And in that corner… The North Carolina Tar Heels

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Notre Dame started the all-important month of October off with a win against Stanford. This weekend they return to their new ACC roots, welcoming Larry Fedora’s North Carolina Tar Heels to South Bend.

During the preseason, Carolina had the look of a dangerous upstart — a team that finished their 2013 season winning six of seven games with an offense that’s set 40+ records in Fedora’s short tenure in Chapel Hill. But the youth on the Tar Heels’ roster has hurt them early this season, and after wins over Liberty and San Diego State, North Carolina has lost three straight to East Carolina, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

The losses have exposed some flaws, most notably a defense that’s the lowest ranked unit of any Power Five conference participant. And while the offense is scoring at a healthy clip, it’s tough to win games when you’re giving up 42 points a Saturday.

To get us up to speed, we caught up with Daniel Wilco. He’s senior sports writer for North Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. Wilco hails from Atlanta, spent his summer interning at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and is a senior majoring in advertising.

Let’s get ready for this weekend’s visitor.

 

Looking through the headlines this week about North Carolina and the Tar Heels’ 2-3 start, I was surprised that most focused on the offense. Am I missing something or isn’t the defense giving up 42 points a game?

You’re not missing much. Prior to the Virginia Tech game, UNC’s defense was definitely the problem everyone was focused on. They allowed the most yards (789) and points (70) UNC has every allowed in a game during the ECU blowout everyone would rather forget about. Then the next week, the Tar Heels allowed Clemson’s freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson to set a school single-game record with six touchdown passes in his first career start.

But against the Hokies, there was a different story. On the first play from scrimmage, both tackles on the young and injury-prone offensive line were beat and Marquise Williams was strip-sacked, giving VT the ball on the 16-yard line. Not allowing points there would have been a miracle.

Though the team did give up a long touchdown drive later in the 1st, they allowed only three more points for VT’s offense until the 4th quarter. That stand gave UNC plenty of chances to pull closer with one or two scoring drives on offense, but that never happened, and thus, the criticism.

The defense’s struggles have been old news in Chapel Hill, and when they did show signs of improvement against the Hokies, they got no help. Two of VT’s scoring drives started in the red zone after turnovers and seven points came from a pick-6. The offense’s absence Saturday offered a fresh reason as to why the team came up empty.

 

Back to the offense, it looks like you had a pretty strong opinion about the quarterback platoon. You certainly aren’t alone. If it were up to you, how would you split snaps between Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky? On paper, it doesn’t make much sense for Trubisky to be playing. What’s Fedora doing here?

For the most part, I wouldn’t split snaps between them. The current system really doesn’t make sense on paper, on camera or on the field. To be clear, I don’t think that Trubisky is an awful quarterback, or that Williams is a perfect one, but in the current two-quarterback offense Fedora persists upon running, neither one can play to the best of their ability.

Fedora might be trying to give Trubisky valuable playing time in order to grow the redshirt-freshman quarterback for the future, or maybe he still doesn’t completely trust Williams, but he needs to stop being indecisive. UNC has been drastically worse on its third and fourth drives this season and that isn’t a coincidence.

What Tar Heel fans can only hope is that Fedora promised Trubsiky playing time during recruitment and sticking to his word. Trubisky was Mr. Ohio and had offers from Alabama, Michigan State and Ohio State, yet he chose scandal-riddled North Carolina. There is speculation Fedora promised valuable playing time on an up-and-coming team to the Ohio native and hopefully that is true. Anything else would make less than zero sense.

 

Let’s get to the defensive side of the ball. Late last season, it looked like this group had found its rhythm. But the numbers have been really, really ugly for this group. Is it possible to peg these struggles to one thing? Have injuries ravaged this group? A youthful depth chart? What exactly is going on here?

The youth definitely has something to do with it. The secondary lost Tre Boston and Jabari Price and the line lost Kareem Martin. All three combined for eight of 20 turnovers and were in the top four of tacklers on the team last year. Martin had 21.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks. Those numbers are sorely missed this season. Through the first five games, UNC is allowing 80.8 yards per game through the air more than last season. And while the defensive line has improved this season in stopping short gains, the team is consistently beat on the long ball — UNC has allowed 14 of 27 touchdowns from outside of the red zone.

 

Larry Fedora promised to deliver some offensive fireworks when he took over the program in 2012. He’s done that. But assess the head coach and his staff as we’re at the quarter-turn of year three?

