Eric Hansen: Welcome to Notre Dame Football Live Chat, pre-Blue Gold Game edition.
If you’re thinking about coming to the Blue-Gold Game on Saturday, the forecasted high is 81 degrees with a low of 62. Chance of rain 7%. A couple of announcements: We’ll stay in weekly mode on the chat this week. next week and then the first week in May, right after the NFL Draft.
The players/coaches held a draft for the Blue-Gold Game this morning. We’ve got all the details, including a Tyler Buchner injury, on our home page.
Tune into the Inside ND Sports Podcast Thursday if you’d like to learn more about what Notre Dame is doing in the NIL space. Tom Mendoza of the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame will be our special guest.
Onward to the chat … Please include your NAME and HOMETOWN with your question. Let’s go.
Steve from Pittsburgh, Pa.: Eric, I hope you’re doing well and surviving this last bout of wintry weather before what’s shaping up to be a beautiful weekend. I’m interested in learning more about the kicking situation, since it’ll inevitably play a big role at some point this season. I recall seeing early in spring practice that it was reported that Grupe and Bryan were hitting from long distance. And then the last I’ve heard about the kicking game was from coach Freeman saying they were inconsistent during one practice. But that seems to about the extent of the talk. What are you hearing or seeing as relates to the battle between and performance of Bryan and Grupe?
Eric Hansen: Steve, let me start with that it’s not uncommon that what we see good and bad in the spring (usually bad) doesn’t carry over to the fall, because the weather and being inside so much throws the kickers out of their normal routines and rhythms. So what’s been going on in the spring. In the full open practice that we saw (indoors), both Blake Grupe and Josh Bryan looked pretty good. In a scrimmage a couple of weeks ago that was supposed to be in the stadium, they both reportedly struggled. Weather also pushed that indoors. We know they struggled because Marcus said so and because it was confirmed by someone we trust who got to see the scrimmage.
It wasn’t a matter of distance but accuracy with both kickers that day. There was some speculation that the holding was far from perfect. Chris Salerno has been the No. 1 option this spring as the holder. It’s possible June-arriving freshman punter Bryce McFerson or one of the walk-on specialists coming in June might be the No. 1 option when we get to August. … Marcus Freeman has said he might go with both kickers … one for shorter distances, one for 50+. That’ll play ot in August. If it makes you feel better, Grupe had a pretty good track record for accuracy at Arkansas State.
Cheryl from Royse City, Texas: Should ND dip into the portal for a backup for Kiser??
Eric Hansen: Cheryl, I don’t see quantity or quality as a problem with the linebackers position group. Jack Kiser, who’s the starting rover/sniper, has had a really strong spring. The others at that position — Jordan Botelho, Nolan Ziegler and Will Schweitzer play the position differently and have different body types. Botelho got picked fairly early in the Blue-Gold Draft on Wednesday, and Houston Griffith (one of the Blue team captains) lavished Jordan with praise for the growth he’s shown this spring. If there were ever a long-term injury to Kiser, the Irish would have the option to shift Marist Liufau or Prince Kollie there. So there are some good backup plans.
David from D.C.: Thanks for doing the chat, Eric. There seems to be a disconnect in how coaches and players view Tommy Rees as an offensive coordinator, and how many fans view him. The former, for the most part, sees a bright, offensive mind who can relate to recruits and players, and who has gotten the most out of the offensive talent he’s had during his time on the coaching staff. The latter, for the most part, sees a former player who hasn’t been able to recruit or develop the QB and WR talent necessary to win at an elite level, couldn’t adjust in the second half of the Fiesta Bowl, and whose offenses have had unremarkable production. What do you think is the reason for this disconnect? Is it just the nature of a young coach who fans don’t yet have a solid appreciation for?
