Leftovers & Links: On recruiting’s return, Hawaiian food and a devastating Notre Dame loss

Notre Dame football
Notre Dame Athletics
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The world is slowly, ever so slowly and in some instances not cautiously enough, getting back to some vague representation of normal, and that includes college football. The recruiting dead period will end June 1, which means Notre Dame can once again visit recruits and have them visit campus and interact with the Irish coaches while there.

For a school recruiting nationally and relying on its campus as its crown jewel to entice teenagers, the last 15 months have been a unique challenge, one Notre Dame met by finishing the class of 2021 at No. 9, per rivals.com’s recruiting rankings. And while lessons from that will be applied moving forward — Irish head coach Brian Kelly very much prefers Zoom conversations to texts, feeling he can make an impression on and better understand an entire family through the video conferences — that is not a challenge Notre Dame would like to face for another entire cycle.

“We’re obviously very, very excited to get young people on this campus and their parents,” recruiting coordinator Mike Elston said last week. “Notre Dame is a place that we’ve always felt, coach Kelly has always felt, you have to visit to understand. Let’s face it, you can go to a lot of campuses in the SEC and you see one, you’ve seen quite a few of them. Those are carbon copies of each other. Notre Dame is different. You have to come to our campus and you have to see it.”

No signees in the class of 2021 ever officially visited campus, and obviously, no commits or targets in the class of 2022 have yet, either. The Irish need to balance working with those recruits against readying for the class of 2023, so Elston’s focus is getting the younger prospects onto campus sooner, and the in-season visits can then be devoted more to the class of 2022.

ON PUNTING
Couldn’t have said any of this better.

REMEMBERING LOU
Some compliments are more abstractions than realities, offered to describe a general demeanor than a specific ability or characteristic. All too often, calling someone “kind” fits that bill. Not when describing Lou Somogyi.

The elder statesman of the Notre Dame football beat, covering the Irish for 40 years, died Saturday at 58. When Blue & Gold Illustrated reported this devastating news, two words were repeated over and over again by people remembering Lou. “Encyclopedic” and “kindness.” The first of those often served as an underlying punchline among beat members. Any question of “When was the last time Notre Dame …?” was met with, “I don’t know, ask Lou.” He would, without fail, know the answer.

His kindness, though, was even more thorough, more defining, more memorable. Lou Somogyi did not have an ounce of anger or malice in his entire body in the 10 years I knew him, fortunate to have even worked with him for a brief stretch in there. When a young reporter was held back by his own immaturity, Lou’s kind words of encouragement would echo in his ears for years to come. No interaction with Lou ever occurred without him smiling, without a chirp in his voice, without him being kind and polite.

Losing Lou so abruptly will lessen the coverage of Notre Dame football for years to come, but worse, it lessens the joy and camaraderie in that press box and in the lives of everyone who knew Lou.

ENCYCLOPEDIC
You will struggle to believe me when I tell you Lou remembered every stat and notable play in the last, conservatively, 50 years of Notre Dame football. Every is a word usually avoided around here, but it is accurate in this instance. Two examples come to mind.

In 2017, in particular, it seemed Josh Adams or the Irish offense neared or broke a record every week. Sometimes they were unexpected. Averaging 10.1 yards per carry at Boston College was a modern-era record no one foresaw needing to research. But Lou knew the record it broke, 10.0 yards per carry against the Naval Station Great Lakes in 1942. All season, when the Notre Dame media relations staff would be trying to figure out a statistical precedent, then-football information director Michael Bertsch would eventually just walk over to Lou’s seat and ask him.

The following year, during the Irish idle week, a coming opponent’s porous offensive line got me wondering what the Notre Dame record was for sacks in a game. I couldn’t find it in any media guide. I asked Bertsch. A few days later, he responded with an answer, albeit one that a few holes in past programs left him uncertain of. To which Bertsch then said, and I quote from that old phone, “FWIW, Lou doesn’t remember a game with more than 9.”

So nine is the record.

WHO AMONG US
Fifth-year defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa’s move to defensive end from defensive tackle apparently could have occurred when he first arrived in South Bend in 2017. Listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds as a recruit (and playing at 282 last year, for context), he could have immediately slid in at defensive end. Throughout his career, Tagovailoa-Amosa’s length has allowed him to be more of a disruptor than most defensive tackles, anyway. So why was he not at end from the outset?

“My passion was always for defensive end but — nobody knows this story — when I first came in, what happened was, I just came in overweight,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said Saturday. “The Hawaiian food, it will get you. I came in overweight and they just moved me inside. I put my head down, went to work, and my last season here, I just wanted a shot, one shot outside.”

What Hawaiian food does Tagovailoa-Amosa miss most or try to recreate most often? Here is where your preconception may betray the “Who among us?” sentiment.

“A lot of the guys on the team love the Hawaiian food that we make or try to make,” he said. “But Spam used to be something that has been constantly made out here helping us keep our weights up, which is basically Spam, seaweed and rice.

“Some guys are probably cringing right now listening to what I just said, Spam, but I tell you right now, if I were to make it, it would be really good and you would be persuaded to like it.”

PEACOCK
Once again, your weekly reminder that the Blue-Gold Game on May 1 will be broadcast exclusively on NBC’s streaming app, Peacock, which should be accessible on every television outside of a basement workroom, and probably even on most of those.

There is no reason to expect Notre Dame’s 2030 home matchup with Indiana (announced Monday) to be broadcast on Peacock, but the spring finale can serve as your trial run just in case. The Irish will then travel to Bloomington in 2031.

INSIDE THE IRISH:
Hart & Houston answering Notre Dame’s two biggest defensive questions
Where Notre Dame was & is: Special teams, now featuring Chris Tyree, but how much?
Polian and Elston swapping roles brings Notre Dame ‘fresh perspective,’ particularly in recruiting
Moving an established starter only helps Notre Dame’s defensive line depth
Notre Dame’s offensive line comes into focus thanks to early-enrolled duo and a fifth-year utility man

OUTSIDE READING:
2021 NFL mock draft: All 7 rounds and 259 picks, from Trevor Lawrence to Feleipe Franks
2021 NFL draft CB rankings
2021 NFL Draft LB Superlatives: Best blitzer, most versatile, best tackler and more
DI Council adopts new transfer legislation
More than 90 percent of Notre Dame undergraduate and professional students vaccinated
Tracking COVID-19 at Notre Dame
Lou Somogyi, ND football reporter and Observer alum, dies at 58