Thursday, February 7, 2008

National Signing Day and the Future of ND Football

Setting aside Super Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, the Chinese New Year, the happy re-activation of my credit card, and the two papers I've written in the past several days, let's talk about what's really important in the world this week: NATIONAL SIGNING DAY.

For those of you un-obsessed with the world of college football, National Signing Day is the day when high school football players all across the country officially commit to their chosen schools. Prior to National Signing Day, most players make verbal commitments, so schools have a pretty good idea of what their recruiting class is going to look like long before National Signing Day rolls around, but verbal commitments aren't permanent, so players can still change their minds at the last minute--which happened last year, with ND losing some of its promising recruits to schools like Florida (which, for some reason, thought that it was important last year, for some delusional reason like...I don't know, they won the national championship. Pfbt. Whatever).

This year, however, recruiting has been much more intense, with most of our recruits verbally committing before the start of this year's football season, and all the work seems to have paid off. Yesterday, ND signed 23 of the best high school football players in the country, hailing from 17 different states (that's right...17), and according to Coach Weis's presser, we have now signed: "five defensive linemen, four linebackers, three DBs, four offensive linemen, two tight ends, three wide receivers, a running back and a quarterback."

Excellent haul. But I have a question for you, Coach Weis: WHERE'S THE EFFING KICKER?????

Is it really THAT HARD to find a good--heck, I don't know, even halfway decent--kicker to come play for the Irish? Is there any reason that Notre Dame, with all its history, accolades, reputation, and scholarships, should continue to play WALK-ONs at the most crucial special teams position on the field? I mean, IS THERE?

Just asking.

Right, so, this year's recruiting class. There are too many to go through accurately (and let's face it, if you all really cared you'd be reading through Coach Weis's presser and surfing the real ND football blogs just like I did to hear about all the new recruits in detail), but there are a couple things I want to highlight.

First of all, we have a local kid signing up for the squad this year--Braxston Cave (good football name) from Penn (sssssssssssssssssss) is going to be joining the O-line (and, hopefully, improving it). Apparently his parents have been inviting all the new recruits over all season long for pasta nights or whatever, so there's been a lot of good ol' team bonding going on already (we can only hope).

Sean Cwynar, a defensive lineman from Illinois, has enrolled a semester early* (along with a couple other recruits, I think--but I can't remember which at the moment), so he's already on campus soaking up the ND lifestyle (quarter dogs at midnight!) and hopefully hitting the weight rooms in preparation for spring practices.

Favorite New Football Player Name This Year: Jamoris Slaughter. Defensive back, Georgia. Last year's fave was Golden Tate. We're racking up an excellent list of quality football player names.

Favorite new recruit overall: Mike Golic, Jr. He was the first player to commit to this year's recruiting class, and apparently he faxed in his signature to the Mike & Mike show yesterday morning announcing his commitment to ND (at least, this is what I hear...didn't actually tune in for the Mike & Mike show, but let's assume this happened, because it's nifty). Basically, Mike Golic rocks. He's on the O-Line as well, slated to compete for the position at center**. I get a good feeling from this kid. He reminds me of Bobby Morton, which is the highest compliment I can currently think of. Time will tell if he is as cool as Bob Morton, or as nice to the band.

And, most importantly: NEW QB ALERT!!!
I'm pretty sure you're all well-acquainted with my opinions on Jimmy Clausen (the little pustule). I could not be happier that we have a new excellent quarterback who will be competing (and actually competing, not just competing-because-he's-bee
n-around-Coach-Weis's-system-for-three-years competing) for the top spot at QB--especially by the time next year rolls around.

Dayne Crist hails from Notre Dame high school in Sherman Oaks, CA, and in his high school uniform bears a striking resemblance to my Favorite ND QB Of All Time (see inserted photo).

Yeah. No joke. Number 10.

So anyway, you can plainly see where my allegiance lies as far as the QB situation is concerned in the future. For this season, we have to assume that it will be Jimmy Clausen all the way, and though I still think he looks like an emu and has the charming personality of a narcissistic twat...if he's the guy who's going to lead us to a winning season this year (should I even dream of a bowl game?!), then so be it.

Last tidbit before I rush off to class: Aaron Taylor, former ND great, has been talking about this year's recruiting class on his blog. I'll leave you with his thoughts on what makes this year's recruiting class particularly intriguing and promising:

"’s hard to ignore the accolades that this Notre Dame recruiting class is piling up as Feb. 7, aka “National Signing Day”, fast approaches. In fact, we haven’t heard this much talk about an incoming Irish class since, well … since the class I was a part of back in 1990.

If you followed the site last year, you’ll remember the podcast of Kevin McDougal and I talking about how special our class was, (it’s still up under “Exclusive Interviews” if you want to check it out). The 1990 recruiting class consisted of eight High School All-Americans, and no fewer than a dozen of us made it to the NFL, including five in the first round of the 1993 and 1994 Drafts (a group that yours truly was fortunate and proud to be a part of). Two of those guys, B. Young and RB Jerome Bettis, are almost certain locks for the NFL Hall of Fame, and other guys like C Tim Ruddy, DL Jim Flanigan, S Jeff Burris, DL Oliver Gibson, WR Lake Dawson and LBs Pete Bercich and Anthony Peterson certainly had their moments in The League.

That class was truly special, and not just because we went 40-8, including Notre Dame’s last three bowl wins (I still can’t believe that when I write it). No, it was special because we all formed an instant, tightly knit bond ... a bond that has lasted to this day among many of us. And as talented as the incoming class is, it’s the bond between them that has me more excited than anything else."

*My friend Holly informs me that according to the Observer I am wrong, that only Trevor Robinson is on campus early, but I find this interesting considering I got the detail about Cwynar enrolling early from Coach Weis's presser...and let's hope for the sake of the team that Coach Weis knows which of his players are on campus and which aren't.
**Holly informs me that Braxston Cave is like the best center in the country, so who knows if Mike Golic, Jr. will ever see time at center? I maintain that he will have an impact, because he really seems to Get the whole ND thing. Not that I have any basis for an argument one way or another, I'm just throwing out nonsense like I always do.

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