Feb. 4, 2009
COACH WEIS: First of all, I apologize for being little bit late, but you guys all knew the big news and we had to wait for faxes to come in. There was a lot of ruckus over there in Hawaii, so we had to just wait till everything came through, and then get a rubber stamp from compliance. So we’ll get to that here in a second.
The class itself, we’ve got 17 young men from 11 different states: A couple from California, Connecticut, three from Florida, Illinois, two from Indiana, three from jersey, obviously Hawaii, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. We had three players that were mid year admits that are already enrolled in school, and that’s cornerback E.J. Banks and linebacker Zeke Motta and defensive lineman Tyler Stockton. I’ll be talking about each one of them individually here in a few minutes. They enrolled in January, and they are currently already taking classes and will participate in football as see fit.
We only brought in 27 guys for official visits to campus, and from them, obviously we got 17. That’s our success, when we bring a guy into campus here is 63 percent of the people who end up coming in here for visits end up coming to school here.
Now obviously I want to talk about our mid year admits but I would be remiss if I didn’t start with today’s news. In the last day, you’re always involved with a whole bunch of players that are going right down to the wire and they are picking between two, three, four schools at the last minute. And we are like everyone else involved in the bunch, but none that we wanted more or more high profile than Manti Te’o, Punahou and Coach Kale Ane, you know, everyone knows about Manti, played in the Under Armour Game, in the Hawaii Prep Game, was named 2008 High School Athlete of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today. Became the inaugural high school recipient of the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in the country.
You know, he’s considered one of the top players in the country. This is a linebacker that’s going to make an instant impact for us. He helped them capture their first state championship ever, and in that game he had eight tackles and a couple sacks and a forced fumble en route to a 38 7 victory there. He finished the year with 129 tackles and three forced fumbled and three interceptions, and he was just on the phone already politicking for some short yardage runs on offense. So, you know, he’s already looking to be the next AA player; I say that in jest.
We spent a lot of energy obviously to get over to Hawaii to get this kid, and we are just absolutely delighted that he joined us here today. He’s every bit of that 6 2, 225; that might not be doing him justice. He might be bigger than that. Having seen him in person multiple times, including having him here on our campus. You think about it, a kid from Hawaii, he comes to the Syracuse game in the snow, and ends up committing; it’s truly remarkable.
Okay, that being said, let’s go on to the three young men who came in in this class and enrolled in January on the first. E.J. Banks out of Pittsburgh, Montour High School, Coach Cerro. He’s made all state in both his junior and senior years. This guy has played offense, he’s played defense, he was a great high school quarterback. He played DB, as well. You know, they look at him as a special teams guy, as well, and rushed for over a thousand yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior and threw for over a thousand yards, as well. He played basketball and track in high school. He’s coming in here to play DB for us.
Although we have talked about, he’s very cognizant of the fact that in this class we are not bringing in a quarterback, as I have told all these guys. So we have a couple of internal candidates both currently on our team and are bringing in that it wouldn’t shock me if somewhere along the line they got a couple snaps at quarterback. But we are definitely bringing E.J. in to play DB for us.
He’s asked me to put the read option in by the way, as you notice. He had a knee during the season that he had repaired and he’s really progressing along very nicely.
Okay. The second young man, Zeke Motta, from Vero Beach, Coach Gary Coggin. By the way his dad, Bill Motta, was a defensive coordinator who really was very helpful in this whole process for us. He played in the All American game and he also played in the Hawaii Football Prep Classic, as well. He has size and athleticism to either play outside linebacker or safety for us. Very similar to Harrison Smith. Very similar in a lot of different ways. He tallied 137 tackles, eight for loss, three sacks during his senior year in Vero Beach. His first team all state as a senior, where we got to know this kid is he came to our summer camp last year, and that’s where we really were able to forge a very good relationship with both the kid and his dad and the arrow just pointed up from there. He really hit it off with our coaches and our players and we are very happy to have him here early.
