I'll keep this introduction brief as there is a lot of material to cover. Welcome to the 3rd annual Subway Domer Recruiting Spectacular.
Last year I had a guest writer, Mike Lurie (A.K.A. Colonialhead), write his thoughts on each recruit. It went well, but Mike shortly after, parted ways from Subway Domer. This year, I invited The Brawling Hibernian to join the site and help me out with this years class. If you have objections to profanity-laced metaphors that would knock Andrew "Dice" Clay on his ass, than maybe you should think twice before reading the rest of this post. (Consider this your only warning).
National Signing Day turned out to be a little different than the ones we have had in the past. We actually landed a top prospect, and the best on his side of the ball. Amazing... I wonder who that may be? The overall class may not have been up to par to the 3 previous recruiting classes were, according to the national rankings by various recruiting services, but this class is full of dynamic players that can contribute right away and some that help fill holes for the future. (What a sentence).
Just a little food for thought here... I gave grades for each recruit. No big deal, so don't cut my nuts off if you don't like them. They were more of an afterthought. I also gave a prediction for the jersey number that each playermay be assigned. These are just guesses and I have not heard anything concrete on that subject yet. Also, the post was too long for spellcheck to go through and check everything. There will be some bad spelling and other small errors. Get over it.
Glen Ellyn, IL. Glenbard West
ESPNU Top 150
Subway Domer: As much trouble as the Fighting Irish have had recruiting left tackles, they certainly have hit their stride when it comes to grabbing top guards. Chris Watt is a menace as a run blocker. He stays low and fires of the ball hard. Flat out- this kid plays as hard and tough as you can find at the high school level. When Watt locks in on his man, he knocks him on his ass and keeps driving to the next level. Chris is the number 1 rated guard in the country and plays that way every play. He will have to work on his pass blocking skills as he develops, but his quick feet and agility should allow good coaching to take over and guide him along. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Illinois.
The Irish are loaded at guard right now, so we may see Watt on the sideline as he takes a redshirt. Maybe. Rumors are already swirling that Trevor Robinson may move to left tackle and if he does, that would certainly allow a better chance for Watt to see the field. Either way, Chris will be in the mix in 2010 and with a year in the weight room, he will be better prepared physically as well as mentally.
Brawling Hibernian: As Shakespeare famously quipped, “Brevity is the soul of wit, but puns are a tranny BJ.” Why do I mention this? Well, thanks to his illuminating last name (see what I did there?), Chris Watt will be forced to endure a full barrage of punnery from the douchetards who inhabit the fringes of the Irish football world (Pat Haden and Jeff Carroll, I’m looking in your direction). Yes, Chris, get used to hearing things like “Watt is lighting up the Irish running game” and seeing headlines such as “Watt’s different with ND’s offensive line?”. This makes me sad. Chris Watt deserves better; so here it is. Chris Watt, you are a bull elephant on angel dust set loose in a topiary. That is how awesomely devastating you are. Also, you light up my life. Shit! Sorry.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL. St. Thomas Aquinas
Subway Domer: There is a consensus amongst recruiting experts that Jordan is a "can't miss prospect as a long snapper". After watching a few of his videos, it is hard to argue that point. (Especially, since he is the only long snapper that I have watched). His snaps are tight, fast, and on target. That's about as good as you can ask for... from a long snapper. And one last thing... He had 370 long snaps in high school and none of those were bad. 370 GOOD SNAPS IN A ROW!
People were generally confused when Cowart committed to the Irish. Why? Weis is taking drastic measures to improve the special teams play at Notre Dame, and this is a key element to solid play. Remember some of the snaps and holds that Walker had to deal with this year? JJ Jansen was Notre Dame's LS for a few years and we rarely had an issue. This is a solid pick-up at a position of need, and in all likliihood, Cowart should start this year. If Notre Dame had a guy like Cowart last year, Braxton Cave would not have burned a year of eligibility. That's important.
Brawling Hibernian: I can already hear the wailing over this one. “Why give someone who’s just a long-snapper a scholarship?” Just a long-snapper? JUST a long-snapper?! Do you people know how hard it is to be a long-snapper? First of all, you spend more time bent over than Liberace’s pool boy on Quaaludes. Then, should you screw up, your team ends up more fucked than, well, Liberace’s pool boy on Quaaludes. In other words, unless you like getting the business end of a creepy, dead pianist, you better entrust long-snapping to a professional. Welcome aboard, Jordan!
