Notre Dame football recruiting: Next phase nearly here

Tom Lemming
Tribune Correspondent

With the regular season home schedule now ending, it’s a good time to look back at how Notre Dame did with its in-season recruiting.

I thought the USC game was magnificent and so was the Arizona State game in Dallas.

Notre Dame’s philosophy is to not bring too many guys in for visits. I was just at the Mississippi State-Alabama game and State had 140 recruits in for the game.

Seniors for the most part come in officially during the season, but my philosophy is to have as many top juniors as possible come in to see these games.

The philosophy of bringing in a lot of guys or not depends on the head coach. Lou Holtz brought in a lot of guys. So did Bob Davie. Tyrone Willingham did not bring in a ton of guys, and Charlie Weis had an average amount.

Notre Dame felt comfortable not having a lot of official visits during the year because they felt pretty good that they were going to get a lot of the guys that visited for the USC game.

The fact was, all nine were leaning to Notre Damd when they left campus. The problem is that you’ve got to get them wrapped up within a month or two. If not they start taking other visits and they forget. If they get past the holidays, you have hardly any shot of getting them. If they’re making visits elsewhere in three months, they forget about a visit that occurred that long ago. It’s whatever is fresh in their mind, so it’s best to get them wrapped up before the end of the season normally.

They need linebackers badly, and they recently offered Nile Sykes and Melvin Keihn. Both are four-star players. Sykes is as good as Nyles Morgan and Clifton Garrett.

I don’t see a ton more visits once the season ends because there aren’t that many good players remaining who have not decided on their visits.

What they can do is go after guys committed to other schools, which they’ve done with Jhonny Williams, a Missouri commit.

Eyeing the


I think what’s going on at USC is that the whole program, except for athletic director Pat Haden, is rallying around interim coach Ed Orgeron.

Haden is still looking around, but it seems like the players in particular love Orgeron. They’re playing great.

I think it’s going to be difficult for them to say no to Orgeron. He’s had head coaching experience at Mississippi, he’s one of the premier recruiters in the country and now they’re starting to get guys. This week they flipped an offensive lineman from Alabama.

Now Notre Dame has got to be worried with some of the California kids they’re recruiting yet.

A month ago, USC seemed finished after Lane Kiffin was fired. Then they lost to Notre Dame and everyone kept saying that Orgeron has no shot and it’s 100 percent he’s gone. After then he’s done great.

No kid wanted to commit or visit USC, but the flip of offensive lineman Viane Talamaivao from the No. 1 school in the country to SC is sending the message that USC is back in business and that Orgeron is doing a great job.

Now, if Orgeron doesn’t get hired, some of these guys could be jumping.

So Notre Dame has to be on its toes either way. What could help Notre Dame in December and January is that coaches will get fired, and all those schools inevitably have recruits who could be flipped.

Notre Dame is the best counter-puncher around. A good number of their top players had been committed to other schools.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly leads his team into Notre Dame Stadium before an NCAA college football game against Michigan State on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. (SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER)