Let’s pick things up with Part Two of our after Signing Day mailbag. (Feel like any good sequel deserves a trilogy, so look for that in a little bit as well.)
Again, sorry not to get to everybody’s questions, but we’ll be doing more and more of these as the offseason goes on.
Put on your coach’s hat for a minute.
1) what position is the biggest need in terms of depth to be a consistent 10 win team?
2) which player(s) have an instant impact this coming season?
3) which makes a bigger difference this season, new player or new position coach?
4) if given the chance would you go the route of coaches like Dantonio who redshirt 80-90% of their freshman class?
1) I think the Front Seven. We can blame all the turnovers on Golson, but the injuries to the defense and its collapse exposed the youth that was behind the stout front line.
2) Alize Jones. One of the freshmen linebackers. Jerry Tillery. Shaun Crawford (starting slot CB.)
3) I’m not sure I fully understand the question. But in college football, Jimmys and Joes are always more important than the Xs and the Os. Especially position coaches.
4) Does Dantonio really redshirt 90% of his freshmen? I’d like some sourcing there. I’ll dig more into redshirting later in the mailbag. But I think there are some changing dynamics here.
ndlv: I know that you don’t put a lot of stock in star ratings of recruits. But, in your opinion, are students who are recruited by schools like ND (with a large fanbase) a touch overrated by sites like rivals and scout in order to sell more subscriptions? Does this make Irish fans (who buy into the star ratings) too optimistic?
You are correct. I don’t put a lot of stock into star rating. I think the big companies (Rivals, 247, Scout, ESPN) can definitely identify the elite players — the top 50, 100 in the country. But after that? It’s a crap shoot.
You are also correct on the impact large fanbases often times play into the star-rankings. But I tend to think it’s the impact of an offer from top schools enhancing a ranking, without the player actually doing anything. (Especially with offers not meaning what they used to mean.)
But I also think a much larger impact these days are the kids that are willing to play the game. Josh Barajas didn’t spend his summer going to 5-star combines or camps. Neither did Jalen Guyton. (This statement applies to probably 10 kids in this class, especially the early commits.)
So when Barajas showed up and impressed in San Antonio, the services essentially got their first look at him, apples to apples, with other elite prospects.
As for Guyton. Show me another receiver in the country that put up 1,700 yards, 22 touchdowns and 82 catches playing the most competitive high school football in the country. That’s a 3-star prospect? It makes zero sense to me. And it’s a big reason why I’m not sweating the stars. They’re all erased after Signing Day, anyway.
The rankings are so much better than they used to be. But when all you have is tape of a 3-star wideout and you see in person a kid at three or four camps, that’s what happens. (Especially considering those kids usually like to give interviews.)
irishdog80: Corey Holmes looked like an impressive young WR last year…kind of Will Fuller like, but a little rangier. Does Holmes break through next year after a year in the program? How about at TE? Does Durham Smythe or someone else step up at TE as a weapon?
Who comes off the field for Holmes to get on it? I don’t think you’re giving Fuller enough credit. He’s going to be a preseason, first-team All-American. He just tied the school record, matching Jeff Samardzija and Golden Tate for touchdowns. And he did it as a sophomore. (Go check that duos sophomore numbers.)
The arrow is still pointing up for Fuller, who needs to clean up and get more consistent, which he’ll do this offseason. Don’t get me wrong, the staff likes Holmes and thinks he’ll be a player. But it might not be a breakthrough season for him, not with the football going to Fuller, Corey Robinson, CJ Prosise and Chris Brown first.
As for tight end? Right now I think it’s Smythe as a pass catcher and Luatua as a blocker. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Alize Jones… nearly from the start.
kcoral: Time for real talk, Keith. Your biggest rival just signed a historically great class. #1 by a big margin over Ala., for god’s sake. Meanwhile, the Irish appear to be out the Top 10. Only Ore has won and played in the championship game/playoffs with out consistently finishing in the top 10. This is 3 years in a row now that ND has had 10 or lower classes. BK himself said ND competes for “national championships.” Knowing what we know about the CLEAR link between elite level recruit and winning championships, is this coming season the only realistic chance ND has in getting into the playoffs for the next 4 years?
Time to go Aaron Rodgers on you, kcoral. R-E-L-A-X.
What do we know about the “CLEAR link” you speak of? Because I know Alabama plays good football and recruits well. Everybody else? The results vary.
The “recruiting champion” belt ranks up there with Preseason No. 1 and the draft day winners and losers in the NFL. (At least for me.)
I look at Notre Dame’s 24 man class and see a group that was expected to be around 17 to 19 at this time last year, but grew to include elite targets like Shaun Crawford, Jerry Tillery (holding on to him is a win), Dexter Williams, Te’von Coney, Equanimeous St. Brown and Alize Jones.
The deck is stacked for next season. But it’s not like this is getting ready for a solar eclipse. This is the healthiest I’ve seen this program since the end of the Holtz era.
runners00: Who is the one kid who will make a significant impact the earliest?
On offense, I think it’s Jones. On defense, I think it’s Crawford.
newmexicoirish: How does the #1 rated kicker in the country (per 247 Sports) end up with just a 3* ranking and a fairly underwhelming offer list? There seems to be a disconnect here.
There certainly is. Unless Sebastian Janikowski has a kid coming into college soon, there’s not going to be a 5-star kicker. And the fact that college programs recruit a scholarship kicker ever 3-4 years means that your offer list is going to be much smaller. (Some programs rely exclusively on walk-ons, rewarding them with a scholarship later.)
Yoon is a good one. With a ton on his shoulders. It’ll be fun to see how he performs.
flandersst1: What would the ND Nation have done if Brian Kelly had called the pass that Darrell Bevell called in the Super Bowl under the same circumstances in the National Championship Game?
I can only imagine. The blowback for a jet sweep was bad enough. But in the Super Bowl?