He definitely has, and at times it’s thrilling to watch. Where Fedora’s system thrives is with explosive and trick plays. Ryan Switzer is a perfect example of this. The freshman phenom had five punt returns for touchdowns last season, but he’s also thrown two passes in his career at UNC, and both went for touchdowns. Even punter Tommy Hibbard has recorded a throwing touchdown this season. I like Fedora’s guts and his courage to call risky plays in tough situations, but the team finds itself in tough situations way too often.

Where the “Smart, Fast, Physical,” system falls short however, is when the team can’t rack up first downs. The team was 2-for-17 on 3rd and 4th downs against VT. UNC’s defense was on the field for 41 minutes against Virginia Tech, 34 minutes against Clemson and 35 at ECU. Furthermore, the “Smart” aspect of his formula has been noticeably absent recently. The Tar Heels had 15 penalties against Clemson and 10 more against VT, including two offside calls that took a VT 3rd-and-6 to a 1st-and-goal. UNC is ranked No. 118 out of 125 FBS schools in penalties this season. Those numbers are not conducive to getting stops.

Notre Dame fans remember Elijah Hood, the five-star back that was committed to the Irish before deciding to stay home. He looks like he’s having some early success this season. And Ryan Switzer’s true freshman season may just be the greatest season Irish fans have never heard about. 

Elijah Hood has definitely shown promise this season, but again, there’s some unfulfilled potential. He’s been the standout that he was expected to be in the running backs corps, but that corps has been drastically underutilized. Going back to the Virginia Tech game, three backs accounted for just 15 yards on nine carries.

Marquise Williams’ dual threat capabilities are phenomenal, but they’re also a tad overused. Williams leads all rushers this season with 11.4 carries per game, while Hood leads the backs with 7.8 per game. When Hood does get the ball, he’s a workhorse. He’s averaging 4.3 yards per carry and always seems to fall forward (he has only three negative yards this season).

Though he’s had a somewhat slow start compared to his breakout season last year, Switzer seems to fit perfectly in Fedora’s system, as I mentioned above. He’s extremely quick out of the gate and hard to bring down one-on-one. Also he’s got quite the arm (a 925.6 QBR last season and a 724.0 QBR this year). I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds himself throwing his third pass of his career in South Bend. If anyone wants to know more, they can check out my feature on Switzer from this preseason.

 

North Carolina’s offense is statistically out-playing Notre Dame’s. What should the Irish defense be worried about? 

Mack Hollins. The special teams walk-on turned wide receiver has been the highlight of UNC’s young talent and a consistent deep threat. His 20.5 yards per catch leads all receivers who have at least 10 catches, and he’s hauled in three touchdowns as well. But it’s the way he makes those catches that truly stands out. Take it from Marquise Williams. “You always should look for Mack Hollins,” Williams said after practice last week. “You can throw the ball five feet out of bounds, he’ll probably still catch it, that’s how good Mack Hollins is.”

 

There are some intriguing pieces on defense. Junior Gnonkonde looks like a load coming off the edge. Brian Walker looks like a ballhawk on paper. How do you see Dan Disch’s defense trying to slow down Everett Golson and the Irish?

It’s really all or nothing with the UNC secondary. When they aren’t completely forgetting that two receivers are on the field, they’re recording an interception every game, including a 100-yard pick-6 by Walker and a last-minute, game-saving interception in the end zone by Tim Scott against San Diego State. Still, the pass defense this season has been atrocious. UNC is ranked No. 121 out of 125 FBS schools in passing yards allowed and almost no amount of interceptions can make up for that.

Junior Gnonkonde and Nazair Jones have also come out of relatively nowhere to add much needed strength to the defensive line. Though the line struggled in the first three games, it has shown the most improvement on the defensive side of the ball since the ECU blowout, though that isn’t saying too much. Jones and Gnonkonde are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in tackles for a loss, and Jones is tied for the most sacks on the team with two. If these two can continue improving during the season as they have been so far, the defensive line could quickly become one UNC’s greatest assets.

 

The odds don’t look good for the Tar Heels this weekend. But the Irish are coming off an emotion and physical victory over Stanford and have a date in Tallahassee next week, with just about every Irish fan thinking this Saturday could be a trap. What’s the formula for Larry Fedora’s team pulling off the upset?

