Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct.10, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 43 of 55

44 OCT. 10, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY COREY BODDEN AND DAVID MCKINNEY I n the world of college football, any time there is a coaching staff change, recruiting is one area that can be impacted, positively or negatively. Whether it is the head coach, one of the coordinators or a position coach who is shown the door, prospects who have built up a relationship with that coach during their recruitment process are bound to have a reaction. Notre Dame experienced a coach- ing shake-up when defensive coordi- nator Brian VanGorder was relieved of his duties by head coach Brian Kelly following another disappoint- ing performance by the Irish de- fense in a stunning 38-35 home loss to Duke Sept. 24. Defensive analyst Greg Hudson has assumed defensive coordinator responsibilities. The issues raised by the change range from how the decision will al- ter the defense on the field to how the departure would affect the sta- tus of the 13 defensive players from the 2017 and 2018 classes who have given the Irish verbal commitments. Several of the commits reaffirmed they remained completely on board with their pledges to Notre Dame. "My recruitment is not changing at all," Pittsburgh Central Catholic three-star 2017 defensive tackle Kurt Hinish said. "We are ND." "Nothing has changed with me," Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter 's Prep three-star defensive lineman Justin Ademilola said. "I'm still 100 percent committed to the Irish." Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harri- son three-star 2018 linebacker Ovie Oghoufo was not surprised by the decision. "It was an expected move," Og- houfo said. "As far as the impact of me, I am still 100 percent committed." Four-star Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Drew White, "really liked" VanGorder from the time he spent with him, but knows the realities of big-time college football. "Coaching is a tough business," White said. "Change happens often in college football. I wish Coach Van- Gorder the best." White was also quick to reaffirm his commitment to the Irish. "Notre Dame remains the total package for me, and I can't wait to get up there to contribute," he noted. Others, like four-star linebacker Pete Werner of Indianapolis Cathe- dral, believe they committed to the school as a whole and not just be- cause of one person or a group. "What happened doesn't change my opinion," Werner told Rivals Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt. "I like to say I committed to the uni- versity, and not because of a certain coach. Nothing changes as far as my commitment level." The reactions of Hinish, Ademilola, Oghoufo, White and Werner appear to be the general consensus amongst all the defensive recruits — the dis- missal of VanGorder does not impact their commitments to Notre Dame. According to Helmholdt, the de- parture of VanGorder should have little to no impact on Notre Dame recruiting-wise, mostly because of his lack of involvement on the re- cruiting trail. Helmholdt added that even with a change in defensive phi- losophy, Notre Dame shouldn't miss a beat when it comes to recruiting. "While changing the offensive scheme certainly affects the type of player you attract, specifically at quarterback and the other skill posi- tions, you do not see the same effect with a defensive scheme change," Helmholdt said. "A player that fits in one defensive scheme almost always can find a spot in another." Rivals recruiting director Mike Farrell said VanGorder 's perceived lack of interest in recruiting is part of the reason Notre Dame's defense has struggled so mightily in the early part of their schedule. "The scheme comes into play and VanGorder's inability to develop play- ers as well as adjust on the fly have been apparent," Farrell said. "But his lack of interest — in recruiting and, most importantly as a coordinator, on closing on prospects — was the worst kept secret in college football. "Did Notre Dame settle on some defensive guys because of that? Yes, and these embarrassing defensive performances that have Kelly on at least a warm seat could be traced back to recruiting." Farrell mentioned that several Notre Dame defensive players could be re- ferred to as "recruiting reaches," which he said can cause depth chart issues. The Irish may end up much more fortunate compared to other schools who have fired or lost coordinators in recent years. Typically, this type of change could impact recruiting if it was Brent Venables (Clemson defen- sive coordinator) or Lane Kiffin (Ala- bama offensive coordinator), who both are very active on the recruiting trail. If Kelly would have relieved line- backers coach Mike Elston or associ- ate head coach/wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock of their duties, the fallout in terms of recruiting would be much more significant compared to the firing of VanGorder. ✦ The Firing of Brian VanGorder Shouldn't Have A Negative Impact On Irish Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas three- star linebacker Drew White was disappointed to see Brian VanGorder get fired, but the change does not sway his commitment. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS "HIS LACK OF INTEREST — IN RECRUITING AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY AS A COORDINATOR, ON CLOSING ON PROSPECTS — WAS ALSO THE WORST KEPT SECRET IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL." RIVALS RECRUITING DIRECTOR MIKE FARRELL ON VANGORDER

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct.10, 2016