Author: Keith Arnold

Notre Dame v Syracuse

OLB/DE Jamir Jones commits to Notre Dame


Notre Dame’s quick-growing 2016 recruiting class is adding another familiar name. Rochester defensive end Jamir Jones, brother of starting defensive tackle Jarron Jones, committed to the Irish coaching staff on Tuesday, fresh off receiving his offer. He joins Julian Okwara—brother of Romeo—as younger siblings of Irish players in the 2016 recruiting class.

Jones had early offers from Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn and Boston College. He worked out at Notre Dame’s summer camp before being offered by the Irish staff and made his decision public via Twitter.



“There is no school better than Notre Dame. You get everything at Notre Dame it’s worldwide,” Jones told “My mom is about to start crying.”

At 6’4″ and 220 pounds, Jones isn’t the in the trenches type that his older brother is. And after playing quarterback and tight end for his Aquinas Institute program, Jones will likely start as an outside linebacker or edge rushing defensive end.

It’s worth pointing out the success Kelly has had recruiting younger siblings. After landing the elder Jones and Okwara, that families trusted Notre Dame’s staff with their next son. (If Urban Meyer did that, both Jaylon Smith and Mike Heuerman would be Buckeyes.)

Notre Dame’s recruiting class moves to nine commitments with the addition of Jones, giving the Irish another potential edge rusher in a class that needs to secure multiple options.



Irish A-to-Z: Miles Boykin

Property of Sun-Times media

Notre Dame protected the Chicagoland area when they landed receiver Miles Boykin. An All-State performer and a summer riser on the recruiting trail when he picked Notre Dame, Boykin’s a big-bodied physical receiver who has the look of an offensive mismatch.

At 6’3 and 225 pounds, Boykin has plenty of size—a bigger player than tight end Mike Heuerman already. But the Irish coaching staff believes Boykin has a future at the X receiver spot, capable of doing big things in space and in the red zone.

Let’s take a look at the incoming freshman.


6’3″, 225 lbs.
Freshman, No. 81, WR



A Semper Fidelis All-American, Boykin was a consensus four-star prospect. He had offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Florida and Oregon among others.

UPDATE: As our buddy JJ Stankevitz points out, Boykin was named the Chicago Tribune’s Athlete of the Year — No big deal.



It’s hard not to think of Michael Floyd when you see a big, strong receiver like Boykin—especially with that size. But that’s not necessarily a fair comp to give a young guy who’ll have a much longer road to get onto the field.

Yet Boykin certainly impressed the Irish staff with his ability to go get the football and to do it in a physical manner. Notre Dame’s receivers have been missing that piece of the puzzle since Floyd went to the NFL, and Boykin certainly has the type of potential to do some great things.

I see a bit of Maurice Stovall in Boykin’s game, and deciding how large Boykin gets will likely dictate if he stays outside as a receiver, or grows into a flex player who could eventually turn into a versatile tight end prospect.



Physicality will likely dictate if Boykin sees the field this season, as it’s hard to see too many balls coming his way. But thinking back to how James Onwualu got on the field and how Daniel Smith was utilized, Boykin might not be the receiver with the biggest recruiting profile, but if the Irish plan on running with Malik Zaire and a talented offensive line and Boykin shows himself willing, he could be taking those snaps.

But to pin Boykin’s future as a blocker doesn’t do much service to his athletic traits. On Signing Day, Brian Kelly talked about the mismatches Boykin can creates. While it might take a season or two for the Irish to need Boykin to provide the offensive boost, it looks like Notre Dame has a good one in the Illinois native.


THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE

Offseason Q&A: Virginia

Mike London

Part two in our series looking at Notre Dame’s 2015 opponents. Check out our entry on Texas here. 


You can understand if Virginia fans aren’t dying to talk about the football season. That’s because the Cavaliers are back playing for the College World Series title, a return to Omaha and a chance to win the title for former Notre Dame assistant Brian O’Connor.

