Tag: Pete Sampson

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Friday notes: Tuitt, Diaco’s D, Recruiting and more


There’s plenty we can talk about, so let’s get it all out there as we enter the final days of the 2011 recruiting season. (Meanwhile in Ann Arbor, new head coach Brady Hoke has  a semi-vacant coaching staff and only 11 commitments, with some hanging by a thread…)

Bravo to Pete Sampson at IrishIllustrated.com for getting the definitive Stephon Tuitt interview. Tuitt recaps what the hectic process was like and why he flipped back to Notre Dame just a day after committing to Georgia Tech. (Here’s a hint — his initials are BK):

“What really shocked me was when he told me multiple times that if I was just some great player out there that everybody loved and everybody recruited, if I was just a good football player, that he never would have came,” Tuitt said. “He said the reason he came was that I’m a great football player, a great character person and to have both of those, to be able to handle myself in public and keep positive eyes on me, that was important.

“That’s like all the work I’ve been doing, not putting myself in the spotlight. I really appreciated that.”

While many Georgia Tech fans have Tuitt’s mom all but forcing him to Notre Dame, Tuitt squashed that rumor pretty quickly, while also explaining to Sampson why he sat down with the Irish coaches after his high school coach announced that he wouldn’t be meeting with anybody other than Georgia Tech coaches.

“Out of respect I wanted to at least give him a chance to talk,” Tuitt said. “When a head coach says he’s going somewhere and he stops the flight and turns it completely back around, then gets all the defensive coaches and they’re sitting in your living room, that was an honor for me.”

Sounds like the man in charge also has some recruiting chops…


When he’s not being compared favorably to Chuck Norris (by men) and Don Draper (by the ladies), Bob Diaco has turned into a closer on the recruiting trail, something I’ve been talking about since the opening days of Diaco’s tenure.

While it was a bit harder to trumpet Diaco’s virtues after the dispiriting loss to Navy, I take great pride in staying firmly entrenched on the Diaco bandwagon, even if I was the only guy on there for a while. But after a stretch of games that had to be included in some of the most dominating team defensive of the modern ND era, the unit’s improvement has been startling.

Even with a secondary down to two healthy scholarship safeties and three cornerbacks that had seen any playing time, the improvement there (with a huge assist by defensive backs coach Chuck Martin) was amazing.

Here’s your fun fact of the week:

2009 — Yards Per Attempt (Passing): 8.0 — T-99th in the country.
2010 — Yards Per Attempt (Passing): 6.4 — T-28th in the country.

2009 — Touchdown passes allowed: 17 — T-50th in country
2010 — Touchdown passes allowed: 11 — 8th in the country.

We’re going to do way more statistical stuff this offseason that I’m really excited about, but those two stats are pretty amazing when you consider how hamstrung the secondary was this year.


While Brian Kelly was back on campus talking to the media today, he’s been visiting recruits homes and keeping his foot on the gas pedal until the ink is dry on Signing Day. We will spend plenty of time talking about the class ND brings in, but every recruit that joins the class likely means one less fifth-year player is coming back to play.

I tweeted it earlier, but it’s official: David Ruffer is coming back to school. But as Notre Dame awaits word on two-way lineman Troy Niklas, running back Savon Huggins, and long-snapper Bryce Haynes, there’s going to be a very interesting game of roster management going on in the football offices at the Gug.

Kelly mentioned that every fifth year candidate has applied for another year, which says a lot about how much the veterans bought into the new regime. Unless there’s a rash of transfers, Notre Dame won’t be able to accept all of them back. While it sounds cut throat, this is a great problem for Notre Dame to have, and finally gets the school a little pub on the fantastic website OverSigning.com, which has been documenting this dirty little secret for quite some time.


Here’s some required reading, done by some other websites this week:

* The boys at Rakes of Mallow break down the Zone Read. Great Xs and Os stuff.

* Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune goes deep on this all-things ND football chat.

* ESPN Chicago talks with Aaron Lynch about the chaos of recruiting.

* Bob Davie talks to the Free Press about former Notre Dame assistant coach Greg Mattison and his return to Michigan. Mattison left the Baltimore Ravens to take the same job at Michigan.

Lynch u-turns again, Irish visit on tap

Aaron Lynch

The recruiting saga of Aaron Lynch, one-time Irish commitment, recent Florida State pledge, and soon to be early-enrollee, has taken another u-turn. And this time, it appears it’s in the Irish’s favor.

The last time the Irish and the Seminoles battled for a recruit like this, the guy ended up in the UFL.

Well, maybe we’re skipping a little too far ahead in the story, but Notre Dame fans have to remember the epic recruiting battle for the five-star running back Lorenzo Booker, who had all but committed to the Irish when a last second phone call to Booker by a Seminoles’ assistant coach flipped his decision. As Irish fans looked on in horror, Booker put on a Florida State hat on ESPN, squirting lemon in the eye of both Ty Willingham’s coaching staff and members of ND Nation everywhere.

That Booker never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season at Florida State, bounced out of the NFL to the UFL before resurfacing in Minnesota this season as a kick returner isn’t the point. The point is that Notre Dame and Florida State are once again engaged in battle royal for a blue-chip recruit, and the Irish just might have pulled the rug out from under the Seminoles at the eleventh hour.

As IrishSportsDaily.com reported early today, Lynch has defied all odds and decided to schedule a recruiting visit to Notre Dame for next weekend. Just days after “getting closure” with wide receivers coach Tony Alford, Lynch has gone the other direction, giving Irish fans reason to salivate that Notre Dame could add Stephon Tuitt, Lynch, and potentially Ishaq Williams to their front seven from the US Army All-American rosters in San Antonio.

Catching up with Lynch in San Antonio, just four days after getting the closure comments from the talented defensive end, here’s what Lynch had to say to Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated:

“I’m all screwed up right now,” Lynch said. “That’s all I gotta say. I’m all screwed up right now.”

Adding to the dilemma, Lynch’s early enrollment at Florida State is seemingly all but off the table, with the spring semester starting in Tallahassee on January 4th.

As for the legendary status of Alford among ND recruitniks, this quote is sure to go to the top of Alford’s resume.

“It’s not like he’s been staying on me, he’s just been a father figure throughout the whole thing,” Lynch said. “He’s just been there the whole time, just talking to me. They’ve just been by my side the whole time. They haven’t given up. A lot of colleges, ‘Oh we don’t have a chance. Well, if you say this we’re going to stop.’ Notre Dame didn’t care, they just kept coming and coming and coming.”

(Score another one against the myth that Brian Kelly and his staff wouldn’t be good recruiters.)

Outside of Alford’s dogged work, you’ve got to wonder what factor Lynch’s arbitrary workout outfit played in this entire swing. If you ever believed in the power of Twitter, consider that early on in San Antonio, Lynch was spotted wearing an ND workout shirt to practice, forcing one writer (this guy) to point and wonder on Twitter. Follow the chain to Sampson, who was actually in San Antonio and spoke with Lynch, who at the time said there was no chance he was coming to South Bend. Who knows what happened after that, but it ended with Lynch scheduling a visit to South Bend next weekend, just days before Notre Dame starts classes and Lynch hypothetically enrolls in school.

Of course, there’s likely a few more twists and turns to this story and Lynch’s decision to visit is far from him actually committing to Notre Dame. As we saw with Booker, these stories often times are anti-climatic. But for the time being, we can all thank Aaron Lynch for keeping things interesting…