Chat Transcript: Talking early Notre Dame camp impressions, what's next in recruiting

Eric Hansen
ND Insider

Eric Hansen: Welcome to Notre Dame Football Live Chat from soupy, muggy South Bend, Ind. I'll make mention again of this at the end of the chat, but because of coverage conflicts, the next live chat will not be on a Wednesday, but rather Friday, Aug. 20.

Eric Hansen: As for this week's chat ... please remember to include your NAME and HOMETOWN with your question. Without further blathering, off we go ...

Ed from Sayville, N.Y.: Hello Eric, and real happy the countdown to the 2021 Fighting Irish is on. I’m hoping we see some of the promise that Kevin Austin can bring if he stays healthy. My question is around his overall skills: Is he a deep threat, a chain-mover, or both? Your scouting assessment please.

Eric Hansen: Senior Kevin Austin Jr., whom I consider to be one of the top five or six talents on the Notre Dame roster despite only having six career catches, isn't the fastest receiver on the roster. But because of his more-than-adequate speed, advance route-running, strength, ability to win 50-50 balls, the 6-2, 215-pounder is very much a deep threat. For the same reasons, he moves the chains. I don't know that we'll see that version of him Sept. 5 at Florida State, because the coaches are being deliberate and careful with him during training camp. But if he stays healthy (coming off foot surgery), Austin should start to show those qualities in abundance by late September at the very least.

Marie from Atlanta: Hi Eric. I hope you had a great summer. So glad the chats are back. A couple of  recruiting questions. How confident is the staff in Amorion Walker's commitment? With all the visits he is taking, it seems like he is holding a spot rather than being truly committed. What is the backup plan if he decommits? (Xayvion) Bradshaw and (Major) Everhart, are different types of receivers. Is there another recruit who is similar to Walker? Also, are you concerned about O-line recruiting? None of (Billy) Schrauth, (Zach) Rice or (Aamil) Wagner are locks, or even close to locks, if the Irish strike out on all three, where will they look next? Thanks for all the great work you do.

Eric Hansen: Hi Marie. I did have a great summer, thank you. My take on committed WR Amorion Walker taking visits is mostly the result of a kid enjoying the attention of recruiting and wanting to travel after a 15-month, campus-visit shutdown by the NCAA. It's also a bit of validation for a three-star recruit whose ND commitment was met by a lot of tepid responses from the fan base (and, yes, he reads message boards). Having said all of that, I expect him in the class when he signs a Letter of Intent in December, but it's not a good look and it's not absolute.

I think if ND is going to add a fourth receiver or sub one in if the Irish lose Walker, Andre Greene Jr. of Richmond, Va., makes the most sense (6-3, 195). He's about the same size and more polished than Walker. Walker is faster. Greene is scheduled to visit ND the weekend of Oct. 2 (Cincinnati game) if he isn't already off the market. There's no guarantee the Irish will have room for a fourth receiver, though.

As far as O-linemen, my best stab at that is that ND will get at least one of those three, and possibly two. If the Irish completely whiff, I think they'll expand the board and look for an ascending prospect who's having a great senior season to add to OL commits Joey Tanona, Ty Chan and Ashton Craig.

Joan from Vancouver, British Columbia: Hi Eric, any update on how us Canadian ND fans can get access to the ND-Toledo game? Would love to be able to watch it. Keep up the great work.

Eric Hansen: Hi Joan. I'm glad you asked. I've received many emails from Irish fans in Canada, and this may help me catch up on answering them. The good news is there is a solution that's legal and ready to go (but a premium stream). And that's supposedly for everyone outside the U.S, The squirrely news is those in charge haven't officially released that info yet and won't share it with us until they do. Rest assured a solution will be revealed sometime fairly soon.

Ryan from Mars, Pa: Good afternoon, Eric. When are they naming captains? Go Irish.

Eric Hansen: I believe it will be Thursday after practice. The media originally was going to get offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and offensive players Thursday, and Brian Kelly on Saturday. But they flip-flopped that. So I think we'll not only get captains named, but we'll have a No. 1 QB named as well.

Jeff from Phoenix: Good morning, Eric from a very sticky Phoenix. My question/concern is about running back depth. What do you think is the likelihood of losing both (C'Bo) Flemister and (Kyren) Williams at the end of this year? Where could the freshman (Audric) Estime be used this year and do you think he is ready for FSU or more of a November/December addition to the rotation?  And finally, is the current one RB commit for 2022 enough?  (I realize I haven't mentioned Tyree and Diggs). Much thanks and rock on!

