I know he loves baseball and football. One day, he’s going to pick and choose. It might be tomorrow, we don’t know.”

The chances of Hunter signing as a 36th round draft pick are incredibly slim, with the Tigers needing to pay far, far above the recommended signing bonus to get the Notre Dame commitment to walk away from a full-ride scholarship.

When healthy, Hunter is expected to spend time with the Irish baseball team as well.

***

It’s clear Eddie Vanderdoes won’t be playing football for Notre Dame next season. Headed to UCLA, Notre Dame’s unwillingness to release Vanderdoes from his National Letter of Intent spurred an angry column from CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel.

Here’s the gist of Doyel’s work:

The system is broken, and not by accident. It’s broken on purpose. The system allows coaches like Brian Kelly to switch schools as they please — and for more money — but players who want to switch schools are at the mercy of those same coaches. Because the system sucks.

But Notre Dame doesn’t have to follow the system. Notre Dame, leader that it considers itself among institutions of higher learning, could refuse to follow along. It could allow the system to work for an 18-year-old high school senior, but it won’t. Notre Dame is playing hard ball with five-star recruit Eddie Vanderdoes, which means Notre Dame is part of the problem.

So it’s not just the system that sucks. For playing along with the system, Notre Dame sucks too.

Visceral language, right? You offended?

Be offended. Know what offends me? That a school like Notre Dame, and a coach like Brian Kelly, would stick it to an 18-year-old kid like Eddie Vanderdoes.

Doyel’s column earned its fair-share of criticism, none more comprehensive than this take by our friends at Her Loyal Sons. (It probably would’ve helped Doyel’s case to at least know that Florida State is going through a similar situation.)

Doyel followed that up with another short column — stoking the flames, while rightfully calling out some members of the lunatic fringe on Twitter, who have said some embarrassing things on behalf of the football team they cheer for.

CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman added to the ever evolving storyline by reporting that an appeal for Vanderdoes’ immediate eligibility will be made based on an extenuating family heath crisis. UCLA’s Scout.com affiliate has reported that to be Vanderdoes’ grandmother.

Any petition that’s still in motion is coming behind two previous attempts to gain immediate eligibility. While arguing the merits of the National Letter of Intent is an exercise in futility, it is worth mentioning that Vanderdoes has already had his appeal rejected not just by Notre Dame, but by the NLI Review Committee, according to this report.

Whether Vanderdoes’ motive are genuine or UCLA tampered with a recruit, it will all come to light in due time.

Still, it’s likely a fruitless request, but here’s hoping people that take to social media to harass a student-athlete (or journalist) find something better to do with their time. Until then, everybody show just a little bit of respect and life will go on.

  1. dudeacow - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    READ THE HLS ARTICLE IT IS HILARIOUS!!!!!!! er, I mean, it’s kinda insightful.

    • tedlinko - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      I was literally falling out of my chair by the end.

  2. irishaggie - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    I have heard this phrase so many times lately “coaches can jump any time they want, why cant the players do the same?”

    This isn’t even comparable. Im sorry. When you say this it makes me sigh with frustration and think how simple minded some people are. When you are a coach the university employs you. Just like any other job in America, you can quit any time you want (of course contracts will be accounted for) or you can get fired. Coaches are grown men with families, they take the responsibility of the program, most have matured (notice i said most because Lane Kiffin brings down the ratio). Students are not employed by the school. They have no responsibility on themselves other than passing. The QB wont be expelled for going 6-6, the coach will. And MOST importantly these kids are not mature. Give these kids the option to transfer without penalty and you have no idea the mess it would become. Not to mention coaches would be recruiting college freshman and sophomores. If people had more perspective everything would be more clear.

    • domer2003 - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:43 PM

      More than that, in most cases the coaching change occurs before LOIs are submitted, given recruits a chance to evaluate their option. That definitely happened at Penn State in wake of Paterno, and I believe it happened at Ohio State as well, though I don’t fully remember. Point is, the analogy is way off.

  3. irish4006 - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    On life going on – is anyone still thinking 2014 should be a smaller recruiting class? I questioned the original thinking that it would likely be a 18 member class and was promptly (and redundantly)reminded of the 85 scholarship rule. I am not recommending oversigning, but EV, Golson, Kiel, Neal, Ferguson (the list goes on) are the reasons why we should always plan for 20+ recruits in any class.

  4. bernhtp - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Grandmother having health issues? I wonder what percentage of 18 year-old kids that applies to? Like 80%?

