Sam Mustipher

Irish A-to-Z: Sam Mustipher


In incoming freshman Sam Mustipher, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand found himself another interior offensive lineman who looks the part of a future starter.

Mustipher comes to South Bend from one of the top programs in the Washington D.C. area, a three-year starter at Good Counsel High School. With no rush to see the field at Notre Dame, Mustipher will join a depth chart filled with plenty of former blue-chippers, all looking for a chance to see the field.

Let’s take a closer look at Mustipher.


6’3″ 294 lbs.
Freshman, No. 53



Mustipher played in the Under Armour All-American game, and was a first-team All-State and All-City performer during his senior season at Good Counsel. A Top 250 recruit, Mustipher had elite offers before committing to Notre Dame in April, turning down Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Stanford.

That’s the type of offer list that should get you excited, and on Signing Day, Brian Kelly talked about his expectations for Mustipher, who camped at Notre Dame over the summer.

“Sam was another young man that we got a chance in the summer to see and spend time with. I think Coach Hiestand has done a great job in building relationships with all of these young men,” Kelly said. “He’s a powerful guy inside, and again, I think what stood out for us with Sam was his ability to move his feet.”



At this point, it’s beginning to sound like a broken record. Notre Dame has hand-picked offensive linemen with offers to play at some of the top programs in the country, so on paper just about every one of these guys that have been recruited by Kelly and Hiestand have the projected ability to help a program.

Of course, not all of them can do that, especially as the competition to see the field gets stiffer. But one thing that’s on Mustipher’s side is the excellent coaching he received at Good Counsel, a program that produces a ton of talent, and a school Notre Dame has to feel good about getting into.

Mustipher is not the towering prospect that many thought they signed, with his 6-foot-3 height limiting him to playing on the interior of the offensive line. He’s also not the most physically well put together lineman in the freshman class, meaning he’ll need to get friendly with Paul Longo and his staff before he’s ready to contribute in the trenches.

But all of that is nit-picky. Mustipher has everything you want from a young lineman, and the elite offer list he holds all but proves it.



Something quite eventful would need to happen for Mustipher to see the field in 2014. So his eligibility clock likely starts ticking in 2015, with Christian Lombard gone and Nick Martin, Conor Hanratty and Matt Hegarty in their (potential) fifth years. That should make for an interesting battle on the inside, with Steve Elmer likely able to shift back outside if needed and other linemen like Hunter Bivin, Colin McGovern and John Montelus all angling for playing time.

But projecting that far into the future is a fool’s errand, especially when we’ve seen so little of the linemen that will be fighting for a job. But as we continue rolling through this exercise, one thing is certain: There is no lack of talent along the offensive line.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan

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.