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Friday, February 4, 2011

23 Brave Young Irishmen

Just about every blog has a post on the great Notre Dame recruiting class of 2011. Mostly player and position analysis or some rehashed stories of the trials and tribulations of actually recruiting the class. The recruit flip-flops, decommits, soft verbals, the poaching, the Irish coaches predawn dedication to landing a recruit.

Here’s a little bit different take.

You have to admire and fully recognize the decisions made by Notre Dame’s freshman football class of 2011. The row they hoed was not an easy one. The pressure had to have been tremendous. Recruiting college football players has turned into a high tech, big money, dog-eat-dog process where the faint of heart are left way behind. It is reassuring that historically and statistically, 95% to 100% from the class of 2011 will graduate from Notre Dame. All will be given every opportunity to mature, learn, experience life and leave campus pretty much prepared for anything. Whether that be in the NFL, a professional career in the economy or simply a better person still searching for what life has to offer them.

Hokie talk? Idealistic garbage? Pie-in-the sky rhetoric?

There is much to complain about.

Let’s also face the fact that some of the recruits from other schools have some mighty big egos. Holding out to sign the letter of intent (LOI) on their birthday or waiting weeks after National Signing Day to ensure the limelight will only be on them. You could see the egos at work during the various high school All-Star games where a player/recruit announces his choice with his family behind him by picking up a team baseball cap and putting it on. All for the dramatics, the national audience and the show. The recruit from Rutgers even mocked North Carolina by first wearing a NC baseball cap and hiding a Rutgers cap underneath. Some ego. One mother forged her son’s signature to an LOI from a school he did not want to attend.

A high school coach in Georgia decided to be spokesperson for one family and limit all contact except to the recruit’s latest verbal commitment. That got straightened out by the mother and son rather quickly. You have to wonder what reward(s) were in store for that coach by Georgia Tech. Apparently outright lying was a common tactic used to discredit Notre Dame.

You read stories about unscrupulous agents dealing with college players preparing for the NFL draft. Are some of these high school coaches any different?

In another mother story, both the mother and grandmother were adamant that the recruit chose Notre Dame for the education and opportunities the school provides. Makes you think Brian Kelly should host a mother’s day visit for prospective recruits during summer camp for their sons.

The 2012 recruiting cycle is already in full swing; we just don’t see or hear about it. The whole process starts way too early and ends later than it should. The NCAA has a big fat rule book. Certain recruiting timeframes are called quiet periods where you can’t contact recruits. Coaches are limited to the number of actual home visits and players are limited in the number of visits they can make to a particular campus as well as total number of schools they can visit. Head coaches have periods where they cannot recruit at all. Phone calls, twitters, texting, e-mails are limited for everyone dealing with recruits. Yet, the internet has opened up contact opportunities with websites and Facebook pages. Computer software and programs track individual recruits and even provide player analysis on how they would fit on the team. Technology rules.

Five of the 23 recruits enrolled early at Notre Dane and gave up playing basketball, proms, friends, big graduations and the opportunity swagger around the hallways for one last semester. All to catch a break on spring practice, get credit hours under their belts and get acclimated to college life.

ESPN2, Scout, CBS and Rival all track, rank, grade and rate players by position, skill set and overall recruitment status. Individuals make a livelihood out of high school player analysis.

Personal trainers and dietitians are called upon to ready the recruit not only for their high school senior year, but also to give them a leg up with when they show up in the summer, ready for workouts and fall camp.

The call has gone out to move national signing day up. Restrictions are already in place concerning contact with high school juniors. What else can be done to even out this crazy process? It appears that it is only going to get worse.


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