Recruiting 2014 - 30 Big Questions No. 13-18
Posted Feb 3, 2014

Recruiting 2014 - 30 Big Questions No. 13-18. Can Notre Dame compete with the SEC? Can LSU keep players?

Recruiting 2014

Top 30 Questions – No. 13 to 18

 E-mail Pete Fiutak
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Recruiting 2014 – The 30 Key Questions
- No. 1 to 6. Can Bama's great class help the D?
- No. 7 to 12. Why can't Spurrier get a star QB prospect?
- No. 19 to 30. Can Gary Andersen bring star to UW?

13. 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?

Tim O'Malley, - 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.
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14. Mike Leach never recruited top players at Texas Tech, but he was able to succeed. Is he recruiting to a type, or is he able to bring in some higher-level talents?

Barry Bolton, - Both. There are a lot of Leach recruits who proved to be 4- and 5-star talents after their playing careers, but weren't seen as such on Signing Day. That said, he has specific traits in mind from the linemen through the receivers through the defensive backs and he doesn't care if no other school likes them as much as he does. One quick example: Arm strength is about sixth on Leach's list for a QB, with accuracy, good decision-making skills, speed, leadership and intelligence higher on his priority list.
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15. Is Bret Bielema getting the Hogs he needs up front to be the SEC version of Wisconsin?

Clay Henry, - There seems to be a steady diet of talented offensive linemen in three straight classes, his first with Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper. He has done it again this year with Brian Wallace, Sebastian Tretola and Jovan Pruitt. The 2015 class already has Zach Rogers and Colton Rogers in the offensive line.
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16. How is Gary Andersen as a recruiter for Wisconsin compared to Bret Bielema?
Benjamin Worgull, - The jury is still out, of course, because we are so early into the Andersen tenure, but one major difference is that Andersen and his staff will recruit anywhere for talent they've identified. Bielema and his staff stayed pretty close to home in the Midwest and would dabble in Florida and the East Coast. Andersen said in his introductory press conference that Wisconsin should be a global brand and UW feels like it can go anywhere and be able to recruit. He's backed up that statement by securing verbal commitments from 12 different states while keeping the best talent in state, as eight of the top nine Wisconsin high school seniors are currently committed to Andersen.
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17. Does the move of Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten matter in any way this recruiting season?

Keith Cavanaugh, - Yes, it does, as the Terps were able to penetrate the Midwest with multiple commits for the first time in decades. There hasn't been such success since Ron Vanderlinden was the coach when he got guys like Kris Jenkins and others in his recruit classes. This year they got into Ohio with tight end Andrew Gray, and landed an OT from Texas, Brendan Moore, and were involved with others as they tried to tap into the market for the first time.
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Sam Hellman, - It matters a big deal to recruits, especially at the local level. Kids from New Jersey can finally stay home and play a big-time schedule at the same time. You'll see the Big Ten start to matter a lot more when recruits actually see it for themselves. Hearing about it is one thing, but seeing Penn State and Michigan play at Rutgers next year is when it will truly sink in.

For the Rutgers coaches, the Big Ten is a major selling point, but not necessarily the main one. Rutgers has always sold itself with a family approach to college football and the educational and marketing opportunities so close to New York.
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18. Is it seen overall as a positive for LSU to get recruits good enough to leave early -- come to LSU, go to the NFL? Or, is the coaching staff recruiting players with one eye already on the NFL?

Ben Love, - Yes, and yes. Contrary to whatever the national perception may be, LSU's talented underclassmen aren't jumping ship to get away from Les Miles, Baton Rouge or the Tiger program. They're actually making good on recruiting promises sold by Miles and the LSU staff, which absolutely seeks out prospects with NFL aspirations, illuminates for them a direct path to the field and proudly shows off the track record of players who've made their ways to NFL jobs and fortunes via three years on the bayou.

Now, has the line been blurred a bit and have certain players who maybe weren't ready left early in recent years? Absolutely, but that's due to a culture the program itself has willingly created and, it would seem, is willing to tolerate. The solution, after all, has been easy enough: Go out and get the next blue-chipper who wants to play in the League. Time will tell if this strategy takes a long-term negative toll on the program, but for the time being it's one of LSU's best recruiting pitches going.
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