Eric Hansen: David, it’s a fascinating question. Here’s my take: I think a portion of the fanbase and even some in the coaching business outside of Notre Dame look at the current snapshot without perhaps considering the context of the numbers and the player development ledger. Those closer to Tommy Rees in general, not only understand the context of the numbers, etc., they are projecting ahead, projecting the growth. In my mind, Rees in the past few months has been a far more effective recruiter and evaluator than he was under Brian Kelly, for instance. I also think some in the fanbase feel the only reason why Kelly hired Rees was because it was “an easy hire” and that he could control him without pushback. What I would say to that is Rees is a much more confident, able and mature version of himself than he was when he walked back in the door in 2017. But he still has things to prove. This is a big year for him.
Jeremy from Goshen: What is your take on the Dante Moore situation? My concern is the Lou Holtz phrase of “those who know Notre Dame, no explanation is necessary. Those who don’t know Notre Dame, no explanation will suffice.” Should ND fans be worried that he’s taking so long to decide? What is it that he needs to be convinced of the right school?
Eric Hansen: I think we need to just let his process play out. If he makes a June decision after taking visits, that’s in line with the timeline his father, Otha, laid out. There’s not been anything negative with regard to ND. I think Dante Moore would like for himself and his family to see everything that’s out there and to take those trips. Maybe he gets tired of it. Maybe not. I also think he’d like to take in the different approaches of different schools to NIL. Bottom line, unless this goes beyond June, my expectation is for him to end up in Notre Dame’s class and without wavering once he announces his decision.
Chris from Sugar Grove, Ill. What’s your feeling about Sam Pendleton’s upcoming commitment announcement? Do you think if he commits to ND, this could initiate a cascade of offensive line commitments?
Eric Hansen: Hi Chris. For the record, I like the kid and his family a lot. They make a very good impression. The parents seem to be super perceptive about the recruiting process. Sam Pendleton has a twin sister who’s a standout basketball player. The kid seems exactly what Harry Hiestand looks for — athletic, tough, smart. I think Notre Dame feels good about this one, but we’ll see on his annoucement date on Monday. … I think ND already has momentum, even though there are no O-line commitments at the moment. There could be one or two not long after.
Tom from Maryland: Another portal question for you. It seems to me that Tyler Buchner has a history of injury problems. Are there any good quarterbacks available in the portal? Depth is needed.
Eric Hansen: Tom, there are and will be good ones available. But if you’re bringing them into be a third or fourth option, how attractive would Notre Dame be to them? And if you’re bringing one in to compete to start, they should have been here for spring semester. This is why I have been saying Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne both having a strong spring was the best-case scenario. ND is likely to need both at some point in the 2022 season. The coaching staff believes they can win games with Drew Pyne. So no, I don’t think a QB addition is likely without a long-term injury to one of the top two guys.
Nathan from Denver: Any word on how badly Buchner is injured or how it happened?
Eric Hansen: Yep, on our website. Sprained right ankle. Suffered it walking down some stairs. Won’t play at all on Saturday.
Shaun from Boston: Can you name one player on offense and one player on defense that came in this spring and really surprised you in terms of “looking the part.” Thank you.
Eric Hansen: Freshman running back Jadarian Price on offense. Freshman cornerback Jaden Mickey on defense (I thought he’d impress … but he’s exceeded that).
Jeff from Phoenix: Good morning, Eric. I see that Braylon James gave Marcus Freeman a “silent commitment” about a month ago. From your experience, how often does this happen with recruits? Has this information ever leaked out prior to the formal announcement? Has a “silent commitment” ever been rescinded by a recruit? And finally, does ND trust these pledges enough to shift resources/priorities in recruiting? Thanks much, and looking forward to Blue/Gold Game reporting.
Eric Hansen: Hey Jeff. It’s not a rare occurrence. And if you include strong leans, there are very few surprises. The one exception of a guy who shocked everyone was Aamil Wagner last fall in picking ND. The silent commitments sometimes leak out to the media, but not to the general public. It makes sense to honor the kid’s wishes and let him have his day whenever he wants it. Heck yes, there have been kids who have rescinded them. A kind of recent example is Thomas Graham, a cornerback from California who ended up at Oregon.