If O’Connor’s ability to bring the Hoos to the top of the mountain fulfilled the promise that the top-notch assistant showed when he worked under Paul Maineri in South Bend, Mike London’s tenure in Charlottesville has been a little less cheery.

Since taking over the program in 2010, London has had a winning record only once, an eight-win season that ended in a lopsided loss to a 7-5 Auburn team. So with one of the country’s most difficult schedules ahead of them and a head coach on the hot seat, forgive Virginia fans for enjoying these final days of the baseball season, especially if they can sneak pass Vanderbilt.

Nice enough to give us the intel on Virginia during the middle of a title run is Jay Pierce of Streaking the Lawn, the SBNation home for all things Virginia sports.

Let’s get to it.

Let’s start with pretty much the only connectivity between these two programs:


Charlie Weis’ former defensive coordinator is now running the UVA defense, meaning that sunny press conference personality is now on display in Charlottesville.

How has the Tenuta era been at Virginia? And what type of defense will he utilize against Notre Dame? (Safe to guess, a blitz until you can blitz no more approach?)

Considering all of the frustration UVa fans have with the football program, Tenuta’s one of the more appreciated members on the coaching staff. Tenuta’s defense at UVa last season improved from allowing 433.1 yards per game in 2013 to 353.2 ypg. Turnover production is up, sacks are up, and the defense has a more aggressive style of play all around.

While they haven’t won too many games recently, no one would put that on the quality of the defense – and at the very least, I’ve enjoyed the team’s penchant for beating the crap out of the opposing QB weekly. The Hoos will run primarily out of a nickel set and certainly you can expect plenty of blitzes from any position out there.


After a relatively hard-luck 5-7 season, Mike London was brought back for a sixth season, a somewhat controversial decision. AD Craig Littlepage cited progress that wasn’t necessarily reflected in the won-loss record.

Tell Notre Dame fans a little bit about London the head coach. And if you think Littlepage made the right decision.

To put it bluntly: London is a great guy, solid recruiter, wonderful figurehead for a program, and has produced very little in terms of success on the field. Aside from an 8-5 2011 season, every one of his years at UVa has been a losing season, including some abysmal records in conference games.

He’s 23-38 in five years overall and has managed to win 11 ACC games in that timespan. Was keeping him the right decision? Perhaps there are/were pressures (financial, political, or otherwise) that led it, but to me, it says nothing more clearly than an acceptance of mediocrity by the athletic department.


Big news came last week with the transfer of Greyson Lambert after starting nine games last season. Matt Johns won the job out of spring practice, but what’s the state of a quarterback position that’s seemed like a rollercoaster since London came to town?

For most of Mike London’s tenure, UVa has used multiple starting quarterbacks each season, often switching out QBs every few series. Rarely does this ever work and as such, it’s brought little success to the position for the Wahoos. While Greyson Lambert was a leader on the team and probably the most talented of the quarterbacks, UVa fans can take solace in the fact that now there’s a legitimate QB1 with (hopefully) no threat of an in-game carousel.

Johns showed some moxie last year, appearing in 12 games, starting 3, and throwing for 1109 total yards with a 54.9% completion rate. While he brings a little more of a gunslinger mentality than recent UVa QBs, he did struggle with some costly turnovers at times, throwing 5 picks to match his 8 touchdowns.

Where does that leave the team this year? I like Johns. Especially now that he’ll have a whole summer and fall to know that he’s the go-to guy. However, if he gets hurt, or the wheels really come off, UVa’s only got RS-Fr Corwin Cutler, incoming Fr Nick Johns, and newly-committed transfer Connor Brewer as the scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. That said, with an experienced guy in Brewer transferring in this summer, perhaps the coaching staff can start shuffling again soon.


One gambling website put the over-under on Virginia wins this season at 4.5. The schedule is a meat grinder. The roster lost some talented players. But what are your expectations after a three-year stretch of 11-25 football?

Bet the farm on the under.

Really, like most fans, I try to be optimistic going into each season. But, as they say: “fool me five times, shame on me.” Like you said, the schedule is brutal.