The one true defensive lineman we brought in this year, last year we brought in five defensive linemen. This year we went light on numbers with Tyler Stockton being our one, true defensive lineman. Sometimes in recruiting, it’s cyclical. You load up one year, you go light the next year, and then you have to come out the next year and just load up again, which is what our game plan is.
With Tyler Stockton, he’s from the Hun School in New Jersey, Coach Dudeck. Here is a guy who has been coming to our camp for three years now, and just goes to show you, the more guys you can get your hands on in camp, you can start forging these relationships. It’s been great to watch him evolve over these three years. You know, I always joke with him about how his body has changed in the time frame that he’s been coming, but he’s turned in a true dynamic player. He reminds lot of Trevor Laws and how he plays, his body type and he gets off the ball. He reminds you a lot of him when you’re watching him.
He played in the Army All American game and he’s considered one of the best top defensive linemen in New Jersey, and also interior defensive linemen in the country, as well. He was named to numerous All American teams both as a junior and senior. This year he had 68 tackles but 24 of them for a loss, including he had 68 tackles and 24 tackles for loss, and also had nine sacks as a junior. We think he’s a dynamic player and he gets off the ball. He’s got good quickness and he uses his hands and here is another guy we are really happy to have our hands on as we go into the spring.
Okay. Getting the other two guys that we brought in on defense, Carlo Calabrese, another one of my jersey boys from Verona. Verona won a state championship. This is Anthony Fasano’s high school, and Anthony and Carlo know each other fairly well. Anthony was a sounding board when Carlo needed to talk to somebody. They have known each other for quite some time. He’s a physical middle linebacker who likes to hit. Although he plays basketball for Verona’s basketball team, I think he plays basketball like a middle linebacker, and wants to hit, as well. He’ll argue with me on that one. He’s a dynamic run stopper. He just likes contact. He played in that Hawaii Prep Classic, as well. He has great instincts for the ball. He knows what holes to fill. He had 131 tackles and three sacks as a senior, was named first team all state in New Jersey and New Jersey Defensive Player of the Year for this past year. There is another guy who attended our camp in the summer prior to his senior year where we really forged a relationship with. He’s a rocked up unit. He looks the part. He looks the part like he would be ready to go early in his career.
The other linebacker we brought in Dan Fox from St. Ignatius, obviously Coach Kyle, another athletic linebacker for us. He’s more of a outside lithe backer, more of a Sam type. He’s another guy who attended our summer camp prior to senior year. He’s another guy who plays basketball, as well, for St. Ignatius. He’s a member of the St. Ignatius High School State Championship Football in 2008, that finished ranked 12th nationally by the USA Today. He’s a former high school teammate of current player John Ryan and Robby Parris. We like the school and we like players that come out of the school that fit our mentality, and you know, this kid has got good size, good size for the outside linebacker position and we think that he’ll be able to compete for us, another guy that we think can compete at a relatively early age.
Flipping over to the offensive side of the ball, Alex Bullard, first of the three offensive linemen that we’ll talk about. I’ll just do them in alphabetical order. He is out of Brentwood Academy in Franklin, Tennessee for Coach Potter. We see him as an athletic offensive guard prospect for us. He was first team all state as a senior and led his high school to the class AAA state title as a junior. His dad was an offensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks for a bunch of years, and you can see where Alex is going to be a big young man when it’s said and done; not that he’s not big already. I really like the kid. He came here on his visit and we really clicked. Clicked with him and clicked with his folks, right off the bat. We assume, quickly after that, ended up forging a relationship that ended up working towards him coming here and we are really happy to have him here.
Zach Martin, out of Chatard, Bishop Chatard in Indianapolis. Perennially, Chatard is always one of the better high schools in the State of Indiana year in and year out. Here is a kid who played in the Under Armour Game down in Orlando. We see him as an offensive tackle prospect. He’s got good height and body frame. We think he’s going to be a big muchacho when it’s all said and done. This guy is a guy that you watch games and you see several pancake blocks. I know that during the senior year, their school let them down for 114 pancake blocks, and you don’t see too many times where an offensive lineman puts a defensive guy to his back. But this happened often with him. He was a member of the state championship team, both as a sophomore, as a junior. They didn’t win it all this year, but they are always playing for it. Type of guy that comes out of a great program. Our type of kid who seemed to mesh with our guys very quickly, as well as hit it off with our coaching staff.
Chris Watt, out of Glenbard West there in the outskirts there of Chicago. Played in the U.S. Army All American game, named to the USA Today All American team, Parade All American, he is another athletic offensive guard prospect. Considered one of the top prospects in the country. First team all state as a senior and also had over 100 pancake blocks as a senior, even though he missed two games. He helped Glenbard West to a 12 1 record in 2008. Played three different offensive positions and last year never gave up a sack. He comes from a football family with a brother that plays at Northwestern. Here is another guy that we have had a good relationship for quite some time and we are really happy to have him on board.
We have two tight ends we have brought in this year, Tyler Eifert from Fort Wayne, Bishop Dwenger, another athletic tight end. We have had some good luck bringing in some athletic tight ends. Here is a guy who got as much recognition for playing safety as he did for playing offense for them. He played safety, he played linebacker and played wide receiver and played tight end. We see him as a skill tight end, his first team all state. He had nine touchdowns on offense and 97 tackles, as well, including five interceptions, one returned for a touchdown on defense as a senior. He also plays hoops for Bishop Dwenger and played the team to a perfect record entering the state Championship Game in 2008. He was John Goodman’s teammate there at Dwenger. There is another guy we had in camp and he’s working out of camp. It was pretty obvious to see that he was the best of the people he was with that day and really stood out, which really got our attention and really pushed this thing along.
Jake Golic. Now these guys are both about the same size, they are both about 6 4, 220, with frames that are going allow them to be considerably bigger as they go through our program with Ruben. They participated in the All American game and U.S. Army game, first team all state there in Northwest Catholic in Avon, Connecticut for Coach Tyler. Caught 43 passes for 613 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, obviously his older brother, Mike, is a member of our team right now and his dad played here, his uncles played here, so it’s a big family deal. But he’s not here because he’s just a family guy. He attended our camp for three years in a row, and it was pretty obvious to us each year that he had gotten better and better and better and finally good enough for us to pull the trigger on and offer a scholarship to, and we are glad to have him on board.
Theo Riddick, when I talked to him this morning, I put a lot of pressure on him. He went to Immaculata High School, now this is out maybe about five minutes from where I grew up. Matter of fact, when I went to high school, all of the kids that went to Catholic high school went to his high school. So I told him, he has to represent central jersey. I said: Alls we have to do is here about north jersey and south jersey, we don’t hear about central jersey. So I put the onus of that responsibility squarely on his shoulders. He rushed for over 4,000 yards and 52 touchdowns in his choice career, played running back and DB, he’s a dynamic offensive skill player. He can play DB, as well. He’s an explosive running back with good footwork and balance. He gives you a lot of position and he flexibility because he can play in the back, you can put him in the slot. You can do a lot of things with him. He also played basketball for Immaculata. I really, really like this kid and I like this program. I’m glad to be able to get somebody out of my home turf, as well.
Cierre Wood, he’s a little bigger than Theo. Oxnard. Coach Fredette. He played in the All American Bowl in San Antonio. He was on the USA Today All American team, the Parade All American team. Considered one of the most explosive and top players in the country. He’s an explosive back that runs downhill and his footwork and balance, he’s also a dynamic kickoff returner. Senior year, he rushed for over 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns and caught eight passes for 182 yards, another four touchdowns. As a junior, he rushed for over 2,600 yards with 34 touchdowns. Helped lead his high school team to first division title in 42 years as a junior. Also plays hoops for Santa Clara, as well. We really got on this kid early. We like this kid. He jumped on board early, and he really helped us and was one of the integral parts of the recruiting process as we went through with this class.
