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Friday Jan.27 Coffee

  • here's a new scarlet 'A' and it stands for academics.

    And just as in Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic, "The Scarlet Letter," high school seniors who don't get qualifying grades are scaring off college football coaches who otherwise would be interested in offering scholarships.

    "Every high school coach wants to find the scenario that's best for their kids," Martin County coach Chuck Kenyon said. "Trying to help get kids to the next level is an art and a science in itself.

    "It's a lot harder if they don't have the grades."

  • From Another Board: Why can't Everett Golson play basketball?

    he ND basketball program is emerging as a national power similar to Boise State in football. Why can't he play for a couple months? With Golson, we become even better. No one gets ranked in Spring football. Brey has been giving ND fans something to cheer about over the last 10 years. Let's give him another weapon.

  • Rumor has it, grades are an issue. Not flunking out issue but struggling.

  • In the Film Room: Will Mahone

    Running back was a big need for the Notre Dame in the Class of 2012. The Irish needed quantity and quality in this class. Early on Notre Dame identified Ohio running back Will Mahone (Austintown, Ohio/Fitch) as one of the top backs on its board. In September, Mahone committed to Notre Dame, giving the Irish staff the kind of physical back it needed to replace what Robert Hughes and Jonas Gray gave the offense over the last two seasons. Mahone is a skilled all-around back that can do it all. He is a productive runner, he is physical, he can make big plays, he catches the ball well out of the backfield, and he has already proven to be a capable blocker. That versatility makes Mahone a valuable prospect, one that can actually line up in the same backfield with some of Notre Dame’s smaller backs. Mahone is also a tough football player that was also an all-conference and all-state linebacker during his career. As a running back Mahone averaged 7.3 yards per carry and proved capable of ripping off big plays. His toughness, athleticism, and versatility is why Mahone was offered by schools like Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

    SIZE/BODY/DURABILITY

    Mahone is a well-built running back that has ideal size for the Irish offense. He is a squatty back that is on the shorter side at 5-foot-11, allowing him to run with naturally good leverage. Yet Mahone is tall enough to see over the line before and after the snap. Mahone has a thick lower body and is well-built through his shoulders. High school defenders often bounce right off of him when they try to tackle him from the waist up. With his frame he should be able to carry around 225 pounds and gain the necessary strength and girth to grind defenses at the next level. The Fitch standout runs with good power and possesses an outstanding leg drive. He does a good job bulling forward when defenders step in front of him and he is able to kick his legs high and strong when defenders try to bring him down from behind. Mahone is hard to bring down in space by just one defender. He does a good job of quickly dipping his shoulder and driving through defenders in space. His power and strength allows him to constantly pick up yards after contact, something Notre Dame needs more of. The Irish offense should serve to exploit Mahone’s strength and power much the way it did Hughes and Gray. Mahone got banged up a couple of times in high school, which is a cause for concern. His toughness is in question, and the hope is once he stops playing both ways he will be able to hold up better for the Irish. At the very least Mahone should be able to develop into a strong short-yardage and goal line runner for the Irish. At best he could develop into a 20-touch workhorse that can punish opposing defenses, a perfect counter to Notre Dame’s spread passing attack.

    ATHLETIC ABILITY

    Although he lacks ideal speed, Mahone is actually an explosive power back. He has an excellent initial burst that allows him to quickly attack downhill. In fact, Mahone had a faster 10-yard dash time than fellow Notre Dame recruit Chris Brown, a player known for excellent speed. Brown ran a 4.44 during a summer Under Armour event and was timed at 1.59 during the first ten yards. Mahone ran just a 4.76 at the same event but finished with a 1.58 time during the first ten yards. While his lack of a second gear will prevent him from being a game-breaker, his outstanding initial burst allows him to excel as a pure between-the-tackles running back. Mahone’s quick burst allows him to quickly get to the second level on his way to big gains. He has enough speed to get to the perimeter in Notre Dame’s stretch and quick pitch schemes, so his lack of ideal speed will not prevent him from running the entire Irish offense.

    For a bigger back that runs with such authority, Mahone is a relatively nimble runner that does a very nice job staying light on his feet. He possesses good quickness and agility. He can quickly plant and explode vertically. Mahone is not a player that does much dancing in space, but he has strong agility and can make quick cuts away from defenders in space. The 215-pound back has relatively fluid hips and changes direction with ease. This makes him harder to bring down in space, something that combines quite nicely with his power. His balance and footwork allows him to quickly cutback in the zone and to quickly bounce the ball out to the perimeter. His excellent burst and agility is what makes him a great fit for the Irish offense. It will allow Mahone to excel in Notre Dame’s zone schemes and should allow him to quickly develop into a strong short-yardage and goal line runner. Mahone also has a nifty spin move which he is able to dial up quickly in space, allowing him to break free in tight quarters as he picks up extra yards. Mahone is quick and compact with his spin move and is able to quickly regain his balance and continue vertically. His ability to quickly run the ladder is another trait that will allow him to attack the perimeter of the defense. Mahone does not possess ideal lateral quickness, although that does not affect him much as a running back.