History is definitely not on UNC’s side. The Tar Heels have never beaten a team ranked higher than eighth on the road and are 0-11 at Notre Dame. But it isn’t completely out of the question. North Carolina is a decent team plagued by silly mistakes. For the upset to happen, UNC is going to have to find more of a run game than Williams, as Notre Dame has only allowed four passing touchdowns this season. The Tar Heels will also have to limit turnovers if they hope to stand a chance.

Three turnovers against VT led to 21 points for the Hokies and a deflated offense for UNC. It doesn’t look good for the Tar Heels in South Bend this weekend, but with a few successful trick plays, fewer momentum-killing penalties and a strong showing by the secondary, as Kevin Garnett said, anything is possible.

***

Special thanks to Daniel for taking the time to answer my questions. For more heading into this weekend’s game, check out the football coverage at the Daily Tar Heel and follow Daniel on Twitter @Daniel_Wilco

 

Reports: Tommy Rees heads to Alabama after 10 total years at Notre Dame

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 23 Notre Dame Spring Game
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If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Tommy Rees will leave Notre Dame to do just that, heading to be the offensive coordinator at Alabama, according to reports Friday afternoon. Nick Saban and the Tide denied Rees a national championship as a player in 2012 and a title game appearance as an offensive coordinator in 2020.

The South Bend Tribune‘s Mike Berardino first reported Rees’s decision, coming a day after reports initially surfaced that Rees was Alabama’s preferred choice for the gig, and he had flown to Tuscaloosa to consider the position.

Those unbeaten regular seasons, along with one in 2018 as the Irish quarterbacks coach, were the high points of Rees’ total of a decade with the Notre Dame football program. Like his former head coach, he will now head to the SEC chasing a higher peak.

Of course, Rees spurned Brian Kelly’s invite to join him at LSU last winter, instead memorably telling the Irish offensive players, “I’m [bleepin’] staying,” setting the tone for the first week of Marcus Freeman‘s tenure as Notre dame head coach.

RELATED READING: Tommy Rees turns down Brian Kelly’s LSU overture and will remain at Notre Dame
Jack Swarbrick, Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees brought stability to Notre Dame long before and obviously after Brian Kelly sowed chaos

Alabama made an offer Rees could not refuse, even if a year ago he said, “I love this place (Notre Dame). I believe that we can win a national championship here, and I’m committed to doing everything we can to get to that point.”

Going to Tuscaloosa does not render those words empty. Rees is going to work for the greatest college football coach in history in a role that has repeatedly springboarded coaches to better opportunities. Since Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, his offensive coordinators have gone on to be, in chronological order, the assistant head coach at Texas (Major Applewhite), head coach at Colorado State (Jim McElwain), offensive coordinator at Michigan (Doug Nussmeier), head coach at Florida Atlantic (Lane Kiffin), head coach at Texas (Steve Sarkisian) and offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots (Bill O’Brien).

Thus, Rees is bettering both his chances at a national title in the short term and his presumed path to whatever gig he wants next in the long term.

He leaves Notre Dame after three seasons as the Irish offensive coordinator, which came after three years as the quarterbacks coach. The Irish have ranked No. 41, No. 19 and No. 30 in scoring offense the last three seasons, peaking with 35.2 points per game in 2021, the second-highest total in Brian Kelly’s tenure.

But perhaps Rees’s finest moment as a Notre Dame assistant came when he finessed a mid-season quarterback switch to Ian Book from Brandon Wimbush despite the Irish remaining unbeaten throughout 2018. In some respects, Rees threaded a similar needle in 2021, incorporating Wisconsin graduate transfer Jack Coan, then-freshman Tyler Buchner and spot-reliever Drew Pyne; each quarterback could be credited as responsible for at least one win as the Irish made a Playoff push.

Then this past season, Rees responded to Buchner’s shoulder sprain that cost him 10 games by working with Pyne to piecemeal an offense.

From December of 2021:

Rees has considered leaving his alma mater before, reportedly interviewing to be Miami’s offensive coordinator in recent years, not to mention weighing Kelly’s offer from LSU 14 months ago, as well as a previous brief dalliance with Alabama a few years ago.

After leading Notre Dame’s offense in one way or another for 10 of the last 13 years, Rees has finally opted to do so elsewhere. It just so happens to be as part of the team that twice turned back the Irish and now faces Kelly every fall.

