Tag Archives: Recruiting

DTT Reviews ND Insider’s Season Preview Magazine

-Sgt Shamrock

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So by now I would assume that most of you have read at least one of the many season previews out there as the beginning of the 2014 Notre Dame Football season draws close. While I really hope you all check out our Fall Camp Primer, which you can find it HERE, there are plenty of other very good season previews out there. The amount of quality Notre Dame websites and blogs is truly amazing and really gives fans a vast amount of Notre Dame coverage. I recently was able to read ND Insider’s 2014 Season Preview Magazine powered by The South Bend Tribune and I was very pleased with the product. It was very well put together and was packed full of content. 

The magazine immediately catches your eyes once you see Jaylon Smith and Everett Golson, two of the premier star players on the Irish roster, on the cover. Once you flip past a few advertisements and the table of contents you find the season predictions from Eric Hansen, Al Lesar, Tyler James, and Bob Wieneke. Not only were the regular season records predicted by the South Bend Tribune Crew, but also things like “Hottest Tangent Topic- Field Turf, Mustaches, or Publix Crab Legs?” and what game is the yearly “Trap game”. The responses are pretty funny and should play well to all the ND interwebs folks who have plenty of laughs about the typical hot sports topics.

Following the predictions, the magazine transitions to the feature articles. The first Irish player was Everett Golson. Now from when Golson was dismissed from school in the spring of 2013 to his return to to the team and preparation for the upcoming season there have been countless articles and features written about Golson and his time away from Notre Dame. However I can say without a doubt that this article written by Eric Hansen is by far the best I have read. Not only does the article contain a great account of Golsons time in San Diego with quarterback guru George Whitfield, but also the events surrounding Golson immediately following his dismissal. Hansen also sheds light just how involved Notre Dame was in the decision of Golson to train with Whitfield and how the university had the possibility to nix the entire idea. During the time that Golson was away from Notre Dame, message board posters on multiple sites would always ask site mods if there was any update on how or what Golson was doing. Now those same posters can read this fantastic piece by Hansen and know what Golson was doing during the entire time away from the University.

Immediately after Hansen’s piece on Golson, Bob Wieneke follows it up with another very well written piece on Jaylon Smith, the star sophomore linebacker. Not only does it give great insight on Smith as a football player but it also gives insight on Jaylon Smith as a player off the field. Wieneke really sheds light on the switch from outside linebacker, where Smith played his freshman season under Bob Diaco, to inside linebacker this season under new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. The piece does a great job shedding light on Smiths work during the off-season training at AWP Sports Performance and his preparation for his much anticipated sophomore season in a new scheme.

Eric Hansen finishes off the feature article section with two well written and very informative articles on new defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder and Brian Kelly and how he is approaching his fifth season with a new perspective along with bits of advise from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Also you can find out what Brian Kelly does and does not like about the recruiting process and what coaching decision he would change from his first 4 seasons at Notre Dame.

Following the feature articles, the magazine goes into an in depth analysis of each position on the Irish roster including position battles, depth chart, and players to watch in each group. Its a great section to read as this years team is missing a lot of big names that Irish fans have been accustomed to seeing the past few years. I really enjoyed the Linebacker Analysis section and how it described Brian Van Gorders history with linebackers, how he uses them in his scheme, and the experience from the NFL that he brings to South Bend.

With a new football season always comes a new batch of players and for those who dont follow recruiting very closely throughout the year it can be difficult to learn all the new names and faces. Dont worry though because ND Insider and the boys at South Bend Tribune have you covered. They put together freshman profiles on each new addition to the Irish roster this season complete with rankings from various recruiting sites, fun facts, when they knew they were going to commit to Notre Dame, and who the hardest school/coach it was to say no too. It really gives the fans a good look into the new batch of the players that will suit up for the Irish this season. The magazine also looks at which incoming freshman have the best chance to excel and look at the “It” factor they bring to campus.