Cleveland, OH. St. Ignatius
Subway Domer: Dan Fox is one of those kids from Ohio. He's a blue collar kid that likes to play physical and has great natural football instincts. I just described 85% of the kids on Ohio State's roster. He isn't the highest rated player at his position, but he played more safety in high school. What he is, is a bigger version of Harrison Smith that is a more natural outside linebacker as opposed to Smith who is a more natural safety playing outside linebacker. Fox loves to get his nose in on every play as a tackler, but his greatest talent may be his pass protection skills. As long as Tenuta is at ND, Fox will be blitzing a lot, but he will also be able to drop back into coverage in the middle of the field and out in the flat. Tons of potential here.
Notre Dame's base defense is not really a 3-4 as some would tell you. It's not exactly a true 4-3 as you might have thought, considering that the irish used an even front most of the time last year. It's some type of cosmic hybrid that was conceived in a dark office occupied by Tenuta and Brown. With that said, it is hard to say what kind of impact Fox might have, not only in his first year, but in his secound as well. The roster is full of hybrid type players and Fox fits that mold. If Harrison Smith moves to safety in 2009, there is a window of opporyunity for Fox, but I see a redshirt year in his future as he aclimates to the college game as a linebacker.
Brawling Hibernian: Remember how, in high school, you would find yourself hating the super-cool captain of the football team? You remember. He was the guy who had looks, personality, talent and the unwavering ability to go balls-deep on whichever piece of 16-year old eye candy you had loved from afar, in the desperate, agonizing hope that somehow she’d notice and love you. You swore then that, if you ever had the chance, you’d crush that guy and make him pay. Well, guess what? Next year you’ll be rooting for him when Dan Fox joins the ND football team. That’s right, fuckstick, sweet irony just took a piece of your soul, fried it up and ate it for breakfast. On the bright side, your study hall inamorata is now available if you’re willing to endure C-section scars, cigarette burns and the $20 fee she’ll charge you for a lap dance. Man, your life sucks.
Inglewood, CA. Inglewood
ESPNU Top 150
Subway Domer: Take Golden Tate and Michael Floyd and somehow, get them to make a baby. That baby would be Shaq Evans. He's right in the middle. Not as fast as Tate, but faster than Floyd. Not as tall as Floyd, but taller than Tate. Not as polished as Floyd, but more polished than Tate as a freshman. Need I go on? Evans has the speed and nice solid body to catch passes in traffic as well as chasing them down on the fly. Shaq is explosive, and if I can use another comparison, I would say he reminds me of Aurelious Benn as far as the physicalities go. (Ouch, that hurt). Quite simply, Shaq Evans is the shit, and can be a difference maker.
Early and often. Even with all of Notre Dame's talent at wide receiver in 2009, there is no way that Evans will not see the field. No way. His play making ability isn't limited to just catching passes, he can also be used in the return game as he is just as dynamic running with the football as he is a receiver. Now, with all of the talent that ND has at this position- I would love to see Evans take a redshirt. That just isn't going to happen. Evans should make a name for himself early in his career and help make the Fighting irish reciever corps, the most dangerous unit in all of college football.
Brawling Hibernian: In spite of the similarities in their first names, a world of difference exists between new Irish WR Shaquelle Evans and NBA center Shaquille O’Neal. To begin, Shaquelle is a fleet-footed wide-out who strafes and destroys opposing defenses like an F-16 targeting a Taliban bathhouse. Shaquille, conversely, is a plodding, continent of a man whose wheezing fatness somehow still demands largesse from a handful of NBA GMs. Next, Shaquelle’s speed and ability make him a weapon capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. On the other hand, Shaquille’s cross-eyes and poor dexterity leave him with a scoring range shorter than the line of vision for an unspecatacled Kurt Rambis. Lastly, there is the matter of style. If Shaquelle were a musician, he’d be Miles Davis. If he were an actor, he’d be Laurence Olivier. Shaquille IS both a musician and an actor and has prison-raped American pop-culture by putting forward fecal-drenched disasters such as Shaq Fu: Da Return and Kazaam. Oddly, though, they have both had sex with Kobe’s wife. (I kid, I kid).
Princeton, NJ. The Hun School
ESPNU Top 150
Subway Domer: So what if Stockton may lack a few ideal inches that would make him a can't miss defensive tackle prospect. If he were 6'3" he would probably be a 5 star prospect by both Scout and Rivals. He is, however, the #2 DT according to ESPN and I have to say, that I can't argue much with them on that evaluation. Tyler is EXPLOSIVE. He fires of the ball and uses his shorter body to stay low and get either leverage on the blocker- or zoom right past him. These combination of skills make him an every down type of player as he will be able to defend the run on the inside and the perimeter, and he should provide a nice pass rush from inside the tackle box.