As far as trusting them, recruiting is always about reading a kids’ intentions … and it’s constant. So it’s not a one-size-fits-all philosophy. Amorion Walker in the last class, who ended up at Michigan, was an impossible read. So, there really is an art form to it.
Mike from Rochester, N.Y.: Eric, I see Drew Pyne is playing the entire game on Saturday. Is this because Freeman and Rees want to give Drew as many reps as possible in game-like conditions or because Angelli and Powlus haven’t gotten enough reps to play effectively Saturday, even in a very vanilla offense?
Eric Hansen: Hi Mike. He’s not expected to play the whole game. He’s expected to play for both sides because of the Buchner injury. So I’d expect him to play the whole first half. When it goes to a running clock in the second half, I think we’ll see lots of Steve Angeli and Ron Powlus III.
Marie from Atlanta: Hi Eric. Happy Blue And Gold week! Wish I could be there for the game. What four or five things would you like to see on Saturday that would make you confident that Notre Dame will win 10 or more games next year? Also, how are improvements to the GUG, etc., funded at Notre Dame? Is it completely through donation? Can the university use some of the revenue generated from football to finance these projects? How do other major universities fund these projects? Do you think the fact that Marcus Freeman is extremely charismatic will increase fundraising? Enjoy the game!
Eric Hansen: Hi Marie. Wish you could take it in, in person, too, since we’re going to be having Atlanta-esque weather on Saturday. I don’t think there is anything I’ll see in the Blue-Gold Game that will confirm or amend my projected win total. But I can answer that question if you’ll let me change the timeline to August? Let’s do that: 1. Better versions of Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne than we saw in the spring, and we saw significant growth from both already. 2. Answers at wide receiver, and some of them may come from Tobias Merriweather or someone from the transfer portal. 3) Continual upgrades at the cornerback position, which we saw to a degree this spring. 4. A healthy Jarrett Patterson and a Harry Hiestand-looking O-line. 5. A front seven that gets after the passer and consistently stifles the run.
Notre Dame looks for donations, yes, for those kinds of projects. That’s its standard practice. I don’t think that’s universal everywhere else, especially at state schools. … I do think Marcus’ personality will help with the fund-raising. Winning will help even more.
Ted from Ann Arbor (but ND class of “04). There are actually lots of ND grads in the enemy territory of the shadow of the Big House. Two simple, but not easy, over/unders. New commitments in April: 3 and 2022 regular-season wins: 10.
Eric Hansen: I would say three and 10 on the nose. So since I have to go over/under. I’ll go over three commitments in April and — yikes — under 10 in wins. Ask me again in August. I just can’t get to 11 wins … yet.
Nick from Granger, Ind.: Spring ball is finishing up around the country. Transfer portals are opening. Who are we losing, and what positions are we looking for? Any solid info on who may be coming? Thanks for all you do.
Eric Hansen: Hi Nick. That all clears up in the next 10 days. May 1 is the deadline for anyone who wants 2022 eligibility to be in the portal. They don’t have to have a landing spot, just have to have submitted their names. My guess is ND will probably lose another 2-3 players after spring, people buried deep on the depth chart, and the Irish likely will add a couple.When we do the chat next week, all that will be clearer.
Joe H from Williams Bay, Wis.: Hi Eric. Love getting your insight on the weekly chats.It seems to me that Brian Kelly and his staff did a good job over the years in identifying players’ strengths and weaknesses and switching players to different positions. My question to you is do you see that trend continuing under Marcus Freeman and, if so, which players on our roster do you think might benefit from a position change?
