Notre Dame v Stanford

Moore says Notre Dame treated Frozen Five fairly

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Kendall Moore‘s football career did not end as planned. The fifth-year senior never saw the playing field after being pulled from the team in August as part of an academic dishonesty probe that kept DaVaris Daniels, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams out for the 2014 season — and school year — as well. (Eilar Hardy returned to the team in late October.)

But Moore hopes that his football career isn’t over. And he spoke about the turbulence of the last six months with the South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen.

Moore will take part in this weekend’s College Gridiron Showcase, hoping that some team is willing to take a chance on the seldom-used linebacker who was stuck behind Manti Te’o, Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese for most of his career.

“There was a while when I was thinking I’m never going to get another opportunity to strap up and do it,” Moore told Hansen. “To have this chance, however it turns out, just makes me feel super blessed and very humbled.”

Perhaps more interesting that any update on Moore’s football career is his take on the case of the Frozen Five.

Held in purgatory as the academic wheels of justice slowly churned at the university level, Moore was candid with Hansen about how he’ll discuss the probe that ultimately cost Moore his final season of eligibility and has kept Daniels, Russell and Williams off campus with a reported two-semester suspension.

“I’ll just explain to them that with the whole investigation … that what it all came down to was just a violation of school policy,” Moore said. “It wasn’t a cheating scandal. We violated a school policy as far as the honor code goes and as far as peer editing goes.

“It ended up being a situation where Notre Dame holds their academics to a high standard, and nobody’s getting mad about that. We knew the whole situation, what we were getting into as far as the whole high academic prowess and stuff.

“We all understood what was going on. We all said there were mistakes made on everybody’s part, and we’re just looking to move past it and get on to the next chapter of our lives.”

Moore also talked about the support he received from teammates and head coach Brian Kelly. While Kelly served as the university’s spokesman during the frustrating period where information and details of the Honor Code process were so hard to come by, he also supported Moore and will continue to do so.

“We had a chance to talk after their season ended,” Moore told Hansen. “Coach Kelly told me they’d welcome me back with open arms, and that I’m still a Notre Dame guy, a Notre Dame grad.”

The whole column is worth a read, shedding light on a difficult situation while also reminding fans that Moore is a terrific representative of the university.

 

Irish land late official visit from safety Arrington Farrar

Arrington Farrar
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Brian Kelly took a trip to Atlanta and made his in-home visit to see safety Arrington Farrar. Things went so well that Farrar decided to take his final official visit before Signing Day to South Bend.

If that feels a little backwards, that’s just the way Farrar’s recruitment has been. After pledging to Stanford during his sophomore year, Farrar — who the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports has a rock-solid 3.5 GPA  at Woodward Academy and scored a 26 on the ACT — apparently didn’t pass admissions in Palo Alto.

That turned the past month into a whirlwind for Farrar, with official visits to North Carolina, Wisconsin and now Notre Dame, thanks to Kelly’s in-home recruitment. It was between a trip to South Bend or a visit to James Franklin and Penn State for Farrar’s final weekend.

With the Irish still chasing a final prospect at safety, Farrar’s visit comes on the heels of official visits from Justin Reid and Nathan Meadors the past few weekends. But with the Irish looking to make up ground to Stanford (for Reid) and UCLA (for Meadors), some believe that Farrar is the best bet for pledging to the Irish and closing the book on the recruiting class.

In addition to Kelly visiting, Farrar was joined by area recruiter Scott Booker and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

On paper, Farrar seems like a perfect fit at Notre Dame. A 4-star recruit and All-State player in Georgia, Farrar is also a 2015 Watkins Award finalist, awarded to the top African American high school scholar athlete by the National Alliance of African American Athletes

With Farrar choosing not to speak with the media about his recruitment, there’s little else to report. But Notre Dame getting Farrar on campus  for a final look before making a college decision on Signing Day is a big deal.

