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Waller adds Irish to finalists as QB carousel keeps spinning

Jun 10, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

Notre Dame spent almost seven months sitting on the sidelines of quarterback recruiting. But Blake Barnett‘s departure from the Irish 2015 signing class has put Notre Dame in the middle of everything — and it looks like the Irish might be the ones to trigger the national dominoes to start falling.

Barnett’s surprise departure from the headliner of the Irish 2015 class may have come as a shock to fans and fellow recruits, but Notre Dame’s coaching staff moved quickly and confidently as they reopened their board.

In a matter of 48 hours, Notre Dame identified and targeted three elite prospects to replace Barnett:

Deondre Francois 
Jarrett Stidham 

Travis Waller

All three are top 10 targets at their position, as viewed by And all three seem interested in hearing more from Notre Dame in the very near future.

For Francois, the offer was welcome news. The IMG Academy quarterback who just came off an MVP performance at the Rivals 5-Star challenge, has pushed back his planned commitment from The Opening to the beginning of his season. That’ll let him get to South Bend and take in what Notre Dame has to offer.

“It will shake up my recruitment a lot because having Notre Dame, an independent school, an up an coming program and me coming in after Everett Golson having a chance to compete for the job would mean a lot,” Francois told’s Tom Loy. “I feel like I fit well in that offense.”

Stidham is a Texas Tech commit that’s arguably the top dual-threat quarterback in the country. The Notre Dame offer has caught his interest and turned Texas Tech fans into the same group that chastised Barnett for stepping away from his lengthy commitment. (FYI, that never helps.)

Stidham hasn’t scheduled any visit to South Bend, nor stepped away from his commitment, but the Irish’s pursuit has certainly opened his eyes to the possibility of a new college.

Perhaps the biggest mover of the past week has been Waller. With Notre Dame after the Servite quarterback, the Irish are back in Orange County chasing a signal-caller that’s at a higher profile school than Barnett and a place where the Irish already have in-roads.

It didn’t take long for Waller to put the Irish in his top four, with Notre Dame now battling Northwestern, Ohio State and Alabama. (Those offers don’t sound like a consolation prize.) Noted quarterback guru Steve Clarkson caught up with Bob Wieneke of the South Bend Tribune and had this to say about his most recent pupil.

One of the things that Clarkson pointed out is how Waller has played against big-time competition, listing national powers Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman as teams Servite has tangled with.

“And he’s been a dominant player in those games,” Clarkson said.” He’ll fit in at any system. He’s what I like to call a pro-style athlete. He can operate out of a pro system but also is your new-wave spread quarterback. He’s very gifted athletically. he’s extremely accurate as a passer.”

Clarkson said Waller is hopeful to make a visit to ND soon and expects a decision within weeks. A top four or five could be announced this weekend.

“He’s a great kid, he’s an outstanding football player,” Clarkson said. “If Notre Dame is fortunate enough to get him, they’re not going to be … they’re not going backwards that’s for sure. The kid’s one heck of a football player.”

Clarkson has worked with Barnett in the past, so that last comment should raise an eyebrow or two.

While the loss of Barnett had Irish fans reeling, it certainly didn’t take long for Notre Dame’s staff to get back on their feet and chase after some targets that some recruiting services like even better than Barnett.

That says quite a bit about the machine that Brian Kelly’s built, and the positive response from all three targets should be seen as a positive as well.





  1. bernhtp - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    The speed of response to the Barnett de-commitment is certainly impressive. Kelly and crew are clearly on top of their jobs and mission.

    • nudeman - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      As I opined a few days ago – and got crushed for it, naturally – Barnett’s de-commitment is borderline meaningless. And as you say, the speed of their response is impressive and also suggests they knew it was coming.

      Sounds like ND swung into action before Barnett called; maybe even before Barnett visited Oregon. When he did call, BK basically said “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”.

      I love that.

      • fish95 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        Barnett: “Coach Kelly, Oregon assures me that I will be the starter after Mariotta graduates, can you make me the same assurance?”

        CBK: “You’ll get the same chance every other QB on this roster gets and the best person plays … thanks for the question … it helped solidify some things in my mind [CBK snaps his fingers and his assistant starts dialing] if you’ll excuse me now, Blake, my assistant just informed Travis Waller’s on line 2 … good luck”

      • irishwilliamsport - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        It sounds like Barnett decided on a visit to Oregon and BK said hey if you’re looking then we’re looking and Barnett tantrum ensued with a decommitment.

