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Weekend notes: Recruiting, position battles, and more

Jul 13, 2013, 3:58 AM EDT

247 Sports 247 Sports

It’s not all that surprising that a little snippet from Chuck Martin on the state of the quarterback depth chart would get the comments section churning. There’s no question that Tommy Rees is one of the more polarizing players we’ve ever discussed on this site. Love him, hate him, he’s the guy that’s going to start for the Irish. Call me a Rees apologist, and it’s certainly something I’ve been called in the past, but I don’t think there’s any question that a veteran quarterback with a ton of experience can get better — and play smarter — during his senior season.

Criticism for the way Rees has played in certain big games and against certain defenses is completely valid, though you get the feeling that a Chuck Martin led offense will be a bit different than the one that Charley Molnar implemented. Needless to say, we’ve got around 50 days to beat that topic into the ground, and then we’ll see what happens when things start counting for real.


Onward to a few notes of interest, and the first one being some moves up the board for some Notre Dame recruits that did some damage on the camp circuit. updated their big board and it’s filled with Irish recruits who had impressive summer seasons.

Two of the biggest movers were offensive lineman Quenton Nelson and wide receiver Justin Brent. Nelson’s rating shot up over 100 spots, catapulting him into the nation’s elite, with a ranking of 74th overall and the 6th highest rated offensive lineman in the country.

Nelson did plenty of impressing while at both the Rivals series camps and at The Opening in Oregon, and while he’s not going to get confused for a guy that’ll run past you (he clocked a 5.6 forty), he’s getting rave reviews for his physical nature and athletic ability.

Probably more impressive than Nelson’s jump was the coming out party for long-time Irish commitment Justin Brent. After impressing everywhere he went this summer, Brent is now the 63rd ranked player in the country according to 247. To put that into context, that’s a higher ranking than high profile targets like Sony Michel, Michiah Quick, and Allen Lazard, skill players coveted by Irish fans everywhere.

Lastly, while Rivals has always seen him as one of the elite players in the recruiting class, 247 has now seen the light on Elijah Hood as well. After blazing a 4.48 in the 40 at The Opening, and weighing a stout 222 pounds, it’s pretty clear that the Irish have a physical specimen coming in at running back next year. Passing camps and 7-on-7 tournaments aren’t the best place for a runner like Hood to impress, but matching his prodigious highlight tape with that type of speed answers some questions.

Quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive tackle Alex Bars and tight end Nic Weishar are also listed in the Top 247.


ESPN’s Mark Schlabach took a look at some of the most high profile position battles in college football and focused on the running back race in South Bend.

Here’s his take:

Running back: George Atkinson III vs. Amir Carlisle vs. Cam McDaniel vs. Will Mahone vs. Greg Bryant vs. Tarean Folston

Notre Dame’s running game took a lot of pressure off quarterback Everett Golson last season, but now the Irish will have to play without Golson, who is ineligible for the 2013 season, and leading rushers Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, who have departed. Atkinson, who ran for 361 yards and five touchdowns last season, seems to be next in line to start. He has good speed, but struggled with blocking and patience last season. Carlisle, a USC transfer, can’t stay healthy; he missed last season with an ankle injury and then broke his collarbone in the spring. Bryant, an incoming freshman, was ranked the No. 2 running back in the country by ESPN Recruiting Nation and had scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia and dozens of other schools.

Obviously, we’ve spent a few thousand more words talking about this, so we can understand the simplification of the scenario by Schlabach, one of the better guys out there covering the national beat.

That said, seeing patience and blocking being tagged to George Atkinson‘s name and injury concerns following a now healthy Amir Carlisle shouldn’t be surprising, especially when you’re looking at the program from afar. A breakout year for both players — and both doing a lot to prove the skeptics wrong — would be a huge step forward for this offense.

(Not mentioning Cam McDaniel should be some additional fuel for the Texas junior, who I think might be the best natural running back on the roster.)


If you were to read the tea leaves, the Irish might be close to getting another verbal commitment in the ’14 recruiting class. Fort Lauderdale wide receiver Corey Holmes has already visited South Bend four times and just got back from a trip to Los Angeles where he took a look at UCLA.

Just about every major recruiting service expects Notre Dame to be the pick when Holmes announces next week. If he does pick the Irish, they’ll be getting a long and lean wideout with good speed and the ability to go catch the football.

  1. papadec - Jul 13, 2013 at 4:17 AM

    Keith – what are you doing up & working at this time in the morning (even with the 3.0 hr time difference to the EDT)? You have a family – maybe shooting an insurance commercial.