Tyler is already at Notre Dame and taking classes. He will be involved in all of the Spring practices as well as the Blue-Gold game. The Irish went against the grain last year as opposed to years past, and got five defensive lineman. Two of those five, Ethan Johnson and Sean Cwynar, can and have been used at both a DT and DE position. Of those five, only Ethan Johnson used a year of eligibility. Stockton will be in the mix to play right away his freshman year, but he will have to over come some suprisingly young depth to garnish playing time. I think he can do it, and I think we will see a larger rotation of defensive lineman throughout the season, which will keep them fresh and hungry- just the way you want a cold-blooded killer.
Brawling Hibernian: To describe the current state of Notre Dame's defensive line as "problematic" is to describe the sack of Rome as "a little urban redevelopment." Notre Dame's wafer-thin depth along the line is frightening in a "Charles Manson with a knife and a theory" kind of way. With that in mind, Tyler Stockton is this year's gem. A 14-carat, heat-seeking missile of running back destruction made out of pure jadeite and malice. Stockton is big (6'1, 290), quick (sub-5 40), tenacious (24 tfl his junior year) and, according to ESPN, a straight-up pragmatist. From their description of Stockton, "while he may lack certain ideals, he is a good player that should cause some problems at the college level." While they did not elaborate, one might imagine the ideals he lacks may include failure to establish empathetic connections with the local chapters of Amnesty International and Greenpeace. As long as he, at some point in his college career, epically decimates a member of the Trojan backfield; I’m cool with that.
West Hartford, CT. Northwest Catholic
Ht: 6' 5"
Subway Domer: Like we didn't see this coming. Jake Golic coming to Notre Dame is like saying the Pope shits in the woods or a bear wears a big hat... or something like that. Jake was one of 3 recruits that I personally spoke with. I saw him at the spring game and congradulated him on his commitment. He is a Golic through and through. He is quite taller in person than he looks on film. He and his family read Subway Domer. (I was just as surprised as you are). Jake has some raw talent and he could surprise a few that think he was only took as part of the legacy program. His frame should allow more bulk and he fires off the line with a nice first step and takes defenders on with good leverage. He lacks the speed of a Rudolph or Ragone, but he should make up for it, with the inner will of a golden panda.
Jake is sure to follow in the same direction as his brother and redshirt in 2009. He needs that extra year to adjust to the college game and work on his physique. With a redshirt, Golic would give himself another year of seperation between him and the trio of Rudolph, Ragone, and Fauria.
Brawling Hibernian: If I were to write a letter to the Golic family, it would probably read as follows: "Dear Golics, On behalf of the Notre Dame fanbase, I want to thank you for your continued desire and ability to procreate. While I cannot be certain as to whether it's naturally-burning loins, ample quantities of Levitra or just good old-fashioned drunken operator error that has launched so many talented players; just know we're grateful. Your willingness to engage in copious ugly bumping has enabled fans of the university's football program to enjoy two generations of unparalleled awesomeness. In addition to your football greatness, I want to extend a special note of thanks to Bob Golic. While you have not yet repopulated the Irish ranks with your offspring, your turn as R.A. Mike Rogers on "Saved By The Bell: The College Years" was truly awe-inspiring. I particularly liked you in the episode, "Slater's War", when you showed exceptional humanity in sparing the life of your lab mouse, X-97. You, sir, have a poet's soul. Anyway, Golics, thanks for your most recent addition, Jake. I am certain he will add his own great chapter to ND's fine tradition of tight ends. In the meantime, please enjoy the complimentary bottle of grain alcohol, Luther Vandross' CD and severely damaged condoms. Sincerely, Brawling Hibernian"
Oxnard, CA. Santa Clara
ESPNU Top 150
Subway Domer: Cierre Wood is a running back. He's coming to Notre Dame to play as a running back. Cierre Wood is not a safety- he could have been, but he's a running back. Get the point. USC wnted him as a safety and Notre Dame said he would be a running back. It can be as simple as that. Wood is a dangerous ball carrier. He has great top end speed and enough burst to get him past the line and linebackers in a hurry as well. He could add a few more pounds on his frame, which is physiologically ready for another 10 pounds or so to help him inside the tackles where his running style leaves him suspect to big, ass-kicking hits. If you need a comparison- think Julius Jones with less patience. (Obi Wan- "He will learn patience"). Make no mistake about it though, Wood is a top prospect and has all of the tools to rocket himself to greatness. Also, unlike our other "speed back" (Allen) Wood did not suffer a devastating season ending injury in his high school career. Allen is just getting his legs back- Wood already has them.