Eric Hansen: I think we’re seeing the subtle moves like Riley Mills DT to DE, Jordan Botelho and Will Schweitzer from Vyper to Rover, Josh Burnham from LB to DE. Freshman cornerback Jayden Bellamy may move to safety eventually though he looks like an answer at nickel when TaRiq Bracy leaves. And then offensive line — Michael Carmody from OT to C, etc. I don’t think you’ll see as many drastic moves — like offense to defense or vice versa under Brian Kelly, but Marcus is open to it. I think one of the reasons it won’t be as common is that Marcus Freeman is recruiting players who are more plug-and-play at their positions rather than good athletes who have to be molded.
Ron from Dover, Del.: Good day, Eric. Let me start by saying I have been enjoying your new venture with Tyler and Rivals. Keep up the great reporting. Braylon James’ commitment appears to be a great catch. Now we have to hope he signs. Does James joining the Irish have any impact with Dante Moore and Carnell Tate joining ND.
Eric Hansen: Hi Ron, thanks for your support! It’s funny, because Braylon James was tweeting at Dante Moore last night. He told our Kyle Kelly that he plans to help with trying to recruit guys like Carnell Tate and Moore. We’ll have to see. There are two recruits that come to mind who absolutely make a huge difference in recruiting. One from the past (Dayne Crist) and one from the present (Drayk Bowen). Incredibly impactful on other players in their class.
Brian from Ashburn, Va.: Do you know if the Blue-Gold Game will be on the free version of Peacock or will require a paid subscription?
Eric Hansen: I just checked, and it will cost $4.99.
Phil from Napoleon, Ohio: Randy Vocke laughed when I talked to him and says Hello! Who do you think the next commit will be for ND?
Eric Hansen: Hi Phil. That’s cool that you know him. One piece of advice. Never challenge him to a beer-chug contest. He will wipe you out. Well Sam Pendleton is scheduled for Monday, so we’ll have to see if he picks Notre Dame. But there may be a visitor in either the 2023 or 2024 class who kind of gets caught up in the weekend and pops unexpectedly soon on Sunday. Maybe one of the offensive linemen in the ’23 class and maybe DB Eil Bowen (Peyton’s younger brother) in the 2024 class. Those aren’t predictions, but there are a lot of visitors and a lot of momentum right now.
Eamonn from Portland Ore.: Hey Eric, I’d like to ask you about scholarships. I believe the team is at 86, and they would still like to add a potential WR transfer or two. IF no one transfers out after the spring, and I know that’s unlikely, could players like Michael Vinson, Matt Salerno, Ron Powlus III, come off athletic scholarship to get the team to 85? Second question, what position groups do you think are most likely to have a transfer out post-spring? (Not asking for any players’ names, since I know it’s not appropriate to speculate on individuals). Thanks, as always, for imparting your knowledge!
Eric Hansen: Hi Eamonn and thank you. You are right about 86, and that number doesn’t have to be 85 until the first day of fall-semester classes. I suppose ND has the flexibility with the players you named, but there’s a commitment there that I don’t think they’d ever want to renege on. The coaches have a sense of who is considering leaving. Roster management is a high priority, because you don’t want to start the season with, say, 81. In terms of position groups that could have some attrition — vyper end, maybe corner, maybe O-line.
Jim Tal from Valley Center, Calif.: Hi Eric, always appreciate your insights. One of the glaring weaknesses of ND for a number of years has been its pedestrian punt return game. Safety and ball control as your be-all emphasis just won’t cut it. You’ve got to make things happen in this phase of the game. That being said, I heard where Matt Salerno is still getting plenty of reps as a punt returner. Listen, he’s a serviceable player, but he offers no dynamism when it comes to the potential of making big plays. Please tell me that the Irish are looking at more dangerous options in this area. The time is long overdue where the Irish finally put some excitement back into returning punts. Thanks much.
Eric Hansen: Hi Jim. Thanks, and I appreciate you. As we’ve been writing this spring, new special teams coach Brian Mason has a history of a strong punt return game and the propensity to block punts. He has brought that philosophy to ND now. Matt Salerno is one of the players who was working at punt returns, but so has been Brandon Joseph, Jaden Mickey and Jadarian Price. I think there were even some other options the last time we saw punt return practice. I want to defend Matt a little bit here. There’s a chance he was simply doing what he was told. And now the script is different.
