Notre Dame Football

ISD INTEL: Remembering Bob Elliott, Recruiting, and Freshmen Updates

July 13, 2017
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Bob Elliott passed away last Saturday at the age of 64, and it was very clear his former players respected him not just as a coach, but as a man. As you have heard, Matthias Farley was on a trip across Europe and cut his trip short to make sure he was with Elliott’s family in the hours before his passing.
 
Farley might have been one of Elliott’s success stories on the field, but former Notre Dame safety Nicky Baratti felt the love from his coach away from the field.
 
“I’d say no matter how big, or small you were, Coach E always treated everyone the same,” Baratti said. “After all four of my shoulder surgeries, he was the only coach who would come and see me in the hospital.
 
“He and Momma E would show up with smiles and home cooked meals.”
 
The sincere personality was felt by other members of the defense including defensive end Romeo Okwara, who is now with the New York Giants.
 
“I can’t remember any specific stories, but his character stood alone,” stated Okwara.
 
Former linebacker Jarrett Grace experienced a moment that many of his teammates experienced, but it’s something he will likely never forget.
 
“At graduation in May of 2015, him and Joey (Elliott’s wife), were running around all over campus to track down all the guys to individually congratulate them,” recalled Grace. “I remember him saying how proud he was of me and he wanted to make the point that we really accomplished something by receiving a degree from Notre Dame.
 
“Something like that was so routine for him.”
 
Grace and Baratti both shared the unfortunate setbacks of major injuries during their time at Notre Dame, but it was Elliott that was there for them during the toughest moments.
 
He made a difference in my life knowing that I had someone how cared at such a high degree. - LB Jarrett Grace
“He was always investing in his guys, and he would ensure that whatever we needed to succeed would happen on and off the field,” explained Grace. “He made a difference in my life knowing that I had someone how cared at such a high degree. It actually helped push me to be my best because I knew he believed in me and had my back in everything.
 
When Baratti was crying in Elliott’s office before his senior year because he wanted to quit football, the words of encouragement got him through the season.
 
“He was always there for me from the highs to lows,” Baratti said. “When I didn’t think I was going to make it to play my senior year, it was him who pushed me and kept believing in me to finish what I started and never give up.”
 
Cornerback Cole Luke experienced many of the same memories as his teammates and attributes his enjoyment at Notre Dame to Elliott.
 
“He just changed my entire Notre Dame experience for me when things weren’t looking up,” stated Luke. “There are too many stories to tell. That man is the reason I committed to Notre Dame in the first place. He will be missed.”
 
The college football world will miss Elliott impact on and off the field.
 
“He was truly the best guy I’ve ever met,” said Baratti. "He really was, along with Momma E.” 

OSSAI VISITING EARLY: A couple weeks back, Joseph Ossai announced a top three of Texas A&M, Texas and Notre Dame.
 
A good friend of ours down in Texas was able to pass along some info on Ossai this week, and while the 2018 defensive end remains a strong lean toward Texas A&M, Notre Dame is one school that is causing him to take give his decision a lot more thought.
 
In fact, we’re told Ossai will be visiting Notre Dame the first weekend of the season.
 
Ossai has said it’s a visit to “put a face to a name.” He added that he probably would have already had his recruitment wrapped up if he’d already had a chance to visit South Bend. Being the biggest Catholic program in the country holds weight with Ossai.
 
Now, Ossai is going to be in College Station multiple times over the next couple months with his family, and those close to the recruitment continue to say they’d “be very surprised if he doesn't pick A&M early this fall,” but Notre Dame will get a chance to change the
 
Nike Football 2018 LB Jack Lamb
LAMB LEANING TOWARD EARLY DECISION: Following his first visit to Notre Dame last month, 2018 California linebacker Jack Lamb felt confident he’d be able to stick to his plan of making a decision before his senior season, but he still wanted to take some time to let everything settle in.
 
“He wanted to take a little more time because he doesn’t want to just pick the one that was freshest,” Lamb’s father, Dan Lamb, told Irish Sports Daily. “He wants to say, ‘Hey, do I still feel like this in two weeks?’ He’s had really, really good visits everywhere.”
 
Lamb has a top five of UCLA, Notre Dame, Penn State, Washington and Oregon and recently said the Bruins and the Irish have the edge, but even his father doesn’t know for sure.
 
“I honestly think it still changes for him on a pretty regular basis,” Mr. Lamb said. “He really does want to make a decision before the season.”
 
