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Mailbag: Sunday delivery

Jarrett Grace

Jarrett Grace


A special Sunday delivery of the Mailbag. Let’s get to some questions.

idratherbeinsouthbend: The schedule at the end of the year always looks different than it does before the season, but looking at next year’s schedule, who’s got your attention other than USC and Georgia Tech?

Some of the worries (at least from a CFB Playoff resume perspective) that the Irish schedule wouldn’t be tough enough seem to be alleviated. This slate looks plenty challenging, with big, nationally interesting games seemingly every few weeks, from the season opener against Texas to the finale at Stanford.

Seeing Georgia Tech make such an impressive late-season run and win the Orange Bowl turns a mid-September test into a potential national showdown. Going to Death Valley two weeks later and battling a Clemson team that absolutely throttled Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl turns that into probably the toughest road game on the schedule.

Follow Clemson up with Navy and USC without a week off and that’s likely when we’ll know just how good this team can be. For the first Notre Dame schedule without a Big Ten game in nearly 100 years, it’ll be an interesting year.

fightinmad35: How do you think ND would handle iconic rapper Snoop Dogg being around the program if his son were to commit or would the school shy away from his complicated image? His son Cordell, who has an offer from ND, is best friends with safety commit Nicco Fertitta and new commit Alize Jones, all from the famed Bishop Gorman program in Vegas. I can’t imagine the traditionalist welcoming Snoop as easily as say David Robinson.

Snoop has been on campus before and was well received. So while he’s hardly on the David Robinson side of the celebrity spectrum, there’s little chance he’d receive anything less than a warm welcome.

(Remember, Notre Dame opened its arms to Alex Rodriguez this football season.)

While Snoop’s son isn’t coming to South Bend so this is kind of a moot point, for all the worries and bluster of the “traditionalists” (usually coming behind the anonymity of an internet handle), I’m still looking for a famous person who hasn’t been warmly received at Notre Dame.

grammarnazi69: With the return of Jarrett Grace, is he a lock for the first reserve MLB in? Could he challenge Schmidt for starting reps? Will he switch positions? Also, will Ben Council see the field much this year?

I’m not so sure that Grace is ready to be on the field yet. While we received a promising update on his health during bowl season, going through practice and being ready to take snaps and go live are two very different things.

What happens with the linebacking spots next season remains to be seen. After a strong finish to a freshman All-American campaign, Nyles Morgan certainly seems like a lock to get more playing time. Whether that’s beside Joe Schmidt or playing behind him remains to be seen.

Where Jaylon Smith plays will factor into that. So will Brian VanGorder’s plan with the Sam linebacker -- a spot that seemed to be more spare part than mandatory piece of the puzzle.

Ben Councell is an interesting player to watch. If you listen to some, you’d think a fifth-year isn’t necessarily assured. But if you look at his size and length, he’s a linebacker that is unlike any other in the depth chart, capable of banging in the box -- if he’s healthy.

I guess I really don’t have an answer to your questions without seeing what happens this spring. So let’s revisit this after practice begins in early March.

runners00: When a recruit announces his intention to enroll at Notre Dame, has the recruit already been advised by Admissions that he is eligible to enroll at Notre Dame? Separately, when a verbal commit announces that he is no longer committed to Notre Dame, is it possible that Admissions denied his application?

The verbal commitment game is a tricky subject. It isn’t always as well orchestrated as you might suspect, and what a recruit says publicly (and what we run with) is likely viewed much differently by the coaching staff actually recruiting these players.

That said, Notre Dame has opened up their “offer” list to include players that still need to do work in the classroom. This is a function of existing in the modern ecosystem of recruiting, as it just isn’t possible to wait until the fall of a recruit’s senior season to make official offers like Notre Dame did during the Davie and Willingham era.

A recruit “de-committing” is often times code for admissions issues. Multiple reports from places like Irish 247 and Irish Sports Daily point to that being the culprit with Prentice McKinney.

But that’s life at Notre Dame. And Brian Kelly has done a very good job thriving even with those limitations.

onward2victory: Keith if you were a 5* recruit right now that had offers everywhere, what school would you choose (other than ND)? And how would you announce your decision?

I love this question. And I can certainly tell you that my answer today is much different than the one I’d have given you when I was a senior in high school.

But I’d take my official visits* (excluding Notre Dame) to the following schools:

Stanford -- I’m a sucker for all things Palo Alto, and it’s a great place for life after football.
Michigan -- As a kid growing up in the Midwest, it was the premier program of my youth.
UCLA -- Playing college football in the Rose Bowl and going to school in Westwood. Not bad.
Miami -- This goes back to former Cretin quarterback(s) Steve (and Chris) Walsh.
Washington -- I’d want to go somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle sounds great.

I’d make my announcement on Twitter. Definitely not at the College Football Hall of Fame.

*Reserve the right to change any one of these if the bagman came with a compelling offer.