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Notre Dame Football

Frank Commentary

December 15, 2021

As we wind down another signing day and recruiting class, I know a lot of Irish fans have some mixed emotions.  What could’ve been?  What should’ve been?  What it is…

A few of our readers probably think of me as the “the negative one.”  Some think I’m a “realist.”  Probably a good number think I’m “an idiot.”  

I suppose I’m all those things at various times.  

But today, I’m “the optimist.”  

In fact, I’m more optimistic about Notre Dame football than I’ve been in a very long time.  

Yes, there were a few who shook loose at the end.  I think they were talented players at needed positions.  That hurts, but it only hurts if they would’ve been productive for Notre Dame on the football field.  

I’m not sure they would’ve.  Maybe they would’ve had great careers at Notre Dame, or maybe they would’ve come to ND, found out they weren’t starting as a freshman and left anyway…I wonder if the latter was probably more likely than the former.  

At the end of the day, you can’t worry about who you didn’t get.  You can only coach those who come, and then try to fix things next year so key players don’t shake loose at the end of the game.  

And that’s why I’m excited about Notre Dame football.  The fixing of things.  We’ve already seen it.

Have you noticed this amazing video production and social media campaign Notre Dame has been putting out lately?  That was a problem for a long time…fixed.  

I complained for nearly 12 years about the lack of effort in recruiting by the head man…I’m pretty sure that’s going to get fixed.   

I also pointed out a lack of accountability in recruiting by the head man amongst his assistants…my guess is that is going to get fixed, too.  

We discussed how the Irish were late getting in on key players and top talent across the country…that has been improving for years, and it continues to get better and better.  I can’t imagine it won’t improve even more moving forward.  Right now, Notre Dame has far more offers out to underclassmen than they ever have.  

You have to have the right plan, and the right guy in place to execute that plan.  I think, and I want to emphasize think, we finally have that guy in place.  

What I’m certain of is there aren’t many coaches in the country who is going to out-work the one Notre Dame has, and if you have that, you have a real chance at success.  

What I also believe is that the Irish have inked one very impressive recruiting class.  I’m not sure where it ranks.  To be honest, I really don’t care.  I firmly believe this group is talented.  One of the most talented Notre Dame has signed in decades…holes and all.

Yes, there are holes.  There are going to be holes.  USC will have holes in their class.  So will Oklahoma.  So will Florida.  So will LSU.  So will any team who lost a head coach and some assistants.  That’s just the price you pay for making a change.  Heck, Clemson didn’t even lose their head coach and they lost half their class due to changes.  

The key was to keep most of this class together, and I think Marcus Freeman, his staff, and support staff, did an outstanding job of doing just that.  

Plus, I think they had some wins along the way as well.  Billy Schrauth.  Justyn Rhett, who knows, maybe even Anthony Lucas.  

What I do like is the ceiling for so many of these signees is very high..higher than some of the “experts” think, in my opinion.

I love J.D. Price is a running back.  I wasn’t as high on him from his junior film as some others, but he really progressed as a running back as a senior.  His film is outstanding.  I wouldn’t doubt he would be the most talented running back in the room next year.  Yes, I like him that much.  Talent and production are two different things, but I do think he has the most potential out of that group.  

How can you not love this O-line class, especially after last year’s class?  Outstanding job by everyone involved.  Notre Dame has what I believe to be two first round picks at tackle out of this two-year group already, and Aamil Wagner has the talent and potential to be a third.  There are tons of great guard prospects in this group, all should arrive at 300+ pounds or near when they arrive.  We know they have a center they really like in Coogan.  This is an outstanding two-year haul.  

ND has to continue on their tight end tradition.  I love both Eli Raridon and Holden Staes.  Eli could have as much upside as Michael Mayer…maybe even more.  Staes could be the next Tommy Tremble type, who knows…

The Irish need their next great pass rusher, and I think they found him Aiden Gobaria.  Big, physical, extremely explosive.  He will arrive around 240 when he enrolls.  He plays like his life depends on the outcome.  Fantastic!  

My favorite wide receiver out of all the realistic options signed in this class…Tobias Merriweather.  I think this guy has first round potential.  Tall, very fast and will get faster, but also has fluid hips to make things happen after the catch.  

The Irish needed linebackers, and boy did they get some.  I can’t remember a more talented, and also physically ready to play group, enrolling at Notre Dame.  

I felt Notre Dame needed to add some speed at corner, and I think they did just that with Jaden Mickey and Jayden Bellamy, and I love the potential of Benjamin Morrison as well.  Big, physical, hitter, and plays with a lot of confidence.  

I really like Tyson Ford’s senior film.  I’ve always felt he’d play inside, and he may still, but he shows very good quickness for his size, and I could see him sticking at strong side defensive end as well.  

Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with the talent coming in.  There aren’t many I have questions about, and that doesn’t happen often.  

Again, there are holes in this class.  We know what they are.  So does Marcus Freeman and his staff, and they will get right to work trying to fill those holes.  

Don’t dwell on those that got away at the end.  With this new transfer portal stuff, I’m certain they would’ve left if things didn’t happen right away for them, and there just wasn’t a realistic path for things to happen for a lot of these guys right way.  Notre Dame’s roster is too deep and talented for many of these guys to come in and start right away…that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.  

The optimist in me is going to go to bed tonight with a smile on my face.  I feel real good about where this thing ended, and where it’s headed in the future.  It wasn’t the magical ending we all wanted, but that also wasn’t a realistic ending we should expect.

Now, more than ever, with NIL and the transfer portal, Notre Dame really needs to find people who want to be at Notre Dame.  Part of that is selling them the big picture, but also, I think part of it is finding guys who see the value in taking the hard road…those are the men you want in the trenches anyway.  

Notre Dame needs to win these big games with culture, and those who are willing to take the hard road, it’s hard not to both love and support them.   Now that they’re also talented, they will have a real shot in the future to win those bigger games.  

Smile, it’s a good day to be an Irish fan!  


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