Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

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

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10 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME After 29 years leading the Notre Dame wom- en's tennis program, Jay Louderback announced May 3 he was retiring. Prior to his arrival, Notre Dame had not qualified for the NCAA Champion- ships and only played at the Division I level for four seasons. Louderback guided the Irish to 24 NCAA Cham- pionships bids in 29 seasons, including 22 con- secutive from 1996-2017. All told, the Irish com- piled 748 victories, 19 conference titles and two national semifinals appearances under his watch. BGI: What made the timing right to announce your retirement from coaching? Louderback: "My wife and I have been spend- ing more time down around our parents in Kan- sas. We bought a house there a couple years ago and have been spending a lot of time there. We just felt it was time to get back there and have a chance to spend time with them and our family. "That was our main reason. I've been thinking about it for the last couple of years. … It just felt like this was a good time to do it." BGI: What will you remember most about your time at Notre Dame? Louderback: "Besides the winters we have here, the biggest thing is the times that I've spent with the kids on the team. … Those have been so special, getting a chance to know them. "I've learned more from them than I have taught them. We're so lucky with the great student-athletes that we attract here at Notre Dame." BGI: When you look back at your career at Notre Dame, how did it go compared to how you envisioned when you started? Louderback: "When I took the job here, I was so young. I don't think I envisioned anything. I was 35 years old and at Iowa State. I wasn't look- ing to leave, but when I interviewed here I loved the place immediately. I don't think I had a vision of how well we could do. "But after a couple of years, with the facilities we had at the time and kids we recruit, I thought that we could do well. I think we did that, espe- cially being a northern school in an outdoor sport. … I would have liked to win a national champion- ship and we were close a few years, but I feel I did as well as I could." BGI: What was your favorite part of working at Notre Dame? Louderback: "A lot of it is just being on campus. After football games on Sundays, there aren't many people on campus. That was a time my wife and I would like to walk on campus. "You can feel at those times what a special place Notre Dame is. My favorite spot on campus is a bench overlooking the lake, and I've spent countless times sitting on that bench just thinking about everything." BGI: How would you like your career and time at Notre Dame to be remembered? Louderback: "Of course, I feel the results we've had have been very good. So, that's something that will be there. "But more than anything, I hope everyone looks back and says, 'He was a great guy, a nice person and did everything he could for the school.'" — Corey Bodden Five Questions With … WOMEN'S TENNIS COACH JAY LOUDERBACK Notre Dame Needs A Quarterback By David McKinney When Reno (Nev.) Damonte Ranch quarterback Cade McNamara decommit- ted from Notre Dame in early March, it left a gaping hole in the program's 2019 class. Quarterbacks are often seen as the face of the class and play a lead role in recruiting more prospects to fill out the haul. Such was the case with incoming freshman sig- nal-caller Phil Jurkovec, a U.S. Army All-American and the first commitment in Notre Dame's 2018 class. Several fellow signees credited Jurkovec for keeping the class largely intact after Notre Dame struggled through a 4-8 season in 2016. Jurkovec has been anointed as the next great Irish quarterback by many, but that doesn't mean Notre Dame will decide to pass on a quar- terback in the 2019 class, like some have sug- gested. That notion picked up even more steam when the Irish landed a commitment from 2020 four-star quarterback Drew Pyne in mid-April, but he will not arrive in South Bend for nearly two years. Notre Dame currently has one target at quarterback — Wisconsin commit and Rivals250 member Graham Mertz. The Irish coaching staff is pushing hard for a visit to campus, and if that happens a flip from the Badgers could happen. But even if Notre Dame misses on Mertz, they need to find another quar- terback to maintain adequate depth there. It is the most important position on the field, and Notre Dame can't afford to not take one in 2019. Running Back Recruiting Needs A Spark By Corey Bodden Notre Dame's future at running back appeared to be in solid hands, even with star Josh Adams departing early to the NFL. However, the dismissal of sophomore Deon McIntosh and freshman C.J. Holmes in the winter left the Irish with just four scholarship players at the position. During the spring, the Irish utilized sophomore wide receiver Jafar Armstrong and sophomore quarterback Avery Davis in the backfield. That helped ease some of the depth concerns, and both showed flashes of potential, but their de- velopment will likely take some time. Notre Dame also added a pair of ball carri- ers with its 2018 recruiting class, nabbing C'Bo Flemister out of Zebulon (Ga.) Pike County late in the cycle to go with Sanford (N.C.) Lee County product Jahmir Smith. However, with Dexter Wil- liams moving on after the 2018 campaign, the Irish need to add a top-end talent at running back in the 2019 cycle. The running back the Irish are in the best shape with heading into the summer is St. Louis St. John Vianney three-star Kyren Williams. The explosive athlete and first-team all-state performer as a junior has visited Notre Dame multiple times already, and was slated for an official visit June 15-17. Signing a running back that can impact both the ground and pass games like Williams would be a major benefit to coordinator Chip Long's offense, and would fill a vital need in the 2019 class. Point ✦ Counterpoint: WHAT IS NOTRE DAME'S BIGGEST REMAINING NEED IN THE 2019 CLASS? QB GRAHAM MERTZ RB KYREN WILLIAMS Louderback led the Irish to 748 victories, two national semifinal appearances, 24 NCAA Championship bids and 19 conference titles over 29 seasons. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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