As you know we only lost one wide receiver this year and that’s David Grimes to graduation. We replaced with him with Shaq Evans from Englewood, California. Englewood High School for Coach Mincy. We got on Shaq, because he’s got good size and speed. Selected to play in the All American game in the Hawaii Prep Classic, was considered one of the top wide receivers in the country. He’s a complete receiver with a combination of size and speed. He’s just a playmaker. The good thing about Shaq is he’s one of those guys who you guys will hate in the media because he doesn’t like to talk very much. But how he plays and how he talks are two totally different things. He’s a very quiet, reserved young man, until you get him on the football field and then all of a sudden something happens and it’s really fun to watch, because he’s a totally different player than he is his personality when you’re sitting in his living room.
We wrap this up, we had three specialists we brought in, one thing I’ve been very concerned with is our long snapping situation, so we went out and got a long snapper out of St. Thomas Aquinas, coach Smith. And obviously we started to forge a relationship back with Sam and Danny years ago, and they have got a great thing going down there in Plantation/Ft. Lauderdale/North Miami. One of the best high school programs in the country. He’s a good athlete. I can’t see any reason why when we open up on September 7, you know, he shouldn’t have a legitimate shot of being
our snapper and saying there for the next four years. I’m hoping that to be the case. We don’t give anything to anyone, but that’s what we are counting on. Made 370 long snaps during his four years at St. Thomas without an error, knock on wood, okay. 300 consecutive ones, without a bad snap. He was a member of the 2007 2008 Florida Class A state championship team.
Ben Turk is his high school teammate and as I mentioned before, Sam and Danny both played for Coach Smith at the same school. So we have a nice little thing going down there with this program that were state champions in Florida.
Considered one of best punters in the country was his high school teammate, Ben Turk, average 40 yards a punt in his career, and a lot of his punts were plus 50 punts. 14 of his 28 punts this year landed inside the 20 yard line as a senior. He’s a member of the same state championship teams.
It’s a good situation for us because they can work together this whole off season on snapping and punting and also at the same time, we like to have our punters be in a position where they could be potential holders for field goals. So we’ll be able to work on both those things with those guys at the same time. He’s got an uncle who has been a long snapper in the league for a long time. He’s been around for quite some time.
Nick Tausch, Jesuit High School in Plano, Texas. Played in the Hawaii Prep Classic, considered one of best kickers in the country. Made a couple of field goals over 50 yards this year, a 51 and 53 yards. Over half of his kickoffs this year resulted in touch backs which has been one of our biggest areas of concern for our team when it comes to kickoffs, especially with us kicking off further back than they do in high school. It’s interesting because he has a brother who signed with TCU today as an offensive lineman. He is a kicker. His brother is 280. So he’s 180, his brother is 280; that should have been an interesting day there at the Tausch house. His daddy, Terry, played offensive line in the NFL for eight years with the Vikings and one with the 49ers and has himself a Super Bowl ring on top of it.
But I think that with these three guys, both the long snapper and our punter and our kicker, we now have added some very quality competition to get on the field for us as we go into the season.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk about conversations you’ve had with the family
COACH WEIS: We had that long before he even talked about coming here many obviously Notre Dame is a big, big school and I think that we would be hypocritical being a faith based school to not to respect and honor somebody’s religion.
So back a long time ago, we talked about the possibility of his choosing to go on a mission which would either be a year or two years, okay, following his freshman year.
So his intent is to come in here and play, try to help us win as many games as we can this year, and then he will make a decision after that time to decide whether or not he wants to go on a mission or not, but this will it will be with our blessing if that what he decided to do. What that does, your clock then stops. Sort of like if you went into the military, your clock would stop.
So if he played his freshman year, and went on a mission for two years, would he come back in year four as a sophomore. We would respect his wishes, if that’s what he decided to do. He knew that long before he came here and one of the things we did with him when he came here was made sure he met with the local Bishop of the LDS Church, there’s professors here on campus that are Mormons and that’s actually a rather significant group of students that are Mormon, as well. He got a chance to visit with all of those people while he was here.
