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Notre Dame Football

6 Thoughts on a Thursday

April 21, 2022

Notre Dame is one of the 34 FBS programs who are holding their spring game this weekend. What does that mean? It means it’s time to get the transfer portal fired up because there are about to be a bunch of names added to it next week.

There’s been close to 40 FBS players who have entered into it in the last few days and there’s going to be a rush of new names after spring ball is finished after these programs get done this weekend. There’s still 11 more programs who finish up spring at the end of April and with the semester winding down at a lot of schools, there will be more names thrown in it. 

Everyone and their mother knows what position Notre Dame will be looking to add bodies to. They need more depth at receiver and I don’t imagine they’ll only be looking for potential difference-makers. If they think someone has a shot at helping them and they are a fit, they are going to get involved.

I would be surprised if they weren’t pro-active with it. They definitely were with defensive tackle and flipped Chris Smith from his commitment to Minnesota when it looked like they needed depth there.

I guess the question is, does Notre Dame see any other position where they also need to add depth or competition? There isn’t an obvious answer, although corner would get my vote as a spot they could use more competition. They added Nick McCloud in May of 2020 and it’s safe to say that with Shaun Crawford starting at safety and true freshman Clarence Lewis starting at corner, the McCloud addition was massively important.

Whether it’s corner, another spot, or just at receiver, it’s going to be fluid depending on what happens with the players currently on Notre Dame’s roster.

There will be some players who reevaluate things after the spring and then decide to move on. Those players would most likely not play much for Notre Dame this fall, but there may be one or two that change how the staff looks at the numbers at those positions.

The end of April and all of May will be a busy recruiting time for Notre Dame, but it’s also going to be a time where they are managing the current roster. Portal season will be in high gear and one or two of the right additions could be very important to Marcus Freeman’s first season.

2. There aren’t a lot of things to get excited about with spring games. Watching the probable new starting quarterback was going to be one of them for Notre Dame fans, but that’s not happening now with an unfortunate ankle injury to Tyler Buchner.

Everyone wants a glimpse of Buchner and what the offense might look like this fall with him running it. Sure, they saw some of him last season, but he just had a full spring of growth on the field and this was going to be different from his limited package he was in for during the season.

Then again, there was the question of just how much we were going to see from him in the first place. With disjointed rosters because of the Blue-Gold Draft, this was never going to be about an offense showing anything close to what we’d see in Columbus on September 3.

Will everyone be missing out on not seeing the Buchner play? Yes. Would his performance, good or bad, say anything about what to expect this fall? Probably not.

Maybe it’s for the best that Notre Dame message boards aren’t going crazy about Buchner in either direction this summer based off of this game. This ankle injury saves us all from that.

3. I know NIL is a topic that has dominated the past few months of college football, but somehow the narrative has turned into that this is ruining college football when this isn’t all that new. It’s just legal now. The Ringer’s Kevin Clark summed it up nicely.

NIL is getting Tennessee a top quarterback (and maybe a top receiver). NIL helped get Texas A&M their number one ranked class in the last cycle. How quickly some have forgotten about Ole Miss and the run they went on or that there have been bag men funneling money to recruits since well before the Godfather started covering Notre Dame football.

This really isn’t that different than boosters like the late T. Boone Pickens giving away a fortune in order to help Oklahoma State become a winning football program. This is how the game has always been played.

I don’t agree that this is something that will change everything. All it does is tweak things from how it used to be. The money to players and recruits and to universities for facilities has been a huge part of college football for a long time.

4. For anyone who has followed the shuffling of NFL announcer booths these past few months, they’re aware that Al Michaels is no longer with NBC, which means Mike Tirico is officially the play-by-play man for Sunday Night Football. That means he isn’t going to be calling Notre Dame games anymore and that’s unfortunate because I viewed him as the best play-by-play announcer they’ve had since Dick Enberg was on the call.

I don’t know if Drew Brees will be back or what direction NBC will go with the game analyst, but I really hope that no matter who they put beside him, that it’s Paul Burmeister doing play-by-play.

