Don’t Act Like You’re Not Impressed

New head coach Brian Kelly hasn’t even reached the May evaluation period in his first year in South Bend yet he and his staff have already collected nine verbal commitments with all signs pointing to a strong first class.

Brian Kelly - Notre Dame Head Coach
Whatever Brian Kelly is selling, recruits are buying. The 1st year Notre Dame coach has gotten the Irish off to a fast start in recruiting. (Photo - IconSMI)

One of the biggest concerns expressed regarding the hiring of Kelly back in December revolved around recruiting and whether or not Kelly and his staff, comprised mainly of coaches without much experience at big time programs, could recruit nationally and win head to head battle’s with the nation’s elite.

Less than four months after officially announcing all of the members of his first staff at Notre Dame, Kelly and company have secured nine verbal commitments for the class of 2011. Those nine verbals include seven 4-star recruits (according to and represent eight different stats.

To quote the legendary Ron Burgundy, “Don’t act like you’re not impressed.”

While it’s still very early, and I have tried to remain as skeptical as possible after the last two coaching changes, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Kelly has been able to accomplish in such a short time despite taking over a team coming off of back to back 6-6 regular seasons.

The fact that recruiting was one of the biggest knocks on Kelly coming in makes this staff’s quick success all the more impressive. Brian Kelly’s head coaching gigs at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati didn’t give him much experience recruiting on a national level. So far he and his staff have collected commitments from recruits from Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, North Carolina, Michigan, and Connecticut.

Kelly still needs to show that he can go head to head for the elite, difference-making skill position players – something his predecessor did a very good job of – but for now it’s clear that he and his staff have recruiting in the trenches down pretty well. Of the nine commitments, five of them are along the lines.

On the offensive side of the line, Notre Dame has added three 4-star linemen in Conor Hanratty, Matt Hegarty, and Jordan Prestwood – all of which had impressive offer lists. For Hanratty Notre Dame beat out Boston College, Florida State, and Penn State; for Hegarty they took out Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and USC; and for Prestwood they battled Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, and USC.

So much for not being able to recruit with the big boys, huh?

On the defensive side of the ball, the Irish have picked up commitments from Brad Carrico and local product Tony Springmann. Both have large frames and fall into the “power” category and are slated to play defensive end in Notre Dame’s 3-4 alignment.

The incoming line recruits add some versatility to the Irish roster as well. All three of the offensive linemen have the ability to play tackle on the college level, but Hanratty will most likely shift inside to guard to the Irish. Both defensive line recruits meanwhile, could also move over to the offensive line if need be. In fact, Springmann is listed as an offensive lineman on most recruiting sites. The plan for now though, is for him to start off on the defensive side of the ball.

Make no mistake, there is still a lot of work left to be done with this class. Kelly needs to add a play making linebacker or two, a safety that can play pretty early, an elite quarterback that fits his system, a game breaking running back, and fill a few other holes. For now though, the start Kelly and staff have gotten off to is about as good as could have been expected.

At the same time, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Charlie Weis and his staff got off to a quick start with their first class as well so this early success by Kelly doesn’t by any means guarantee that Kelly will end up faring any better than his predecessor.

As we learned with the previous regime, strong recruiting alone doesn’t guarantee on field success either. Weis was also able to recruit well until the wheels started to fall off in his final season, but that didn’t result in a win-loss record strong enough to grant him a 6th season on the sidelines in Notre Dame Stadium.

Unlike with Weis, however, the biggest question mark with Kelly coming in was his ability to recruit bigger fish in a bigger pond. Most felt that Weis would be at least OK on the recruiting front coming in due to his NFL success and the staff he built, but questioned whether his style and system would work on the college level due to his lack of experience coaching college kids.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the class fills out now that Notre Dame has gotten off to a quick start. This year’s class will have limited spots with Notre Dame finally pushing up against the 85 scholarship limit so Kelly and staff will be able to focus on a smaller group of recruits at the remaining positions of need.

A lot can change between now and February, but at least for now, things seems to be shaping up quite nicely on the recruiting front.

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  1. I’m looking at 8-4 if they play like a team should, 10-2 if they get past the Michigan State trap game and play either Utah or Pitt to the bone, 7-5 slipping up against a team like Tulsa.