Eric Hansen: Jeff, wait, I thought Phoenix was a "dry heat" and that's what made 130 degrees tolerable? I think if Kyren had the kind of year he had last season or better, he's likely to leave. C'Bo is a tougher read, but I'd say there's a better than 50 percent chance he would move on too. If that happens, the current one running back commit is probably not enough, because that would give you only four RBS in 2022 — Chris Tyree, Audric Estime, Logan Diggs and current recruit Jadarian Price.

So ND has to read two things ... if Williams or C'Bo are coming back and if Penn State RB commit Nicholas Singleton wavers on his commitment to the Nittany Lions. If neither of those things happen, the Irish can try to add someone late in the cycle or wait and pick up a grad transfer after the season. So there are options. I'll have a better idea how to answer the question re Estime on the next chat. By then I will have seen him in two full practices. He looks good stretching, though.

Jeremy from Goshen, Ind.: I am curious on the plan to develop Tyler Buchner this year. Will he be splitting No. 2 reps with Drew Pyne? How does Brendon Clark fit into this equation? I assume Ron Powlus III will be running the scout team. I feel it would be a mistake to stick Buchner on the scout team if he’s realistically going to be able to make a run at earning the starting QB job next year.

Eric Hansen: Jeremy, that's a question that's been percolating with me as well. Once Brian Kelly names the starter (likely Thursday), then Buchner's role becomes easier to define. At the end of spring, BK didn't rule out Buchner having a niche role. I'd imagine that's still on the table, but I'd be surprised if Kelly acknowledges that at this point. Clark is still about a month away from really getting back to being 100 percent from his knee surgery. He's missed a lot of time. The staff really likes him, and they'll bring him along carefully. I agree with you: Buchner should not run the scout team, at least not on a regular basis. If he's No. 3 and not 4, he can learn a lot more being up with the 1s and 2s. By the way, Powlus is injured at the moment.

RK from Sartell, Minn.: What a great job on recruiting this year! I am pumped! Realistically, will the Irish land a five-star? If so, who is the most likely? Question 2, is Coan going to be a star? Thanks for great chats!

Eric Hansen: Rick, that's more of a calculus question than straight math. Typically Rivals and 247Sports designate 30-32 five-stars. But it's late in the cycle before they name all those. So let's play with the top 32 currently on both lists. WR commit C.J. Williams is No. 29 on Rivals. So as long as he stays in that area, he'd be a five-star. LB Jaylen Sneed (No. 46) has been ascending for a while, so there's a chance he'd end up in the top 32. Among uncommitted targets the Irish are chasing: OT Zach Rice, S Xavier Nwankpa, DT Anthony Lucas and DE Cyrus Moss are top 32 in one or the other or both lists. ND is in play for all four legitimately, but probably not the favorite for any of them. Where ND is very well positioned to pull in multiple five-stars is in the 2023 class.

As far as Jack Coan being a star? I don't have that answer yet one way or another. I need to see more.

KJ near the Channel Isles: Greetings from the blue Pacific, Eric, where it's also muggy, but quite tolerable. This FSU opener has me really worried. A full crowd (hyped to honor coach Bowden); new quarterback for FSU (Milton) with a comeback story for the ages; new O-line for ND, new defensive coaches for ND, etc. Yikes! For game prep, will BK bring in the sound machines and other wild distractions to get a new team up to speed?

Eric Hansen: Hi KJ. I don't think the ND-Florida State matchup will be as lopsided as the last couple, but I'm not envisioning at this point an upset or even a nail-biter, either. Maybe I'll feel differently after watching a couple of full practices in the next eight days. ND is short on experience, but not on talent. Florida State has been fighting a culture problem for a while, Check back in with me in a couple of weeks. As far as noise prep, it's going to be different playing in a full stadium. I don't think ND does anything too wild, just makes sure they have systems in place where they can use silent snap counts and things like that.

Larry from Millersville, Pa.: Hi Eric. It's great to be having these chats again. How is the offensive line progressing? Do you think they will be good enough to run block and pass block, so we can have a balanced offense?

Eric Hansen: Hi Larry, thanks for being here. Now that Brian Kelly and O-line coach Jeff Quinn have settled on where Jarrett Patterson is going to play (center), they need to let the competition play out at a couple of the other positions. I think chemistry is going to be an incremental thing. It's not going to be great in September. It's probably going to look pretty good in November. It needs to surge forward when the Irish play Wisconsin and Cincinnati, in particular. I really like the talent and the leadership in the group. That doesn't make for greatness, but it shouldn't be understated either.