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Report: Notre Dame adds former UM strength coach Aaron Wellman

MVictors.com
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Notre Dame strength coach Paul Longo has a new lieutenant. And he’s crossed enemy lines to join the Irish staff.

Per a report from Irish 247, Brian Kelly has added former Michigan head strength coach Aaron Wellman to the Irish’s strength and conditioning staff. Wellman will replace Dave Andrews, the former assistant director of strength and conditioning, who joined Pat Narduzzi at Pitt as the head of the Panthers strength program.

Wellman spent the last four seasons with Brady Hoke at Michigan. Before that, he was Hoke’s head strength coach at San Diego State and Ball State.

Wellman is a native of Ligonier, Indiana and began his career with the Indiana Hoosiers. From there he spent three years at Michigan State before joining Hoke at Ball State. Notre Dame has not made the hiring official, though is expected to do so in the near future.

Here’s some video from Wellman when he was first hired in Ann Arbor.

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Irish host safety recruit Justin Reid

Justin Reid
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Notre Dame has a final need in their recruiting class. And over the weekend, they sold Louisiana safety Justin Reid that he could fill it.

The Irish staff rolled out the red carpet for Reid and his father, the late-January official visit hopefully a compelling reason for the Louisiana product to pick Notre Dame when he decides between the Irish, Stanford and hometown LSU, where his brother Eric starred.

The early reports are in and just about all of them say Notre Dame did a good job making a solid first impression.

Just ask Reid himself:

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How Reid’s recruitment shakes out should be interesting to watch. There are a variety of things pushing and pulling the talented safety from Baton Rouge. Late interest from hometown LSU. The allure of Stanford, with the added bonus of his older brother just minutes away, a second-year pro with the 49ers.

Yet Reid talked about why Notre Dame could give him the best of both worlds, even without some of the comforts of home and family.

“I’ve been trying to get a pros and cons list,” Reid told Irish Illustrated ($). “Pros for each, Notre Dame I feel a little bit more comfortable. The atmosphere around football is more of what I crave being from Louisiana and SEC country. Stanford has a little bit better weather and it’s nice having my brother living 15 minutes away from Stanford so if I ever want to get away from the university.”

One pro certainly on Notre Dame’s side is early playing time. The Irish will expect Reid to be able to contribute from the moment he steps onto campus, and made that clear over the weekend.

At six-foot, 195-pounds, Reid doesn’t strike you as a physically imposing safety, yet a quick look at his highlights shows a strong safety that could immediately compete with Elijah Shumate and a still-rehabbing Drue Tranquill as an in-the-box safety.

After spending the weekend with hosts Cole Luke and Durham Smythe, Notre Dame gave Reid the best look they could. Now it’s up to the young safety to make the best decision for him.

“I’m going to have to digest things from this weekend at Notre Dame. I’m going to go home, sleep on it and figure things out. I had a great time,” Reid told Irish 247 ($).

“It was a really good trip. It was way better than I expected. It was surprising to be honest. I didn’t know anything about the school, but now I have a great feel for everything.”

Mailbag: Sunday delivery

Jarrett Grace
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A special Sunday delivery of the Mailbag. Let’s get to some questions.

idratherbeinsouthbend: The schedule at the end of the year always looks different than it does before the season, but looking at next year’s schedule, who’s got your attention other than USC and Georgia Tech?

Some of the worries (at least from a CFB Playoff resume perspective) that the Irish schedule wouldn’t be tough enough seem to be alleviated. This slate looks plenty challenging, with big, nationally interesting games seemingly every few weeks, from the season opener against Texas to the finale at Stanford.

Seeing Georgia Tech make such an impressive late-season run and win the Orange Bowl turns a mid-September test into a potential national showdown. Going to Death Valley two weeks later and battling a Clemson team that absolutely throttled Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl turns that into probably the toughest road game on the schedule.

Follow Clemson up with Navy and USC without a week off and that’s likely when we’ll know just how good this team can be. For the first Notre Dame schedule without a Big Ten game in nearly 100 years, it’ll be an interesting year.

