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Wednesday March 7 Coffee

  • Matuska Makes Two

    Jacob Matuska didn’t make a commitment during his visit to Notre Dame earlier this month for the Irish’s mini-Junior Day, but from the time the Irish extended an offer to the Ohio prospect last month, it was clearly a possibility.

    The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder from Bishop Hartley High School lives in Columbus, Ohio, but has always been a Notre Dame fan. Now he’s a member of the Notre Dame family.

    According to his father, Matuska offered his verbal commitment to Brian Kelly and his staff on Tuesday morning, giving the Irish their second commitment in the Class of 2013. Michigan offensive lineman Steve Elmer is the other.

    “He just made that call this morning,” Jim Matuska said. “We haven’t even talked to him since he made the call. He did it at school with Coach (Brad) Burchfield.

    “It’s very exciting with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Everybody feels pretty good today.”

    Matuska had offers from schools like Michigan, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Illinois, Nebraska and North Carolina State, but the Notre Dame offer was the one he’d been waiting for. He had visited Notre Dame in the past, but this weekend's visit to South Bend played a big part in his decision.

    “There were quite a few things that factored in,” Jim Matuska shared. “The time that we spent at Notre Dame this weekend with the coaches and just really, really, really getting a feel for everything, that all played a part, but in the end, it’s where he wanted to be in his heart for a while.”

    “Notre Dame has been the school that he’s followed and appreciated all along here. That was it in the end.”

    Things started becoming very clear after the visit and Jim Matuska had a chance to sit down with his son and discuss the future.

    “I told him to just think about putting on the uniform and coming out of the tunnel and asked him, ‘Where would you want to be? What colors would you want to be wearing? When you graduate, what degree would you want to have?’” Jim Matuska said. “I think that was the decision-maker, just the fact that it’s Notre Dame and it’s something that he’s felt in his heart since he grew up. I think that was probably the real deciding factor.”

    Some schools liked Matuska as a tight end, but the Irish like him at defensive end. More than anything, Matuska represents a ‘Big Skill’ prospect that Kelly and his staff so dearly covet in the Class of 2013.

  • Irish Evaluating Florida QB

    As Notre Dame continues its search for quarterback prospects in the Class of 2013, it’s clear the Irish are looking everywhere. The Irish have already extended a few offers, but they’re still evaluating other signal-callers as well.

    Kurt Benkert has earned offers from South Florida and Western Kentucky already and is looking for more. This season will be the first for the 6-foot-3, 197-pounder from Cape Coral, Fla., at Island Coast High School after transferring from Cape Coral High School.

    Benkert has talked with Irish assistant Tony Alford a few times recently and there seems to be legitimate interest on Notre Dame’s behalf.

    “He told me that they’re definitely recruiting me and I’m on their list, but the only thing with quarterbacks is that they want to see me throw in person,” Benkert said of Alford. “But he said he loved my highlight tape and everything and if it was up to that, he would offer me.”

    Benkert is fired up about hearing from a program like Notre Dame.

    “It’s pretty exciting because of the prestige they have,” he said. “I’m excited to learn more and I’m excited to visit there.”

    Benkert hasn’t set up a visit yet, but could make it to South Bend as early as this month.

    “I have to talk it over with my coach more,” said Benkert, who added he’d visit during the summer if he can’t make it in March.

    Benkert attends the same school that produced Aaron Lynch, although Benkert doesn’t know Lynch that well since this is his first year at Island Coast.

    Benkert was offered by USF head coach Skip Holtz in person and is also receiving interest from Florida State. He is enjoying seeing his recruitment go to a new level.

    “It’s really exciting just because I knew it was going to happen, I just didn’t know when,” he said. “I had people tell me, ‘It’s going to be hectic and everything come springtime.’ I was just waiting for it to happen.”

    Arm strength is one of Benkert’s biggest attributes.

    “I can drive the ball, I’ve got an arm,” he said. “I’m not the fastest kid on the field, but I can make plays with my feet. Whenever people watch my film, that’s usually what they comment on, my footwork. I throw really good deep outs and comebacks because I can drive the ball.”