Burmeister has called games on radio for Notre Dame games since 2018. He’s called the Blue-Gold game several times and has filled in a couple of times on NBC broadcasts as well.

He’s good at the job. As a former college quarterback, he knows the game better than most doing that job. Most importantly, he knows Notre Dame very well after covering the team. I know there are other big names who might be fun to see calling games on NBC, but I don’t think there is a better qualified person for this specific job than Burmeister.

I hope when NBC announces the new announcing team that he’s a part of it.

5. Matt reported that Boubacar Traore‍ is going to visit next week and Notre Dame appears to be in a strong position to land him if all goes well. That brings up the question of what Notre Dame is going to do on the defensive line the rest of the way, specifically with Brenan Vernon‍ already in the class.

Traore and Vernon are both players who are likely going to end up as 3-technique defensive tackles. The same can be said for Jason Moore‍, another blue-chip defensive line target for the Irish. The thought is that adding Traore and Moore might be overcrowding that position. It also might take away from a scholarship at another position.

I’ve always been an advocate that you can never have enough good defensive linemen so my automatic inclination is that they should take all of them if they can get them. That’s normally how I would feel about any situation with prospects of this caliber, but the other part of it is that Notre Dame has a need at 3-tech that probably isn’t written about enough.

Jayson Ademilola is in his last year. Howard Cross is in year four. Rylie Mills, who moved outside to end, but can still play inside, is in year three. Then it’s Jason Onye and early enrollee Tyson Ford. The depth chart is going to look a lot different in a couple of years at that spot so if they can add three quality prospects, that shouldn’t be something to worry about at that time.

The other thing is that if they were able to bring in Vernon, Traore, and Moore, it could give them a lot more flexibility to play more of a true three down front if that’s the direction they want to go down the line. I’m all for loading up and figuring things out after. It’s better to have a problem of too much rather than too little at a position.

6. Justyn Rhett‍ decommitting isn’t a good thing at a position of need, but his situation reminded me of something that always stuck with me from one of my favorite movies.

This isn’t a website where I can freely quote The Departed, but I feel the need to paraphrase a part from it to get my point across.

Billy Costigan, played by Leonardo Dicaprio, gets insulted by a man at a bar and then proceeds to pummel him. It’s stopped by Mr. French, the number two in the Irish mob, who tells Billy that there are guys you can hit and guys you can’t hit. The man Billy beat up was not quite a guy who can’t be hit, but he’s almost a guy who can’t be hit.

Mr. French makes a ruling on the actions of Billy and decides that he is able to walk away from this without being punished, but can’t continue to beat the guy up. (If you’ve seen the movie, you know this scene very well. If you haven’t seen the movie, then just act like nothing bad happens after Mr. French gives Billy this talk.)

Rhett is a good prospect with great physical traits, but I wouldn’t say he was someone who Notre Dame couldn’t draw a line in the sand with. They drew that line, let Rhett know about it, and when he decided he was going to cross it with an official visit to Georgia, that was that.

The whole thing from The Departed is relevant because it states something that is obvious in many walks of life: there are different rules for different people.

Some guys can get into trouble and they are off the team. Other guys get a slap on the wrist. Some guys can take visits and Notre Dame might not like it, but they are going to stick with it and fight to keep those players in the class. Others decide to start looking at other places and Notre Dame is fine with letting them go.

Matt Freeman has frequently mentioned that Notre Dame fans should get used to “big boy recruiting” where other programs are going to keep going after Notre Dame commits because they are battling for more elite prospects. Matt is 100% correct and we’ll see more of what we’ve seen with Keon Keeley‍, Peyton Bowen‍, and more recruitments like Dante Moore‍. But it’s not going to be the same for every recruit. What happened with Rhett is another reminder of that.

Notre Dame’s staff simply has to do the best they can with managing who is worth it to keep fighting for and who they are okay parting ways with. Men’s UA Fighting Irish Veterans - OMVA Performance T-Shirt

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