    Please! Notre Dame wants real men. Men that are committed. Men who play football when their grandmother dies, when their girlfriend gets cancer, when she later dies, and then he even plays again when she reemerges following her harrowing escape from drug dealers.

    That excuse might work elsewhere, but not at Notre Dame.

  5. bjc378 - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    UNRELATED QB QUESTION:

    There was talk of getting a transfer in at QB? Did that ship sail? Was that ever serious talk? Is there still hope that Rees will be beat out by some transfer until EG comes back?

    Thanks

    • dudeacow - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:58 PM

      Wes Lunt was considering ND.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      Matt Levecchio

    • papadec - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      Keith or anyone else – when the Golson story broke, espn was also listing Charlie Fiessinger as a ND QB. I know someone else asked, at another post here, around that time about Charlie. I just checked the roster @ und.com – sure enough, there is a Charlie Fiessinger on the roster. 6’1″, 185 #, Junior, limited play in 2012 – (vs Wake Forest). So what’s the story on Charlie?

      • tedlinko - Jun 11, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        Story is he’s a walk-on. He came to take a few snaps in the blowout vs. Wake. He’s a good guy but not the answer at QB for the Irish.

  6. dudeacow - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Unrelated, but some of you may find this helpful. I’d say there’s about 8/9/10 spots left in the #GoldenArmy14, class so here are the top recruits left on ND’s board:

    QB: Brandon Dawkins or DeShone Kizer–#23 and #15. Dual threat, athletic QBs. 4-star grade for both. Watch Dawkins’s video on Hudl (http://www.hudl.com/athlete/995051/brandon-dawkins), especially towards the end. Both are tall. Wild card: Jacob Park #12.

    RB: N/A. Wild card: Nathan Starks #6.

    WR: Mark Andrews–#11. Very tall, great speed for his height. VERY high on ND’s board. Teammate is Kyle Allen, #1 QB and Texas A&M commit. Not a package deal. Wild card: Corey Holmes #33, Michiah Quick #1.

    TE: Tyler Luatua– #2 TE, top three of USC, Alabama, and USC. The prospect of continuing the legacy of Tight End U may sway him. Wild card: Matt Nelson #12, Dalton Schultz #1.

    OL: Braden Smith– #2 OT, #6 player overall, most athletic player in this class. Would make for a crazy good 2 year offensive line haul (8 four stars, 2 five stars). Top three of Texas A&M, TCU, and ND. Wild card: Damien Mama #11.

    DL: Khairi Clark–#2 DT, same size as Eddie Vanderdoesn’t. Have to beat out Miami. Wild card: Josh Frazier #5.

    LB: Richard Yeargin III–#12 OLB, used to be a three star, but his stock rose after just about everyone offered him. Versatile. Wild card: Raekwon Mcmillan #5 MLB.

    CB: Nick Watkins–#8. Shut-down corner. Favored to commit to ND. Wild card: Adoree Jackson #3.

    S: JuJu Smith–#1, very athletic, arguably best playmaker in this class. Barely favored to commit to ND. Lives in Southern California. Wild card: Darius West #20.

    ATH: Allen Lazard–#8 athlete. 6′ 5″, 202, 4.5 40. Plays wide receiver and safety. Rivals has him as the #1 WR. Committed to Iowa State, but taking a trip to ND. Wild Card: N/A.

    • dudeacow - Jun 10, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      All rankings are courtesy of Scout, except Allen Lazard, who I used 247 Sports’ Composite Ranking.

    • mtflsmitty - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      Thanks, Dude. Appreciate the effort and insight.

  7. dudeacow - Jun 10, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Most likely to commit to ND, courtesy of 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball:

    93% Nick Watkins

    92% Brandon Dawkins/DeShone Kizer

    75% Corey Holmes

    45% Darius West

    40% Braden Smith

    36% John Smith

    25% Matt Nelson

    23% Tyler Luatua

    18% Mark Andrews

    12% Nyles Morgan

    • papadec - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      dude – looks like you put a lot of time & effort into gathering & posting that info – thank you.

  8. irishdodger - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    I love how these self righteous bleeding hearts, like Doyel, refuse to consider both sides & all the facts before making a snap decision. Doyel fancies himself as an edgy columnist and loves to play the “man vs. the system (NCAA)” angle. He also is smart enough to realize that if he waits for the facts to come out, his article will be old news b/c it won’t be as inflammatory.