    Benkert has already established a few factors that will be key in his final decision.

    “I want to go somewhere that’s more of a college town than anything,” he said. “I want to go somewhere with a traditional, established program. Location is going to be a factor because I don’t want to go somewhere that isn’t feasible for my family to come to games. My family is important. I want to go somewhere with a pro-style offense.”

    Benkert isn’t sure if South Bend would be too far away for him.

    “I haven’t really looked into it,” he said. “When I think far away, I’m thinking California far away.”

    He also isn’t exactly sure what type of offense he wants to play in.

    “I’ve gone back and forth about it,” he said. “I don’t want to be in a complete spread, but I definitely don’t want to go to a place that just runs the ball.”

    He does have an idea of when he’d like to make a decision.

    “We’re trying to get it done before the season starts,” he said. “If I can make it earlier, then so be it, but I’m not going to be one of those kids who goes back on my decision. I just want to make sure once it’s final, I’m done with it, but I don’t want to commit just to commit. Wherever I commit, that’s where I’m going to go.”

  • Johnson Sets ND Visit

    Even though the Notre Dame coaching staff just offered Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon/Belle Vernon, Pa.) last week, the two sides are already starting to get very familiar with each other.

    The 6-foot-6, 280-pound lineman has also received offers from Alabama, Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple, Tennessee, Toledo, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.

    The Pennsylvania prospect recently named a top three of Penn State, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, but he remains open to all other suitors.

    "I am familiar with those schools right now, but I'm still looking at all my options," he said. "Pittsburgh and Penn State are both close to home and I have great relationships with the coaching staffs. With West Virginia, I feel that's a program that is on the rise and I like the style of offense they run. I've been getting more offers recently and I definitely need to do my homework on each school.

    Of course, Johnson has a unique connection to the Notre Dame program.

    "My cousin, Scott Booker is a coach there, he's told me a lot of good things," he shared. "I also speak with Coach (Harry) Hiestand about how he sees me fitting in along the offensive line. They've been telling me that I need to make sure I get up there this spring for a visit."

    Johnson, who participated in the Irish's summer camp two years ago, is ready to get back to South Bend at the end of this month.

    "I'll be at Notre Dame on March 25th," he reported. "I'm going to be there for around three days. I'm looking forward to getting the chance to see the team up close. I've been there before, but I'm looking to get re-acquainted with everything."

    The four-star prospect has fond memories of his previous visit to Notre Dame and now he's hoping to learn even more.

    "I remember that it's a very beautiful campus, that's kind of small, everything is all together and not very spaced out," he described. "I really enjoyed my visit then, so I'm excited to see it now that I have an offer. The academics and sports they have are great, everything they do at Notre Dame is on a high-level, they expect greatness."

    Now that Johnson's recruitment is starting to take off, he's hoping to get an idea of the schools that are truly interested in him.

    "I'm trying to figure out what schools really want me," he noted. "You can get a pretty good idea from just talking with the coaches. I want to make sure I'm picking a school for all the right reasons."

    Does Notre Dame have a chance to move into Johnson's top group of schools?

    "They definitely have a chance, but we'll see how things go," said Johnson. "I'm not really sure how things will go, so that makes it hard to say."

  • Christian, Everett Golson or bust, really?

    I heard you say essentially this on today's Power Hour. You website guys are creating an expectation that is totally unfair and unfounded. The kid hasn't played a down, and yet he's expected to be the savior next year @ qb!

    How about expanding your horizon a bit and speak about Golson and Hendrix as the type of QB we need in the offense to provide more threats and a more diverse offense.

    This constant Golson or bust mentality by both fans and websites, sets up the kid for failure and worse yet, sets up ND for failure with potential recruits as well.

    You can say that it would be exciting to see him play but to imply that he has to be the guy is a big stretch.

    Let it all play out and let the best qb win the job. Right now, nobody knows who is going to start and it may turn out that it's not Golson.