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Leftovers & Links: Notre Dame’s return to the Basilica on gamedays another sign of Marcus Freeman’s guiding mandate

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 05 Texas at Notre Dame

05 September 2015: Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly and players are greeted by fans during the players walk into Notre Dame Stadium in action between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Texas Longhorns at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Marcus Freeman continues to hit all the right notes as far as many Notre Dame fans are concerned, and even if they read exactly what the Irish head coach said, instead of adding their own meaning to his words, they would be pleased.

Freeman drew praise over the weekend for saying he intends to reinstitute Notre Dame’s pregame Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart this fall, a tradition that fell by the wayside about halfway through Brian Kelly’s 12 years in South Bend.

Freeman’s reasoning for reviving that Saturday morning ritual may be a bit more practical than faith-driven, though that is not to diminish the latter aspect.

“What I remembered from my recruiting trip is watching the players walk out of the Basilica on the way to the Stadium,” Freeman said Saturday. “I was a little bit caught by surprise when we didn’t do it last year when I got here.”

As with all things with Freeman, the decision ties back to recruiting. If that memory stuck with Freeman as a high schooler, then he expects it will with others.

There can be reasonable debate about the value of players attending Mass and then walking half a mile through thousands of fans before a game. It may distract some players; it may help others focus. When Kelly moved team Mass to Friday, that was part of his thought process.

But the recruiting aspect can hardly be dismissed. The atmosphere around that walk, a half mile that goes from the calm of Mass to the engulfing chaos of a college football Saturday, sticks with anyone who experiences it as Freeman did when he was debating between Notre Dame and Ohio State.

“We’re going to do that now, kind of like it used to be,” he said simply, that vague outline implying the Irish will walk directly from the Basilica to Notre Dame Stadium a few hours before home games.

If there are three things matter in real estate — location, location, location — and three things that can make or break a budding relationship — timing, timing, timing — then there is one thing influencing every decision Marcus Freeman makes: recruiting, recruiting, recruiting.

This space tried to say it loudly a week ago. “The NFL draft process is an exercise in smoke-and-mirrors claims buttressed by cloak-and-dagger leaks to the media. Believing anything is a risk.”

Double down on that.

Now with that said, further indicators shed doubt that former Irish safety Kyle Hamilton will hear his name as early on April 28 as long expected. Hamilton’s 40-yard dash times did not help his cause, and further concerns continue to bubble up in the draftnik-sphere.

“When I heard top-5 pick, I get it, because he has the measurables, but I didn’t really see that,” one college coach said to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman in a piece published Monday morning. Based on those conversations, Feldman projected Hamilton as the No. 11 pick in the draft.

Those are the smoke-and-mirror claims leaked to the media, though. Money lies much less, and looking at the money, Hamilton should end up right around that No. 11 pick, if not slightly before it.

Gambling odds can be misleading, but broadly speaking, the free market creates a reliable and bothersomely accurate barometer. By that logic and with those odds, Hamilton will most likely hear his name just outside the top-8 picks.

Throughout the 2021 season, even as he missed half of it with an injury, Hamilton was spoken of as a certain top-5 pick. That likelihood lodged a piece of Notre Dame history in mind: Hamilton could be the highest defensive Irish player drafted since cornerback Todd Lyght was selected fifth overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1991, if not since defensive tackle Steve Niehaus was selected second overall by the Seattle Seahawks in 1976.

Now the correct end to that sentence may be, “... since defensive tackle Bryant Young was selected seventh overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 1994.”

But as was said a week ago, “The sole truth that matters will be revealed only on April 28.”

Pro Day perhaps not as rewarding for Kyle Hamilton as the Notre Dame safety hopedJadarian Price’s freshman weight gain makes him Notre Dame’s ideal fourth quality RBFriday at 4: A never-published, Notre Dame and Brian Kelly April Fool’s Day columnAlready lacking depth at receiver, Notre Dame loses Joe Wilkins for the spring

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Pregame Mass at Notre Dame’s Basilica? Marcus Freeman is resurrecting the tradition

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