I'm starting to think that Coach Weis doesn't believe in redshirting running backs. With Allen, Aldridge, and Hughes in the mix, there was no real need to use Jonas Gray as a freshman last year- but he did. Even if Wood isn't used as a running back, he could see time as a return man. The depth chart at running back is long and loaded with talent, but Wood will do no less than push those in front of him, and in the process get some meaningful carries himself.
Brawling Hibernian: Cierre Wood is not so much a running back as a living exercise in defensive dread. With his speed, shiftiness and ability to break tackles, Cierre Wood is an amalgam of every defensive coordinator's worst nightmare that doesn't involve clowns, dinosaurs or carb-free diets. In fact, Wood is so frightening that the boogey man will now simply be known as Cierre. How terrifying is Wood? In his junior and senior seasons, he combined for 3,699 yards and 54 touchdowns. Wood attacks defenses like a frenzied pit bull seizing on a marinated and bound Cesar Milan. He is a freakish force of nature who will push the backs in front of him to the dizzying heights of betterment.
Dallas, TX. Jesuit Prep
Subway Domer: Notre Dame has had some kicking woes in the recent past and it has cost them dearly. I still think back to that 2004 Boston College game and the missed PAT from Fitzpatrick, that was the difference in losing that game (plus still having Ty at HC and a curse against the Eagle team). Nick has a very strong leg and he looks effortless in his kicking motion because of his smooth delivery. His best attribute might be his ability to knock the dog piss out of the ball on kickoff. He has shown the leg that puts the ball in the endzone, and with Notre Dame's returning #1 kickoff unit from 2008, this can really help keep opposing teams on their heels.
Brandon Walker had a horrible start to the 2008 season, but he truly turned a corner and he looks to be the man to beat for the starting place kicker job in 2009. With that said. That job is as open to change week in and week out as any on the field. Tausch will push Walker to the brink and at least, we will have true competition at this position. I think we will see Nick play a true frosh on kickoffs. I think he walks in and takes that job without question. Word.
Brawling Hibernian: The life of a kicker is cruelty personified. The activity in which they're engaged is a game of inches which is equal parts slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and cold, unflinching reason of physics. Also, you have three hundred pound men threatening to sodomize your mother while charging you. This brings us to Nick Tausch.Tausch is ND's newest kicker and, from all evidence, a good one at that (he did hit a 53-yarder his senior year). With the propensity of ND's kicking game to topple over like a Jenga tower on a fault line at a moment's notice, getting a little depth at the position is always important. Assuming Brandon Walker doesn't, once again, assume the role of Lothar the Club-Footed, Tausch's best chance in 2009 is probably on kickoffs where he excelled in high school.
Jersey......... (He's a kicker, he'll take what is given)
Vero Beach, FL. Vero Beach
Subway Domer: Zeke Motta come to Notre Dame as a versitile prospect as you might be able to find. This is due to his great frame and good speed. Some may see him as a safety, but he will be an outside linebacker at Notre Dame. Zeke is a determined hitter and knocks the ball carier on his ass as he shows good form in his tackling. he will provide excellent pass coverage underneath the zone as well as out in the flats. He is not as fast as a Harrison Smith, but he moves through traffic a little easier. Zeke is at Notre Dame right now as he enrolled in the spring and will be able to participate in spring practice and the Blue-Gold game.
As the Fighting Irish enter spring practice, they have some decisions to make. Personell decisions. What direction do they head into with the players they have on defense. There is a good contingent of people that believe that Harrison Smith will move back into David Brutons spot and Motta walks right into where Smith came from. This is pure speculation right now. Motta will have the chance to compete and play right away, and that is all we can really ask for right now. I see him playing on special teams right away, and perhaps- perhaps starting on defense depending upon the scheme and the competition. He will be a very good player for the Fighting Irish.
Brawling Hibernian: At birth, each of us has a name bestowed upon us. For the vast majority, our name is nothing more than a bland, utilitarian method of differentiation. While, generally, this is much more humane than, say, branding, it does little for auditory aesthetics. After all, would the world be so very different if each 'Bill Thompson' were simply renamed '905'? Then, every now and again, a person is born with a name so wonderfully fulfilling as to redeem the whole damned process. Enter Zeke Motta.One part trusty bloodhound, one part grizzled Italian boxer; the witches brew that is Zeke Motta's name is a brilliantly conceived elixir for the dullness of names. Will he make a tackle, throw a right cross or elicit a chorus of 'awwws' with a hang-dog look? Who knows?! I should also mention that Motta is an enormously talented outside linebacker who, in all likelihood, will be getting on the field quite a bit for the Irish this year; which is also kind of cool, I guess.
