I'm out here at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp just outside of Detroit and it's the first time I have been to a camp where college coaches from different programs have been allowed to attend and be heavily involved in. There are coaches here from all over the midwest from the Big Ten to the MAC to Division II.
The coaching staff that sticks out the most is Michigan, though. Not because they have the most coaches here or that it's a big deal they are here. This is their backyard in recruiting after all. It's because they seem to be in like a dozen places at once because of their whirlwind satellite camp tour that saw them travel all over the country.
There is more buzz this year about satellite camps than ever before. Part of the reason is that Jim Harbaugh is involved and it seems like most things he does generates interest or controversy. I think the biggest reason why, though, is that allowing satellite camps was not supposed to be for programs like Michigan. Although Michigan is coming off a really bad year on the field, they still have a national brand and a man running their program that a lot of people consider to be one of the best coaches in football at any level. But instead of bringing in recruits to check out the Big House and telling them to check them out in person, they are taking their brand to the prospects' own backyard.
On the other side of things is Notre Dame. They chose to not do any satellite camps, even though it is within their rights to do so. In a year where they are off to a slower start than anticipated and have sent out a bunch of recent offers to players that are mostly located in the south or California, it's fair to at least ask the question of whether or not Brian Kelly and his staff made a mistake by not doing something similar to what Michigan is doing.
I think if you look at the players who have visited campus this week, you'll have your answer. If the Notre Dame coaching staff was away coaching in different states this week, then they might have missed out on the unofficial visits they received from players like Xavier Kelly, Parker Boudreaux, Andrew Pryts, and Luke Farrell. To me, getting players like that on campus and them seeing everything Notre Dame has to offer is more important than any time they see or work with a recruit closer to that recruit's home.
The only part they miss out on is the chance to evaluate some players they might not normally see in person or getting the chance to see how they react to coaching. For the latter, they have Irish Invasion, which is beginning to look more loaded with talent with each passing day. If they can bring so many players who already have offers and work with them on the field at Notre Dame, then I don't see a need to have to travel and have it not be at Notre Dame.
Losing opportunities for campus visits and being able to attract players to their own camp are the big reasons why I think Brian Kelly can keep his visors safely stowed away somewhere in his office. Maybe one day there will be a time where Notre Dame is at a point with their program where they won't be able to get recruits to visit campus or come to camp in June. Until that day happens, though, I really don't see a need for satellite camps to be a priority for Notre Dame.
Other recruiting observations:
- With all of the negative recruiting going on with other programs telling kids about how hard it will be for them as a student-athlete at Notre Dame, I can't think of a better example for the Irish coaches to combat that than Jerome Bettis. I realize that Bettis hasn't played in South Bend in over twenty years, but he spoke today at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp and one thing he emphasized was that many thought he couldn't make it because he came out of a public school in Detroit. He not only did well enough to get to Notre Dame, but he then turned that opportunity into being a first round NFL Draft pick and will be going into Canton in 2016. Definitely not a bad example to use to throw back in the face of when an opposing program goes negative on a guy who isn't supposed to be able to handle Notre Dame.
- There still could be some cancellations, so I'm attempting to not get overly excited about all of the names being thrown out there for Irish Invasion next weekend. I will say that this year's version is shaping up to be a lot better than last year's. The list is almost approaching USC game level of visitors and everyone is paying their own way for this one.
- Count me as one of the people who isn't that upset about Jhonny Williams deciding to transfer. I wish him the best and he clearly has some great raw tools to work with, but I don't think he was going to have a transformative summer to be in the rotation this fall.
I think Notre Dame was (is) so desperate for an edge rusher that a lot of people turned Williams' potential into 5 star expectations for his future. The truth was (is) that he still had a long way to go to even be a contributor on the field in any way based on what we saw and was reported in the spring. Some 3 stars with awesome traits end up reaching their potential. A good number of them end up like Williams and end up transferring.