Finally Tyler James, the recruiting writer for the South Bend Tribune, gives fans an inside picture into what happens on campus on official visit weekends on campus complete with an itinerary of events. Not only that but Tyler really paints the picture of just how much planning goes into the big official visit weekends that most fans never see or would never even know would go on behind the scenes. Tyler provides some first hand experiences from current Irish player KeiVarae Russel and what occurred during his official visit to Notre Dame.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading ND Insiders Season Preview Magazine. It provided great insight into this years squad, the expectations, and some of the key players that will ultimately decide the success of this years team. The magazine did an outstanding job of not only focusing on the overall season preview but also the in depth analysis of the position groups, the new coaching additions as well as a good look into the world of recruiting for Notre Dame Football.

I really recommend that you purchase the ND Insiders Season Preview Magazine. You will not regret the decision. If you do want to get your own copy you can order either a printed copy or an iPad version at the South Bend Tribune website. The printed version is $12.95, which includes shipping, and the iPad version can be downloaded from the App Store. I really hope you guys will consider purchasing this outstanding preview. Its more than worth it.

You can purchase the printed version at https://www2.southbendtribune.com/ndannual/index.php

You can purchase the iPad version at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/notre-dame-football-preview/id890206389?mt=8

Another One Bites the Dust; Sykes transferring from ND

-Sgt Shamrock

Well folks it’s that time of year yet again in the yearly cycle of Notre Dame Football. That’s right it’s the offseason and you know what that means. Drama, drama, and yes more drama. Just a few weeks following the arrest of current Irish RB/WR Will Mahone that leaves his status with the football team in question, incoming freshman Nyles Sykes is transferring from Notre Dame just a few weeks after arriving on campus according to multiple media reports. Sykes, who was a three star Linebacker recruit on most of the recruiting sites, chose Notre Dame over schools like Syracuse and Cincinnati.

Now while it is never a “good” thing to lose a player ever for any reason, let’s pump the breaks on reacting like this was a huge loss. First of all it’s never worth getting worked up losing a player that has yet to contribute to the football team. Second, if you take a look at his offer sheet during the recruiting process, there was a lot left to be desired. Don’t get me wrong. The football coaching staff knows what they are doing far more than I could ever imagine and I RARELY question decisions they make about players they want. However Sykes was not the player that was going to come in and contribute right away and who knows just how much he would have contributed over his career. We will never know.

While this single loss isn’t really a big deal, it does bring to light an issue that comes up every season. I can not remember a single offseason where the Irish didn’t lose at least one scholarship player to some sort of off the field issue or to transfer. This is exactly why Notre Dame MUST start over signing players. The staff needs to take into account that they can expect to lose a player or two every offseason. Because now it sure looks likes the Irish will be starting the season with less than 85 scholarship players. This just can’t happen. It hurts roster depth which in turn hurts the chances for Notre Dame to win a championship.

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Curling. Irish-Drinking Style

We’re just a year (or so) away from signing day 2015! For the Twitter Recruiting-elite, it’s time to roll up the sleeves, get your hands ready, and start stalking a brand new group of 17 year olds.  Just kidding (kind of) about that.  But seriously, with National Letter of Intent Day behind us, there is this unfortunate dead period for college football enthusiasts.  Fortunately, once every four years, the World bestows upon us a gift called the “Winter Olympic Games.”  Most of the sports are a foreign language to American sports fans.  Yes, they’re foreign languages with an (in)appropriate number of sexually suggestive catch-phrases but foreign none-the-less. 

Included among these sports is a shining beacon of fun that I, in all seriousness, get excited to watch:  Curling.  I know what you’re thinking, so let’s get it out of the way:  Yes, this is the sport where Dick’s Sporting Goods is replaced by the Home Depot as your go to source for equipment.  IT HAS BROOMS!

If you’re interested in learning about the sport’s rules/procedures, etc., what better source than Wikipedia for your authority!

However, if you’re reading this blog, there’s a strong probability you’ve discovered this article by following @mrmayhem75, @goirishglory, or (god forbid) @IrishMoonJ.  My incredibly unscientific research leads me to believe the following things about you then:

  1. You’re real life persona masks an incredibly funny, unapologetically inappropriate online sense of humor,
  2. You’re a degenerate drinker, and
  3. You have a healthy dislike of all things Lane Kiffin.