  2. Bill-good observations. One might also consider the police officers pc for the marijuana charge ‘The smell of marijuana’. Not a burning smell but just the ‘smell’ of a bagged quanity of marijuana? Hmm? Sense of smell greater than a canine? Xray vision? Faster than a speeding bullet? Are you kidding me? Superman could not justify such powers let alone a police officer. That mistake, or abuse of power, may get this case tossed on the merits of ‘superpowers’ alone. I am not advocating the use of marijuana but the Constitution is exactly what it is-a protection of liberties period. And I’ve seen and heard too many SteelFanRobs who disregard liberty and the rule of law out of some vengeful special insight they feel entitled to. Let the system work. Let the police be peacekeepers not Gestapo thugs trolling the tollroads hoping for a splash. And finally someone needs to put Res Life where they belong-out.

    1. You really misunderstood my point. In fact, I think you went opposite field with it.

      I was saying that if the cop can smell pot, you can smell pot, and you should be asking questions about why you smell pot, just like the cop’s going to do.

      But more importantly: The cop said he smelled pot. There was pot. From this point onward, whatever superpowers he used to sense the pot are null and void as he was right. Ever strike you as possible that the cop smelled pot because there was an odor of pot?

      Here’s something a lot of pot smokers and general smokers just don’t seem to catch on to: When you smoke the smell sticks with you. You don’t have to be smoking to smell like pot, it’s not magical, when you put pot in a bag it doesn’t make all of the smell from the history of pot ever go away.

      It’s not like the cop was pulling people over looking for pot, he pulled Ragone over for speeding. pot was an issue that came up later. Enforcing laws (even speed limits) is peacekeeping, especially when you catch someone with drugs in the process.

      If Ragone doesn’t let a girl into his car with pot, there’s no story. If Ragone doesn’t speed there’s no story.

      That’s not what happened, that doesn’t make this a “Gestapo” affair, it makes it a “Don’t break the F@#$ing Law!” affair.

  3. It will be interesting to see how the University handles this. If the charges are dropped, I think he is fine b/c you can’t kick him out of school for something he was not found guilty of and it may be a case of Demetrius Jones. That being said the reason why the officer searched the car was b/c of a smell of pot, and that must mean someone was smoking it, not good. We will see how the University handles this and whether he will be with the team next year. Maxx I understand you point on pot, but it is still a narcotic and illegal.

  4. marijuana does no harm anyway he should be in no trouble in all reality but even to go with that the girl had it not him

  5. Doug,

    I hope you’re right. However, recent history of how ND has handled these things is not on your side. Ragone already been charged with a misdemeanor possession charge. That alone might be enough to get him canned as per the University’s handbook of student conduct. That handbook is every bit as legal and binding as a contract, Doug. So, unless you’re a civil attorney who has some special insight here, I’d suggest you don’t lecture anybody on this matter!

    1. Ok, reading that headline doesn’t look good for him, I’ll agree with that. But I think Doug has a point, this situation might not be as bad as it seemed at first. The law states that you’re responsible for what’s in your car, that’s why he got charged, she was in his car and thus drugs in her possession also qualify as being in his possession. It wouldn’t surprise me if the charges against him were dropped because the girl in question owns up to the pot being hers.

      That said, if the cop can smell pot in the car it prompts the question of whether or not he was aware of it. If he was, well that’s a different story.

      I’m not saying one way or the other, but I will say either direction wouldn’t surprise me as far as punishment. I hope it works out for him, but I’m not going to dwell on it.

  6. Some of you are coming off as clowns here. Did you ever consider that we live in a democracy and under a constitution that views innocence before guilt? Mike Ragone may have had a passenger that was guilty of possession. Until this is adjudicated you should be fair enough to give Mike Ragone his day in court;not before with grandstanding accusations and wild predictions. Come on now-man up and shut up.

  7. Ragone is gone period end of story. I feel really bad for his parents. This will be national soon. Idiot.

    1. JC,

      aka, USC’s Brian Cushing.
      Rumors swirrled about steroid
      use the entire time he was at USC but nothing ever happened.
      The Texans spent the 15th pick on him anyway.

    1. Lets not get too hasty. Remember the Duke LaCross players?
      The substance was found on his passenger, not him. The amount was so small it warrented a misdemeanor only.
      Not that I condone the situation that he got himself into, but if he played for Florida, he would miss the first half of the first game and that would be it.

      1. Shaz, Agreed. But this, of course overlooks the point that ND isn’t USC or UF. Ragone is as good as gone, thus joining a long list of one-time highly regarded ex-ND TEs.