But there is a chance that timeline could get pushed back just a bit.
 
“About the only thing I think he might need to see would be some gameday atmospheres,” Mr. Lamb said. “If he doesn’t make the decision before the season starts, his bye week is Sept. 9th and would likely go on an official visit somewhere if he feels like he needs to see something else.”
 
It’s unlikely UCLA would be a place he’d need to use an official visit to see.
 
“We’ve been to UCLA games before, so I don’t think he really needs to go to a game,” his father said. “We’ll probably go to games anyway because we’re fans and my daughter goes there, but I don’t feel he needs to go on something like that.”
 
But Lamb hasn’t been to games at any of his other finalists, including Penn State, where both of his parents went to school.
 
“He’s never been to a Penn State game,” his dad said. “We’ve watched plenty on TV and knows what it’s all about.
 
The Irish are hosting Georgia on Sept. 9 in a primetime showdown while the Nittany Lions host Pittsburgh that same day.
 
“If it comes down to that, he may want to go see a game for that gameday atmosphere. But I think Jack is pretty close to making a decision within the next few weeks. He told me the other day he just wants some time to be away from it.”
 
Mr. Lamb said he’s been “blown away” by the effort and sincerity from the staffs at each of his son’s favorites.
 
“I could honestly tell you I could send my son to any of these five schools that he’s narrowed it down to and feel really good. I know these coaches from watching them on TV, but now that I’ve gotten an opportunity to meet some of them and talk to them, man, they’re some really, really good people, so I feel really good about anything he picks. I’m all in.”
 
McGRONE MAY TAKE A LITTLE LONGER: Meanwhile, 2018 Indiana linebacker Cameron McGrone doesn’t plan to make his commitment until the fall.
 
“He’s looking at toward the mid to end of his season to make his decision,” McGrone’s mother, Lynn Redd, told us. “I think that’ll give him time to take on a few more visits.”
 
Last month, McGrone narrowed his list to Notre Dame, Michigan, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. He made trips to South Bend and Ann Arbor last month but has plans to get back on the road again before he finalizes his decision.
 
“There are some things he wants to see when he goes on visits over the next few months,” his mother said. “He wants to see an actual practice, a training session with the team and the gameday atmosphere.
 
“He’s been to a couple of games at some of his final six schools. He just wants to see the gameday atmosphere and see how the coaches and players mesh together.”
 
McGrone remains in contact with the Irish staff about setting up a return trip.
 
“We don’t have anything set yet,” Mrs. Redd said. “Notre Dame doesn’t start their real practices until August I think, and that’ll be Cameron’s first week of school. We just want to make sure his schedule and Notre Dame’s schedule mesh. We are probably looking more at August than we are July.”
 
McGrone’s mother knows what the Irish offer on the field, but her focus is on the opportunities off the field.
 
“I like the academics and the tradition of excellence at Notre Dame,” she said. “Aside from the football program, it’s a great university. They have a longstanding tradition and strong alumni network. Those are the things I like about it. The football tradition is awesome as well. They’re investing a lot of money into the stadium.
 
“They’re doing a lot of stuff around campus that is going to help out the football team as well the other athletic programs there. I still like all of the academics Notre Dame has to offer.”
 
She thinks her son is a few months away from a decision.
 
“His season is over mid-October, and then they start sectionals. It’ll probably be something he comes out with in October at some time. We haven’t had a set date because we’re months away. We just want to make sure he gets to take on a few more visits at his favorites, and then he’ll have to make the choice from there.”

NOTRE DAME TRIP MEANINGFUL FOR GRAY FAMILY: Earlier this week, we told you about 2019 safety Jeremiah Gray following the footsteps of his father, Derwin Gray (Gray Taking Care of the Root Before the Fruit). The former NFL safety played at Notre Dame in college when he was in a BYU uniform but seeing the campus was something special for the elder Gray.

“Throughout the years, I have shared with Jeremiah what that was like for me,” said Gray. “I had no idea that the campus was as beautiful as it was. It is a gorgeous campus. Jeremiah likes wide open spaces, so he really liked the campus.

“Looking at all the Heisman trophies and history was amazing. It’s like an arms race to have the best facilities, so I am sure Notre Dame’s facilities to come are going to be exceptional.”

 The trip also had an emotional side. As they walked through The Gug, they stopped to see the wall of Notre Dame alum that has played in the NFL and the All-Americans. Gray is the minister at the church former Notre Dame legend Bryant Young currently attends.