Q. When did you have a sense about what he was going to do?
COACH WEIS: Well, there was a string of phone calls in the last 24 hours that indicated that it was a good chance it was us. We knew that it was down after he eliminated BYU and Stanford, we knew it was USC, UCLA and us. But there were a string of phone calls, after Rob talked and one phone call, we got mid evening last night, I would say. Mid evening last night was him calling and just asking one question; well, you really think I’m going to have a chance to come in here and compete, which that’s a rhetorical question. But that’s what he asked.
And then in the middle of the night, his dad called up Brian, who has been drinking a lot of coffee lately, but his dad called up just to go over the scholarship papers where if you leave a school, your scholarship can be revoked, but that’s like if you transfer or if you quit; it’s not if you leave for a religious mission. But when somebody calls you in the middle of the night to ask you a question like that, you know you have a chance.
There were a couple more things that happened today that gave us a strong indication that the arrow was pointing up, but not until he stepped up to that microphone and made the wise decision that he did, showed how intelligent of a young man he truly was, to say Notre Dame. Not until he actually does it do you feel good about it.
COACH WEIS: Well, let’s start with the recruiting process. I only we get 42 visits that we can take during the season and the week of the bye, I normally don’t go see somebody, because when you see one person, you might be turning somebody else off. It’s very important that you pick the right person when you decide to go. But I decided that this kid was important enough to our class for me to go out there.
Now, Brian’s done all the legwork on this one. We have had other coaches out there, but he’s done the legwork. But I flew out there and Brian picked me up and we got there in time, about 15 minutes before the game and left right at the end of the game and came back and flew back.
You know that, trip seems like it was well worth it at the time. I went for my home visit just like every other head coach has their moment, I had my moment. As far as the game goes, it certainly didn’t hurt that we played Hawaii, but I think that when Jack gave our players some input on the different choices that he had, which he did, which I thought was a unique approach and very well received by our players; I don’t think that any of them were thinking about suggesting we go play Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.
I don’t think they were thinking that Manti. Now I was thinking about Manti, okay, but I don’t think that they were thinking when they got the vote, and really, the players’ input I think that lot of impact on what administration, what Bowl administration ended up picking.
Q. Do you still feel like you guys are going to get an opportunity to push
COACH WEIS: They expect to. So really, alls we can do is promise them an opportunity to where if they are good enough, they will be the guy, or they will be in the mix.
Now one thing we do a little different than anyone else, we never go in and recruit and say you are going to be the starting slot receiver in three wide receiver sets, or you’re going to be the starting halfback. We never say that. What we say is: We are going to give you an opportunity to compete and if you’re the best guy or you’re good enough, you’ll play.
And I think in Cierre Wood’s case and in Shaq’s case, they both have enough confidence where they believe they can play themselves into the mix.
Q. Looking at their development in practice inaudible?
COACH WEIS: Well, the interesting thing is the guy we thought really had the most promise to be the guy was Darius, but he had a shoulder and he was dealing with a shoulder for a good portion of the year. So we never really got a chance to develop him, because once you have a wrist injury or a hand injury or shoulder injury, it really takes away from the possibility of seeing you develop.
Now we have a bunch of guys that are candidates, but no one that snapped 370 times without a miscue. And I think that there are a couple of games this year and this is not citing Kevin Brooks, but there were a couple of games this year where long snapping became an issue in the potential out comes of games, wins and losses.
Q. You’ve talked so many times about the long snapper is important; but have you ever considered giving a scholarship to one and when did you decide?
COACH WEIS: To be honest with you, J.J. Jansen was not on scholarship when I got here. He ended up being on scholarship for a couple of years. I always was more in the philosophy of you see the guys that you have here and of the walk on guys, the best guys, you go ahead and consider scholarship.
Going into this year, we thought it was too important based off of this was another time we were going to have another senior long snapper gone and didn’t know who the heir apparent was. We knew it was important to get ourselves one. So going into the year, you are not going into with that uncertainty of, who is going to be our long snapper.