Dan from Vernon Hills: Hi Eric. Do you think Notre Dame is emphasizing the uniqueness of the school more now than in the past? Recruits seem to mention the culture, smaller size, sense of community, etc., more than in the past. Or are they just communicating it better?

Eric Hansen: I think the campus is prettier, the academics less daunting and the food in the dining hall tastier when you've been to the College Football Playoff two out of the past three years. I also think BK rebooting the culture after 2016 shows up on visits. Recruits see the brotherhood as authentic.

Jim Tal from Valley Center, Calif.: Eric, great to be able to reconnect and get your always insightful feedback. In your estimation, given the personnel, potential and energy that Marcus Freeman seems to be bringing to that side of the ball, can the ND defense ascend to the level of being a lockdown unit that can carry the team and be the rock upon which a highly successful season is built? In other words, can it make up for some possible growing pains or inconsistent play from the offense?

Eric Hansen: The defensive line is Notre Dame's best position group, hands down. Safety Kyle Hamilton is far and away ND's best player. IF the cornerbacks and other safeties step up, this can be a really good defense. Not sure about lockdown, given the string of elite quarterbacks the Irish will see this season, but I think the defense will have fewer growing pains than the offense. The early returns on the wide receivers is encouraging for the offense, by the way.

Tom from Kennesaw, Ga.: Hi Eric, great to have the chats back on a regular basis. Thank you. ND is having a very good recruiting year this year. They are still on the radar for five very good players: Three offensive linemen, the defensive end from Vegas and the safety from Iowa.  What is your guess as to how many of those five will commit to ND?  My percentages are 5 = 0%; 4 = 10%; 3 = 30%; 2 = 50%; 0 = 10%.  Thanks for all your great articles, and Go Irish!!!  As a side note, Marie from Atlanta always asks the best questions!

Eric Hansen: There's also the two interior defensive linemen in play, but will simplify the math and leave them out of this. Of those five, I'm going to go out on a limb and say three is the most probable outcome: O-linemen Billy Schrauth and Aamil Wagner, and one surprise — safety Xavier Nwankpa from Iowa. ... Next time I'm in Georgie, how about you, Marie and me going out for a beverage?

Ed from Palm Beach, Fla.: Thanks for your reporting ... Since money drives the college football train, do you see ND having its own streaming platform to include all ND athletics? No need for a conference affiliation.

Eric Hansen: I think they're already setting themselves up for that possibility.

Stan from Chester, Va.: Offering heartfelt thanks for your hard work in keeping us Irish fans up on what is going on with all things Irish. I would like your impressions of the incoming class and if anyone in particular is jumping out as of yet.  And, do you have an update on the captains? Thanks again ...

Eric Hansen: Stan, thank YOU. We've seen only minimal drills and stretching. On Thursday. we'll see a full practice, including a scrimmage, and the following Thursday another full practice. So my answer next chat will be much more comprehensive that what I can provide today. I'm eager to see with my own eyes. ... Captains likely Thursday.

Denny from Liberty Hill, Texas: Hi Eric! It seems like recruiting is really strong this year and we will be filling out the '22 class, as well as the '23 class, with elite players. Do you think our chances are good to get both Anthony Lucas and Hero Kanu this cycle? Which one would be the priority and which one most likely in the event we take only one?

Eric Hansen: Hi Denny. If ND gets one of those two, Brian Kelly should do cartwheels. And I think one is realistic. Lucas is the more difficult read. ND made the cut to his top 5. I think ND is probably in Kanu's top 2. So that's the more likely addition. ND will have to work hard for both of those guys. I think Lucas is the better player, but you're talking different grades of elite. 

Jake from Saratoga, N.Y.: Hello Eric. A few days ago I read an article where the journalist was discussing Jack Coan and Drew Pyne, and he/she stated that if Coan struggles to get the ball downfield that Brian Kelly may turn to Pyne, who has the bigger arm of the two in order to stretch the field.  Now I believe that Tyler Buchner has the strongest arm on the team, but have you heard that Pyne has a stronger arm than Coan, because I had not heard that prior. Thank you.

Eric Hansen: In terms of arm strength, from what I've heard and SEEN, I'd go Buchner, Coan, Pyne in that order — with Pyne improving over the summer.

