Archive for December, 2007

Chris Donald: Academic superstar

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Remember Chris Donald, the Tennessee linebacker who was one of ND’s primary recruiting targets last year, and whose recruitment was rumored to have involved numerous silent verbals to multiple institutions, only to culminate in his picking up a UT cap at the Army All-American game? Remember the drama, the agony, the disappointment?

Well, it turns out your frustration wasn’t half that of the poor suckers who ended up with him in the classroom:

The Vols’ leading receiver, Lucas Taylor, is ineligible to play against Wisconsin on Jan. 1 as well as reserve receiver Kenny O’Neal, reserve defensive back Ricardo Kemp and freshman linebacker Chris Donald. ESPN.com reported on Thursday that defensive starters Demonte Bolden and Rico McCoy failed to meet the necessary academic requirements to play in the Outback Bowl, too.

Now, THAT’S impressive. One semester as a college student, zero minutes of playing time, one disqualification for failing to make it to class:

“We have every resource available through our academic center for academic success by our athletes in all of our sports,” [head coach Phillip] Fulmer said in a statement. “In most of these cases, it was simply the student-athlete not being accountable and doing their work. … One bright spot is the fact that all of these athletes will be in school spring semester.”

Well, isn’t that good to hear.

Really, there’s nothing quite so hilarious about the college bowl season as watching the disqualifications roll in as soon as final grades are handed out. It’s a shame the NCAA doesn’t take a look at how players are doing on their midterms …

(HT: “Ebeling,” on the IRT shout box.)

Urban Meyer to the Falcons?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

(Or the Dolphins?) You monger those rumors, domer.mq. And I’ll monger them right along with you. And we will celebrate if we’re right, and laugh if we’re wrong.

What’s the deal with Omar Hunter?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

By some basically all accounts he’s scheduled to take an official visit to Florida, and USC looks to be in the mix as well:

Buford defensive tackle Omar Hunter is having second thoughts about his commitment to Notre Dame, his coach said Wednesday.

Coach Jess Simpson said Hunter has not withdrawn his commitment to the Irish - yet. But he is giving strong consideration to both Florida and Southern California - with Florida being the more likely alternative to Notre Dame, Simpson said.

“I think he wants to take the holidays and reconsider things,” Simpson said, “and possibly take a visit to Florida and [USC].”

There has never been a shortage of interest in Hunter, who is rated the second-best high school defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com. The 6-foot-1, 311-pound senior committed to Notre Dame in June, but has apparently become less certain in recent months.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis tried to firm up Hunter’s commitment last week with a personal visit to Buford. And later in the week, USC coach Pete Carroll also showed up, urging Hunter to take another trip out west.

Hunter, who could not be reached for comment, did not have any visits planned as of Wednesday. He visited Florida and USC before committing to the Irish, and has enough time to see both schools again if he wants before signing a letter of intent in February.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Simpson said.

A couple of quick thoughts:

  1. Obviously Omar is entitled to think things through and make sure he makes the best decision for himself and his future. If he feels like he was too hasty in giving his pledge to Notre Dame back in June, then by all means he should own up to that fact and take a closer look at his options now. A verbal commitment is not a marriage vow.
  2. He’s not, however, entitled to mislead the Irish coaching staff about where he stands. What’s bothersome to me about this whole situation is that this isn’t the first time that worries like this have surfaced, and Omar has consistently reiterated that he is committed to ND and doesn’t intend to look elsewhere. Obviously it’s possible that he’s been saying different things to the staff than to the recruiting sites, but if that were so then I’d expect to have seen Weis continue to recruit other players at Hunter’s position. In other words, this could turn out to be a situation that is less like that of Justin Trattou - who was very upfront about the fact that he was taking a visit to Florida because of Rick Minter’s firing - than Greg Little - who was silently committed to North Carolina for months as he put up a charade of being an ND recruit. Obviously Omar’s situation doesn’t look to be THAT shady, but if he’s had his doubts all along, then he shouldn’t have kept them from the people who were expecting his signature on February 7.

Who knows … maybe he’ll change his mind and decide not to make the visits. Maybe he’ll make them and decide to stay at ND. Or maybe he’s gone. In any case, I’m sure the coaching staff isn’t going to let themselves get burned like they did last year. If he’s looking, they’re looking - and heck, last year the decommitment of Trattou was a big part of what got an offer extended to Brian Smith … and we all know how that turned out.

Merry Christmas from the Irish Roundup

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

My wife and I start dragging our poor little kid across the country tomorrow morning, so blogging will be sporadic until a bit after New Year’s. I’ll keep posting updates on the recruits, though, and Jared and some other potential guest-bloggers have some good stuff in the works as well. You can, of course, track every last wrinkle in the Irish offseason via the IrishEnvy forums. In the meantime, check out the hilarious ND football Christmas card that IE’s “Win4Gipper” put together (click the photo for the animated version).

Happy Holidays Merry Christmas, everyone.

“Whoa, this guy’s an idiot.”

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

In the spirit of this post from Saturday, check out the recent SB Tribune article on John Goodman:

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound wide receiver (maybe) from Fort Wayne, Ind., is as solid in his pledge to coach Charlie Weis and the Irish as the day he committed back in May, possibly more so now than then.

Several schools have tried to sway him since then, including Penn State. After Notre Dame dropped to 0-4, Goodman received a call from a Penn State assistant whose negative approach did little toward that end.

“They definitely tried all the negatives,” Goodman said of the coach whose name he couldn’t recall. “They talked about coach Weis, how he’s a bad coach, he’s a bad recruiter and about how Notre Dame’s doing terribly right now and all that, their stadium’s better. They never really said anything good about themselves, and I was just listening and I was like, ‘Whoa, this guy’s an idiot.’”

He also had some choice words about the players who chose to transfer from ND over the past season:

 “If they’re going to leave like that, leaving an education and that football team, then personally, I think they’re stupid,” Goodman said. “They don’t deserve anything better because you can’t get anything better than Notre Dame.”

Lots of other good stuff too, including the possibility of Goodman, who played QB for his high school team, lining up behind center now and then. (”It sort of is creeping into my thoughts because it could actually happen, and I’m going to be ready for it,” he says.) Read the whole thing.

(HT: GoshenGipper.)

Omar owns Georgia

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Congratulations to Omar Hunter and the Buford Wolves, who brought home the class AA Georgia state championship today with a 50-0 drubbing of Lovett. It was the seventh shutout of the season for Hunter’s defense, as the Wolves brought home their fourth state title since 2001. More here, from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. I’ll have some more details up as they come available.

[UPDATE: More here and here, from the AJC. Per Access North Georgia, the Buford defense held Lovett to 26 first half yards (and 17 rushing) as they jumped out to a 30-0 halftime lead, and Omar cried when it was over. The starters were pulled by the middle of the third period. More here, from Jeff Cochran of the Gainesville Times, and also here, including this photo of Hunter and the Buford AD after the game:

And here's a bit more on Omar's emotional state after the game, which the Gainesville Times's Bill Murphy called his #1 moment of the 2007 Georgia H.S. football season:

Buford’s mammoth defensive tackle Omar Hunter was totally swept away by winning the state title against Lovett last Saturday night. While the rest of the Wolves team huddled together and started to celebrate, Hunter took a knee away from the chaos and shed a couple of tears with the magnitude of the team’s accomplishment. It marks Buford’s fifth title in school history (1978, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007). In my opinion, this was the best Wolves team since 2001. That says a lot.

Awesome. I hope you like that feeling, Mr. Hunter. Here's to continuing your winning ways.]

Great stuff. Congratulations, Omar! And fans, in case you missed it, check out this Scout.com video of Omar, from last week’s semi-state victory:

Fully on board

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Via the Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton, here’s some great stuff about the strength of the commitments among ND’s 2008 recruiting class:

Dayne Crist is a part-time Christmas tree salesman in Southern California and a full-time committed recruit for the Notre Dame football team. This means his hour-long break from hawking evergreens is a rare escape from needles, of any kind.

“You know who you’re talking to,” Crist said. “You’re talking to a kid from Los Angeles that’s sitting in the heart of USC country.”

The breadth and depth of the Irish’s miseries this season spared few from collateral damage, and indeed Notre Dame’s ballyhooed recruiting class endured more than a few caustic barbs.

Despite the slings and arrows that accompanied Notre Dame’s outrageous misfortune, though, that class so far is undeterred. Not a single component of what is widely considered the nation’s top talent haul has wavered publicly after the implosion of 2007. (more…)

Trevor Robinson is Irish!!

