Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

Ok folks, it's not time to hit the panic button just yet with our verbal commitments. Yes all the rumors swirling around about Omar Hunter are spreading like wildfire on every internet chat board. I guess we have heard it all from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and, yes, our favorite one of them all, ESPN. The latter got a quip from Omar's high school coach. Here's what was said by Jess Simpson via ESPN:

Irish defensive tackle pledge Omar Hunter shopping around
According to ESPN's Craig Haubert and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Under Armour All-American Omar Hunter is seriously looking at Florida and USC.
His high school coach, Jess Simpson, went as far to call Florida, "a more likely alternative to Notre Dame," in the Journal-Constitution's article.
Simpson added, "I don't think it was so much the season they [Notre Dame] had. I think he's just starting to reconsider where he's going to school and how far away it is and the weather and the climate, and how easy it is for his family to come see him."

First off, you would think Omar will easily scratch off USC, because Los Angeles is a lot farther than South Bend from Georgia. Secondly, I don't recall Hunter complaining about the weather and the climate when he visited for the Air Force game. The drive up to South Bend is not that hard if you're driving up from the South. Let's see, I recall such parents, like Bert Berry's mom making the drive from Texas to watch her son play. She never once talked about the difficulty of making it to watch her future Pro Bowler every home game.

Now let's backtrack a little bit after the Stanford game to piece together why this situation might be looking the way it is right now. After the Irish's win over the Cardinal, Charlie Weis and Co., took to the road visiting most of their verbal commits and some of their potential targets.

First let me list all the 22 verbal commitments that we have as of today:
QB - Dayne Crist (Sherman Oaks, CA)
RB - Jonas Gray (Beverly Hills, MI)
WR - Michael Floyd (St. Paul, MN)
WR - John Goodman (Ft. Wayne, IN)
TE - Joseph Fauria (Encino, CA)
TE - Kyle Rudolph (Cincinnati, OH)
OL - Braxston Cave (Mishawaka, IN)
OL - Lane Clelland (Owings Mills, MD)
OL - Mike Golic, Jr. (West Hartford, CT)
OL - Trevor Robinson (Elkhorn, NE)
DE - Sean Cwynar (McHenry, IL)
DE - Ethan Johnson (Portland, OR)
DT - Omar Hunter (Buford, GA)
DT - Brandon Newman (Louisville, KY)
DT - Hafis Williams (Elizabeth, NJ)
LB - Steven Filer (Dolton, IL)
LB - Darius Fleming (Chicago, IL)
LB - Anthony McDonald (Sherman Oaks, CA)
LB - David Posluszny (Aliquippa, PA)
CB - Robert Blanton (Matthews, NC)
CB - Jamoris Slaughter (Stone Mountain, GA)
S - Dan McCarthy (Youngstown, OH)

Now here is where it gets a little interesting. Weis and some of his assistants went out across the country for three weeks, starting Nov. 25 through December 15, right before the dead period in recruiting begins; which was this past Monday, December 17. Below I will list recruiting visits by week:

Week One (November 25 - December 1)
Joseph Fauria (visited by Weis on Sunday, Nov. 25)
Dayne Crist and Anthony McDonald (visited by Weis on Monday, Nov. 26)
Kenneth Page (visiting by John Latina and Bill Lewis on Monday, Nov. 26)
Brandon Newman (visited by Corwin Brown on Tuesday, Nov. 27)
Hafis Williams (visited by Latina on Tuesday, Nov. 27)
Robert Blanton (visited by Lewis on Tuesday, Nov. 27)
Ethan Johnson (visited by Weis on Wednesday, Nov. 28)
Jamoris Slaughter (visited by Brown and Lewis on Wednesday, Nov. 28)
John Goodman (visited by Brown on Thursday, Nov. 29)
Gerell Robinson (visited by Weis on Thursday, Nov. 29)
Dan McCarthy (visited by Brian Polian on Saturday, Dec. 1)
Datone Jones (visited by Weis and Polian)*
Cyrus Gray (visited by Rob Ianello)*
Steve Filer (visited by Ianello)*
Sean Cwynar (visited by Ianello)*
Darius Fleming (visited by Ianello)*
John Goodman (visited by Ianello)*