Doug from Sunny Florida: Eric, the talk this offseason without wavering has been Joe Alt at left tackle and Blake Fisher at right tackle. What more does Alt give the team beyond Fisher that would warrant him being named the left tackle? Do you see this as the long-term scenario or do you see Fisher overtaking Alt for the left side?
Eric Hansen: Hey Doug … we do have sun up here too! I asked Harry Hiestand that question on April 7, and this is how the exchange went:
WHY FISHER ON THE RIGHT AND ALT ON THE LEFT? WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THAT OR ARE THEY INTERCHANGEABLE?
“Yes, I really think that, especially after 10 practices. I just left them where they had played last. They both have the size and range to play the edges on either side. Blake right now is more powerful as a run blocker, so some of the stuff we do to the right is a little different than what we do to the left. He’s just more powerful there.”
Dave from Knoxville, Tenn.: I thought five-star, 6-foot-6 QB Nico Iamaleava from Downey, Calif., was all set up to come to ND. Yet he signed with Tennessee. What happened?
Eric Hansen: Hi Dave. Not sure where you read or heard that, but it wasn’t here. Nico Iamaleava visited a long time ago and then kind of moved on. I like his skill set, throws a very nice deep ball. He’s verbally committed to Tennessee but can’t sign a National Letter of Intent until December.
Marty from Phoenix, Ariz.: I’m concerned about Marcus Freeman’s play-calling ability. He made that “ bone head” call late in the fourth quarter and gave the reason for it “the players were tired.” He’s never been in a position to call plays before. Question: Your guess on how many games will he lose making critical mistakes at the wrong time?
Eric Hansen: Well Marty, it doesn’t sound like it’s Happy Hour yet in Phoenix. How many did ND lose when Clark Lea was calling defenses for the first time? Or Tommy Rees calling offensive plays? There’s risk on a first-time head coach (or coordinator). But Marcus Freeman is also a head coach that continues to be proactive about asking questions and learning. He doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. So I admire that about him. The second-half Fiesta Bowl adjustments were pretty much non-existent on both sides of the ball. I took into account that he prioritized holding the recruiting class together over bowl prep and that he didn’t have a full staff. My projection is that he learned a lot from that game. All coaches make mistakes. Think about Brian Kelly and Tulsa in 2010, for instance. I’m going to have to disappoint you, because I think Marcus will make mistakes, but he’ll also do some very good things, including recruiting better than any head coach has since Lou Holtz. So I am sorry I don’t have a numerical answer for you.
Chris from Newmarket, N.H.: Hi Eric, coming out of spring practice what do you think should be the top priorities for coach Freeman and the rest of staff when they get back on the field in the summer/fall?
Eric Hansen: I think the same priorities as they were going into spring … getting players comfortable with the new defensive scheme, improving cornerback and wide receiver play, coaxing improvement from the QBs, developing chemistry with the O-Line and getting special teams right. Some of Marcus’ focus is figuring out where best to put his energy/presence during gamedays and during game weeks (which meetings to go to, etc.).
Dan from Vernon Hills, Ill.: Eric, I noticed that Braylon James was a silent commit to Notre Dame for a while. Is it possible that there are others, for whatever reason, that are also silents and could this be why there seems to be a slowing of commits at this time?
Eric Hansen: There are times kids silently commit to help the coaching staff out, but they are attached to a certain date (like a mom’s birthday) for an announcement date. Sometimes they commit, but still want to do something special at school to make it public. I think why the commitments slowed was because February wasn’t a month for visits. Once the visits resumed in March, momentum started to build again. There may be a lull late May, early June, then more commitments in late June, because kids are taking official visits.