Friday, December 14th, 2007

The Nebraska Rivals site, HuskersIllustrated.com, reported this afternoon that Elkhorn (Neb.) offensive lineman Trevor Robinson committed to Notre Dame during Charlie Weis’s in-home visit to his family last night. This confirmed a wide range of message board rumblings from last night, including reports by an IrishEnvy poster with strong ties to the Youngstown area that Nebraska head coach (and former Mooney HS quarterbacks coach) Bo Pelini and AD Tom Osborne had failed in a last-ditch effort to win Robinson over.

Robinson’s decision caps a roller-coaster ride of a recruiting process, which included at least ten visits to the Notre Dame campus, a commitment to Nebraska followed by a decommitment that had Irish fans expecting an imminent announcement that he’d be coming to South Bend, and then what seemed like an eternity of (mostly impatient) waiting by fans of both teams. He was one of the first recruits offered this year by the Irish staff.

At 6′6″ and 304 lbs., Robinson is ranked as a four-star recruit by both Scout and Rivals, and is listed as the third-best offensive guard and a top-100 player by both services. He will enroll at Notre Dame early, and start classes this coming January.

Welcome to the Irish family, Trevor! (more…)

Snubbed

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Let me just say that this, from SB Tribune writer (and AP All-America voter) Eric Hansen via Irish Band of Brothers, is a bunch of crap:

I think Trevor [Laws] had an amazing year and his numbers were better than most defensive tackles. But in ND’s system, they labeled him as an end. And in that light, his numbers didn’t compare. We could not just simply vote for defensive linemen. We had to vote for two tackles and two ends on the first and second teams. (We did not vote for the third team or honorable mention — those selections came from the points system associated with the voting).

In the first place, while it’s TECHNICALLY true that the 2007 ND depth chart lists Laws’s position as “LDE,” everyone knows that his responsibilities in the 3-4 were largely those of a defensive tackle. Secondly, even if we consider Laws to have been a defensive end, why should the fact that he didn’t have a lot of sacks and tackles for a loss - which is basically what Hansen’s point boils down to (especially since Laws’s numbers were better than pretty much all of the other DE honorees in every other category) - make a difference? From what I understand about the the 3-4 defense, the strong-side defensive end is assigned run-stopping duties, and the outside linebackers handle more of the blitzes. Laws did a SPECTACULAR job in doing what he was asked to do: why didn’t he get credit for that?

Basically, what Hansen is telling us is that the current system makes it all but impossible for a defensive end in a 3-4 system to be considered for All-America honors. Would the same go for a quarterback whose passing yardage wasn’t even in the top 20 nationally but who ran for over 800 yards and 20 scores? Apparently not. Sorry Eric, but you’re going to have to do better than that.

[UPDATE: One more thing. Via Hey Jenny Slater, check out this individualized breakdown of where the Heisman votes went. What we see, of course, is lots of local sportswriters putting their hometown guys down on their ballots to get them some national recognition. I suppose I don't think this is the greatest thing in the world, but it's pretty much harmless and at the end of the day it's a nice way to get some attention paid to kids who are flying under the radar of the national hype machine. Was it really out of the question for guys like Hansen and Jeff Carroll to do the same for Laws, whether in their AA votes or even their Heisman ballots, after the season he had this year?]

Man in the middle

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Irish commit Omar Hunter’s Buford (Ga.) Wolves team faces off against Lovett in the class AA state finals on Saturday, and the matchup has been pretty widely discussed in the Georgia media. Here are a couple of the best Hunter-related quotes.

From an AJC article on the Buford defense:

“For every shutout we get, we can come in here the next Monday and brag to the offense,” senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. “Like, ‘Yeah, we get our job done on this side of the ball, and y’all can’t even move the ball [from midfield]. We have to give it to you in the red zone.’ ”

From a Gainesville Times column on the Wolves’ winning attitude:

I’m not entirely sure what I expected from a team on its way to the state championship game, but it wasn’t what I saw from the Wolves after the [semifinal] game.

Waiting to do my interviews, I thought the small hallway crammed with teenage football players would be packed wall-to-wall with noise, cheers and the sounds of pads being bumped together in celebration of the statement game to end all statement games.

Instead, a calm, collected group of Buford football players dressed in white jerseys with nary a mark on them walked back to their makeshift locker room and got changed.

Then, the Wolves made their way back out, bags packed, and got ready to watch Lovett and Cook in the day’s second game.

Like a hitman researching a mark.

The Wolves left whatever excitement they felt from their most recent win on the field.

“Our goal is not to beat Dublin in the Dome,” Wolves senior Omar Hunter said. “It is a state championship.”

Good stuff. Get in there and tear it up, Omar!