    SKILLS/TECHNIQUE

    Mahone shows good patience in the backfield and does a nice job letting blocks set up. Once he commits he is able to quickly get downhill through the line. This will allow Mahone to excel in the zone schemes for Notre Dame. Mahone possesses good vision behind the line and he anticipates well. Despite being a thicker back with broad shoulders, Mahone has a unique ability to get narrow as he attacks between the lines in the zone schemes. This allows him to get through creases that a back with his size should not be able to run through. When he does this Mahone does a nice job of keeping a good base, allowing him to maintain his power. He has to be more consistent with his decision making, especially with a lead blocker in front of him. At times Mahone will commit to soon and runs into a closed lane or misses the hole. As he gains more experience he will become a better decision maker.

    The Fitch standout has been coached relatively well at the high school level but he will have to work to become more efficient with his technique. He takes too many false steps in the backfield and can get out of rhythm with his footwork. This will allow him to attack with better timing in the zone schemes, creating even more room to run through. Running with better timing is one way for Mahone to improve running behind blockers and improve his decision making. The reason for this is timing up the plays better will allow Mahone to be at the proper depth as the blocks develop, which allows him to better see what is happening. Mahone runs with good pad level and does a good job protecting the football between the tackles. I like how Mahone keeps the ball tight to his body as he attacks through the line. He even runs with the ball tightly tucked to his ribs when he is running on the perimeter. With his strength and technique, Mahone should be very good at protecting the football at the next level. Mahone has a solid stiff arm but must learn to be more forceful with it as well as learning to be more accurate with where he shoots his hand.

    PASS GAME

    Mahone has the potential to excel in the pass game in the Notre Dame offense. He has the ability to make plays out of the backfield and has shown the willingness and ability to block well. Mahone has good hands and does a nice job catching the ball away from his body. He has good body control and can quickly adjust to poorly thrown balls. Once he makes the catch he does a nice job of quickly squaring up and getting downfield. Mahone has also shown the ability to make solid catches down field on seam routes and wheel routes. His quickness and instincts should allow him to develop into a solid route runner out of the backfield, making him a hard player for linebackers to defend. The power he possesses in space will also present cornerbacks with serious problems when he gets the ball in the flats. With his size and strength he should develop into a strong blocker, but he will need work on his technique and with his assignments.

    OVERALL

    Landing Mahone was big for the Irish. With players like Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, George Atkinson, Cam McDaniel, and now USC-transfer Amir Carlisle the Irish have plenty of athletes in the backfield. But none of those players are physical runners that excel at pounding teams between the tackles. That is the role that made Robert Hughes so effective late in the 2010 season. It is also the role Jonas Gray served last season, although Gray was a much better all-around runner than Hughes. Mahone can be that type of player. He has enough speed and athleticism to rip off big gains between the tackles and on the perimeter. He also has the power and toughness to pound the ball between the tackles. If he reaches his potential he has the ability to be a full-time ball carrier for the Irish, one that will force defenses to keep its safeties thinking more about the run game in the box. This will open up Notre Dame’s big play pass game even more, something fans saw during the first half of the 2011 season. After he committed Mahone worked hard to try to get other talented running backs to commit to the Irish. This shows he is a team player and is by no means afraid of competition. Mahone is a high character young man that should be able to provide leadership as he develops as a player. With the transfer of Carlisle and the commitment of Mahone the Irish backfield now looks to be in very good shape moving forward.

    GRADES

    Size: 89 (Ideal height, strong build, thick lower body, should be able to carry 225 pounds)
    Strength/Power: 87 (Runs with good pad level, good leg drive, finishes off runs with authority)
    Speed: 80 (Has a great initial burst, lacks second gear and breakaway speed)
    Athletic Skills: 85 (Good balance, explosive agility, fluid hips, light on his feet)
    Vision: 80 (Sees holes well, makes defenders miss at the line and on the second level)
    Technique: 77 (Solid foundation but must be more efficient with his movements)
    Pass Catching: 83 (Good hands, experienced catching the ball, legitimate chain moving threat)
    Intangibles: 85 (High character young man, has some leadership qualities, competitive)
    Upside: 4
    Overall Grade: 4

    GRADE KEY

    90-100 – Elite/Exceptional: Skill set is rare and gives prospect ability to dominate
    80-89 – Very Good/Outstanding: Skill set is a significant strength
    70-79 – Average: Skill set is solid, not a significant weakness
    60-69 – Below Average: Skill set is not a strength for this player and could become a liability
    50-59 – Very Poor: Prospect does not possess this trait and it is a definite liability

    OVERALL/UPSIDE GRADE KEY

    5 – Elite: Player is one of the best players at his position nationally, potentially dominant
    4 – Very Good/Outstanding: Player is a potential standout and starter, could also play early
    3 – Solid: Player is a potential contributor, could eventually start down the road
    2 – Below Average: Player does not possess the talent to be a significant contributor
    1 – Poor: Let’s be honest, Notre Dame is not going to bring in anyone with a one!!