Jeff from Cincinnati: Eric, I hope you and your family are doing well. With regard to adding grad transfers to the roster, I certainly understand they fill a perceived gap at selected positions. But don’t you think it could also corrode morale among returning upperclassmen (and by extension, the whole team) who invested their blood and sweat in their first few years at ND, only to be surpassed by an “outsider?" Thanks for taking my question.

Eric Hansen: Hi Jeff. I think if ND simply handed the grad transfers the starting positions, there might be some resentment. But they don't do that. Those guys have to earn those spots. Offensive guard Cain Madden, a second-team All-American last season at Marshall, lined up with the 2s on Saturday — the first day of camp. Jack Coan has had to earn the No. 1 spot, too, and he's been at ND since February. Look, the players see value in those grad transfers. Nick McCloud was an important piece in ND's playoff run last season, for instance. Really good question, and at some schools, there probably is a negative dynamic.

Mike from Toronto: Eric, how much, if any, do the position coaches and/or coordinators consult each other regarding players, schemes, game planning, halftime adjustments, etc. For example, would Tommy Rees consult with Marcus Freeman on the best way to attack a certain type of defense? Or, would a D coach ask the O guys what is the most effective blitz package for a type of offense? Does the whole staff typically put together a game plan, or does it depend on the head coach's comfort level?

Eric Hansen: If you're talking position coaches and coordinators on the same side of the ball, that happens daily. If you're talking about on opposite sides of the ball, that's not so much an in-season thing as it is spring/offseason/training camp. But it's not universal. Rees and Clark Lea seemed to touch base a lot, and my sense is Rees and Freeman will too — just not in the throes of a game. I wrote in depth about Rees' quest for improvement earlier this summer and what that looks like. Here's the story in case you missed it.

Frank Serra from Whereabouts Unknown: If a player transfers now, does he have to sit out a year?

Eric Hansen: Yes, the deadline was July 1. Next year it moves to May 1.

Rick from Sinking Spring, Pa.: My question is this: If the O-line can gel and we get great play from our wideouts, this team is gonna be a real tough team to beat. I am calling for a 12-0 regular season. Do you guys agree if those two position play good football?

Eric Hansen: Vegas almost agrees with you. Notre Dame is currently favored in every game except Wisconsin in Chicago, and the line is very small on that one. I filled out my AP preseason ballot over the weekend, and I had North Carolina, USC, Cincinnati and Wisconsin all ranked fairly close to — but below — ND. The margin if error is small. If I had to pick a record today, I'd say 10-2, but I will have a better body of information to make that call in a couple of weeks.

Dwight from Arkansas: Tyler Buchner is perceived as a star of the future and they are pursuing Dante Moore in the '23 class. In between they have a commit from Steve Angeli.  He seems to be just looked at as a backup or safety net between the first two. If Angeli should have a huge senior year and raise his "ceiling" significantly, does this alter ND's pursuit of Moore? It would be hard to see potential five-star QBs willing to sit the bench.

Eric Hansen: Hi Dwight. It would not alter ND's pursuit of Dante Moore or any of the other 2023 QBs they've offered so far. You want as much talent in that QB room as you can get. Transfers are going to happen. You want to recruit guys who want to compete, not expect the job handed to them. And let me tell you, there's not a five-star QB who doesn't think he's better than QBs already on the roster of the schools recruiting him.

Andy From Ponte Vedra, Fla.: How do you feel about Notre Dame and its independence vs. being a full-time member of ACC and being able to compete in (a conference) championship game? The Championship game is so much more exciting than a regular-season game IMHO. I personally would love to start the season against Michigan, play USC like we normally do, and play whoever we want in a Shamrock game. I don’t think it would be a big deal to go from five (ACC) games to eight, as required by its member.

Eric Hansen: Andy, you do realize that it doesn't matter what you or I think — just what Notre Dame thinks, right? For the record, as much as I enjoyed the one-year run in the ACC, I think ND in the current landscape is better off being an independent. And the No. 1 reason is the need and ability to recruit nationally as an independent.

Tom from Georgia: There is a 180-degree turnaround at this point in the thinking of the football schools with their optimistic plans for a "normal" season with full stadia.  Will they continue to look for reasons to stay this course, or will the coming mandates lead to a reversal back to 2020-esque restrictions? When will the call be made? Before the first games, or will it simply be a matter of not deciding being the decision? I believe a very rude awakening is about to occur and fans will not like it.