Opportunities abound for Tommy Rees, earned recognition after a decade at Notre Dame

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A lot of people go to college for seven years. For Tommy Rees, it has been 10 years at Notre Dame, so to speak.

Whether or not Rees leaves his alma mater this week, as multiple Thursday reports indicated Rees is the frontrunner to be Alabama’s next offensive coordinator, there is no bad choice in front of him. Either Rees returns as the Irish offensive coordinator for a fourth season, continues his pursuit of winning a national championship at Notre Dame after three postseason trips already in his career, or he learns under the best college football coach in history in a position that has springboarded coaches to greener pastures for about a decade now.

Irish fans may spend most of their falls criticizing Rees’s play calls, but he is clearly someone well-respected in the coaching community. Seen as a future coach when he was a player and then navigating multiple delicate quarterback situations at Notre Dame, this is not the first time Nick Saban has chased Rees. He reportedly did so following the 2019 season, when Rees had not even spent a day as an offensive coordinator.

Instead, Rees took over that gig in South Bend, losing to Alabama in the 2020 College Football Playoff, albeit a more competitive showing than when Rees and the Irish fell to the Tide in the 2012 title game. Miami sought Rees in recent years, and whispers of vague NFL interest have popped up more offseasons than not.

If most of those people who go to college for seven years are called doctors, then Rees has put together a doctorate-level intellect evidenced by who wants to hire him. Alabama publicly sending a branded plane to South Bend to ferry Rees for a visit on Thursday underscored that reputation.

Set aside the forced references to “Tommy Boy” — though the similarities do go past the first name and to a Catholic university in the Midwest — and realize Rees will leave Notre Dame at some point, probably sooner than later.

Maybe he joins Saban this weekend. Alabama needs to navigate a first-year starter at quarterback next year in a conference that quickly seemed to catch up to the Tide last season, with both LSU and Tennessee staking claims as competitors with Georgia already clearly out in front and Mississippi in the mix. Competing with former Irish head coach Brian Kelly every year would make for juicy headlines, but what speaks louder to Rees’s credit is that this is the time Saban wants to snag him, when Alabama’s footing may be less secure than at any point since the ‘00s.

Maybe Rees returns to Notre Dame, teams with Wake Forest graduate transfer quarterback Sam Hartman to ready for three top-10 matchups in 2023, and gets the Irish into the College Football Playoff for a third time in six years with the only constant quite literally being Rees.

Oh, and both scenarios should come with plenty of money.

Rees has no bad choice in front of him. That is a credit to him, even if fans would rather lampoon him than step back and acknowledge the intricacies of playcalling.

If he heads to Alabama, the annual matchups with LSU will become delightful fodder from afar. His Notre Dame legacy will include “Call duo until you can’t speak,” his emphatic play call when he left the coaches’ booth early as the Irish upset Clemson this past November, and “I’m [bleepin’] staying,” Rees’s declaration to the offensive players last December amid a week of tumult.

If he stays in South Bend, the next matchup with anyone in the SEC, most likely a 2023 bowl game, will drip with an on-field chance at validation. That legacy will include spurning college football’s best not once, but twice.

For a quarterback who lost his starting job at Notre Dame not once (2011 preseason), but twice (2012 preseason), some pride has been earned. Saban’s stamp of approval carries all the weight needed in college football to assure someone of their professional standing.

It may have taken a decade, but Rees can now know he belongs with the best, no matter what decision he makes this weekend.

The lull of National Signing Day underscores need to move the early signing period

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The early-morning chaos of today’s National Signing Day did not disappear with the implementation of the December “early” signing period in the 2018 recruiting cycle. It just moved six weeks earlier.

In 2014, waking up at 6:45 a.m. ET to be logged on and publishing at 7 a.m. led to noticing one expected recruit had not yet signed with Notre Dame by 8 a.m. Pointing that out and reminding the world Michigan State was making a late push led to an Irish media relations staffer reaching out to quietly say something to the extent of, “Just letting the young man have his moment at school.”

In 2017, less than two weeks after taking over this gig, waking up at 3 a.m. CT to churn through 2,000 words before signings could begin becoming official eventually led to napping through Brian Kelly’s Signing Day press conference.