Len from the Jersey Shore: Hello Eric on this Blue-Gold week pregame chat. I saw a stat on Prince Kollie that he dropped from 20% fat percentage to 8%. He said not buying in enough to training regimen held him back last year. If you know, could you tell us how is that fat % calculated? In Body? Some other scan? More importantly what is the link between succeeding in coach Balis’s program and playing time? What link if any have you seen through the years? Does the training also help reduce Injury chances? And what are the targets for fat%? Is it by position or by individual or a little of both? I know the trainers do strength measurements on the players. Do they do other metrics? Flexibility? Mobility? In short, what can you tell us about the importance of the training program? If there is a more in-depth article you can refer me to, that would be great. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to share your insights with us.
Eric Hansen: Len that’s as close to a 17-part question as I’ve had since I banned them over a decade ago, but I will try to answer as many part of that as I can. I love your passion. Tyler James did the Prince Kollie story for us this spring. I would say his conditioning was just one layer of why he struggled last season. The adjustment from small (school) ball to college was overwhelming for him. Getting COVID set him back weeks. He lost confidence in himself. The body fat loss was actually 20% to 7%. Some of it was too many to-go orders from a famous chicken fingers chain, he said.
The answers to the rest of your questions have been contained in various stories we’ve done on Matt Balis the past six years. I don’t know that there’s one that encompasses them all. Here is my latest. Here is a story that goes into a lot of depth from the summer of 2017, on a day in the life of Brian Kelly, after the 4-8 season and months after Balis was hired. Maybe I can do one this summer that provides a more updated comprehensive look if ND will grant me the access. Bottom line, an incredible hire by Kelly and a man who’s had a PROFOUND effect on Notre Dame’s bottom line from 2017 on.
John from Palmyra, Pa.: SSOOOO proud of ND for not bending on Justyn Rhett. There are other fish in the sea. Can you update position switches as it relates to affecting the 2 deep? Also, is Dante Moore showing his true colors in that his is purely an NIL decision? If so, bye! Thoughts?
Eric Hansen: Hi John. We update our depth chart regularly through spring. You can always find it in our dropdown menu on the home page under the football tab. It’s not behind a paywall. We’ll update it again after the Blue-Gold Game. If you’re asking if Dante Moore is looking for the highest bidder, that’s not my read. But I do think he’s interested in what NIL opportunities there are out there. I think most kids are.
Terry from Ithaca, N.Y.: How is this for the O-line (Left to Right): Alt, Fisher, Patterson, Spindler, Baker. Fisher is second coming of Nelson.
Eric Hansen: Terry, I think Blake Fisher could play anywhere, but I wouldn’t want to take a future first-round draft pick at tackle and move him from that position. I’m sure Harry Hiestand doesn’t want to do that. … And the second coming of Quenton Nelson may turn out to be Billy Schrauth.
Bob from Lansing. Eric, with coach Freeman reinstating gameday Mass, then team walk to the stadium, is there any chance of bringing back the student on-field tunnel prior to the game? Always felt that did more to create spirit then a loud JumboTron.
Eric Hansen: Bob, there’s no reason they can’t do the human tunnel AND the Jumbotron. I’ll have to ask about that one, but it has not come up yet.
Matt in Augusta, N.J.: What’s up Eric? With Brian Kelly’s latest comments about the facilities and “training table” at Notre Dame lacking in comparison to LSU, I ask what the next step for Notre Dame would be? Is it just a cafeteria for the football team alone? I would think ND has better football facilities than most programs. Same time, to compete with the best you need to “ keep up.” The new indoor facility is beautiful, but does ND already need to upgrade to keep up with the big boys? How many schools actually have better facilities and food options then ND? Is it just the SEC schools, USC, select Big Ten schools ( OSU, Penn State, Michigan?). Who is ND on par with when it comes to facilities?