  2. irishinmich - Jul 13, 2013 at 4:31 AM

    My thoughts exactly papadec! Haha Hey, at least we beat the trolls. QB situation, up to the minute recruiting info?……..Keith is getting focused! Bring on the amber leaves!

    Regarding TR, very comfortable with that kid. I still can’t help but think Hendrix will be getting more playing time then we all think. Where is the crew going to be for the Mich game again? I am 15 minutes from AA and would love to meet some of you jokers. (AA meaning Ann Arbor)

    • irishdrg1 - Jul 14, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      What is the best way to get tickets to any ND game :), its hard to get them here in Texas, thanks to anyone that can help

  3. yaketyyacc - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    loyalty is a great thing. BUT, all the loyalty in the world is not going to make a top quarterback out of tommy rees. again, we don’t hate him. but we realize that winning and rees do not go together. no matter how hard the Army tried to replace Patton, it knew he was a winner, and given the chance he proved it time and again. Zaire is Patton……

    • mtflsmitty - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Respectfully, I think you’re off the mark here, Yak. I also think ’11 was an extremely emotional year:

      – TR’s stats from ’11 are pretty decent by any measure. 65% completions. 24 TDs? is that right? A few too many INTs? Sure. But what I think most of us think about when we think of the TOs that killed is in ’11 are the goal line fumbles by our RBs run back for TDs at the most painful moments, and perfectly delivered passes hitting wide open receivers (TJJ) in the helmet on the goal line.

      – Our defensive backfield was also abysmal in ’11. Need any of us re-chronical the MI or USC games?

      – ’11 was TR’s sophomore season. Plenty of Top ND QBs grew a ton after their sophomore season. No one thought much of Montana when he was a sophomore.

      – Evernet Goldstein is by far a more dynamic QB. And I for one, am drawn to the eye candy of a dual threat QB. So I assign all sorts of credit for 2012 success to EG, and heap even bigger piles of blame upon TR for 2011. But there’s that little thing called DEFENSE that makes a huge difference in the way the OFFENSE plays the game. Just take a quick peek at the differences in D results between ’11 and ’12. It starts to round out the picture.

      – When opponents are dropping 9 defenders failure to adjust is on the coaches, not the QB.

      – Finally, BK freely admits that in ’10 & ’11 he changed what had been working for him the prior 20 years: He stepped back from day-to-day, hands-on control of the QBs. In 2012 he reverted back to what had always worked. I DO expect to see a huge leap in TRs effectiveness this year because he will have the benefit of BK’s daily and direct influence.

      TR is going to be a good QB for us, and I’m grateful to have a back up of his quality under center under the circumstances.

      Have a good weekend, everyone. Except FNC, that is. I hope you’re the victim of a freak lawn mower accident, thus, losing the use of your hands for the next several months.

  4. nudeman - Jul 13, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Keith, there is no single topic that is good for your business like Tommy Rees (with a NotreDan “vulva rant” a close 2nd).

    This will surprise some but I’m saying the guy has a decent year. Not spectacular, and he won’t be doing things he has never done before like running for 100 yards or throwing the deep ball. But I’m thinking he’ll be better at protecting the ball, and that by itself would be HUGE.

    Other predictions:
    – Bryant will see significant time. Maybe will supplant GAIII and maybe not. But he’ll play and play well
    – Zaire will play, mainly because they have to get him some snaps this year
    – Tuitt and Nix, if healthy all season, will be the Maris & Mantle of DL in all of CFB
    – Other frosh who will see significant time will include Redfield, Jaylon Smith and maybe Onwaulu.
    – TJ Jones will have a great year and challenge for team MVP. Very underrated player. Catches everything
    – Amir – For God’s sake kid, just stay healthy; it sounds like you’re electric.
    – Cam will remain a fan favorite but will do little to justify it. Some nice stuff here and there.
    – Hendrix will spend another year wondering “WTF”. Too bad. Supreme athletic talent but hasn’t developed as a QB
    – If Steve Elmer plays he’ll be awesome

    I retain the right to revise or even outright deny any of this

    • whodabigdog - Jul 13, 2013 at 8:44 AM

      Nudie I actually agree with every thing you said.
      Tommie will do fine I believe. The rbs will surprise alot of people and the D will be unbelievable.
      as for ndinmich I dont have tix yet buf still plan on going. I live 2 hours west of the big ho>le and dont mind the big drive. Go IRISH! Beat Temple! !!!!

    • gtizzo - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      Zaire will sit. Unless ND is in danger of going 0-12 (which won’t happen) Zaire sits. No reason to burn his red shirt unless the wheels are coming of the bus. Kelly sticks to the ground game (even if it is by committee) and the offensive line can stay health the Irish can win 10 games. Rees throwing the ball 40 times a game shouldn’t happen.

