Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bloodlines

The season that never stops, recruiting, finally made a splash for Notre Dame fans Saturday with the first verbal commit of the 2009 recruiting class. The name and the lineage ought to be familar: Jake Golic (left), son of Notre Dame lineman and ESPN Radio personality Mike, will be joining his older brother Mike, Jr. and following in the footsteps of his father and two uncles (All-American linebacker Bob and offensive lineman Greg) to join the Fighting Irish. It seemed like Jake's big goal, if he couldn't trump his older brother by committing while on a trip to Italy, was to rival Kerry Neal in shortest time span between offer and commitment:
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Golic received word from his high school coach at around 3 Saturday afternoon that Weis wanted to talk to him. By 3:10, moments after Weis extended an offer, Golic's ticket was punched.

"As soon as those words left his mouth," Golic said, "I was 100 percent on board with Notre Dame."
Unlike Neal, who'd never even seen the campus except via celluloid (Rudy), Golic has been surrounded by all things Notre Dame for as long as he can remember, and should (like his brother) serve as a welcome link between the past and present for a school which prides itself on legacies.

Looking at it from a football perspective, the fifth Golic to don the blue and gold has solid credentials but hasn't gotten enough hype to become one of those "instant impact" types that send Tom Lemming and Alan Wallace into a frenzy. Even his actual body frame is an open question - the South Bend Tribune stated his measurables as 6-5, 220. Rivals says he's 6-4, 202. Scout claims he's 6-5, 212. Ask Golic himself, and he says he'd like to be around 240 when he starts college. So at least he knows there's some bulking up to be done, which is a great thing because going off of the above photo, I'd say it's hard to fathom Jake weighs more than 200 pounds. Although he hasn't yet been judged by the all-knowing star rankings on either Scout or Rivals, he was among the invitees to the Junior Combine held in San Antonio during this year's Army HS All-American Game (Mike, Jr. and a few other future Domers were there too). He left an impression on the evaluators, receiving honorable mention at the Wide Receiver/Tight Ends position.

For the moment, score an important point in the tight end column for the Irish, who are currently facing an acute shortage of bodies at the position (just one true TE, Mike Ragone, is practicing right now, with the possibility of Luke Schmidt converting to the position and Will Yeatman out until fall due to his DWI-related suspension). Come fall the Irish should not only get Yeatman, the presumptive starter, back but also add a pair of dynamite freshman in Kyle Rudolph and Joseph Fauria. Where Golic fits into that mix from the 2009 season on remains to be seen, but it sure appears that he could be durable enough, in the John Carlson mold, to be split wide in many of Charlie Weis' preferred five receiver sets.



A year ago, Weis and the Irish staff came out guns blazing on the recruiting trail, adding the elder Golic brother before the end of February. Rudolph, Braxston Cave, John Goodman, Sean Cwynar, David Posluszny, and Anthony McDonald all followed before Blue-Gold Weekend. Less than 48 hours after that spring scrimmage the Irish had verbals from Dayne Crist, Darius Fleming, and Fauria. Throw in Hafis Williams, Lane Clelland, Brandon Newman, Steve Filer, Dan McCarthy, Ethan Johnson, Jamoris Slaughter & Robert Blanton all committing before the end of July, and the class was essentially full before the start of fall camp, allowing the Irish coaches the freedom to launch the full-court press on a select few to fill out the class (producing Mike Floyd, Jonas Gray, Trevor Robinson, Deion Walker, & Kapron Lewis-Moore). That avalanche of recruits and end of massive in-season recruiting likely won't be repeated this coming year, unless there's a bunch of commitments over the summer.

While it might be easy as an Irish fan to assume the worst - that this lack of activity on the recruiting front is a sign the Irish are starting to feel the full brunt of the 3-9 catastrophe - it's worth pointing out that the quiet recruiting up to this point also signals a staff that's not desperately scrambling for anybody willing to jump on board. When asked about the slow progress in 2008 recruiting compared to the year before, wideouts coach and recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello had this comment for Johnny Irish Fan:
“Don’t be concerned, because we’re not concerned,” he said when asked what he would tell the worried fans. “Don’t be concerned, because they’ll have plenty to talk about as we go through the summer, okay?

“I feel good about where we are. We have a plan...and we’re working that plan, and we’re confident that the plan is going to pay the dividends that we’ve all been accustomed to around here.”
How the 2009 class stacks up against the previous three years of the Weis Era in terms of quantity and quality remains to be seen, but if past results are any indicator of future success, getting a pledge from a son of Mike Golic is a good way to start.

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