Indianapolis, IN. Bishop Chatard
ESPNU Top 150
Subway Domer: Big, big kid, or as Weis likes to say. "This is one big muchacho." Zach Martin joins the Fighting Irish as its lone tackle prospect for the 2009 incoming class. The staff, and fans as well, were hoping for more commitments at this position of great need and those of the left tackle nature. Martin is most assuredly, a right tackle. That doesn't diminish what he brings to the table. Martin is a verocious run blocker that puts opposing defenders on their ass. His pass protection is very skilled for such a young prospect, as his goodfootwork allows him to slide effortlessly and pick up blitzers and defensive lineman alike. He has the frame to add quite a few more pounds and he has the will to impose those pounds upon the enemy across from him. Hailing from Indiana is no way to vault yourself high in the rankings of colege recruits. My personal theory is that if Martin was from Ohio, Texas, Florida- you get the point, that he would be ranked higher across the board.
Zach has plenty of capable bodies ahead of him on the depth chart at right tackle for now. Most notable among those are Sam Young (SR.), and Taylor Dever (rsSO.). This may be a learning year and a growth year for Martin as he may be redshirted. I say that with no real conviction, because you know as well as I do, that the offensive line has been this football teams greatest weakness these past two years. Martin is a versitile prospect that with his athleticism and sound feet, may be able to form himself into a left tackle the way that Mike Turkovich did so well in 2008.
Brawling Hibernian: As the sun goes down, and the velvety blackness of night engulfs the world, defensive ends lay their heads down on soft pillows to dream of sun-splashed days spent in backfields, roaring crowds and cheerleaders with corn silk curls shrouding porcelain cheeks. Every so often, though, another image enters their heads. It always comes the same way. They are alone, in the dark. From the shadows come a scream, a thump and a gasp. It comes again. Scream, thump, gasp. For what seems like hours the, by now familiar, cadence of scream, thump, gasp haunts them, stalks them, through the shadows until, finally, it emerges. It is the countenance of death. It is Zach Martin. (Fuck you, B+ in Creative Writing!)
Ft. Lauderdale, FL. St. Thomas Aquinas
Subway Domer: Most football fans would say that between a kicker and a punter , they would rather see the kicker on the field. Why? Because, you are in the process for scoring points or just got done scoring points. The punter... that means that we just gave up. Notre Dame fans might see this a little differently. Weis has had a tendancy to go for it on fourth down on a couple of occasions when maybe... he should have just punted. Turk has good ball placement and does a good job of allowing the coverage units to get downfield since his hangtime on the punt is very good.
Ben will have a chance to play right away in 2009 with the departure of Eric Maust. Brandon Walker was known as a good punter in high school and he should be the number competitor against "The Turk." The wild card, is that new Irish long snapper, Jordan Cowart, was also a teammate of Ben's in high school and they should have all summer to practice their form. They live in Florida for Christs sake, so they don't care that it's summertime.
Brawling Hibernian: If, as you’re walking out of work tonight, a large chunk of asteroid comes screaming through the atmosphere and fatally buries itself in your cranium, it would be nice to think (before your grey matter is sent splashing hither and yon) that reincarnation is a possibility. It would be nicer still if your disembodied spirit somehow ended up settling on Ben Turk as its new home. Why, you may ask, would becoming Notre Dame's next punter be such a great gig; cosmically speaking? Well, first of all, you get to be a scholarship football player at the most prominent football program in, like, evah. Then, your actual responsibilities include trotting out on the field four or five times a game in order to perform a task where you are never at-fault for a bad outcome. Shanked a punt? Snap was low/high. Kick returned for a score? Coverage was awful. Punt blocked? My line was terrible. See what I mean? Finally, as if that wasn't enough, racy and lascivious ladies of questionable sobriety will, due to the aforementioned sweetness of your life, offer themselves to you in a manner consistent with a groupie at a Grand Funk Railroad show (that would be the circa 1973-era groupies, not the current breed of geriatric Penny Lanes being helped backstage by their grandsons). So, you see, to be Ben Turk is to attain enlightenment, nirvana and, in all likelihood, a raging case of the clap.