Q. Would you talk about your thoughts on the overall class? This year, more of an average class?
COACH WEIS: I would strongly disagree with that. I think the experts look at volume. They look at quantity more than quality. I think that when you go into a recruiting cycle, you have to find you have to fill positions of need based off of that year. There’s things that are based off of that year. Sometimes, like we ended up getting both Cierre and Te’o. Now, do we need two running backs? We probably could have gotten by with one running back. But you see the way these guys play, you never turn down that type of athleticism.
But I think if we lost a receiver, we picked up a receiver. We only lost we only had one offensive lineman go and we picked up actually with Beemer going to med school, you could say, two, but we picked up three. So last year we brought in five defensive lineman, and this year we brought in one. Well, we are all already well on our way towards next year’s defensive lineman.
So you have to tie all of these recruiting classes together, and I think that we are very happy we are very happy with the people we got, because we think they are good players that fill positions of need.
Q. Do you wish you could have landed a few more players to this class?
COACH WEIS: I wish we had a chance to get a couple more outside people, but to be honest with you, our best prospects that we have are all a lot of outside players already. You have a guy like who didn’t play this year, a guy like Lewis Moore that we think has a very, very high ceiling that has not even been on the field yet. And I am just citing him as one example of one of the guys who did not even get on the field this year.
So I think that what happens with the prospects is they see what you just took, as they are looking at their places, because everyone wants an opportunity to get on the field the fastest, which is one of the reasons why I really ended up not taking a quarterback. I took a runner and a couple of those guys, and after that, I am not just going to take another guy. I’m going to take guys who I think have a chance to come in and compete and we have answers this year that we did not have last year.
I think overall, was it light on numbers; could you have taken one or two more at that position? You betcha. But we are happy with the way things turned out.
Q. Do you know approximately how many scholarships you’ll be able to give next year?
COACH WEIS: When I meet with you guys on February 13, I’ll give you that answer, because that’s one thing that Tim and I are actually working on right now. We wanted to wait until we got this resolved, and I’ll have a better idea of what those answers are as we go into next year.
Q. You’ve said that players aren’t promised starting positions and that they have to earn them. Does that apply to Manti?
COACH WEIS: I think that you should have an opportunity to contend walking in the door. But I have to treat Manti like everyone else. When you’re high accolades, that’s one thing; he still has to come in. But do I think he has an opportunity to compete walking in the door? Absolutely I think he has an opportunity to compete walking in the door.
Q. When you got Jimmy Clausen to commit to Notre Dame you were able to get more elite offensive talent to follow him. Do you think Manti could have that same impact on the defensive side?
COACH WEIS: Well, we got one about 15 minutes after he said yes, Pete. If you are asking about 15 minutes later, we had already stated paying dividends. Now you guys always find out the answers anyway and you’ll end up finding that out.
But the difference between Jimmy, Jimmy helped us recruit his class. I think Manti, the magnitude of Manti will be the following to the next class, because it’s just a different the timing of the signing day, obviously the magnitude of Manti is the fact that is happened on signing day. All of those young guys, they are all watching, especially a guy of his magnitude says, hey, Manti went to Notre Dame, let’s take a serious look here.
Q. How important is that for a guy
COACH WEIS: I think all of the guys on the West Coast, you can look at Shaq and Cierre and Manti, they are all top level players right there that you are going into their turf and getting them. I think that’s significant, because at the end of the day, whether it’s California or Florida or Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, no matter where you’re going, if you want to beat the best, you’d better get the best players.
I have no illusions of grandeur that getting top players is the best way to beat them.