At first glance, there’s one (should be) definite win and maybe one or two probable wins but there’s just way too many “ifs” to think this team will win five games.

If the defense can replace two star DEs, if Matt Johns stays healthy and shows a year’s worth of progression, if we continue whatever voodoo hex we have on Miami, if we catch a UCLA team replacing their star QB off guard, if we avoid disastrous time management blunders, if we finally manage to beat our coastal division overlords (that would be Duke, of course, not Virginia Tech). The list could go on and on.

UVa usually wins a game or two that they’re not supposed to each season, but getting to five wins would require that – plus not losing the game or two that they’ll be favored in. My expectation is a four-win season.


A handful of graduate transfers. Former 5-star recruits Andrew Brown and Taquan Mizzell. The home opener. I could make the argument that this game sure feels like a trap for Notre Dame.

Will you?

Absolutely. Would I bet on it? No.

But, considering our knack of handing one team a year a big upset, you can’t completely ignore the possibility of a UVa win here. As you said, there’s talent on the roster – though the defense is replacing a lot in the front seven. The team should come out amped for their home opener and the crowd should be lively with a big-name school in town.

I really like the potential of TJ Thorpe and Canaan Severin as the starting wideouts having months of reps with one (and only one) starting QB. You force a few turnovers (as we know Tenuta’s defense can do)…make a few plays here and there…get the desperate-for-a-winning-team crowd behind you…

I’ll say this: I’d be shocked if UVa pulled out the upset, but the players wouldn’t be. There’s enough talent and experience to keep it closer than most fans might expect. That said, the differences between the two programs should be clear by the second half and the Irish should get a double digit win – if they show up ready to play.

Irish Invasion lands recruits Jalen Elliott and Kevin Stepherson


Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class expanded this weekend, with the Irish Invasion camp leading to commitments.

Safety Jalen Elliott became the seventh commitment in the 2016 class before wide receiver Kevin Stepherson became the eight. Both currently rate as three-star prospects, though that’ll likely change throughout the summer evaluation process.

A Virginia native, Elliott had offers from both Virginia and Virginia Tech, along with some impressive options like Auburn, Georgia and Miami. With his parents along with him, Elliott felt immediately that Notre Dame was the place for him, and he’s already started recruiting his 2016 classmates.



Multiple reports had Stepherson putting on a show at the Irish Invasion. Rivals’ Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt called him the camp’s “Super Standout,” and while his 6-1, 180 pound frame doesn’t make him a physical freak, offers from LSU and Florida give you a hint of his athleticism.





There’s plenty of good buzz coming out of the camp with Notre Dame making a big move with plenty of the top talent that took the visit to South Bend. A year after their first Irish Invasion camp, it sounds like the staff built a bigger and better experience for recruits, and the early returns brought two weekend commitments, with more good news potentially on the way soon.

Notre Dame staff prepares for Irish Invasion

Malik Zaire

Notre Dame’s biggest recruiting weekend of the summer is upon us, with the Irish Invasion camp bringing over 100 high school football players to campus. With the recruiting efforts led by Mike Elston and player personnel director Dave Peloquin, the Irish staff has turned their summer camp into one of the biggest events on the circuit.

With Notre Dame’s commit list lagging behind the pace of their last few years, the staff will likely look to capitalize on the opportunity to show some of the country’s best talent campus. And the talent has arrived—a credit to the work the coaching staff has put in to get kids on campus from all across the country (and Canada).

For those recruitniks out there, the group on campus gives you a little bit of everything. There are stars like linebacker Caleb Kelly, 2017 quarterback Hunter Johnson and Canadian receiver/safety Chase Claypool.

There are repeat visitors, like California teammates Javon McKinley and Chacho Ulloa and safety Devin Studstill. And it’s a good bet that as the Irish staff looks to build a recruiting class that’ll most likely max out in the high-teens, a commitment or two will come out of this group.

We’ll do our best to keep you up to speed on the events. But it’s a busy week on campus with some of the country’s top players checking out Notre Dame.