 

fightinmad35: How do you think ND would handle iconic rapper Snoop Dogg being around the program if his son were to commit or would the school shy away from his complicated image? His son Cordell, who has an offer from ND, is best friends with safety commit Nicco Fertitta and new commit Alize Jones, all from the famed Bishop Gorman program in Vegas. I can’t imagine the traditionalist welcoming Snoop as easily as say David Robinson.

Snoop has been on campus before and was well received. So while he’s hardly on the David Robinson side of the celebrity spectrum, there’s little chance he’d receive anything less than a warm welcome.

(Remember, Notre Dame opened its arms to Alex Rodriguez this football season.)

While Snoop’s son isn’t coming to South Bend so this is kind of a moot point, for all the worries and bluster of the “traditionalists” (usually coming behind the anonymity of an internet handle), I’m still looking for a famous person who hasn’t been warmly received at Notre Dame.

 

grammarnazi69: With the return of Jarrett Grace, is he a lock for the first reserve MLB in? Could he challenge Schmidt for starting reps? Will he switch positions? Also, will Ben Council see the field much this year?

I’m not so sure that Grace is ready to be on the field yet. While we received a promising update on his health during bowl season, going through practice and being ready to take snaps and go live are two very different things.

What happens with the linebacking spots next season remains to be seen. After a strong finish to a freshman All-American campaign, Nyles Morgan certainly seems like a lock to get more playing time. Whether that’s beside Joe Schmidt or playing behind him remains to be seen.

Where Jaylon Smith plays will factor into that. So will Brian VanGorder’s plan with the Sam linebacker — a spot that seemed to be more spare part than mandatory piece of the puzzle.

Ben Councell is an interesting player to watch. If you listen to some, you’d think a fifth-year isn’t necessarily assured. But if you look at his size and length, he’s a linebacker that is unlike any other in the depth chart, capable of banging in the box — if he’s healthy.

I guess I really don’t have an answer to your questions without seeing what happens this spring. So let’s revisit this after practice begins in early March.

 

runners00: When a recruit announces his intention to enroll at Notre Dame, has the recruit already been advised by Admissions that he is eligible to enroll at Notre Dame? Separately, when a verbal commit announces that he is no longer committed to Notre Dame, is it possible that Admissions denied his application?

The verbal commitment game is a tricky subject. It isn’t always as well orchestrated as you might suspect, and what a recruit says publicly (and what we run with) is likely viewed much differently by the coaching staff actually recruiting these players.

That said, Notre Dame has opened up their “offer” list to include players that still need to do work in the classroom. This is a function of existing in the modern ecosystem of recruiting, as it just isn’t possible to wait until the fall of a recruit’s senior season to make official offers like Notre Dame did during the Davie and Willingham era.

A recruit “de-committing” is often times code for admissions issues. Multiple reports from places like Irish 247 and Irish Sports Daily point to that being the culprit with Prentice McKinney.

But that’s life at Notre Dame. And Brian Kelly has done a very good job thriving even with those limitations.

 

onward2victory: Keith if you were a 5* recruit right now that had offers everywhere, what school would you choose (other than ND)? And how would you announce your decision?

I love this question. And I can certainly tell you that my answer today is much different than the one I’d have given you when I was a senior in high school.

But I’d take my official visits* (excluding Notre Dame) to the following schools:

Stanford — I’m a sucker for all things Palo Alto, and it’s a great place for life after football.
Michigan — As a kid growing up in the Midwest, it was the premier program of my youth.
UCLA — Playing college football in the Rose Bowl and going to school in Westwood. Not bad.
Miami — This goes back to former Cretin quarterback(s) Steve (and Chris) Walsh.
Washington — I’d want to go somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle sounds great.

I’d make my announcement on Twitter. Definitely not at the College Football Hall of Fame.

*Reserve the right to change any one of these if the bagman came with a compelling offer.