Nothing changed 10 months later. That December, the afternoon of Dec. 22, the Friday before Christmas, was spent waiting for receiver Braden Lenzy to officially choose Notre Dame over Oregon. Sitting at your parents’ kitchen table not helping your niece make a gingerbread house because recruiting-obsessed fans harassed a player through two de-commitments is not a strong way to conjure up holiday spirit.

Coaches across the country advocated for the earlier signing period, claiming it would allow high-school seniors to make their collegiate decisions official earlier on in their senior years, particularly when the prospects had already made up their minds on where to play football at the next level. That was all optics, if even that.

These high schoolers now make their decision official just six weeks earlier. In the preps football calendar, those six weeks are meaningless. Both the December signing period and today, the traditional National Signing Day, come well after the high-school seasons have ended.

The truth was, coaches across the country did not want to tend to their solid commitments over Christmas and New Year’s, particularly not amid bowl prep. It was self-serving at best and short-sighted at worst.

First of all, when the December signing period became reality in 2017, one-time transfers were not yet allowed without losing eligibility the following season. Secondly, no one predicted the early signing period would lead to the coaching carousel beginning earlier and earlier in the season. September firings used to be the result of only off-field scandals, not outright expected from half a dozen programs each fall. Athletic directors now want that headstart on hiring a new coach so he can have time before the December signing period commences.

Exhibit A: Notre Dame may have ended up with Marcus Freeman as its head coach after Brian Kelly’s abrupt departure following the 2021 season, but if the primary signing date had not been lingering just a few weeks away, Kelly likely would not have jumped to LSU before the College Football Playoff field was set, and Irish director of athletics Jack Swarbrick would have taken more time in choosing his next head coach, more than the 48 hours he used last December. After all, Swarbrick took 10 days in hiring Kelly in 2009.

Lastly, with a 12-team Playoff coming in 2025, December will become only more hectic.

Those head coaches who wanted a little less stress over the holidays will then have to deal with, in chronological order:

— Keeping their own jobs.
— Securing their recruiting classes in the days immediately preceding Christmas.
— Preparing their teams for bowl games.
— Preparing their teams for up to four games if in the Playoff.
— Re-recruiting any players considering entering the transfer portal before the winter window closes.
— Winning a bowl game.
— Retaining their coaching staffs.
— Oh, and celebrate the holidays with their families, as was their want when they hollered for the early signing period.

Most of those tasks are immutable and inherent to the sport.

But one can move. It already has once.

The logic is too clear. Nothing was gained in moving up the primary signing date by six weeks. And sanity was lost.

This is, of course, a sport that prefers to ignore logic, but usually that is charming. A mustard bottle on the field is quirky; lacking a worthwhile voice of authority is stubbornly stupid.

So the early signing period may not move as soon as it should (now), but it will move. There are no anti-trust worries tied to it, fortunately.

And aside from the logic, cramming more content into December costs the media, too. Spreading out that context through the vacuum of mid-January to mid-March will be much appreciated.

Leftovers & Links: An early look at Notre Dame’s seven commits in the class of 2024, including QB CJ Carr

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The traditional National Signing Day is this Wednesday, and for yet another year, Notre Dame has no intentions of inking any high-school recruits on the first Wednesday of February. The recruiting calendar has so changed that the Irish have not signed a recruit in February since 2021, when running back Logan Diggs pondered a late LSU push before doubling down on his Notre Dame commitment. Before that, not since 2019, when defensive end Isaiah Foskey publicly did so in order to be a part of his high school’s ceremonies.

Notre Dame turned its focus entirely onto the class of 2024 following December’s early signing period, when it inked a class of 24 players that ranks No. 9 in the country, per rivals.com.

Now with nearly 10 months to go before the next decision day to influence the narrative around Irish head coach Marcus Freeman’s recruiting focus, he already has pledges from seven players in the class of 2024. Class rankings this early in the cycle are rather meaningless, but for the sake of thoroughness, the Notre Dame class of 2024 is currently ranked No. 2 in the country, behind only Georgia with nine recruits pledged to date.

One player stands out among the early Irish seven. He stands out to such a degree this space broke from usual form when he committed in early June. To pull from that opening,

“This space has a general rule to not report on recruiting developments classes ahead of time. Worrying about the thoughts of high school seniors is enough of an oddity; focusing on juniors and underclassmen is outright absurd.

