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Harrell is Lucky Number Seven

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Word came in last night that Charlotte, North Carolina offensive lineman Mark Harrell has committed to Notre Dame.

The 6'5" 270 pounder from Charlotte Catholic High School is a little under the radar as a 3-star prospect and No. 47 ranked tackle according to Scout, but he is on the ESPNU 150 Watch List and sports a pretty good list of offers, including:

Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, among many others.

While not a huge splash in the recruiting game for the Irish, Harrell is a great prospect to pick up right now for a number of reasons.

First, this gives Notre Dame two quality offensive linemen in the 2012 class and affords the coaching staff the opportunity to focus on one more elite player at this position.

Second, Harrell played tight end up until this past 2010 season when he moved to tackle so his potential is still growing at this point.

Third, he is being coached by a NFL veteran so Harrell should have good technique and understanding at his position despite only playing on the line for two years before he comes to South Bend.

And lastly, since he's not in the 6'6"-6'7" range of so many of Notre Dame's offensive line offers, Harrell is a likely candidate to fill the depth chart inside at guard or perhaps even at center in the future.

Welcome aboard Mark!

In other news...

***The series with Stanford has been extended through the 2019 season, which including the upcoming year means 9 more seasons in a row the Irish will face the Cardinal, and 23 seasons in a row by the time this extension is finished.

This was probably a necessary extension signed by Jack Swarbrick, but I'll stop short of calling it a great one.

Yes, I know we have all these things in common with Stanford in terms of academics and doing things the "right way," and that we like to have that final game of the year in California for recruiting purposes.

But check back with me in 2015 and see if you're that excited about this series.

That's not to say that this was a bad extension, like I said it was probably a necessity since Notre Dame is an independent and needs to lock down games like this (particularly when Stanford's stock is so high), but we've seen way too many boring games against the Cardinal to think that this will be anything other than the fifth through eighth most intriguing/difficult/entertaining game of the season in a post-Luck/Harbaugh world.

The main issue right now is beating Stanford and reestablishing our dominance over them particularly since they are recruiting at a high level and making the Irish miss players like Noor Davis.

Once that happens (and odds are it will---I'll take Notre Dame to win 7 out of the next 9 games) this series may very well turn back into snoozefest central especially when we're playing in a 80% full Stanford Stadium.

***It's looking like a very real possibility that incoming freshman George Atkinson III starts out his career at running back.

Atkinson was recently interviewed and told he will probably begin as a running back and mentioned that he's almost to 200 pounds and hopes to be over that mark by summer camp.

Is this a good move or a bad move?

It's hard to tell right now and I certainly have mixed emotions.

The positive is that Atkinson played running back in high school and ran for almost 1,700 yards with an insane 9.7 average, so he shouldn't be too unfamiliar with the position. Also, the depth at running back sort of does necessitate someone like Atkinson coming in and taking some reps if need be.

The negative is that Atkinson was recruited to play receiver, was a tremendous one-two punch in the 2011 class with Davaris Daniels, and the depth chart at wideout isn't particularly stellar at the moment either.

I guess it all depends on how the situation plays out; Will Atkinson be a full-time running back and a possible second or third stringer? Does he float between positions a little bit, but play mostly receiver with some wildcat and reverses to get the ball in his hands? Will he play at running back as a freshman and then switch back to receiver afterwards, or is Atkinson the ideal candidate to be a jack-of-all-trades player like Percy Harvin or Rocket Ismail his entire career?

***Brian Kelly was recently down in Alabama on one of his many speaking engagements and donated $5,000 to the tornado relief in that state.

But the bigger news for the media was the fact that Kelly stated, "Notre Dame will be taken seriously when they beat a SEC team."

I concur.

But when is it going to happen? Including bowl games, how many times will Brian Kelly face a SEC team in his career at Notre Dame?

Since 1986, the Irish have played a SEC team a total of 16 times, more or less about once every other year. But since 2000, when many BCS teams really began watering down their schedules, Notre Dame has only played 2 different SEC teams with three games against Tennessee and a bowl game against LSU.

Over the next decade I wouldn't hold your breath for more than two or three games against a SEC team (especially if it's not Vanderbilt) and those might all be in bowl games.

***NBC Universal Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol is stepping down from his post where he was an important and influential ally of Notre Dame Football.

Ebersol's son Charlie (who saved his father during the horrific plane crash in November 2004) is a Notre Dame graduate, and many fear Ebersol's departure from NBC means Fighting Irish football could be in trouble on the Peacock Network.

I wouldn't worry too much, as Comcast executives have mentioned in the past that they like the relationship with Notre Dame, and more importantly, it is still lucrative for both parties.

The Olympics on the other hand...not so much.

Enjoy the weekend.