I’m not quite sure how #3 ties into the point of this post, but it’s true, and I like you more for it.  There is a disconnect however, in that numbers 1 and 2 don’t always lead to you wanting to learn a new sport.  At the same time, it does suggest you’re game for an excuse to drink, and I’m here to accommodate.  Should you run across some men or women appearing to sweep away the dreams of their opponent and want to know when it’s a good idea to take a sip (or gulp) ((or chug)) of your favorite beverage, Down the Tunnel is proud to publish the simple to follow “Curling Drinking Game.”

Step One:  Make sure your volume’s on.  Seriously, this game won’t work otherwise.  Not to mention, the intricate, subtle dialogue of a curling match is quite interesting, and you won’t be able to get mad at the commentators because you’ll only vaguely know whether what they’re saying is cliché or not. 

Step Two:  Take a sip of your drink each time the “skip” (pronounced:  “person yelling at everyone else”) yells: “HARD, HARD, HARD…..whoa, whoa.”  Mmmmhmmm…this is suggestive.  Also, take a small sip because this happens FAR more than you might think.  This is a drinking game, so be liberal in your interpretation, but these are the key words to be listening for.  Finally, thank (and follow) @IrishRyg on Twitter.  He’s the president of the Notre Dame Curling Club and also developed this rule.

Step Three:  Each time the stone (the funny looking disc they throw) comes to rest in the bullseye, finish your drink.  This is a command from Down the Tunnel’s commander and chief Mayhem. 

That’s it.  The rules are simple.  The results are devastating.  Curling matches are looooong, and given that the IOC was blackmailed into giving Russia the Olympics, the curling matches are on at crazy times of the day.  It’s fine by me if you drink and go to work, drink at work, or neglect Valentine’s Day to participate.  I probably don’t have your best interests at heart, and telling your boss/significant other/family that the Internet told you to drink just never goes as well as you might hope.  Take it from me.

Finally, curling lasts most of the Olympics, and if you’re not opposed to paying exorbitant shipping costs, ND has a shirt for you via @thereidy (another person you should be following).  Hey, it’s Adidas brand, so it’s bound to be a collector’s item in the very near future.

Over the weekend I’ll try to put together a full television schedule for the curling matches.  You can also stream the matches live, and we might even set up a U.S. match “live” (pronounced:  featured replay) tweet/drinking event depending on how things go. 

In the meantime, LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

 

– IrishMoonJ 

January 2014: The Preston Jackson Smack-Talk-O-Meter

January can be a dark, dark time.  For those of us who set our clocks by the college football season, it’s the equivalent of Midnight:  You just sit around in your own head dwelling on the trivial, inane, and fantastic.  Far too much time gets spent on the three-second sound bite….just ask Richard Sherman.  With that in mind, I’m here to introduce my new offseason barometer:  “The Preston Jackson Smack-talk-o-meter”

For those that don’t remember the diminutive cornerback, here’s his official UND profile.  Some of my good college buddies (BH and C-Plan to name a couple) and I grew to love P-Jack.  He didn’t let the little things, like size or talent, get in the way of a great opportunity to jaw with the opposition.  Few players have shown the resolve of getting burned off the line only to recover in time to make an (assumed quality) yo’ mama joke at the end of the play the way P-Jack could.  He definitely put the “Fight” into “Fighting Irish” in the early 2000’s.

Of course, as that brief anecdote makes clear, the play wasn’t always worthy of the talk, which is how I feel about many of the topics that invade college football offseason.  Much like P-Jack, that doesn’t stop us from talking, but is there merit to the conversation?  The Preston Jackson Smack-talk-o-meter is here to help!  The way I see it (and since this is my scale, the way it is), there are five distinct categories to the Preston Jackson Smack-talk-o-meter:

Freshman P-Jack:  Sadly, P-Jack saw no game action his freshman year.  Deep down inside, I’ve got to imagine he was out on the practice field perfecting the insults that made him a force for years to come.  However, I’m not one for conjecture.  Or am I?  I’ll just let that stew…much like the topics that fall into this category.  On a more general level, this means I get why people are talking, but everyone’s just speculating without any real knowledge into the matter.