Jersey......... (Once again, you get what they give you)
Ft. Wayne, IN. Bishop Dwenger
Subway Domer: Last year, I was extrememly happy that Notre Dame got a commitment from a Fort Wayne, Indiana native in John Goodman. I am from the area anfd saw Goodman play several times in his career and twice during his senior year at Bishop Dwenger where he played quarterback most of the time. While scouting Goodman, i noticed how good a ball player that he had as a receiver in #24. That player was/is Tyler Eifert. Eifert is not the prospect that Kyle Rudolph or Mike Ragone may be, but he has excellent hands and catches the ball at its highest point in traffic. Eifert is the kind of tight end tha will run a lot of drags and quick outs that will help move the chains on short yardage situations. He does a fine job of run blocking as he gets good leverage and shows a competitivness that makes him a pain in the ass to defenders. This "pain" is also felt by the secondary as he does a good job of "pest blocking" defenders down field.
Eifert is a redshirt candidate. His lanky frame is in need of some bulk and with the players in front of him on the depth chart, he will have ample time to prepare himself before his number should be called. That's not to say that injuries don't happen and playing time could be forced on Eifert early, if some catastrophic events occur. He should make a real impact by the time his junior year (sophomore year of eligibility if he sits in 2009) comes around. Weis loves to involve the tight end inhis offensive schemes and Eifert will be one to keep an eye on as his career unfolds.
Brawling Hibernian: Is Tyler Eifert a tight end? A wider receiver? A safety? A man torn apart by passion, forced to choose between the woman he loves and the country he vowed to protect? No one knows. At this point, it appears Eifert will be lining up with the catching linemen, but could also be moved over to alto saxophone if the ND band's depth doesn't hold up - he's just that versatile! If Eifert does stay at the tight end position, expect him to embark on a weight-gain program designed by Charlie himself. If you now find yourself visualizing deep-fried taquito omelettes washed down with bacon fat and olive oil smoothies, you are correct...and I am deeply sorry.
Brentwood, TN. Brentwood Academy
Subway Domer: Alex Bullard is a beast of a lineman. Someone must have had him in mind when they named the bull- a bull. He destroys defenders and puts them where he wants them. His competition wasn't that great in high school, but he excelled and showed why he was often the most dominating player on the field. Run blocking is his fortay and he uses his brute strenghth to his advantage. If he was a few inches taller, he would be an excellent tackle prospect as he moves very well and has agile feet. His pass blocking will need improvement, but with his athleticism and his ability to over power people, he should develop nicely.
The depth chart at guard is littered with talent. This class alone has a 5 star prospect to contend with in Chris Watt. Alex is yet another candidate to redshirt and develop both his body and his technique. He couldn't ask for a better scenario though, as he will have a new offensive line coach in Verducci. If Trevor Robinson moves to left tackle, as been rumored, than Bullard would likely battle for a spot in the 2010 season. Depth is forming on the line and it will start paying dividends as these young prospects aren't forced into service befor ethey are ready. Bullard will be a force for Notre Dame, but it will be a few years from now.
Brawling Hibernian: Here's a quick exercise - visualize 'big'. Some of you pictured a Great Dane, others a mountain, still others Mark Mangino's Man Gunt. Needless to say, the concept 'big' is one of relativity and mindset. Now, moving on, let's try and visualize the term "Prince Pain: Destroyer of Linebackers". If, at once, the sneering face of Alex Bullard didn't pop into your head, you are not only a liar, but a damn liar and we have lost all respect for you. Bullard is yet another talented Tennessean who has wisely chosen to avoid the orange jump-suited prison yard in Knoxville to head for greener pastures in South Bend. His arrival is a welcome addition for an offensive line that, in the recent past, has approached run blocking with all the efficiency of a five year-old chasing a squirrel. Welcome to ND, Alex!
Verona, NJ. Verona High
Subway Domer: Could there be any bigger cliche than a Charlie Weis team gaining a commitment from an Italian linebacker from New Jersey? Probably, but we'll go with it. Calabrese is an imposing presense on the football field. His size alone makes you want to curl up in a corner and cry like a baby. He doesn't destroy ball carriers... he vaporizes them. His ability to stuff the run and impose his will is something that is needed when going up against a power run game. His pass coverage skills could develop a lot more, but he may be limited with that huge frame of his. He is a head knocker that will make concussions feel like a tickle. BTW- Carlo wore a gold suit with a blu-gold tie, and blue gators on his feet when was interviewed on CBS College Sports coverage of National Signing Day. P-I-M-P.