      • ndgoldandblue - Jul 14, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        I gotta’ disagree with you about Zaire, gtizzo. If Emmerset Ghoulstone hadn’t gotten suspended, I would say that there was no way BK would take the redshirt off Zaire. But now, everything’s changed. Zaire has to get some PT this year, even if it’s only in mop-up duty. Just imagine 2014 if he doesn’t.

        The Irish will have their choice between a quarterback who will not have taken a game snap in over a year, a redshirt freshman, and a true freshman. The obvious choice would be Guilesonne, but he could lose a lot, mentally and physically, being away from the game for a year. And while he had a pretty impressive first year as the starter, it wasn’t the best I had ever seen from an ND quarterback. To go backward would be disastrous and could spell a bad year for 2014.

        That’s why Zaire should play. Put the kid in for the fourth quarter of blowout victories (or losses, I guess), and let him gain some experience. That way, if Golson regresses, BK can go to a young quarterback with at least some college experience.

      • irish4006 - Jul 14, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        It’s Everest, I think you misspelled the name.

    • papadec - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      nude – are you trying to give me a heart attack by saying nice things about TR? I like/agree with all your predictions – except Cam. I think he will bust some big plays that will get the ND fans excited.

    • NotreDan - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:39 PM

      Hahaha. I almost forgot about the almighty vulva. Damn I love this board, and KA’s work, and all you SOB’S oh, and the IRISH!

  5. tlndma - Jul 13, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Tommy Rees is the starter. If you like it or not doesn’t matter. If you’re an ND fan just hope it works out. Complaining about it now is a waste of everyone’s time.
    The running back battle in camp is more important than any QB discussion. One of three things needs to happen.

    1. GAIII makes big strides in technique
    2. Amir Carlisle is all that’s being reported and remains healthy
    3. Greg Bryant comes in and “knocks em dead” as a freshman
    All three will see playing time I think but, who steps up to #1?

    Lastly, word is Tyler Luatua TE Ca. is going to be Irish.

  6. bernhtp - Jul 13, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    People don’t hate Tommy Rees; we hate the fact that he apparently is the best we have. We want him to get better and to succeed, but we can’t imagine him getting good enough to match our hopes for the Irish offense. We don’t hate our coaches for playing Rees and don’t even question their judgment; we just wish they had a better option.

    We would love it for one of the two other guys – far more athletically gifted than Rees – to be stricken from their horse on their way to Damascus and become flush with inspiration and ability. Absent that, others will need to step up to make the QB look good because Rees will be at the helm. We will hope for the stroke of lightning, but root for Tommy in the meantime.

    I think I speak for many.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      This has to be the only college football board on the inter webs to get a St. Paul reference. Regarding Martin’s comments about Zaire, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a little disinformation being spread there. I have a hunch we’ll see him earlier in the year than most expect. As has been noted, it is critical that he get some live snaps because we really don’t know if Golson makes the grades to return or not. With no EG and no experience for MZ we are going to be in a world of pain next year.

      • nudeman - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:20 AM

        Hey Jersey… do they have the Google in NJ?

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        Of course. I think we had electricity before Az was even a state. Your point?

  7. goirishgo - Jul 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    I’m assuming Tommy will be directed to first and foremost do no harm. That, plus an unproven corps of RBs will likely translate to a sluggish start to the season offensively. I believe, though, that there is more than enough talent for the offense to grow into a pretty formidable group.

    The defense should be awesome from day one. Unbelievable depth and speed.

    Can’t wait for Temple!

    • mtflsmitty - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Sorry, GoGo.

      – BK is NOT going to instruct his Sr QB to do no harm. He’s going to put together a brillian game plan that plays to his QBs strengths. Then he’s going to tell him, “Go out there and win one for us!”

      – The Running game is impacted much more by the work of the lineman than the work of the runner. There won’t be anything sluggish about this OL’s execution.

    • gtizzo - Jul 14, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      I wouldn’t say Kelly’s message would “do no harm”. More like “we can punt and play defense…it is ok….our defense is solid”. “Sluggish start to the season offensively” I think that explains the entire coach Kelly era.

  8. dudeacow - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Thank you for supporting my position on Tommy. Those INTs were thrown by a sophomore, now he’s a senior. And as for Holmes, watch his tape and be amazed. Looks VERY athletic.

    • ibleedirish - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      Wasn’t his interception rate per pass thrown the same in 2012 as it was in the 2011 season?

  9. irishaggie - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Talking about shooting up the rankings. Jonathan Bonner was NR in just about all recruiting services. He is now rated the 33rd DE in ESPN recruiting site when i looked Thursday. The system is down this morning they’re probably updating their rankings, so im waiting to see if he moves up today. On 247 sports he is the 46th rated DE.