Q. Can you talk about Brian Polian’s impact recruiting in Southern California?
COACH WEIS: It’s a really you think about what he’s really done in the last few years now, and this isn’t the first year now that he’s gone into these areas and pulled out top players. He’s really created foundations. When I’m in there, I walk into high schools with him and everyone knows who he is. The high school coaches all know; he’s a bulldog and he goes in there and he’s a grinder. When you go in there, it’s tough, because a lot of people already have their favorites, whether it be USC, Stanford, whoever they are. A lot of those people already have those favorites, but he doesn’t care. Once he finds a guy that fits the criteria that we look for at Notre Dame, which we all know are good kids, that are hypocritical about grades that can play, and showing, for example, going into Englewood. That’s going into Inglewood and getting Shaq, you know, that’s pretty good stuff right there.
Q. Talk a little about Manti, what were those last hours like?
COACH WEIS: Well, a lot of texts to my staff. Basically it would just be like question mark. Like rather than me having to say anything, what’s up or what’s going on, I just send a question mark, question mark, question mark, question mark. So finally to about 12 o’clock or so, I just turned the phone off and I get up in the morning and I take the first call I have with Brian, might have been 5:30, 6 o’clock, whatever it is, because he’s the guy dealing with all of the West Coast guys. So he’s the guy who I knew had the latest night ahead of him.
But there’s a time, you go to sleep and you get up and there’s not too much more you can do about it. A lot of the guys wanted the last night to think, and give them their space and that’s what you do. You give them their space.
Q. Was there any other recruit that could sign with you?
COACH WEIS: There’s potential. There’s potential for we could probably take another one. We could probably take another couple if we found them. There’s potential for at least another one.
Q. You said the recruiting class you are working on inaudible how difficult was it to recruit under those circumstances along with the fact that you had so many freshmen and sophomores in the past season?
COACH WEIS: I don’t think it’s ever tough when what you’re doing is representing Notre Dame. I think the biggest issue we always have to deal with, and I say this without making excuses, are the negative recruiting that goes on about that very subject. Coming off of this year, the coach is going to get canned, you know, everything known to mankind is coming out of everyone’s mouth right there.
So that’s really what you deal with. But when you are a Notre Dame alum and you have Notre Dame as what you’re representing, you never feel that you don’t have a chance at recruiting. There’s never a time where I go into somebody, regardless of what the record was and feel that we don’t have a chance of getting the guy.
Now there’s a lot of guys that have no interest, but there’s plenty of them that do.
Q. A couple of years ago you instituted the rule, if they’re looking than you’re looking, do you have any changes or adjustments you’ll make?
COACH WEIS: No, that happened more than once in this class, and we did, before we they had something to us, we had already said something to them, just so you know. Because the second we hear something, those words are uttered, so there’s no misnomer, they understand that.
There’s no miscommunication when it comes to that subject. The only difference is after that first year where I got burned a little about the, we don’t wait around for that to happen anymore. It happens long before that happens.
Q. Are you still a proponent of the early signing period?
COACH WEIS: I’m personally and I speak for Rob, who is in charge of all the assistant coaches, we would definitely be big advocates of an early signing day. We think it would clear up a lot of matters right there. But with it getting voted down 17 4 by the commissioners, I think the odds of this coming to the table any time soon doesn’t look very promising.
Q. Saying one person a class doesn’t make but this one kid (Manti) is pretty special —
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that any time you can get a dynamic player that comes with so called fanfare, okay, there’s a lot of positives that come with that. But at the end of the day, once you get those players in there, I mean, what difference is Manti than E.J. and Zeke and Tyler that are already here? As a matter of fact, what he is, is he’ll be a semester behind him, because they are in the same class and they are here already.
But to have a prolific guy like that, I think it really comes back to besides the fact that I really, really like the kid and think that he’s going to have an opportunity to help us young, there’s so many positives. It’s going to regenerate; the team is fired up. I’ve gotten texts from a good portion of the team. I’m sure the student body will be fired up. It’s already paid dividends in recruiting for 2010. There’s going to be a ton of positive residual effects.
Q. Has Manti had an affect on recruiting already?
COACH WEIS: Well, it happened in the half hour to 45 minutes while you guys were waiting. Not that that was an intent, but a lot of that was happening while we were just waiting for that fax, after it got in, to get checked with compliance and everything, to be able to get it rubber stamped. The last thing I wanted to do was to come in here and say, we are waiting for a fax. Because then the story would have been, oh, they didn’t send the fax in yet; he’s going somewhere else. So trust me, I was not walking in here until we had that fax in hand.
