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It wasn't too long ago that the popular assertion was ND couldn't recruit defensive linemen anymore. To get two of this caliber in back-to-back years is quite extraordinary.
Could be best from a draft perspective since 1971, 1972 and 1973, when the Irish signed Mike Fanning (No. 9 pick in the draft), Steve Niehaus (No. 2 pick in the draft) and Ross Browner (No. 8 pick in the draft), respectively, in consecutive classes.
Kiper's Top 5 Big Board this time last year:
1. Matt Barkley
2. Jarvis Jones
4. Logan Thomas
5. Sam Montgomery
I think we'll have 3 First Rounders:
Mingo went 1st round, Jarvis went 1st round. Barkley got Kiffined, and Montgomery regresses his senior year. Logan Thomas is still at VT.... Really not that bad of a list
Gringo Mafia: Black Ops & 'Family Recruitment'
Official thorn in JSapp's side
Yup not terrible but it just goes to show how much can happen in a year
Bennett Jackson is a real possibility as well
I think Nix might even get his degree in December of this year. Because freshmen now enroll in June for summer school and pick up about nine credits, and then add about six credits apiece the next three summers (about 24 to 27 overall), that's like a full year of school (two 12-credit semesters).
Consequently, you're seeing more and more players, like Manti this past year, pick up their degree in December, and then use what would have been their second semester senior year (January through May) preparing for the draft.
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I've got to imagine the Notre Dame degree by December of your senior season (leaving the spring thereafter completely open for NFL combine prep) is a huge selling point, especially as the program improves and the Irish send more players into the draft under the new coaching staff.
Tim Brown always points to the lengths of Notre Dame players' careers in the NFL compared to the length of time players from other schools spend in the NFL. As Notre Dame puts more talented players into the league again, I'm guessing Brown's research will become more prevalent again.
On the subject of Stephon Tuitt, there was a time when I thought he'd return for a senior season regardless of draft status. When I covered him along with other Irish recruits at the USvWorld game a few years ago through signing day, I always thought it was a tad odd that his mother wasn't present at the event or the game, or anything during the week leading up to the game. I think he traveled with his grandmother. Maybe his mom was busy, but still, that's a pretty big deal, and she wasn't there.
Then I read all of the coverage about him leading up to last year's BCS Championship game, and it made sense - his mother just doesn't care about football. At all. So I always thought he'd return for a fourth season to finish his degree no matter what.
Now, I'm not as convinced he stays. I think he could be a top 10 pick if he stays healthy this season and plays at about 290-300 pounds and carries it well. The guy is a freak, and he's the kind of player that doesn't come through NFL drafts very often, much less Notre Dame.
I don't know if anyone has heard much about Lawrence Okoye, but he's the British discuss thrower and rugby player who turned some heads with his NFL workouts and earned a roster spot with the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh on Okoye: "He's just an Adonis. Just a great physical specimen of a man. I can think of some other adjectives. Our Creator created a beautiful man."
Notes on Okoye's workout: "Okoye is 6-foot-6, 305 pounds. He reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.88 and 4.78 seconds while posting a 10-foot-5 broad jump and a 35-inch vertical jump this week at a combine at Cowboys Stadium."
Now, I don't know if Tuitt is capable of a 10-5 broad jump or a 35-inch vertical. Those are impressive numbers for a man that size, no doubt. The guy is a true athlete. But I'm not putting it past Tuitt to test those numbers, especially that 40 time. I think he might be one of the more talked about players at the combine if healthy, and when you add Tuitt's experience - a guy that could legitimately play a couple of positions along an NFL defensive line, he stands to make a ton of money within a year from now. It's a good think teams got a jump on offensive tackles in this year's draft because the top two guys next year might be defensive ends.
I think his return is 50-50 at best right now, and probably trending downward barring injury.
John, I’m not familiar with Tim Brown’s points on NFL career length for ND players vs. others. Is there a link to an article about that or a synopsis on his research/theory? Thanks
Unfortunately, I can't seem to find support of Brown's claims in writing anywhere. But I'm fairly certain that he's cited that statistic from his time serving on the NFLPA's executive committee.
IMO either Saban has been able to develop a "corporate culture" at Bama or the students, fans and faculty push it, but the folks down there seem to believe that winning the NC for Bama comes first, going pro second.
Kelly has stated the same thing. It is one of his core values.
We might start thinking about supporting Kelly in spreading the Word, this core value.
I don't know about the corporate culture at Alabama. They just flat-out reload. They've had eight players leave early for the NFL the past three years while ND has had only one (Kyle Rudolph). Guys like Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, Dee Miliner, Hightower...
Guys like Lacy and Fluker actually completed their senior year, so again, I don't consider them early entries, even though they are listed as such. If you put in four years and have your degree, you've done your hitch.
The foremost core value is graduating and receiving your degree. We will say this over and over: Louis Nix III is on pace to graduate either in December 2013 or May 2014. If he does, he would not be an "early departure" to the NFL even though he still could exercise a fifth-year option. Fluker and Lacy could have come back for a fifth year at Alabama in 2013, too. It was time to move on with life instead, in their opinion, and who can blame them?
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