P-Jack Island:  While “island” usually connotes a place where receivers go to die, when it came to P-Jack Island, it was more similar to an all inclusive resort with a private beach.  P-Jack was the cabana boy as the gifts rained down from above.  Despite giving up a horrendous play, the chatter continued.  Topics in this category are the same.  Lots of talk without anything to back it up.

Action Jackson:  Sophomore year on P-Jack saw himself on the field a quality amount and peppered each appearance…each quarter…each snap of relevance as an audition on “American Idol.”  Let those vocal chords soar for better or worse!  Hey detractors, dude was playing football for the Fighting Irish.  STOP HATING.  In other words, some chatter’s deserved regardless of the result.

Tacklin’ Jackson:  38 of P-Jack’s 41 tackles came Junior and Senior year when he finally installed himself as the “go to” nickel back.  38 tackles may not seem like a lot (Jaylon Smith had 41 this year alone), but nobody, and I mean nobody, relished each opportunity to lay the smack down the way #15 did.  During those brief moments where Jackson lay atop his defeated foe, the words were decisive and swift.  These moments are worth talking about….even if some of them are just the inevitable end to folly; say after giving up a 25 yard reception.

P-Jack Pick:  The rarest of the rare, it’s when the performance, the importance of the moment justifies the talk.  P-Jack gave ND three of these during his career.  I use the term to describe offseason topic-try in a similarly rare vein.

So, we’re all on the same page now?  Good.  Let me take a brief tour of some of the January topics to invade the collective ND consciousness and grade them on the Preston Jackson Smack-talk-o-meter.  Keep in mind, I will not be discussing these topics at length.  I’m only evaluating them on their general merit for worthiness of discussing.

1. Golson’s Return – Okay, so as it turns out, “Tommy the Closer” couldn’t convert to starter quite as we hoped.  That hope was admittedly the type that would similarly put me in the same place and attractiveness universe of “The Americans” version Keri Russell, but still, coming off a National Title Game Appearance, it seemed disappointing.  EG’s dismissal was a very tough blow to the program.  Combine all those things together, and you can understand the anticipation around his return.  Not only is it the return of the QB who went 10-1 on the way to a NTG appearance, but well….mobility.  I fully endorse the expectation around his return and am excited to see what he can do.  There’s a reason beyond Chuck Martin’s departure that BK will publicly announce he’s back in the play calling seat, and thy name is Everett Golson.  Let’s couch our talk though in terms of a QB who didn’t put phenomenal numbers in that NTG run and is a year removed from all things ND.

Final Rating:  Tacklin’ Jackson

2. Coordinator Changes – This may be the toughest single category to judge.  Primarily because there are different facets that can be judged.  First, for those disappointed, understand that overall this is a good sign.  When other programs want your coordinators, it means you’re doing something right.  Bob Diaco seemed obvious.  Yes, he’s got his awkward qualities, but somehow that just makes him more endearing.  His departure appeared more a matter of “when” than “if.”  Young, charismatic, and with a healthy distaste of things that sap energy, other programs were bound to find him.  While Martin’s departure wasn’t as obvious, this was a proven coordinator and someone who’d even shown an ability to continue BK’s success at previous stops.

In come the new guys.  Mike Denbrock deserved the job.  He made total sense, and really my only surprise is how long it took.  However, given BK’s background and method of leadership, it’s hard to imagine that Denbrock’s appointment would move the scales at all.  On the opposite side of the ball you have Brian VanGorder.  BVG brings a pedigree better than most people realize, and a ‘stache as good as advertised.  BVG will make Diaco seem like a chatter box, but the intrigue of a potentially more aggressive defense and utilization of more 4-3 alignments is worth discussing.  BK’s already come out saying he has no expectation of abandoning the 3-4 depending on match-up, and while that could be a smoke screen, let’s take a giant, deep breath and realize coordinator changes rarely tip the scales overnight.