    I don’t complain much about our recruiting and so called 3 star players. I think we do a great job and it’s obvious that we evaluate talent sooner than the other teams do.

  10. fnc111 - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Put Tommy on the 2007 team he might be paralyzed. Have him lead the way on the ’09 team without a defense and that team goes 2-10. Still amazing how so many are clueless. The team wins so oh it mustve been the quarterback who won it kind of thinking is maddening.

    • bearcatirishfan - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      Who on this board has said anything remotely close to boy tommy sure wins us a lot of games? I would say the general consensus is let’s hope tommy has matured enough and better skill position layers are enough so tommy doesn’t loose us games. I think most would agree that if he was on the 2009 team we would in fact be 2-10.

      Little tip good trolls use people’s own arguments against them, not fabricate bs out of their rears.

      • mtflsmitty - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        Why do you bother responding? Every time you do the douche nozzle feels like he’s had a good day. He’s dead to me. No more “coward” remarks from me, and no more ill-wishing to any of his extremities. It’s dead.

      • bearcatirishfan - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:09 PM

        Mtflsmitty, i know you are right I guess two points 1. we’re gonna have trolls, why not at least promote a better class of trolls. At least what’s his name, oh I can’t think of it but he was a Miami fan, last year was funny and clever. This is just silly because fnc is just a jealous little boy in fact I think I just figured it out fnc stands for f-cking nin capoop. 2. This guy claims to be an nd fan of which I have seen no evidence of but it bothers me, and it could be a ploy but makes me wonder if he’s really a fan.

        But you are right, if we stop feeding them we will have safe passage over the bridge to Shangri-la.

  11. theunicaller - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Great recap on the Tommy debate. We’ll just have to wait until the season and see if he can get better.

  12. onward2victory - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:41 PM


    1) the coaching staffs ability to evaluate talent early is impressive. Thankfully they don’t just look at Rivals and 247 to see who they should go after. This helps me have faith that maybe the D line won’t be terrible in ’14.

    2) This is how I see the RB situation playing out:
    Chuck Martin goes with speed early in games with GAIII and Carlisle, with short yard situations going to Cam. Then when we have a lead in the second half (hopefully), they’ll grind it out with Cam and Bryant the way they did with Cierre and Theo last year.

  13. fnc111 - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Justin Ferguson officially transferred to WMU. Wow!

    • irishaggie - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:01 PM

      He really upgraded didn’t he?? I hope it works out for him even though its foolish on his part. We were all 19 though.

      • bernhtp - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:16 PM

        Thankfully, I was never THAT 19.

    • kansasirish - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:21 PM

      Wow what? Did you expect BK to let him go to Michigan? Lower talent needs to be at WMU…enough said.

  14. mikes1160 - Jul 13, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Fnc111’s hero is Eeyore

  15. ndnapa - Jul 14, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    I think ND was always Luatua’s top choice. Now we need him to turn his teammate WR Dallis Todd away from OK and to SB. He’d be a great fit. also wouldn’t hurt ND’s chances of getting QB Kevin Dillman next year. Can you imagine that? One HS supplying a starting QB, WR and TE to a ND National Championship team? Historic.

    • papadec - Jul 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      ndpapa – that would be nice. However, Luatua hasn’t committed anywhere – yet. We can hope!

  16. 1historian - Jul 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    To quote his eminence Keith Arnold “I don’t think there’s any question that a veteran quarterback with a ton of experience can get better – and play smarter – during his senior season.”

    I don’t either.

    We’ll be fine

  17. 1historian - Jul 14, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    The last NC we won was 1988 and the starting QB was Tony Rice – we won the whole thing. Tony Rice was not a great QB by any stretch of the imagination, but Lou did build an offense around him – around his talents – and we won the whole thing. And we did ok the next year.

    BK announced TR (both of them have the same initials – ?) as the starting QB a few days after the Everett Golson expulsion story broke. That means that BK will have had 3 months to build an offense around TR, whom he has known personally and athletically for more than 3 years.

    To quote Keith – ” get better and play smarter”.

    For the umpteenth time – we’ll be fine.

    One more thing – I was in the line to get a ticket for the 1994 BG game, and in line behind me waiting to BUY a ticket was – Tony Rice.

    That doesn’t speak well of Notre Dame.

    • hbmichael9 - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      I met / spoke with him on two occasions championship week in Miami. Super nice dude. I think the way ND current and ex players treat fans (alumni and not) is a direct testament to the integration of athletes in the general student population. ND should be proud.

  18. irishdrg1 - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    Tony Rice what a pleasure to be around. Got to meet with him several times before games in South Bend. GO IRISH

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