Eric Hansen: In terms of how ND compares, there was a survey about that a few weeks/months ago, and I think ND finished third. … There is some functionality that could be improved with an expansion of the Gug, no question. It’s not about an arms race for recruiting when it comes to ND. It’s about pragmatics and helping your football team get better Sunday through Friday. … The indoor facility is really, really impressive (and functional). As for the rest of that BK stuff, I actually answered that in last week’s chat. It’s a fairly long answer, and it’s right at the end of the transcript. Here’s the link.
Nathan from Denver: Hi Eric. A couple of questions: First, I know it’s really early, but do we have any reaction from recruits and current players yet to the FUND and NBC NIL initiatives? Second, how do you think the two programs complement each other? Third, do you think these two keep ND in the race with other collectives?
Eric Hansen: Nathan, in a very small sample size (since they’re both brand new), the feedback has been positive. I think they complement each other, because they do different things. One rewards time for community service. Another is more about social media clicks and followers. The better news is, this is the beginning of these inititiatives, not the end. So expect more NIL options and initiatives to come along in the coming months. Those associated with FUND believe ND does not have to be the most lucrative collective. They just need to be in the NIL game with options.
Pete Cuozzo, ND ‘82 from Naples, Fla.: Hi Eric. Belated kudos for the HOF induction. Well-deserved and overdue! In the three months or so between the Blue-Gold Game and the start of fall camp, what do you see as the most important focus areas for the offense, the defense, special teams, and the coaching staff? Will the focus be on individual goals, position group goals, SWAT team goals, or overall team goals? Lastly, when can we expect captains to be named? Thanks, as always.
Eric Hansen: Hi Pete, and thank you. I hit on this a little bit in other questions. Let me try to focus on the latter questions. … Captains, probably first week of training camp. What do goals look like? I think they’re on every level. Individuals set goals. That feeds into SWAT team goals. But ultimately Marcus Freeman wants a unified team with common goals.
Dan from Plymouth, Mich.): Appreciate the opportunity to ask questions. I am back again with another O-line question. What have you seen this spring from our future All-Pro tackles? Do they appear bigger, stronger? Do you think they will remain in their current positions for the 2022 season? Alt at LT and Fisher at RT? Can’t wait to see them, and the entire O-line on Saturday in the Blue-Gold Game!
Eric Hansen: They look tremendous to me and both got drafted very high in the Blue-Gold Player draft on Wednesday morning. Some of the offensive linemen will play for both teams because of overall numbers. Blake Fisher and Joe Alt were drafted on different teams, so you may see them both playing left tackle on Saturday. .. Remember, it’ll be a mix of starters and reserves playing with each other, so the continuity won’t be what you’ll see in the fall.
David from DC: Any indication that the Irish will return to Culver for camp in August?
Eric Hansen: Great question. I’ll poke around for an answer that next week.
David from New York: Hi Eric. Thanks again for the weekly chats. I wanted to see if you had an early intel on how recruiting philosophy changes i.e. “convince the best players that ND can do the most for them” vs. “we shop down a different aisle” translates logistically in regard to who we accept commitments from? I’ve never understood why ND accepts commitments from kids in the red and then we face the negative storylines of decommitments when those kids leave the class. Sure we are usually better prepared and have kept other recruits warm, but to me its not the best strategy. And part 2. Has what puts a kid in the red academically changed? And will it? Marcus is pushing to take us to the next level and though BK’s acceptance of what ND could recruit to was frustrating, some of the barriers are real. Thanks in advance!
Eric Hansen: David, I’m up against the clock here. In short, yes there’s been a difference in who ND is going after and who they’re landing. And yes, there will be risk in taking players who have academic conditions to meet. Those situations aren’t universal. Sometimes it’s better grades … sometimes a foreign language requirement or a certain math class. But there was also risk doing it BK’s way — waiting until the academic hurdles were met, then extending the scholarship offer when it was too late.
Eric Hansen: OK, have a Jerome Bettis piece I need to turn around. Thanks for all the great questions. We’ll be back to do it all over again next Wednesday at noon EDT.