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Mailbag: Transfers, death of the 3-4, and more

May 16, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT

Let’s get down to the Friday Mailbag. (That’s what the kids are calling it, anyway.) The questions are much appreciated.

sfnd: Ty Isaac?

First, kudos for the brevity. It’s a skill (believe me, one I’m still working on, too).

If we’re to take BK’s comments from yesterday at face value, you’ve got to think this was basically saying, “Yes, we want Ty Isaac. We wish you signed with us to begin with.”

Here’s what he had to say while talking to the media assembled at the Irish Legends golf fundraiser.

“For a traditional transfer, my preference is they have three years of eligibility and they’re the right academic fit and of course positionally, it makes sense,” Kelly told JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago. “There’s not a backlog of players at that particular position.”

Let’s check the boxes:

* Three years left of eligibility for Isaac, who played as a true freshman for the Trojans.
* Notre Dame finished bridesmaids for Isaac in his original recruitment.
* With Cam McDaniel departing and running back a need in this recruiting class, here’s no backlog — especially for a big back.

It wasn’t certain that Isaac would consider Notre Dame, or that USC would allow him to transfer to their rivals. But this Tweet seems to make both things a possibility.

The decision will come quickly, with Isaac needing to be in summer school and conditioning at whatever program he chooses.


@HayesBean: How many recruits will we take this cycle? Thought it was fewer this year, if so it seems like were settling, other than top 3.

I’d guess the Irish take a class in the high-teens. But it’ll also depend on who comes back for a fifth year. Here’s a quick breakdown of who is eligible to return:

Everett Golson
Amir Carlisle
DaVaris Daniels
Nick Martin
Conor Hanratty
Matt Hegarty
Chase Hounshell
Tony Springmann
Ben Councell
Anthony Rabasa
Jarrett Grace
Joe Schmidt
Jalen Brown
Eilar Hardy
Matthias Farley

Who stays? Who goes? At this point, who knows — though I think it’s a really important year for the heralded recruiting class of 2011.

But I’m not sure I’d agree with you on the Irish “settling,” especially with Kelly’s track record on early identification of prospects. Barnett is a national QB target that just about every program wants. Tillery and Hoge look like they’ll be top linemen at their respective positions. Fertitta is a bit off profile, but ND has kicked the tires on him more than once, and the other skill players are guys who I trust the staff’s evaluation tools better than any website.

The short answer: My guess is 18. But how they get there will be interesting.


irishdog80: Which of the ND player that were drafted, other than Zack Martin, will have the longest and most productive career in the NFL?

Which undrafted FA from ND this year will have the longest and most productive career…if any?

Good questions. I’d aim at one of the offensive guys, just because I think playing along the defensive line makes for a pretty short shelf life.

Troy Niklas is a guy that — if he stays healthy — has the body and skillset to last forever in the NFL. I also could see TJ Jones carving out a niche as a slot guy, someone who is that No. 3 receiver with punt return skills who sticks around a decade in the league.

As for undrafted free agents, I’m going to go with Dan Fox. I think his ability to run as an inside linebacker will make him valuable to a team as the league because more of a passing, spread-it-out game.


mediocrebob: Any word on Springmann and Grace recoveries?

Expect Springmann to be good to go for summer workouts. Grace isn’t quite figured out, but I don’t know how it’s going to be possible for him to be ready for the start of the season, if at all.

Kelly gave a mini-update on Grace yesterday, which was essentially no update. He said that he and head trainer Rob Hunt were going to get together to discuss Grace’s healing sometime next week, in advance of summer school and workouts beginning in June.


shaunodame: Your best guess at a LB Depth Chart (both 4-3 and 3-4) w/ Mike Sam and Will or Cat Dog Mike and Will, and a Wide Receiver Depth Chart w/ X, Z and Slot.

I’m honestly going to punt on this question, at least from the linebackers perspective. Right now, I think Jaylon Smith is going to play every snap at Will. Joe Schmidt will be the team’s primary Mike, though there’s hope that Grace could be ready and obviously Nyles Morgan is coming in this summer.

But then how this staff decides to use guys like Ben Councell, John Turner, Michael Deeb, Kendall Moore or any of the other freshmen is just too hard to figure out.

If the Irish are playing a 3-4, I think you’ll be seeing heft in the lineup, with a guy like Moore or Councell in there to go toe-to-toe with an opponent, but again — I don’t know how realistic that is, or how often that will be.

