Corey Robinson enters season as X factor


Watch Notre Dame football long enough and names tend to emerge during the offseason. That they don’t always tend to show up on the field is a fact of life, a product of too much time and too much speculation amongst a fan base always looking for the next big thing.

Perhaps that’s what makes Corey Robinson so intriguing. He’s the next big thing. Literally. At nearly 6-foot-5, Robinson is a human mismatch, and combine that with his Hall of Fame lineage, he’d have been the perfect candidate for sleeper status even before the practice videos showed him lighting it up.

Head coach Brian Kelly has done his best to tamp down any Robinson-mania this camp, and the search for nicknames (the Little Admiral?) is probably premature. And while the obvious caveats and reminders of breakout springs from guys like Deion Walker, Emeka Nwankwo, or Junior Jabbie should be enough of a reminder, there’s reason to believe that Robinson might be different.

Over at, JJ Stankevitz caught up with Robinson’s high school football coach, learning that Robinson almost quit the game that brought him to South Bend before he ever got started.

When Robinson came to San Antonio Christian, his older brother, David Jr., convinced him to join the football team, of which he was already a member. Then David Jr. quit the football team. But if an athlete quits a sport in-season at San Antonio Christian, he or she may not play other sports for the school for a full year.

So if Robinson had quit the football team, he wouldn’t have been able to play basketball his freshman year. Here is where it’s worth a reminder that Robinson’s father is David Robinson, widely regarded as one of the best centers in NBA history.

“Corey didn’t want to miss basketball season, so he says ‘well, I’m kind of stuck, I gotta play now,'” coach Bryan Marmion said in a phone interview with on Wednesday.

It’s much too early for a retrospective on Robinson’s contributions to the program, but all indications are that the Irish coaching staff uncovered a jewel in San Antonio. There may be work to do on route running and physical strength, but there’s no question that Robinson can catch just about any football thrown his way.

Citing practicing video of Robinson beating Bennett Jackson as evidence that the freshman will do the same to opposing defensive backs is foolish. But it might be a hint that the coaching staff is looking for ways to take advantage of Robinson’s unique skillset — and that he could already be the replacement for Tyler Eifert in the red zone.

In the spring, Kelly talked about Robinson having a role similar to the one that Chris Brown had last season. While Brown’s deep catch against Oklahoma was one of the season’s biggest plays, that sure feels like a head coach doing his best to keep expectations down.

At a time of year where expectations hardly ever match reality, Robinson has made himself one of the true X factors on the ’13 season.

No pressure, kid.

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.