Final Rating:  Action Jackson

3.  Under Armour Deal – As I stated on the first @Downthetunnel.com video podcast, I consider apparel decisions to be very much a business decision.  The truth is, this issue matters very little in terms of what it means for the program at large.  Notre Dame’s higher ups have a much better idea of the (business) landscape than the casual fan can possibly have access to, and I trust in that process because I have no reason not to.

Additionally, as Evan Sharpley stated, it didn’t matter much to him when considering schools what the apparel provider was.  It’s an issue that inherently seems to matter more to those of us who have to pay for the merchandise than those that get it for free.  Those that get it for free though are the ones that actually impact the end product that even the merchandise driven fan cares most about.  Hey, hopefully these words sound better than my redneck natty loving NASCAR aficionado voice on the podcast did.  So maybe Jared (@Irishfootball11) will even take note despite the lack of CAPS LOCK.

Final Rating:  P-Jack Island

4.  Recruits De-Committing – This was another topic touched upon during the video podcast, but we as a collective fan base need to give up this ghost.  It’s an exercise in futility to debate the relative merits of players that never even get on the field for the Irish.  I get it.  First off, January/February is the time when anyone can become a recruiting expert.  Fan bases will always want the best players for their respective programs, but let’s all agree to stop talking about the hypothetical players.

Whether it’s an Eddie Vanderdoes, Ronald Darby, or lesser last second de-commits, the ND fans need to come to grips that 17-18 year olds kids are inherently unreliable both off the field and on.  Turning your ire towards these guys doesn’t make it better, and I’m quite frankly tired of it.  These guys don’t owe you anything.  Moreover, we’ve all got more tangible things to concern ourselves with than the players we never actually saw.  DO BETTER FOLKS.  DON’T HOLD THESE GUYS TO A HIGHER COMMITMENT LEVEL THAN YOU DEMONSTRATED.  God knows I was unreliable as an 18 (or 31) year old.

Billis King also brought this up on his radio show.  ND will always be more vulnerable to the “dramatic” de-commit from their recruiting class given the national nature of their recruiting effort.  Being a national recruiter means you also will deal with the fact that you can’t be everywhere at once.  Considering the “what could have been” of recruits you never had is the same as considering what you would do with a million dollars.  If that’s your bag, cool.  But don’t this into a referendum on the integrity of high schoolers.

Final Rating:  P-Jack Island

NFL Defections – Graduation always leads to a certain degree of having to deal with this factor.  There are also certain underclassmen that should be expected to turn pro sooner rather than later.  Nix and Tuitt should have come as no surprise.  Yes, Atkinson was surprising though not detrimental to the program.  Niklas’ decision was the biggest shock, but we shouldn’t be be-grudging him.  Similar to the coordinator situation, it’s not a bad thing that the NFL might want ND’s players.

However, let’s stay “on topic” (whatever that means) as this is about the merits of discussing the issue.  Losses of proven players is always relevant.  The problem with it is that we are always left to speculate and make snap decisions.  As an ND contingent, at what point do we stop worrying about developing tight ends given we’ve done it so consistently?  How big a loss is GAIII given our expectations for Folston and Bryant?  How much would he have even played?

The defensive losses are more tangible.  Attempting to replace Nix and Tuitt is not an easy task, but what might a healthy Sheldon Day add?  How will BVG’s scheme impact the relative values of defensive linemen?  When I have these many questions and don’t consider anyone to be a more competent source than TMZ (on the exact same topic), I’m left to conclude…

Final Rating:  Freshman P-Jack

I’m cognizant of the subtle irony of this entire post.  Can something actually be subtly ironic?  No idea.  Seems like a great topic for another post…on another site.  As that thing called the “season” approaches, things become more relevant, but man, like I said at the outset, it’s a dark, dark time.  I don’t want to detract from the generally entertaining offseason dialogue that takes place, but know where you’re at on the Preston Jackson Smack-talk-o-meter. Offseason – you’re welcome, you’re now self-aware.

– IrishMoonJ