    SKILL SET EXPLANATIONS

    Some of these skill sets are self-explanatory (size, speed, strength) while others might not be. Some will be similar for each position but not entirely the same; athletic skills being one. For a wide receiver it will cover things like foot quickness, hips, leaping ability, etc. For a defensive tackle it will include things like initial quickness/burst, balance, and closing speed. These things will be discussed within the text of the film evaluation so if you are unclear you can clearly go through that part of the film evaluation.

  • Twitter Revolution Continues With DirectSnap

    Over the last decade, the internet has transformed the world of college football recruiting.

    Twitter is one of the most recent revolutions, but the most recent innovation debuted five weeks before National Signing Day 2012.

    DirectSnap.com is a tool that tries to consolidate recruiting information on Twitter for users.

    “This is a brand-new recruiting tool that could be very beneficial and interesting for people who follow Notre Dame recruiting and college football recruiting in general,” one of the site’s co-founders, Drew Roberts said.

    “How it works is we have a contract with Twitter where we download and instantly access all tweets talking about the top football recruits, we take the top 300-400 in each recruiting class. Anytime that somebody mentions one of these recruits on Twitter, it shows up on our website.”

    Users can filter tweets either by individual prospects or their favorite teams and see all of the relevant items.

    For example, Irish fans could look at all recruiting tweets regarding Notre Dame or Arik Armstead or Irish Sports Daily.

    “Notre Dame fans love recruiting and have such a huge following base,” Roberts said.

    Soon, the site hopes to allow users the option of only seeing those tweets by experts.

    “If you don’t want to see what the fans are saying about a recruit, there’s going to be a filter option where you can filter just to the top users, so it’ll be all of the experts and then the power sources for that topic,” said Roberts.

    Visitors of the site will see several different trending topics as well as personalized options like recently visited, most visited and favorites. Users don’t need active Twitter accounts to use the site, but those who do can log in via their account and tweet from the site.

    There’s also a pop-out screen application that opens another window, allowing users to navigate the internet while keeping real-time information ready.

  • ND Offers Top 2013 OLB
    Notre Dame assistant coach Mike Denbrock has been very busy this week out in California.

    First, Denbrock did in-home visit with top 2012 prospect Arik Armstead, then he stopped by Mission Viejo to offer 2013 safety Max Redfield, but he didn't stop there.

    On Thursday, Denbrock stopped by De La Salle in Concord, Calif., to check in on another top 2013 prospect, Michael Hutchings.

    The 6-foot-2, 220-pound outside linebacker has already received offers from Oklahoma, USC, Miami, Michigan, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Tennessee, UCLA and Washington.

    The California native was surprised by Denbrock's visit, but he wasn’t surprised with the news he had for him.

    "I wasn't really expecting him to stop out here, but he was recruiting in California this week, and he wanted to stop by and let me know I had an offer," he said. "I've been talking with Coach Denbrock a lot lately, so I thought an offer could be coming soon."

    Notre Dame was a school Hutchings was waiting to receive an offer from, and now that he has that offer, he plans to seriously consider the Irish.

    "Notre Dame is a school anyone would love to get an offer from, I'm really glad to have them as an option now," he explained. "When you combine the academics and the football, it's a school you have to take a look at. When you say, I have an offer from Notre Dame, it gets people's attention."

    While Hutchings is still open to all suitors, he does have a list of schools he's favoring early on.

    "I'm still open to everyone, but I really like USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington," he stated. "I really like what those schools have to offer on the field and in the classroom."

    Hutchings is yet to visit the Notre Dame campus, but that should change.

    "Notre Dame is a school I'll definitely visit," said Hutchings. "Coach Denbrock told me about their junior day but I don't think I can make it. It might be a little hard to take a visit out there now, but I'll eventually get out there, even if I have to wait and use an official visit."

    The First Team All-State performer was hoping to make a decision sometime during the summer.

    "I wanted to be committed before next season, but with all these new options I have and all the coaching changes, I want to see how things play out," he said. "Waiting could help me get an idea about these new coaches and I can survey the field and see how the competition is."

  • Mailbag time: Recruiting ramblings, SEC fascination, offensive line concerns and money (oh, the money)

    As for how the facilities stack up to other schools, I’d say they’re probably on par with most ACC schools but, like you’d expect, not on the same level as the big boys of the SEC. Then again, nobody, save for a few of the big-name programs around the country like Texas or Ohio State or Oregon or Notre Dame, have the kind of facilities to match those schools. When I covered Auburn, the school built a $16.5 million indoor facility without even blinking an eye. Tennessee did likewise a year earlier, with impressive results. Tech is still securing donations, from what I've been told.

    Mailbag time: Recruiting ramblings, SEC fasci

    Lots of questions to get to in today's mailbag. But first, some recruiting quick hitters: * Brookville DTis supposed to make his official visit to Blacksburg this weekend. He's down to Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland and

    http://hamptonroads.com/2012/01/mailbag-time-recruiting-ramblings-sec-fascination-offensive-line-concerns-and-money-oh-money