    Call me cynical, but what proof have we seen that UCLA hasn’t tampered by relentlessly recruiting EV since LOI day? Was EV’s trainer trying to get hired by ND? Did he take a gig at UCLA that would lead to suspicion of a quid pro quo? UCLA is roughly a six hour drive from EV’s home. I don’t know where his grandmother lives but if she is truly ill, he can only transfer to a school w/in 100 miles of her residence. Something tells my if she doesn’t live w/in that area she is about to relocate.

    • papadec - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      dodger – to a ucla alumni owned condo/nursing home/assisted living facility in L.A.?

  9. mtflsmitty - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Don’t sweat it Dodger. Anytime a young, under-employed journalist can take a swing at ND he’s likely to increase readership 1,000%. It’s not a real effort to take a well balanced look at the issue. If you need any proof of Doyle’s credentials as a writer just take a gander at this line from the excerpt:

    “Visceral language, right? You offended?”

    Apparently, the good folks over at CBS Sports want to eliminate linking verbs (like, “are”) along with the NLOI process.

    This is the sort of trash talk that really just kicks the crap our of my B12 and SEC friends. Burn!!!!!!! Not.

  10. yaketyyacc - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    I’m not going to waste space on Doyle or Vandersoesn’t. we’ve been hit below the belt before. let’s concentrate on the likes of Schmidt and the freshmen who are coming to campus in the heat of the summer; studying and working out to give us the best they can. these young men are anxious to get going, the “Irish Mob”.
    and, in spirit of compassion and understanding, we all hope that Vanderdoesn’t’s grandmother overcomes her ingrowing toe nail, and recognizes her grandson’s fraudulent interest and sacrifice for her welfare. and I wasn’t going to waste space. just trying to catch up to Vanderdoesn’t.
    Thank God, we have the like of Schmidt. Go Schmidt and Irish Mob. Go Irish!

  11. gtizzo - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Keith it is very simple Doyel is an idiot,

    First and foremost Doyel doesn’t care about EV or any other recruit. SI.com had a similar article and call the “letter of intent” the “worst contract in America”. Doyel wants players to be treated like coaches because he wants them paid like coaches. Coaches and players and totally different and should be treated different. There is no market for high school players. There have been 100 Eddie Vanderdoes type players, there is one every recruiting class. Some kid somewhere is going to get a high rating at defensive tackle it happens every year. Coaches have a market because schools will pay up for good coaches. Take the Bret Bielema going from Wisconsin to Arkansas. This isn’t an upgrade this is, at best, Bielama is moving sideways. Wisconsin doesn’t pay assistant coaches enough, so when they get a better offer they move on. Arkansas will help Bielema keep good assistants around. All programs lose players, it is just when a kid leaves Notre Dame it is front page news.

  12. irishdog80 - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Congratulations to Joe Schmidt! If it wasn’t for situations like the Eddie Vanderdoes saga, players like Schmidt would not be able to get a scholarship and on the 85 man roster. Well deserved!

    It almost seems like every year, there is the designated “I am going to screw Notre Dame recruit.” On the surface, you almost wonder if they and their consorts planned the whole process for maximum impact when they turn their backs on ND. Recent examples include Vanderdoes, Greenberry, Darby, Martin, the list goes on and on. The net result from all those defections? Notre Dame marches on and all those players miss out.

    We all tend to fall “in love” with the possibilities of 4 and 5 star recruits just like they fall in love with Notre Dame. Remember that for the defectors it is just an infatuation. Most of these players will have decent to possibly nice careers and be forgotten at another school. It is the players that stay commited to ND that will be remembered and become part of Notre Dame lore.

    Go irish! Beat Temple!

  13. 1historian - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Q: 3 days ago – how many of you had ever heard of Doyel?

    Not many, I would venture.

    But now – Doyel has people all over the country, maybe the damn world saying his name.

    Mission accomplished

    • papadec - Jun 11, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      If it wasn’t for this item by Keith – I still wouldn’t have heard of him. 3 days from now, I won’t remember him. Hell – I had forgotten his name until I read your post. Just another ND hater – hating ND. He’s lost in the crowd. I do recall an item @ espn, before the ND announcement on EV, that many institutions & ADs were very interested in how ND & FSU would handle their respective situations. Big news on the ND resolution. FSU?

      • 1historian - Jun 11, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        Should I

        1) apologize or
        2) say “I told you so!!!!?

        Would both be good enough?

  14. schuey73 - Jun 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Assuming it is actually his Twitter account, it looks like DeShone Kizer just gave his verbal to ND. Awesome!

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