Category: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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Channeling his inner Bear, top-rated player in state of Alabama rolls with Tide

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Ben Davis‘ father is the all-time leading tackler in Alabama history.  After a bit of uncertainty and angst, the legacy is staying home.

At a much-anticipated announcement at his Gordo, Ala., high school, Ben Davis Jr. revealed that he will indeed be attending the University of Alabama.  And Davis made his revelation with a nod to the Tide’s past, donning a houndstooth hat to confirm his commitment to the legendary Bear Bryant’s former program.

In addition to Bama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame were in the linebacker’s final five.

Not only was Davis the top-rated player in the state of Alabama, he is the No. 5 player at any position in this year’s class according to Rivals.com.

CFT Previews: National Signing Day

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during pregame warmups prior to facing the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Many in college football refer to National Signing Day simply as Christmas, as there’s some truth to that. There’s zero doubt the biggest day on the sport’s calendar between the closing of one season and the beginning of another is the first Wednesday in February. That day happens to be tomorrow.

With Signing Day upon us, here’s a quick rundown of the biggest storyline heading into tomorrow’s festivities:

– Where does Rashan Gary land? Gary is the Class of 2016’s answer to Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive tackle standing 6-foot-5, weighing in at 290 pounds and running like a gazelle with his hooves on fire. The Paramus, N.J., holds offers from just about everybody, but has whittled his list down to just Michigan and Clemson. Rivals’ No. 1 overall player will make his announcement from the SportsCenter studio during the 1 p.m. ET hour on ESPN2.

– How do the Tide and Trojans close? Since 2008, the only programs to claim Rivals’ No. 1 classes are USC (2010 and 2015) and Alabama (every other year). As of this writing, Alabama ranks ninth, while USC is 33rd. However, the Tide claims only 17 commitments at this time, while USC sits with just 13 in Clay Helton‘s first class as head coach. It’s safe to say Alabama will make its name known among the top five by the time the final fax rolls in Wednesday evening. USC is much more of a wild card.

– And what about Texas? Since Rivals started ranking recruiting classes in 2002, Texas has finished in the top 25 14 times in 14 chances. What’s more, the ‘Horns have ranked among the top 20 13 times and in the top 5 seven times. Which is why, to the uninformed, Charlie Strong could already be on his way out of town with a class ranked 39th, one spot above noted football power Oregon State. But Texas is set to close on a number of prospects — even landing an unexpected commitment in four-star running back Kyle Porter — earlier today and could rocket up the rankings throughout the day on Wednesday.

– Who signs the No. 1 class? As we established earlier, no team has claimed Rivals’ recruiting national championship since Nick Saban‘s first class way back in 2007, when Urban Meyer and Florida, fresh off their first national championship together, edged out USC. Fast forward nearly a decade… and Meyer again has a chance to win another recruiting title, this time for Ohio State. The Buckeyes lead the pack heading into Signing Day, but LSU, Florida State, Ole Miss, Michigan, Notre Dame, Clemson and, yes, Alabama are hot on their scarlet-and-gray heels.

Notre Dame confirms transfer of TE Tyler Luatua

<> during the second half at Fenway Park on November 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Fighting Irish defeat the Eagles 19-16.
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The reports of Tyler Luatua‘s departure from South Bend have proven accurate. The only thing now remaining is whether his landing spot is accurate as well.

Via Twitter Monday night, Notre Dame confirmed that Luatua (pictured, No. 13) will indeed transfer from Brian Kelly‘s Irish football program and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. Whether that will be at BYU, as has been reported, remains to be seen.

Luatua would have to sit out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he lands at BYU or any other FBS program. He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

A three-star member of Notre Dame’s 2014 recruiting class, Luatua was rated as the No. 12 tight end in the country and the No. 52 player at any position in the state of California. He played in 20 games for the Irish, but never caught a pass.

Notre Dame’s Tyler Luatua transferring to BYU

<> during the second half at Fenway Park on November 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Fighting Irish defeat the Eagles 19-16.
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It appears that Notre Dame’s tight end loss will be BYU’s gain.

What has been known is that Tyler Luatua (pictured, No. 13) has been rumored to be actively seeking a transfer from the Fighting Irish. What has also been heavily rumored is that Luatua is seriously considering a transfer to the Cougars of BYU.

While nothing is officially official, a prominent BYU blogger is reporting that Luatua will indeed be continuing his collegiate career at Brigham Young University.

Luatua would have to sit out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he lands at BYU or any other FBS program. He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

A three-star member of Notre Dame’s 2014 recruiting class, Luatua was rated as the No. 12 tight end in the country and the No. 52 player at any position in the state of California. He played in 20 games for the Irish, but never caught a pass.

Was Notre Dame’s big rig recruiting visit an NCAA violation. Maybe. So what?

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2016, file photo, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly makes a call during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA College football game against Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. Kelly has agreed to a six-year contract to stay on as coach at Notre Dame through 2021, the school announced Friday, Jan. 29,2 016.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
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On Thursday morning Notre Dame parked its 18-wheel equipment truck out front of the home of five-star wide receiver Demetris Robertson. The photo of the truck at Robertson’s home did not take long to go viral among the college football world, but this is hardly a new stunt on the recruiting trail, nor will it be the last time a program does it. Heck, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi sent Pitt’s equipment truck on the road for a recruiting visit Friday morning as well. Of course, this recruiting strategy may have ruffled some feathers from rival programs who were quick to make note this may actually be a violation of NCAA rules.

The violation, a minor one at the most, would be from the act of promoting the visit by sharing an image of the truck on Twitter (NCAA bylaw 13.4.3.5) This would be deemed by some to be promoting the recruitment of a prospective student-athlete. It was another tweet that caught my eye, however.

Notre Dame offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford shared an image of the truck, which appeared to be parked in the same spot as Robertson’s own footage of the truck, suggesting the Irish were, technically, promoting the truck’s presence on a recruiting visit.Sanford later posted another image of the truck while it was in Georgia.

According to a report from Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, a Notre Dame spokesperson stated it was believed to be permissible to use the equipment truck as a mode of transportation. Of course, that would mean Sanford spent 908 miles in the truck from South Bend, Indiana to Savannah, Georgia.

The wording of the NCAA bylaw is open for some interpretation, as most seem to be.

NCAA bylaw 13.4.3.5: “Member institutions and their representatives of athletics interests are prohibited from financing, arranging or using recruiting aids (e.g., newspaper advertisements, bumper stickers, message buttons) designed to publicize the institution’s interest in a particular prospective student-athlete.”

If Notre Dame committed a recruiting violation, OK. the punishment for that violation would amount to little more than a mild slap on the wrist, probably. If that’s what it takes to win the commitment of a five-star wide receiver, I’m guessing newly extended Brian Kelly would be fine with it. The point of recruiting is to make the biggest impression when on the road, and bringing a massive equipment truck with you is just one way to leave a lasting impression that will be the talk of not just the recruit, but the town (and perhaps other future prospects at that school and nearby schools). Don’t think Notre Dame sent their equipment truck without a larger vision beyond just the recruitment of this one, talented recruit. Unless the NCAA sends out a memo saying no equipment trucks may travel certain distances are travel across state lines, we should be seeing more equipment trucks on the road in the recruiting season. If you’re not bringing it with you, you are not trying hard enough.

So don’t blame Notre Dame for sending its equipment truck to Georgia. Don’t blame Jim Harbaugh for sleeping over at the homes of recruits. Don’t blame any coach for thinking outside the box, because really all you are doing is admitting your coach didn’t think of it first and that upsets you on some level.