Q. How much of a difference do you think he’ll make?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think the reason why you rate it as the top defensive player in the country by many people, there are some things where they had a quarterback rated one and him rated two. There’s a reason why you’re rated as the best linebacker in the country and the best defensive player in the country. You know, you don’t get that by de fault.
I think one of the big questions they had is: While he’s playing against lower competition, what’s going to happen when he plays against upper competition, and he goes to the All Star Game and that week of practice, they said he was the best player on the field? And it’s more than practices and the game, where these guys really get evaluated, so we are pretty excited about that.
Q. You mentioned that if you look at the ebb and flow of the recruiting, it is a shocker?
COACH WEIS: It’s Notre Dame. You always have a chance. You always have a chance at a kid. All of the things that this kid stands for in his life, that he’s had in bred into him by his parents who are wonderful people, who are very similar to what Notre Dame stands for. At end of the day, I think that’s why he’s coming to Notre Dame. I’d like to say it’s because of me, but I don’t think that’s exactly it. Might be a small part. But I think it’s what Notre Dame stands for and fits very closely with what he stands for.
Q. Do you think he’ll be able to adjust to the snow?
COACH WEIS: I want you to know, he likes the snow. I said, “Good, because you’ll get plenty of it.”
Q. When you are talking with recruits, how do you handle sort of upcoming changes?
COACH WEIS: Well, you just tell them exactly what’s happening. You tell them exactly what’s happening. Here is what’s happened, here is what’s going on. Our approach is a little different. We tell them, here is where we are. We don’t have a defensive line coach yet, but Brian Young is going to be the graduate assistant who is working with the defensive line; and by the way, he played in the NFL for 14 years and went to a bunch of Pro Bowls and probably is going to be a Hall of Famer, and he’ll hold the fort until we get that re solved. I mean, whether it’s the three offensive linemen, three offensive linemen and Frank coming in and getting them to go see him right off the bat.
Tony comes in, you wants to talk about a whirlwind, comes in, signs his contract on Monday, meets with the running backs, watches some tape on Cierre and Theo and flies to California that night. So it’s a little bit of a whirlwind when you’re playing catch up. Give coaches a little time to regroup and we’ll get things back to settle down again.
Q. Is that nerve wracking holding guys down when you are making changes?
COACH WEIS: Just got to tell them the truth. If you ever lose somebody for telling them the truth, so be it. But I think you have to tell them the truth. And I think that if you try to hide behind it, or try to do something that has been unethical is not the way to do it. We just tell them the truth, and at the end of the day, most of the guys will be right on board with it.
COACH WEIS: Oh, no, I e mail them on almost a daily basis and give them a State of the Union, like if something comes up, they know about it long before anyone else knows about it. Because I tell them. I don’t hide anything from them.
Q. Can you just on TV?
COACH WEIS: That will be interesting, because they had a camera in there that they were videoing this situation. And I asked a question before this came on, can I edit this tape, if the answer ends up being a different answer, because I might have said I might have reacted a little differently. But it was a very raucous crowd, needless to say, and I’m sure you’ll get an opportunity to see this video.
Q. Did anything strike you about the culture, any trends jump out about what you see or what you hear?
COACH WEIS: Just that at the end, at the end of recruiting, it’s one thing when you spend all of this time for a couple of years being involved in recruiting, but at the end there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the end. It’s unbelievable.
I mean, I’m about every bad thing you’ve ever known now. I might be an axe murderer. I don’t know what else I am, but whatever needs to be said to try to turn people away from a school, you know, it’s a tough business out there.
But really, at the end of the day, most of the kids who decide to go to Notre Dame have decided for the right reason and you’re involved with some people at the end and you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. Fortunately for us, if you had to pick the right one, the one that said yes today was a big one for us.