At receiver, I think the breakdown is already starting to happen:

Outside receivers: DaVaris Daniels, Corey Robinson, Will Fuller, Chris Brown
Slot: Amir Carlisle, CJ Prosise
Guys in the mix: Torii Hunter, maybe freshman Justin Brent or Corey Holmes.


steincj36: Does the fact that BK will be calling plays scare anyone else besides me? Am I just apprehensive to this because of the Weis era?

I think Kelly has proven himself to be a true head coach. Charlie Weis was a long-time coordinator thrust into his first head job when he was at ND.

But outside of 2007, what year did you have a problem with the offense? Sure, the running game wasn’t very explosive, but Weis’ offense didn’t struggle to put up points, it was his defense that let him down, especially in his last two seasons.

Kelly had the tag of being an offensive innovator, but that was never one that he gave himself. But he’s got the personnel he wants to run his system this year and knows that style of offense better than anyone else on staff. I think the arrangement will work quite well.


ndlv: Based on what Coach Kelly has accomplished at ND, where does he rank relative to earlier coaches at ND? Where do you think he ranks relative to other coaches currently in college football? Is he in the top 10?

He’s automatically behind anybody that’s won a national title. And he’s the best coach the Irish have had since Lou Holtz. Outside of that evaluation, I’m not a good enough historian of ND football to place him anywhere else.

As for his place in college football’s elite, I think he’s squarely in the top 10. He’s probably hovering right around the top 5, falling behind guys like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and maybe Bob Stoops and Steve Spurrier?

(The Sporting News has been doing this exercise for quite some time and has Kelly ranked fifth.)


kmic000: When ND is in the 3-4 this year, who do you think the DLine and linebackers will be?

I’ve already punted on the linebackers, but here’s how I’d expect a 3-4 look to play out.

Sheldon Day
Jarron Jones
Ishaq Williams/Tony Springmann

Romeo Okwara
Joe Schmidt
Jaylon Smith
Ben Councell (big) / John Turner (little)

Again, I don’t think this is going to turn out to be correct — nor do I think you’ll see Notre Dame with a legit three-man front too often. But I think it’ll be dependent on guys like Springmann and Hounshell to recover from their injuries and give legitimate reps.

  1. nudeman - May 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    How was ND a “runner-up” for Ty Isaac? As I recall, despite going to Joliet Catholic (a Chicago ‘burb) he never even visited. That tells me he REALLY didn’t want ND. Unless you have some inside info there, I doubt that’s changed.

    • standingdomer - May 16, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      ok thank you. that was my impression as well.

    • onward2victory - May 16, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      Keith said ND was a bridesmaid. I’ve been to weddings with 10 people standing on each side, so I guess that means that we could have been in Isaac’s top 10?

      • papadec - May 17, 2014 at 1:51 AM

        onward – ha ha ha ha – very true. Good point!

    • dudeacow - May 17, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Isaac’s top three on signing day consisted of USC, UM, and ND. Notre Dame was a distant third, however.

  2. shaunodame - May 16, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    Thanks for taking a shot at my overloaded question Keith

    As far as Ty Isaac goes, any potential outcome for us weighs 100% on USC missing the deadline. If USC ends up winning that battle, then there is a Zero % chance at us landing Ty, regardless of how he feels about us or us about him. Part of his scholarship release from USC was based on the stipulation that he could not transfer to any opponent on their schedule.

  3. fnc111 - May 16, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    Kelly allowed Davonte Neal to talk to ASU and USC last year when he was looking at schools to transfer to. Kelly also allowed Badger to transfer to BYU just a few months before they played each other. It’s BS if Isaac isn’t allowed to come here.

    Looks like Sark is the dbag and not Kiffen. USC is loaded with talent every year. They won’t even miss this kid.

    • onward2victory - May 16, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      Uh kiffin was and still is a dbag. Some things will never change.

    • nudeman - May 17, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Davonte Neal = totally different.
      He got the boot. Under those conditions it’s sort of tough to tell someone they can’t go to a certain school.

      • dudeacow - May 17, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        If by ‘he got the boot’ you mean Neal was kicked out of school, you would be mistaken. Although it seems that every year we lose a high profile player to academic or honor code reasons now, Neal’s decision to transfer was solely based on being closer to his son in Arizona. He left on good terms (excluding the punt return unit blocking for him).