The linebacker corps is a growing entity on the Fighting Irish roster. I'm not sure how much actual time Carlo will get at the Mike spot next year, but he won't redshirt. His hitting ability will be used on special teams and during short yardage, and perhaps, goaline situations. If the Irish move more towards a 3-4 base defense, it will benefit Calabrese as he is a good fit in the middle at the Mike.
Brawling Hibernian: We at Brawling Hibernian do not traffic in stereotypes. We believe each person is an individual who should be judged on the merits of their character, rather than on any random superficiality. Having said all of that, when thinking of a hulking, beast of a man from NJ named Carlos Calabrese, our mind wanders to thoughts of The Copa, cannolis and hastily-dug graves in remote locations. In short, if Calabrese is not majoring in "Legitimate Business Studies" next year, we will not only be surprised, but profoundly disappointed. Moreover, if Calabrese has not, through the practice of completely terrorizing opponents, been given a nickname like "Mad Dog" or "Scarface", we will have lost all faith in the ND fanbase.
Somersville, NJ. Immaculata
Subway Domer: Theo Riddick is already getting lost in the mix at running back. He is overshadowed by Cierre Wood in this class, and as soon as he steps on campus, he will have to contend with Jonas Gray, Robert Hughes, Armando Allen, and James Aldridge. That doesn't scare him. How coould it, when he made his commitment knowing all of these players will be in one place. Theo is a super quick, running back that runs with determination and makes fast decisions on the cuts he takes. He doesn't run east and west, but angled to make a cut. He can be used as a pure runner and he can come out of the backfield to add to the passing game as well. As a running back, he will have to improve his pass blocking if he wants everydown playing time, but he has the athleticism to be a good option for the offense.
Like I said before, Weis just doesn't redhirt running backs. So, I think we will see Riddick used in 2009 and he will be able to compete for a spot in the return game. If Weis goes against past history and redshirts Riddick, I would be surprised, but it may be neccecary. How many of these quality backs can the irish pick up while not giving equal carries. I would like to see Theo sit a year, but you know he will trot out on the field early in the season.
Brawling Hibernian: How good a running back is Theo Riddick? He is Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson being operated by a kid with a jones for the 'B' button. A whirling dervish of destruction magnificently sweeping his way through the gropes, grasps and assorted whiffs of would-be tacklers. Riddick is fast (4.4), shifty and will totally fuck your shit up if you make one more "I loved you on the Cosby Show" joke about his name.
McKees Rock, PA. Montour
ESPNU Top 150
Subway Domer: Banks comes to Notre Dame as an enigma in some respect. A phenomenal athlete, Banks played mostly quarterback in high school and he will need some time to develop the skill set of a corner that guys like Blanton and Walls possesed when they arrived on campus. He has very good football instincts and has the hips to point him in that direction, which is vital to the progression of a cornerback prospect. He also has good speed and size. A 6'0" corner is essential to covering these 6'5" wide receivers.
Even with the defection of former Irish commit, Marlon Pollard to UCLA, Notre Dame has good depth on the corner. If this was three or four years ago, we would probably be wanting to press Banks into service right away. Not in 2009. Banks will most likely redshirt.
Brawling Hibernian: Fate is a funny thing. Sometimes, it's buying you a drink, telling you a joke and introducing you to its nympho sister with a penchant for porn and bad decisions. Other times, it prefers stealing your wallet, killing your dog and showing you the video it made with your mom last spring at Hedonism. Sadly for EJ Banks, his most recent encounter with Fate was of the latter variety. At the end of a stellar high school career, Banks tore his ACL and began the K2 climb that is rehab. Luckily for him, he is ahead of schedule and will likely be in decent shape by the time camp opens.
ESPNU Top 150
Subway Domer: I went to bed late Tuesday and I had already conceded Te'o to the Trojans. I just felt all was lost after I read the information that came in over the message boardsabout Byron Moore heading to USC, and I had enough. Oddly, i awoke with a new found sense of optimism as the announcement drew closer and closer. When the announcement was finally made I went apeshit. This was the one. This was the commit that was bigger than Jimmy Clausen. This was the recruit that Notre Dame had been missing out on for well over a decade. This was Manti Te'o. Te'o is a beast of a football player. He has the size and the skill set to play early for the Irish. He punishes ball carriers with a hit delivery that would make the mob look like a bunch of girl scouts selling cookies. He has what it takes to become a legend on the field and should be one of the best Notre Dame has ever had at that position. That's putting a lot of pressure on a kid, but he is that good. He is. His only reall weakness, is his ability to read coverages (so I have read), but with Tenuta as a mentor, he will be able to overcome.