Eric Hansen: Athletic directors are going to follow science and not politics. So expect decisions made that way, Because vaccination rates, positivity rates, hospitalizations and attitudes toward all those things vary by region, there's not a blanket, one-size-fits-all answer here. Keep in mind, things could look a lot different in a month. There are models that predict a retreat of the Delta variant by that time. We'll see. I still think ADs will try to find a way to make full houses work, whether that be by limiting tailgating, universal masking, or some other strategy. How soon? As close to the start of the season as possible.

Idrese Manning from Bremerton, Wash.: What's your thoughts about the passing game? I love to see the rock get pounded, no doubt. I would also like to see a legitimate passing attack that keeps the Clemsons and Alabamas honest. We just haven't seen it enough in big games.

Eric Hansen: Well Idrese, you certainly have the right last name to talk about the passing game. I think you want the ability to do both well (run and pass). Remember, Alabama ran whenever it wanted — and with efficiency — with Najee Harris last season, but there's no doubt ND's passing game needs to be more dynamic. And Brian Kelly and Tommy Rees have acknowledged that. Notre Dame is recruiting for that (successfully) and pushing for that in the way it builds its scheme. I think we will see some progress in that direction this season but not to the level of where it eventually needs to be.

Ced Walker from Saginaw, Mich. (home of Tory Jackson): I see freshmen wide receiver Jayden Thomas getting reps with (the third) team. How many freshmen do you see playing this year? Go Irish.

Eric Hansen: The freshman who's going to play the most among the three wide receivers is Lorenzo Styles Jr., in my opinion. He is the most advanced and has the least-impeded path. But I hear Jayden Thomas came in more polished than expected. I'll get to see Styles, Thomas and Deion Colzie in person on Thursday. Can't wait. But keep in mind, Brian Kelly deemed the summers of seniors Braden Lenzy and Joe Wilkins as "transformational." so that's going to be the prevailing story line for at least a while. Not the freshmen.

Cowboy Mike: Who are your five starting linemen against FSU? THANKS!

Eric Hansen: Not going  to waver here from the last chat. From Left Tackle to Right Tackle: Blake Fisher, Cain Madden, Jarrett Patterson, Zeke Correll/Rocco Spindler tag team, Josh Lugg.

This Thursday and next Thursday are the full practices. The people who stood out in the small window are kind of random, given they were doing more drill stuff than anything related to actual football. Given that caveat, I'll say DE Isaiah Foskey.

John from Champaign, Ill.: I have been so impressed by Marcus Freeman and the whole recruiting effort of Notre Dame — offering early, the organization, every position this year seems to be recruited well.  My only "concern" is the lack of top 50 prospects, an area that seems to be "weak" over the years. Is the reason not many top 50 recruits are signed due to the academic restrictions? That the majority of top 50 recruits are in the south or in areas traditionally harder to recruit? Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Academics limit the pool, but not overwhelmingly so. The five-stars tend not to be in ND's geographical region and tend to stay closer to home (but not always), so that's a challenge. But I think the biggest problem has been that ND didn't get those kids to even visit until recently. If you can't get them to visit, you're not going to sign them. They've also offered elite prospects earlier in their high school careers, and that's helping. So I think ND is on its way toward maximizing the top 50 kids in especially the 2023 class. But even looking at 2022, Ohio State currently has four Rivals top 50 commits, LSU and Georgia have three each, and Notre Dame is one of six schools with two so far. In 2023, ND already has one top 10 commit, and it leads with at least two others in the top 25. So that's progress.

Doug from Sunny Florida: Eric, I'm still up in the air about the NIL (name, image, likeness) ruling by the NCAA.  My biggest issue is what is keeping boosters from offering a NIL contract to a potential recruit like in the old days when money was offered in secret? What's to keep a deep-pocketed fan from telling a recruit that he has a big NIL contract ready for him if he signs with the school? Is there anything in place to keep this from happening?

Eric Hansen: There's really nothing to prevent that, but keep in mind elite recruits can make pretty good money without doing anything shady. So why would you risk it when the money is similar?

Ben from Green Bay: What do you think is holding back Andrew Kristofic from the O-line rotation? If I remember correctly, he was one recruit who folks thought had first-round-pick upside.

Eric Hansen: Great recruiting and great player development at that position group is where Andrew and a lot of other good linemen are challenges. It's a numbers game. The two All-America candidates on this team are a former three-star prospect (Jarrett Patterson) and a former ZERO-star (Cain Madden). There are seven former top 250 players on the roster (per Rivals rankings), five of them in top 150. Those seven are Blake Fisher, Rocco Spindler, Tosh Baker, Michael Carmody, Quinn Carroll, Zeke Correll and Josh Lugg. I wouldn't give up an Andrew, He does have talent, and he's working a little bit at center right now.