      • c4evr - May 17, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        Only in bizarro world could fnc have all thumbs up and Nude have all thumbs down in the same post.

      • nudeman - May 18, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        you are incorrect there. the “closer to home” thing was a cover.

      • ibleedirish - May 18, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        C’mon Nude, a comment like that begs for at least some explanation

  4. yaketyyacc - May 17, 2014 at 5:54 AM

    Lee was a far better general, but Grant won the war. If you win the National Championship, you are the winner, and the rest, losers. “Elite” a word that defines as “also ran”.

    • nudeman - May 17, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Maybe so but he royally screwed up Gettysburg.
      I’ll take my man US Grant, affinity for the sauce and all, thank you.

  5. steincj36 - May 17, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    Keith, I should have clarified my question. My fear with the HC calling plays is that they lose focus on the other aspects of the game. I always felt like Weis cared only about O, and the rest of the game just happened. I hope this doesn’t happen to BK.

    • c4evr - May 17, 2014 at 5:47 PM

      Well, that’s completely untrue. Weis cared enough about defense to make the call to have them lay down so Stanford could score a TD so Clausen and the O would have another chance.

  6. seanb20124 - May 17, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    Davonte Neal left to be closer to daughter. At least that was the official story

  7. bernhtp - May 18, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Rees gets the boot by the Redskins in record time. Now he’s eligible to became a GA and continue the drama.

    • nudeman - May 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      This truly has to be some sort of record. Getting released in OTAs?
      Honestly don’t think I heard that before, except maybe the occasional clown who shows up drunk or late.
      Wait … was he drunk or late?

      • sjb198 - May 18, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        Yes, he was late. His car wouldn’t start so he was forced to run. *

      • viktory2013 - May 19, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        Upon sobering up after a weekend drinking binge, the Redskins front office said, “We signed who???!!”

      • mtndguy - May 20, 2014 at 10:20 PM

        Funny part is, he came one step closer to the NFL than you nude.

    • c4evr - May 18, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Now TR’s free to come join BK’s staff and roam the sidelines indefinitely.

    • shaunodame - May 18, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      SJb, Is that true about Tommy being late?

      • sjb198 - May 18, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        No. Just my poor attempt at humor.

  8. nudeman - May 18, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    This just seems so appropriate give the tragic news about Tommy

  9. knuterocknesghost - May 18, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Most people in this life have a list of things or places to visit once in their lives. Some are really ambitious and dream about climbing Mt. Everest. Some more modest, like one day visiting President Kennedy’s grave site or landing a big game fish they never have caught before.

    There’s a definite trend for Nude on these pages that suggests what is his ultimate one thing he wants to do before he passes from this life. If I were to hazard a guess based on the trail of posts by Nude here, I would think that his heart’s true desire is to one day find that he has survived TR in this life, and to then visit TR’s grave just so he can finally piss on TR for real, or, at least as close to being real as might have ever been possible for him.

    • nudeman - May 19, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      Well now that you’ve weighed in as the erudite conscience of this site, the Walter Cronkite of Inside The Irish, I guess the case is closed. Thank you for your official opinion.

      Lighten up Francis.

      You take this sh** too seriously. No one’s waiting around with baited breath for your sanctimonious, high moral ground blather. Next time you get an urge to post and lecture someone, go do some air pushups in someone’s face. Or better yet, just skip it. You’ll feel better.

      • ndgoldandblue - May 19, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        I gotta’ admit, both of your posts were pretty damn funny. I know that “funny” is subjective, but I laughed. By the way, nice Stripes reference, nude.

  10. yaketyyacc - May 19, 2014 at 6:19 AM

    nude, that was my point,

  11. getsome99 - May 19, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    So now that Rees has been released, he joins Jimmy Clausen AND Brady Quinn as former ND great quarterbacks without an NFL team. Interesting.

    • mtndguy - May 20, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      WOW getsome, that’s very observant. You’re a regular rocket scientist. Imagine a quarterback from a prestigious college without an NFL team. Probably only ND quarterbacks don’t make it in the NFL. Oh, wait, that’s not right. Never mind, you’re no rocket scientist, you’re an idiot.

  12. getsome99 - May 20, 2014 at 10:19 PM


    And just that quickly, you validated the point I was making. Nice job.

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