Scout Expert Q&A - Can Notre Dame Keep Up?
Posted Jan 31, 2014

Recruiting 2014 - Are the Irish keeping pace? What will everyone be talking about?

What's happening in the recruiting world? What do you really need to know?

Once again, here to answer some key questions is Scott Kennedy,'s Director of Scouting who kindly returns for his sixth year for this piece, and Allen Trieu, one of Scout's national analysts and the Midwest Regional Manager. Allow them to make sense of it all.

Recruiting 2014 - What You Need To Know
Q&A with's Scott Kennedy & Allen Trieu

- What's the hot story? Who's crushing it?
- Who's about to mature? The big surprise and big disappointment.
- Sarkisian? Franklin? Strong? How are the new coaches doing?
- Are the Irish keeping pace? What will everyone be talking about?

13. Kentucky?! NC State? How?

Scott Kennedy: Kentucky has a full year under Mark Stoops and a smarter philosophy of recruiting Ohio instead of trying to go south, and Louisville had a high profile coaching change. NC State has a huge class of 30+ players coming in and have secured some of the top in state prospects including quarterback of the future Jalan McClendon who reminds me a lot of Eugene Smith at the same stage.

Allen Trieu: Kentucky has some great recruiters on its staff. They're very aggressive and generate a ton of buzz on social media. Their recruits have also done a great job recruiting other kids. NC State also has a staff of strong recruiters and they have a big class this year, which helps.

14. Why doesn't it seem like these programs are capitalizing on late season success? Missouri? Oklahoma? UCF?

Scott Kennedy: There's a phrase in baseball that you get voted to the All-Star game the year after you deserve it. Big seasons impact juniors, not seniors. By the time those teams finish their big seasons, the seniors have already made decisions. Look for recruiting bumps for those teams in the class of 2015.

Allen Trieu: I think recruiting moves so quickly now that most schools are more than halfway done with their class by the time the BCS picture really gets sorted out and by that point, kids are committed, have official visits planned and have built relationships with other schools, so let's see what their classes look like next year.

15. Notre Dame is having a great recruiting season, but is it upgrading the athleticism to be able to compete at a championship level with the SEC teams and Florida State?

Scott Kennedy: When we talk about difference in athleticism, it means the trenches. Everyone has fast skill players, but SEC Speed is about the defensive linemen running down the option quarterback and a dominating front seven. Notre Dame has a Top 5 class right now, and ten of those players are defensive linemen or linebackers. The defensive ends are long, lean types like Grant Blankenship out of Texas who stands 6-6, 250 pounds. They're certainly going to try and get faster on the front seven, and that's where the biggest difference in speed comes between the southern powers and the rest of the country.

Allen Trieu: On paper, yes. Especially the kids on defense, they can all really run. The guys I've covered in the Midwest, Nyles Morgan, Drue Tranquill and Jhonathon Williams can all get from point A to point B in a hurry.

16. The three things everyone will be talking about the day after Signing Day are … ?

Scott Kennedy: I expect to hear lots of… 1. Alabama?!? Good gracious.
2. Tennessee was only ranked that high because it signed so many players.
3. I wish there was an early signing period so we could lock these 18-year-olds into binding contracts that only guarantee he must come to our school, but we don't have to accept him, and he has to sit out a year if he changes his mind despite our entire coaching staff changing divisions. In reality, the inequity of the LOI and the hypocrisy of the NCAA is beginning to become more and more prevalent by day, and I hope it continues.

Allen Trieu: Bama does it again, where DE Solomon Thomas ends up committing, as he's one of the top uncommitted guys right now, and Charlie Strong's first class at Texas.