Both families have gotten close over the years and it was Gray who was there to comfort the family as Young’s son, Colby, passed away from cancer last October.

“I actually officiated the gravesite ceremony,” said Gray. “I know the Young’s incredibly well. One of the blessings is before Colby passed away, he asked his dad to call me to the house because he wanted to have communion one more time with the family.”
 
FROM THE BUSHES-FRESHMAN EDITION:
The Class of 2017 has arrived in full in South Bend, and we’ve been able to track down some notes on many of them. It’s important to remember the vast majority of the class has only been on campus for a couple of weeks now and while it’s too early to glean much for some guys, including quarterback Avery Davis, even the notes we do have are extremely preliminary looks.
 
Rick Kimball/ISD RB CJ Holmes
Running back C.J. Holmes arrived on campus back in January and was starting to flash when he hurt his shoulder. But, as we reported before, the Irish still got a look at his potential, and there are reasons to be excited. He’s a “fantastic athlete” who could “really develop into a great weapon.” Holmes has made great progress since his surgery, and while it’s hard to say for sure if he’ll be 100 percent for the opener, he should definitely be all of the way back within a couple of weeks of the season.
 
It sounds like wide receivers Jafar Armstrong and Michael Young have both impressed so far and showed up in really good shape. Both players look like they belong and have good attitudes as well.
 
There’s no doubt Notre Dame scored big at the tight end position last cycle with Brock Wright and Cole Kmet. Wright was on campus for spring ball and has demonstrated a ton of potential. He’s a physical kid who is mentally tough and works hard. The Irish have to be pleased with what they’ve seen from Kmet so far as well. He's already 245 pounds, but still, has that quickness and smoothness he showed as a much lighter player. He runs well for his size and has really soft hands.
 
It doesn’t sound like Notre Dame missed at offensive line either with all four signees having the chance to earn considerable minutes. Robert Hainsey and Aaron Banks enrolled early, and most expect Hainsey to actually play this season. Hainsey has displayed an extremely high football IQ, not just for a freshman either. Banks could also get on the field this fall but needs a bit more work with his hands, but many are convinced his future is massive.

Dillan Gibbons and Josh Lugg haven’t disappointed at all either. Gibbons is a strong kid who was huge before and has only gotten bigger in recent months. Lugg has developed quite a bit physically over the last year. Both could be guys who play considerable minutes in the future.
 
So far, it sounds like Kurt Hinish may be the defensive lineman who is most ready to play. He has a good motor, works hard, moves well for his size and has been coached well already.
 
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa is another first-year defensive lineman who moves really well for his size. He’s a really good athlete who has never really lifted, so he’s going to get much, much bigger. It may take some time, but he’s a fantastic piece of clay with a great attitude.
 
Darnell Ewell hasn’t really lifted much either, certainly not to the level he will be now. It may take him some time to adjust to the level of competition, but he has a good frame and has a ton of upside.
 
Notre Dame may have gotten a steal with Kofi Wardlow. He’s displayed some great athletic ability so far and a ton of quickness and speed. He’s a better athlete than initially thought, but is still raw and has a long way to go in technique and knowledge of the game.
 
On the other hand, Jordan Genmark-Heath is the athlete he was expected, but that’s a good thing. He’s very fluid, runs very well and has a good attitude.
 
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has also impressed. He’s a “very smooth athlete,” who runs really well for his size. At this point, he’s definitely a Rover.
 
There’s also reason to be really high on Isaiah Robertson. He's a big kid who could grow into a Rover. He's a very smart football player, and he's physical. He’s a good athlete who has the desire to be a good player.
Discussion from...

ISD INTEL: Remembering Bob Elliott, Recruiting, and Freshmen Updates

Domer_Zag
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Ewell "hasn't lifted much?" I read somewhere that he already benches 400. Must be that 'country strength' that got him there. Probably not the swimming...
"Mediocrity is not how we serve Our Lady... it's not acceptable at Notre Dame."

Fr. Ted.
mattfreeman
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Domer_Zag said:

Ewell "hasn't lifted much?" I read somewhere that he already benches 400. Must be that 'country strength' that got him there. Probably not the swimming...
Lifting can be more than benching. If all he did was bench, then other areas could be weaker. Lower body strength is crucial for his position.
Domer_Zag
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As a former competitive powerlifer, I gotcha. Hopefully he's had some decent strength coaching.
"Mediocrity is not how we serve Our Lady... it's not acceptable at Notre Dame."

Fr. Ted.
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