      2. SFR,
        Good point!
        I guess it could be said that the reason you see so very few of these type stories
        in regards to ND, is that they take a “zero tollerance” approach, and won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
        It’s a shame, the kid over-came serious injuries to get himself back in the mix.
        Hope it works out for him.

  8. Did anyone see the latest on Cushing. There were all kinds of rumors about him and Clay Mathews Jr, I guess they were true.

  9. Ah…..gee guys, we don’t want to look like a whiner about USC to the mamby-pamby fans, it might make us look bad…like we are jealous of their flagerant cheating and dishonest program. Well one thing is for sure, it will certainly be refreshing to kick USC on a level playing field and watch them WHINE like their a holy victum. Any tears for USC anyone?

    1. JC,
      Heaven forbid we do something that might make us look bad.
      Like allowing a lilly white video buy a bunch of talentless geeks who, if they made this thing 20 years ago, it would claim the top spot on the best of the Gong Show.
      When I met my buddies at the pub the other day, some of whom are Michigan,Florida, and Ohio St. fans, they started giving me sh*t about it.
      I just explained that it was just a bunch of naive students who happened to huff a wee bit too much gold paint when doing the teams’ helmets eariler in the day.
      I think they bought it!

  10. Hey Frank,
    After the video, give us something good to discuss. Like the 2010 Schedule. I see a real opoortunity for this team to go undefeated. Maybe Lou needs to keep his mouth shut. But I’ll say it. I look at that schedule and I see something that a decent defense can handle. USC, Pitt, and Stanford will be a problem. Michigan may be more of a problem only becuase Rich Rod runs the spread. But a Kelly inspired and led team might finally understand what it takes to put a team away. Should we fear Utah, I don’t know.
    I think the offense will be as productive as it was last year. the running game will be more successful in key situations, if not statistically more productive. The passing game should be fine because there will be several options at QB.
    No, the difference in a VERY successful 2010 season will be the defense. Especially given the Irish opponents. If this group of kids understands what is possible, and then uses that as motivation to work on each game, each play, each practice routine, look out. We’ll be hurt by the schedule but so what. If only Pete the Cheat were still around to boost ND after a win over the “Cool School”.

    There really is something to look forward to this fall.

    1. The offense will be good, the defense has nowhere to go but up.
      My concern is the kicking game.
      Kicking an extra point should be automatic for these guys by now.
      Speaking of Pete the Cheat, a NCAA ruling should come down any day now. If they do take way wins, perhaps those involved in the music video can make a recreation of the Bush Push play minus the push. Seeing Liernert get stopped at the goal line for the final play and a wild ND celebration would be worth watching.(it might even piss off the trojans and their fans, which might be fun)

  11. Fine for the kids. Nothing wrong….well….not really. The cheerleaders looked a little hussied up behind mister rapper dweebie. Looked a little more BCish than ND.

    But to honest,

    IT SUCKED!!!

    1. C-Dog,
      Why did these students choose to attend ND to begin with???
      As Rocky Balboa would say “Because they can’t sing or dance, yo”
      Seeing BK in the video tells us one thing… that the student body finds him “approachable” a word not often associated with Charlie Weis and his clan.
      It seems that ESPN finds him Approachable as well. They have develouped a segment called “ND All Access” A inside look at ND and the football program.
      Perhaps Kelly is useing the proven theory of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer.

  12. I agree with the statements about the video – kids having fun…no more, no less. It’s pretty apparent that it wasn’t an attempt at musical genius; just a means of having a good time! And I am definitely all for this. God knows, some of the crap “rap” that FSU and Miami produced back in the 90’s was pretty weak – AND they were serious about the music. Either way, the video sure beats the pissy-looking Weis mug that always adorned any and all things ND football over the last five years.

  13. There is a new music video on YouTube titled “We Are ND”. Give it a look.
    I happened to be reading the sports section over at CNBC when I came accross it. Of course the ND haters out there are all in a twist over it.
    Looks like a bunch of college kids having fun to me. There is even a cameo appearance by BK.
    My,my, how times have changed!

    1. I’m a huge ND fan and Alum, and in no way can I support this atrocious video. The song is horrible, and it makes ND look like a bunch nerds trying to be cool. If it were some traditional irish music or Flogging Molly, the video probably would be awesome. Instead, we have some joker who looks like he just stepped out of a mid-nineties rave out there for the world to laugh at us. To think this is what tuition and donations are going towards.