“But exceptions exist to prove rules, and Notre Dame landing the commitment of the No. 3 quarterback in the class of 2024 — prospects entering their junior years of high school — is such an exception.”

Consensus four-star quarterback CJ Carr is now only the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the class and the No. 14 recruit overall, but he is the kind of key piece to a recruiting class that the Irish lacked in 2023, despite Freeman’s continued excellence hauling in defensive prospects. Carr has been an active and vocal recruiter on his own for Notre Dame, not an unusual occurrence from an early commit but a habit the Irish have not garnered out of a quarterback in quite some time. Even Tyler Buchner, due to both the pandemic and his own soft-spoken nature, was not the loudest campaigner among his peers.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame beats out Michigan for Lloyd Carr’s grandson, QB CJ Carr

At 6-foot-3, Carr looks the part of a prototypical quarterback, and his arm strength fits in line with that thought. He has downfield touch that would open up Notre Dame’s playbook in a way entirely unseen in 2022.

The other six early commitments to the Irish in the class of 2024 …

Consensus four-star running back Aneyas Williams (Hannibal High School; Mo.), ranked as the No. 1 all-purpose running back and No. 106 recruit in the class, per rivals.com: There will be many comparisons to former Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams when Aneyas Williams arrives on campus, and though they are from the same state, there is no relation. The younger Williams can do a bit of everything while his 5-foot-10 frame carries plenty of punch. He lacks truly elite speed, as Kyren did, but obviously that did not kept the elder Williams from cracking 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

Consensus four-star receiver Cam Williams (Glenbard South H.S.; Glen Ellyn, Ill.), ranked as the No. 11 receiver and No. 102 recruit in the class: The Chicagoland product visited Iowa a handful of times and took looks at Michigan and Wisconsin, seemingly intent on staying in the Midwest. Williams has all the fundamentals wanted of a receiver, 6-foot-2 size combined with a comfort catching the ball. Time will reveal what part of his game, if any, develops into his specialty.

Consensus four-star tight end Jack Larsen (Charlotte Catholic; N.C.), ranked as the No. 7 tight end and No. 187 recruit in the class: Whether Larsen will be the next piece of “Tight End U” or not is a premature thought, but at 6-foot-3 and an ability to snag passes downfield over defenders, Larsen already looks the part. Credit a basketball background for that aerial ability.

Four-star offensive guard Peter Jones (Malvern Prep; Penn.), ranked as the No. 4 offensive guard and No. 99 recruit in the class: Jones plays tackle in high school, nearly an absolute requirement for any offensive line prospect chased by Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, but his playing style suggests a future on the inside of the line.

Consensus four-star defensive tackle Owen Wafle (Hun School; Princeton, N.J.), ranked as the No. 10 defensive tackle in the class: Pronounced like playful, not waffle, Wafle should add weight to his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame as he grows from a high-school junior into a college player. That may seem obvious, but the quality of that weight he adds in the next 20 months will be what most determines how quickly he can contribute in South Bend.

Consensus three-star cornerback Karson Hobbs (Archbishop Moeller; Cincinnati): Anyone committed right now has made a decision relatively early in the recruiting cycle, yet Hobbs was committed to South Carolina for three months before he flipped to Notre Dame in early November. Seeking out a committed three-star more than a year before he can officially sign may strike one as foolish, but Irish cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens has earned some leeway in his evaluations, given the early impacts of Benjamin Morrison and Jaden Mickey in 2022.

INSIDE THE IRISH
Ohio State, Clemson & Pittsburgh hurt most by early NFL draft entrants among Notre Dame’s opponents
40 Preseason Predictions Revisited, part I: Notre Dame’s rushing offense hid many early struggles
Part II: Notre Dame’s upset losses should have been expected from a first-year head coach
Part III: Notre Dame’s November far from the expected disappointment
Part IV: Notre Dame’s 2022 ended where it was always expected to

OUTSIDE READING
How QB Sam Hartman found trouble with turnovers in 2022
College QB Austin Reed got transfer portal offers comparable to late-round NFL draft picks
I requested my Notre Dame admissions file
Boston College, offensive coordinator John McNulty parting ways after 2022 struggles
Hamlin’s injury highlights precarious position of many young N.F.L. players
On the Broncos’ head-coaching finalists
Bally Sports RSNs headed for bankruptcy
Auditor: LSU overpaid Brian Kelly by more than $1M in 2022