Week Two (December 2 - December 6)
Brandon Newman (visited by Jappy Oliver on Monday, Dec. 3)
Datone Jones (visited by Brown on Monday, Dec. 3)
Gerell Robinson (visited by Ianello on Tuesday, Dec. 4)
Milton Knox (visited by Polian on Tuesday, Dec. 4)
Kenneth Page (visited by Weis on Tuesday, Dec. 4)
Robert Blanton (visited by Weis on Wednesday, Dec. 5)
Deion Walker (visited by Weis and Ron Powlus on Thursday, Dec. 6)
Michael Floyd (visited by Ianello on Thursday, Dec. 6)
Steve Filer (visited by Brown)*
Darius Fleming (visited by Brown)*
Sean Cwynar (visited by Brown)*

Week Three (December 9 - December 15)
Gerell Robinson (visited by Oliver and Mike Haywood on Monday, Dec. 10)
Jonas Gray (visited by Weis on Tuesday, Dec. 11)
Trevor Robinson (visited by Weis on Thursday, Dec. 13)
(* = Date of visit is not known)

So out of the 22 verbal commitments, six were not visited during that three week stretch (Kyle Rudolph, Braxston Cave, Lane Clelland, Mike Golic, Jr., David Posluszny, and Omar Hunter). What makes this more intriguing is the fact that during that three week period, none of the coaches made visits to other Tight Ends (Rudolph) or Linebackers (Posluszny). They did make trips for more offensive linemen, which was a given and eventually got Trevor Robinson to come aboard last week. One thing that does stick out is that the Irish coaches did visit some possible replacements for the defensive line (Datone Jones, twice). Kapron Lewis-Moore wasn't visited, to my knowledge, but was frequently contacted by Irish coaches during that time.

So is there something during that time frame that made Irish coaches not visit Hunter? Or is there a reason why they are on the recruiting trail for another defensive lineman? Who knows? I'm trying not to speculate too much about this, but it makes you wonder. What I do know is that Charlie is firmly standing still on his policy of, if you're looking, we're looking too! Eventually, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Weis did, IN FACT, make a visit to Hunter's practice on Dec. 11 before Buford played in the State Championship game. Just in time before the dead period began. Unfortunately for that visit, Weis didn't get too much ground with Hunter. Omar kinda of blew off Charlie a little bit. During that day, he was in Detroit meeting Jonas and assuring his pledge to the Irish. That's when word broke out about a certain university's visit to Buford and that Omar sought out his attention. Charlie then went down to Buford to make a surprise visit. Which now brings me to my next point.

During that three week stretch, around that first week of recruiting visits, Florida Associate Head Coach John "Doc" Holliday went up to Buford, Georgia, to seek out T.J. Pridemore, a current 3 star fullback, linebacker. During that visit, it has been RUMORED, yes RUMORED, that Omar Hunter sought out Holliday about the University of Florida. Whether this visit was ordered by the Poacher to lure Hunter away from the Irish is not known, I wouldn't put it past him (i.e.; Justin Trattou).

Florida is looking at Pridemore at fullback, but T.J. is deadset on playing linebacker at the next level. His hopes of playing in the NFL, he believes, is on the defensive side. There has been more RUMORS, that Omar is seeking out Florida to help out his buddy. Yeah, wishful thinking!

Now, we come to the present. Omar Hunter is still verbally committed to the Irish. He plans on visiting Gainesville around January 11 or 12, after his All-Star game; where he will be rooming with current verbal commit, Braxston Cave. Hopefully Braxston can sway Hunter's focus back to the Irish. These are young kids that are not only making a big decision for education, but they are making decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives!

Lastly, I was watching the movie, The Sandlot, last night and heard a quote that I felt was quite relevant to the Irish recruiting. "Heroes get remembered, but LEGENDS never DIE! Follow your heart kid, and you'll never go wrong". Omar could be a hero at Florida, but here, at Notre Dame, he'll be a LEGEND!

Follow your heart Omar. You're very much needed and wanted here in South Bend; that's for sure!

As for my loyal readers, have a safe and Happy Holiday Season. I'll be going on a little hiatus until after the New Year, unless there is some major news to report on. Merry Christmas and always, GO IRISH!

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