      1. This looks like a video that was made for a project for a class. A couple of kids probably got together and used all the fancy media equipment and through it together. Just some kids having fun with a class.

        I’m sure it’s not endorsed by the university.

      2. The video was produced and endorsed by the university. It appears at the university’s official site on YouTube:

        I thought ND’s decision to give Obama an honorary degree – despite clear orders from the bishops that they should not do so – was a bad decision. But this video proves that the rot had set in much further than that.

  14. If I know BK he is another coming of Lou Holtz, who understands how to develop young players and make them more successful at each position given. I also believe high school players with great potential to be the best will buy into BK’s philosophy about just playing your position given with heart and the love to learn to be better and better. Time will tell, but BK is just started his mission to have ND back in the top 10 and playing once again for a national title. GO IRISH!!! BK and staff are off to a GREAT START IN RECRUITING and only time will tell if where back with the nation’s elite!!! GO IRISH

  15. Shaz,

    I could not agree with you more, Kelly has demonstrated in spring practice he is indeed a great leader with a proven successful process that will ultimately achieve positive results. Kelly has created a process where average players can consistently achieve better-than-average results. Considering our roster, It is notable Kelly will not tolerate any mediocrity as accepted in the past. Likewise, players won’t follow someone unless they’re convinced that person knows where they’re going. Kelly is definately on an inspiring mission.

  16. I like everything I have seen so far from Kelly & Co.

    The real measure of his talents will be on display when Purdue takes the field on the 4th of Sep. If they blow the doors off of the Boilermakers like they should, then I’ll start believing that we can contend with the other big programs. Maybe not this year, but I will have faith in the years to come.

  17. CW wasn’t a head coach, he was a great offensive coordinator. BK can coach and he has more talent than he has ever had. He is doing a good job, but it is all about the kids buying in and we will see in the fall.

  18. The true guage will be in who finally lands at ND. Kellys strength lies in what he does with existing talent. I will put my stock in that.

  19. There is so much to like about what is happening with the Irish Football Program, and it will only get much better beginning September 4. Joe is correct with his comment.

  20. BK has already proven that he can coach college kids (unlike CW), and is now proving he can recruit, and receruiting will only get better as the team’s performance on the field improves. Go Irish!

  21. I disagree that game-breaking running back is a position of need. How about shut down corner.

    I am most looking forward to how BK coaches them up. He has done a lot with little at his previous positions, so I’m really excited to see what he can do with the elite talent he seems to be pulling in!

    Go Irish!

    1. I agree with the comment about the cornerback.
      However, there was a huge hole in Weis’ recruiting–the defensive backfield. It looked like we were fielding 9 players instead of 11 in a lot of games. BK is another offensive mind. I hope he can get the athletes needed to defend the pass.

  22. I agree, very good start. However, CW could recruit as well, as not noted by his Top 10 recruiting classes he pulled in. I am confident BK can actually coach em up on the field though.

    It also appears to me that BK seems to be able to bring in the tough hard nose type of recruit so far and he kind of fits that mold as well. What I am curious to see though is can he get the speed in here that we so badly need. That will be the question and a tell tale sign if we can become elite again.

  23. So far so good. Keep it up and we’ll be fine.
    We don’t have to make a BCS bowl next year, but
    as long as we are noticeably better and go something
    like 9-3 (or maybe even 8-4) Kelly will be able
    to show elite recruits that he’s making progress
    at ND and is posed for a breakout year soon. Even
    Saban and Meyer got off to slow starts in their first
    year at their programs, but look at them now both on
    the field and on the recruiting trail. That’s where
    we need to be.

    Go Irish, Beat Purdue!

  24. I think the recruiting questions have been answered. Any time you can beat out Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Michigan ,and USC you ARE among the elite.
    Now what we need is a break through season. 10 wins and a bowl victory.
    And guess what? We have the players, coaching and schedule to do it!
    We are on the verge of something special. The Fans know it. They can sence it.
    It’s our time to shine!

    1. I agree whole-heartedly !!!! I work there and the campus is all the rage right now ! We know what we picked up as a coach … A proven winner on this level , a great motivator and a class act ! Go Irish !!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. We havent seen and heard so much grunts , groans and work being done in the weight room since Lou Holtz was here at Notre Dame !!! This is actually gonna be the ” nasty ” squad CW once refered to . I cant wait for the hard -hitting to begin . Oh what a surprise we have in store for the coming years !!!!!!!!!!! Oh MY !!!

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