Megat Muzaffar from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Hi Eric. QB1 Jack Coan was 10-4 at Wisconsin. Did he play well in those four losses? Vice versa, how good was his play in wins versus Michigan and Minnesota?

Eric Hansen: Megat, I wish I had time to research that in this fast-moving chat format. What I can tell you is he had a slightly better pass-efficiency ranking than Ian Book in 2019, the last season both were starters.

Lawrence from San Diego: Hey Eric. Not a question, really, but I would love to see a series of articles on the various positions within the ND offensive and defensive structure. You know, how the coaches utilize them, what traits make someone a good fit, who has played that position well or differently in the past. Like how we use a Vyper and what kind of drops he’ll do. What makes a good X or Z receiver. What does a nickel corner need to be able to do differently. How will Marcus Freeman use a rover differently from Lea. Could be a fun series to do when the news cycle is slow (sorry for the bad timing).

Eric Hansen: Yes, that might be something fun to do next summer.

Matt from Augusta, N.J.: Is ND underpaid by NBC for the right to air home football games? Hearing the amount of money SEC and Big 10 teams receive makes me think 'yes.' When you add in Peacock using ND football to increase subscriptions and viewers, I really think ND could be paid more yearly. Thoughts?

Eric Hansen: Notre Dame will get to explore that question when its latest extension with NBC expires after the 2025 season. TV/media rights may look very different then. I will say Notre Dame has a lot of control in terms of kick times and other things with NBC that it wouldn't have as a member of a conference. And there's value in that. I know Jack Swarbrick thinks NBC has been an excellent partner.

Tom from Georgia: Five years from now, will the power football programs still be associated with conferences that we know today, or will there be a breakaway for football only, or a total collapse of the conferences? If the former, will ND be in one, or remain independent?

Eric Hansen: I consulted my magic 8-ball and it said, "ask again later." Look, the defections of Oklahoma and Texas shook up the college sports snow globe again. I don't see how having a football-only structure makes sense for anyone. Football already dictates conference alignments and revenue decisions. As long as Notre Dame has access to play for the national title, has a TV contract and has a place to house its basketball teams and its Olympic sports teams, there's very little incentive — even financially — for it to give up its independence.

RK from Sartell, Minn.: Eric, who will be the toughest opponent this year? Do we have what it takes to be special in '21?

Eric Hansen: Notre Dame needs a lot of ifs to become absolutes to get back to the playoff, and Jack Coan being a top 10-15 QB would be one of those things on that checklist. I think North Carolina will be ND's toughest opponent in 2021.

Joey G. from Philadelphia, Pa.: Hi Eric. I hope all is well with you! Last week I asked about the Jordan Botelho rumor, and man am I happy coach Kelly put an end to that. I was also glad to hear Kelly’s comments about Wilkins and Lenzy. Last year the running backs were a pleasant surprise, and this year I think it will be the wide receivers. Any news out of early practices on Deion Colzie?

Eric Hansen: Not yet, but I like his potential to impact the 2022 season. I wouldn't rule out 2021, especially if Kevin Austin's comeback suffers a setback.

Ken from Pensacola, Fla.: Eric, you are the BEST. How soon can we expect the ND Insider Magazine and what will it cost? Thanks & GO IRISH!

Eric Hansen: Ken you are the best. This is a difficult answer and one in which I need to exercise some diplomacy. Last year, we had to adjust our annual magazine to a special section in large part because of the pandemic. It was named one of the top five newspaper special sections nationally in Classes C and D in the APSE annual section contest. It was also profitable for our parent company, Gannett. As part of a big corporation now, we don't have as much control as we previously did. Gannett didn't want us to publish a mag or special section this year. They relented and let us publish a hybrid online/print section. So all the articles we did appeared online and are still available. I am proud of the work we did, even though the format was not my first choice.

Lawrence from San Diego: Do you think that outside zone will be our primary blocking scheme again, or was that a one-year tendency due to the experience up front?

Eric Hansen: To be determined. My sense is ND will stick with that as a staple.

Eric Hansen: OK that looks like we've reached the end of the chat this week. Thanks for all the great questions. Remember next week's chat won't be on Wednesday but rather Friday, Aug. 20 at noon EDT.

Follow ND Insider Eric Hansen on Twitter: @ehansenNDI