Notre Dame has really loaded up on some very good linebackers in these past 3 years, but none of them have the potential of a player like Te'o. Manti should start for the Irish on day one, but the real question is where and how. He is listed as an outside player but he may be better suited to play an inside role as a Jack in the 3-4 or a Will in the 4-3. With the departure of Crum at the Jack spot, I think this is the most likely destination for Te'o. He should provide better playmaking ability at that spot than we have seen in the past. He still hasn't decided if he will take the two year Mormon mission after his freshman year, but even if he does, he will still make an enormous impact on the 2009 team as Notre Dame tries to get back to the upper echelon of college football. Word.
Brawling Hibernian: When I was growing up, like most precocious lads, I harbored dreams of a future laden with great success. At some point, in this idealized future, I imagined I would be given a prestigious award for which I'd need to write an appropriately tasteful and heartfelt acceptance speech. Sadly, when my life went off the Nobel track in 3rd grade, I feared I'd never be able to give the moving encomium I'd envisioned. Then came yesterday. Manti Te'o signing with Notre Dame was amazing. Manti Te'o giving the Hawaiian "how's your father" to Pete Carroll and USC may be even better. So, in honor of this great moment, I would like to take the opportunity to give the speech that my life's shortcomings had heretofore denied. "(ahem) Fuck you, Pete Carroll. Fuck you in your new agey, microbiotic, Gaia-loving ass. Your players are nothing but NWA without the talent for rhyme structure. You are not a "humanitarian"; you are a middle-aged douche (with, admittedly, ridiculous abs) who is one peyote button and three more chapters of Carlos Castaneda away from full-blown insanity. I hope when you get to Hell, Fleetwood Mac's Tusk plays on an endless loop with a massive skip right around the 2:05 mark. If I were asked to define "suck", I would take out your picture; as your advancements in the field of sucking are legendary among the scab-ridden street walkers who employ your technique. And ANOTHER thing, anyone who claims to have reached a moment of professional development listening to Bruce Springsteen's "Growing Up" is either too pretentious, too stupid or too full of shit to realize just how ridiculous that statement sounds. Eat it, Carroll! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA" God, that felt amazing! I would also like to welcome Manti Te'o, a truly class-act and all-world warrior to ND. Best of luck, Manti!
Honolulu, HI. Punahou School
Subway Domer: A small gift. Notre Dame lost out on Nyshier Oliver when they pulled his scholarship offer because of a visit that he wanted to take to Tennessee. He was going to commit to the Vols anyways, so it was merely a precedent and warning to future irish commits. That opened up a spot on the list for another slot-type receiver. Toma could develop into a nice little receiver in the same mold as a David Grimes. He runs nice, crisp routs and has good top end speed.
Toma is as sure to redshirt this season as I am to complain about my seat in that piss-hole in Ann Arbor (whore). Mike Frank once said in a drunken post -game, "Shit, give me a Matt Shelton." That may be what the Irish just landed. With weight training and coaching, Toma could become a nice addition in a few years. Until then, his spot on the scout team should be welcomed as a learning tool for him.
Brawling Hibernian: Since, to many ND fans, Robby Toma remains a bit of a mystery; we here at Brawling Hibernian thought we'd untangle the enigma by providing them with some (factually suspect) information about the newest Irish receiver:
- Recruited by UCLA both for his talent at wide receiver and his remarkable skill with parimutuel betting.
- Once engaged in a session of erotic Wesson play with Florence Henderson by convincing her he was the son of Mike Lookinland, TV's Bobby Brady.
- Received a grade of "incomplete" for his economics mid-term, "Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong: Supply-Side Economics In the Age of Keynes."
- Had his membership in 4H revoked after a series of cattle mutilations were attributed to his prized Chupacabra, "Kumquat.”
- Briefly dated actress Scarlett Johansson, whom he later described as being, "pedantic, obtuse and utterly incapable of keeping pace with either the velocity or elaborate design of my lovemaking."
- Keeps three spellings of his nickname (Roby, Robby, Robbie) both to remind himself of the many facets of his being and because of his involvement in a series of unfortunate check-bouncing incidents in the greater Honolulu area.
- Harbors an intense mistrust of Belgians whom he colorfully describes as "Waffle-gorging layabouts".
In all seriousness, Toma seems to be a terrific kid and a tremendous addition to the Irish family. Welcome aboard and all the best!
Special Thanks to Jenna E. for the banner. She should not be confused for Sheila E. She has never met Prince, but oddly they are both unemployed. Thanks again.