Here is a collection of stories and rumors for all of us to debate and discuss.
Any amount of news at this time of year is our friend...
*Eric Hansen has a great little story on incoming freshman defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
I think it's pretty self-evident that Tuitt is one heck of a person and someone with an insanely high amount of character. It's the type of leaders like him that can turn a defense around without even stepping on the field.
Are you like me and constantly being surprised at how amazing this most recent defensive haul was?
We've seen guys like Lynch and Williams impress already as early enrollees, and we're waiting for another monster like Tuitt to arrive in June. Those three alone can give you goosebumps, and that's without even talking about Rabasa, Councell, and Niklas.
And I still haven't even mentioned anyone in the secondary like Hardy, Atkinson, or Brown!
*NDNation has a nice article on the Brian Kelly offense and the changes we've seen or may see in the future.
There's also more Kelly offense talk over at Down the Drive, a Cincinnati blog that is taking a look at the differences between the current Irish head coach's plays and current Bearcat leader Butch Jones.
Sometimes this seems like a very complicated subject when it's really not, but the whole debate is really about what Kelly plans on doing for 2011 and beyond. And we don't know exactly what those plans are.
Nearly everyone wants to see a stronger ground game, but are the pieces in place yet for this to happen?
I'd like to think Cierre Wood can carry the ball a lot this year and have a spectacular breakout season, thus reigniting a dormant Irish ground game. That could certainly happen, and we do see some of the best running teams in the country rely mainly on one running back.
Still, it seems like we're a year or two away from really being a dangerous (dare I say top) running team. Having a player like Wood is a start, but like many other programs, we'll need a couple more experienced and elusive backs before the team starts killing opponents on the ground.
I really think Kelly wants to mold a fantastic running game, but we're just not there yet and I agree with NDN that at least in 2011 it's going to be (hopefully) a big play running game that rips off large chunks of yards every so often.
I'm not one of those people who subscribe to the theory that Notre Dame needs a dominant run game to be successful. To be clear, the Irish can win a national title with an average ground game.
But I've always been critical of the talent level at running back for Notre Dame and that needs to change before we can hope for better results. Building and teaching toughness up front is essential, but at the same time you need game changers carrying the ball.
Cierre Wood can be that guy, but he'll need some help.
*Speaking of which, the nation's top running back (according to me) Keith Marshall has made it know that he will visit Notre Dame sometime during the fall for a game.
This is exactly the type of running back the team needs, a true game changer.
I know I know, you guys will tell me that James Aldridge, Robert Hughes, and Armando Allen were all highly rated coming out of high school too.
No, none of those players are at the talent level of Marhsall, I don't care what the services say.
We need running backs badly, and signing Marshall would be enormous for the future long-term success of the Notre Dame offense.
*Elsewhere in the recruiting scene, top-rated quarterback Gunner Kiel, the in-state legacy with skills aplenty, apparently has narrowed down his college choices to Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, and Michigan.
I don't think he's going to Tuscaloosa because the Tide have McCarron and Sims with a combined 7 years of eligibility left and both have the looks of quality starters for Alabama.
There's been a lot of talk that Kiel is warming up to Michigan, but I would be surprised if he signed there too. Denard still has two more years, Gardner has four full years, plus UM just got a verbal from 2013 QB Shane Morris (yes I know we're a LONG way away from him signing) but he looks really sharp for a high school sophomore.
Also, count me as skeptical that Kiel (who appears will verbal before the season as most top QB's do) is going to commit to a Michigan program with a new coaching staff, with tons of questions on where their offensive is truly headed in the future, and without watching a single game under Hoke.
That leaves Oklahoma and Missouri, which were probably always the two best bets to land Kiel. I've always felt he ends up a Sooner, but we'll see.
The important point as far as Notre Dame is concerned is that it's looking more and more likely that the team may pass on a QB this cycle, and I'm 100 percent behind that choice if it happens.
Maty Mauk is an interesting prospect but he'll likely sit behind Golson for four years, and after the rumors of him giving his verbal to Notre Dame were at an all-time high 6 or 7 weeks ago, his camp has fallen dead silent.
I still think Mauk signs with a middle-tier program where he'll have a better shot to play within a couple years, we'll probably miss out on Cyler Miles, and simply stay content with the depth we already have at quarterback.
*Notre Dame verbal Justin Ferguson recently added an offer from Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
There have been some questions about Ferguson's speed and whether he's more than an average/above-average receiver, but I think it's pretty clear that Kelly and the coaching staff found a diamond in the rough early whose stock is going to rise greatly over the next 7 or 8 months.
Now that Alabama is in on the action, Ferguson will start getting a lot more love nation wide. Let's hope he sticks with the Irish.
*California receiver Deontay Greenberry (No. 115 national recruit according to Rivals) has recently added offers from Alabama and USC.
The good news is Greenberry is extremely high on Notre Dame and could be the next verbal for the Irish. Stay tuned, because this might be the team's top receiver in the 2012 class if he can be reeled in.
*How about all these night game being announced for the upcoming season? Super awesome news, right?
Aw, don't tell me you're disgruntled because college football is supposed to be played during the day under God's light.
Important sporting events (we're including Notre Dame football in this category right?) in the United States happen at night and this is an obvious smart decision to play as many under God's stars as possible.
The total amount of night games now stands at 5 including: @ Michigan, @ Purdue, vs. Southern California, vs. Maryland (Fed Ex Field), and @ Stanford.
As of right now the Pittsburgh Pirates (yes they're still a Major League team!) have a game on Saturday September 24th against the Reds set to begin at 7:05 PM. That game would conflict with Pitt being able to host a night game against Notre Dame on that same day, but I get the feeling that the Pirates might be gently told to play their game at 1:30 PM instead.
That would make half the season's games played at night, and what about a seventh!
A road game on November 5th in Winston-Salem, North Carolina against Wake Forest could very well be yet another night telecast. If Notre Dame comes in with 2 or fewer losses, you can bet it will be.
Other possible night games in competition that day may be:
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma, Stanford @ Oregon State, Texas Tech @ Texas, and Michigan @ Iowa.
Certainly not an overwhelming group there, so it is likely the Irish play at night on either ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 against the Deamon Deacons.
*It was a big let down that LB Noor Davis chose Stanford over Notre Dame and Florida last week.
The good news is Davis plans on keeping his official visits and that should allow Notre Dame to stay in play for his services.
What doesn't help is the fact that Stanford has a terribly weak schedule to start the 2011 season, so Davis could be feeling great about his decision well into early November. By then, it might be too late especially since he has put so much focus on academics.
But you never know.
*Lastly, there is some chatter out there that Michael Floyd will be reinstated this summer at some point and will be able to practice with his teammates. We'll see if that is true or not, so no need to get into what that may mean right now.
However, it does appear likely that Floyd will come off his suspension at some point before the season, although Kelly may still ultimately suspend him for a game or two even if he's out there catching balls right from the beginning of fall training camp.
There's also been some news that Floyd is spending the short summer break with DaVaris Daniels and his family, in order to focus himself on his personal recovery and tutor the young incoming freshman in the ways of destroying college secondaries.
Sounds like a great thing for Floyd to do, and only lends more credence to Daniels likely coming in and playing right away this fall.