3 Recruiting Q&As: Brian Kelly To The NFL?

Posted Jan 24, 2014

3 Recruiting Q&As with Scout's Notre Dame, UCLA & Pitt publishers.

3 Recruiting Questions With Scout Publishers
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For more, go to PantherDigest.com

1) Does being in the ACC matter in any way to recruits over the Big East?

Tony Greco, PantherDigest.com - So far, we're not seeing it. However, this coaching staff--building off its connections for recruiting the Midwest at Wisconsin--has a unique sell in its approach. Take for example four-star running back Chris James, out of Chicago. His other choices were Michigan State and Wisconsin. A 7-6 Pitt team best out the Big Ten's recent Rose Bowl participants, and schools that have produced such stars as Montee Ball and Le'Veon Bell. This might be the first case where the ACC has factored in.

2) Has the coaching staff truly settled in now? Is it going after Best Recruit Available, or is it going after a specific type?

They are settled in. They haven't exactly locked up all the recruits in Pennsylvania that they want, but they're seriously addressing needs on the offensive line--which if not in 2013, definitely in 2014 will be the trademark of the program. Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph are trying to build off their connections in the Midwest. While the connections were great, there was some hesitation from those regions due to the fact that this staff was still figuring things out. Now that they've been in place, its third year now, combined with the fact that Chryst is expanding upon his relationships with the local schools, it's all coming to a head.

3) What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

The secondary. They're getting a couple of playmakers in Avonte Maddox and Phillipie Motley in this class. They put all their eggs in the basket to get Dravon Henry and Montae Nicholson, two of the top local standouts who decided to head elsewhere. In the bigger picture, they lose two three-year starters in the secondary (Jason Hendricks, K'Waun Williams). Big shoes to fill. Not to say Pitt can't, but the numbers in the secondary are thin overall, and even with 24 commits, they have just two of those commits slated to play in the secondary.

For more, go to BruinReport.com

1) Jim Mora is a pro coach – does he really dive deep into the recruiting world?

Tracy Pierson, BruinReport.com – He has really been a great match for college football recruiting. Mora's personality, and his ability to bond with recruits, has been an unexpected boon for UCLA recruiting, and he didn't even expect that he'd enjoy it so much. He also has become a bit of a recruitnik himself. He's very interested in recruiting, and he's very competitive about it.

2) What is UCLA selling as opposed to USC? Does the coaching staff even seem to care about USC in recruiting?

UCLA is selling the fact that it has beaten USC two years in a row, won't be hindered by NCAA sanctions and is the new, hot place to be in L.A. for college football with a coaching staff that has deep NFL experience. There are promotions throughout Los Angeles based on phrases like #BruinRevolution and #WOTT, which stands for We Own This Town.

3) What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

Some big-impact receiver talent. UCLA is poised to have a big year in 2014, with 17 returners on both side of the ball. It's pretty loaded at every position, and has some good talent at wide receiver, but it's probably missing that one big-time, game-changing playmaker at wideout. It's why Malachi Dupre, one of the nation's top prospects, is a big priority for UCLA's 2014 recruiting class.

Notre Dame
For more, go to IrishEyes.com

1) How much has all the Brian Kelly To The NFL Soon talk from the media mattered on the recruiting trail when it comes to the elite of the elite prospects?

Tim O'Malley, IrishEyes.com - It might have mattered late in last year's cycle, but any concern since appears minimal. The main impediment between the elite prospect and Notre Dame is usually that pesky "going-to-class" issue that plagues the Irish recruiting efforts as well as those of - especially - Stanford. Still, Notre Dame inked its only consensus five-star pledge this month in linebacker Nyles Morgan and he committed to the Irish during the middle of NFL hiring season.

I think a 9-4 finish in 2013 might have quieted the realistic NFL noise, as most who know Kelly realize he's not leaving for an NFL job that isn't a good situation. His stock certainly slipped in professional circles, however briefly, compared to last January. Should he pull off 11-2 this season or 12-1 for a loaded team in 2015, the NFL talk will again be realistic and likely an issue for both Irish fans and prospective recruits.

2) With another great class coming in, what did Kelly and the staff adapt and adjust over a year removed from the way the team lost the BCS championship? Is there anything fundamentally that needed to be changed?

I think the fundamental change occurred after the 2011 season ended - prior to the run to the BCS championship game - when the staff concentrated its efforts on the best "fit" rather than always chasing the best player. To a man, the coaching staff now preaches to prospects that Notre Dame isn't for everyone and they thus attempt to lay out expectations regarding class attendance, graduation, the lack of co-ed dorms, bad weather in the second semester, etc. In other words, promise what you can deliver.

It's not that Notre Dame doesn't want a five-star pledge, but bringing in 15 four-star "fits" per cycle is preferred to a handful of five-stars that are unlikely to last 15 months in South Bend.

Kelly has inked 10 five-star pledges in his four full seasons recruiting at Notre Dame, but of those 10, three transferred without playing a down and another jumped ship after his freshman season. (And you can add 2012 Signing Day defector Deontay Greenberry to the list of five-star talent that never helped the Irish during Kelly's tenure.)

Burn me once (Aaron Lynch) shame on you. Burn me four times more (Deontay Greenberry, Tee Shepard, Gunner Kiel, Eddie Vanderdoes), shame on me. Conversely, the team's most recent five star recruits -- Jaylon Smith (2013) Sheldon Day (2012), and 2011 class members Stephon Tuitt, Ishaq Williams, and Ben Koyack -- all appear good fits for the program, with Tuitt turning three years in South Bend into a likely first-round NFL Draft selection.

3) What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

The interior defensive line and it wasn't adequately addressed, due partly to the January flipped commitment of Matt Dickerson to UCLA. Two current pledges project to the interior, or at least a defensive end role in a 3-4 front: Andrew Trumbetti and Jay Hayes, both of whom made Scout.com's final Top 300 list. Neither is a true nose guard, but with frames of 6-5, 250-ish, there's plenty of room to grow with collegiate strength and conditioning afoot.

Outside of that pair, there's plenty of front seven talent en route in 2014, but it's heavy on the perimeter (edge rushers, outside 'backers). If new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder moves predominately to a four-down front, the need for true nose guards is mitigated. But there's no Louis Nix on the roster or in the pipeline to dominate in the middle of a three-down line.