        I think BK is worried about Zaire transferring if Golson is the starter or they wouldn’t be so aggressive going after another QB. Think about it Zaire leaves, Golson gets hurt, and Kizer is the starter without a backup.

        But they will get another quality QB and it will be meaningless that Barnett left.

      • goirishgo - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:21 PM


        I don’t think you got crushed….almost everyone agreed with your position including me.

      • fish95 - Jun 11, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        Nude & Keith … meant to post a reply to irishwilliams and accidentally clicked “report comment” … my sincere apologies.

        Irishwilliams … gotta think that MZ stays put for the 2014 season even if EG is named starter.

        1.) If he transfers he sits again, if EG is starter and gets hurt, then MZ plays this season.
        2.) If EG goes pro after this year, then MZ is the presumed starter for the next 3 …

        Don’t know how it makes any sense for MZ to make a move this year … maybe if EG stays for his final year of eligibility, but any decision prior to that would seem counterproductive.

      • irishwilliamsport - Jun 12, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        MZ can transfer and sit out the year and have 3 years left as a started at another school.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Honestly Barnett is a perfect fit for Oregon. If you look at this film this kid is a true mobile QB. He has lightning speed and his Skill set is perfect for Oregon. In addition Notre Dame has 3 QB’s.. If I was this kids I would want to play year 1 not sit on the bench for two years. Honestly I don’t see why even Waller would want to play for us. We have too many QB’s as it is.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jun 11, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      Honestly I wouldn’t worry to much about the QB position. Defense is more important to this team right now and by the looks of things we are not doing to great. I have a bad feeling about Jerry Tillery .

  2. iamgolden4life - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Keith you ever going to close last weeks mailbox? Lots of good questions in there

    • Keith Arnold - Jun 10, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      Things got crazy with the QB circus and then I got sick. Going to put that on this week’s list. You’re right, plenty of good ones in there.

      • iamgolden4life - Jun 10, 2014 at 8:39 PM

        Making sure you weren’t sleeping on the job, Nah just giving you a hard time. Get well soon Keith

  3. fnc111 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Kids these days. “Up and coming school,” as if ND is Louisiana-Lafayette now.

    • irishwilliamsport - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      It’s all new to them, the last National Championship was 1988 and they weren’t even born yet. 1 year out of the last 26 we’ve contended for a championship. The last 7 seasons were 3 and 9, 6 and 6, 6 and 6, 8 and 5, 8 and 5, 12 and 1, and 9 and 4. Seven years ago some of these kids were 10 and 11 years old. It’s been a long time since ND has been relevant and it’s a whole different sell to these kids. I think he’s right. We also had the worst turf field in major college football.

  4. domer77blowsgoats - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Also seen on Twitter – Nude petitioning NCAA for an extra year of eligibility for TR sighting medical/metal hardship as evidenced by:

    1. Inability to move in the pocket
    2. Frequent loss of vision
    3. Colorblindness
    4. Loss of ability to count backwards from 25
    5. Seen with dickasman at the Rees family tailgate at BG game

    • blackirish23 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      Domer, I’m not entirely sure who’s holding on to TR more, you or Nude. In the words of my kids’ annoyingly new favorite animated movie, “Let it go!”

      • ndadvocate - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:45 PM

        Don’t let your kids watch Frozen. Let it Go I about losing ones virginity.

    • DPU Man ND Fan - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Yawn. Consider a new foil, or at least some new, potentially funny angle. Or maybe try golf?

    • domer77blowsgoats - Jun 10, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      So finally its hitting home – spewing the same innate garbage post after post gets old – what a novel concept

  5. iamgolden4life - Jun 10, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Well I think Keith is on extended vacation so I’ll be first to let you know that a commitment is expected b4 the end of this week. WeAreND!!!!

    • onward2victory - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      What/who is your source?

      • mtflsmitty - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:03 AM

        4Life is the source! Conducting his own primary research, and supported by Loy, 247, Rivals, Arnold and the ESPN hack who covers Irish football.

  6. yaketyyacc - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:43 AM

    all the comings and goings, commitments and decommitments reflect a strong program. now, let’s see if the committed commit themselves to not only “play” like champions, to actually be the Champions.

    • irishdog80 - Jun 12, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      My tablet is all jumpy sometimes. I hit the Report Comment button by mistake instead of going to the next article. My apologies.

  7. njnapa - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Pretty sure Kelly will have a package of plays for Zaire each game. That will keep him at ND. Hopefully, he’ll be used inside the 10, at least.

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