Posted: 12:00 pm Monday, March 10th, 2014

Q&A with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly 

By Michael Carvell

Notre Dame has only signed 8 players from Georgia in the last 10 classes, but 4 since Brian Kelly took over in 2010 (AP)

Notre Dame has  signed 8 players from Georgia in its last 10 classes, but 4 since Brian Kelly took over in 2010 (AP)

Notre Dame hasn’t signed a lot of players out of Georgia in recent years. But when it does, it’s usually a good one.

Former Monroe Area High School standout Stephon Tuitt is the best prospect at defensive end not named Clowney for this year’s NFL draft, according to one analyst. Former Gainesville High School wide receiver TJ Jones was voted as Notre Dame’s MVP this past season.

This spring, there’s only one Georgia player on Notre Dame’s roster, defensive end Isaac Rochell of ELCA. The Fighting Irish have signed eight players from Georgia in their last 10 classes, but four since the coaching change in 2010.

“Certainly, those two (Tuitt and Jones) have been outstanding players here at Notre Dame,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told the AJC. “But I think our reputation in the state certainly is about getting more than just a couple of players. We’ve recruited there for a long time.

“There has been a long tradition (of Notre Dame recruiting in Georgia). I’ve recruited down there ever since I’ve been a head coach.

“You know, I think the state itself turns out so many high school football players. Texas, Florida, California and Georgia – to me, those are the states you’ve got to be in …We’re going to continue recruiting down there because they turn out really good football players.”

Expect to see more Georgia players on Notre Dame’s roster in the future for several reasons, including the recent hiring of former UGA defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder in the same capacity for the Fighting Irish. He’s one of two assistants in charge of recruiting the state.

Notre Dame will also have a more tangible presence in the Southeast as a partial member of the ACC. They will play 15 games against ACC schools over the next three years, including Georgia Tech in the 2015 season. Even though Notre Dame football is a fixture on national TV, many of the Southeast’s top recruits will get to see the Irish play in person, too.

“I think it will help us in recruiting with visibility,” Kelly said. “I think when you talk about some of the schools we play, this will allow kids to see us play in person. Now they can come over and see you at Georgia Tech. Or they can see you at other schools in the ACC. I think it definitely is an added bonus.

“Certainly being on national television helped us when we weren’t in the ACC. But I do think there is an additional piece there that helps us … Atlanta is an area that we need to get into, and we’re obviously looking to continuously get into that area, whether it be playing in that area or recruiting in that area. Now with the ability to be in the ACC, it helps us.”

One of college football’s biggest games next season will be Notre Dame’s Oct. 18 matchup at Florida State. Kelly was asked if he’ll take advantage of that showdown to benefit his team’s recruiting efforts in Florida.

“Certainly because it’s a Florida State home game, we can’t have any contact with recruits,” he said. “But we’ll certainly talk about that game as a game where it’s one you need to go see. On our schedule, we send out all the information on the games that the kids need to come to. That’s not a home game, but that will be one that we point to.

Here’s the rest of the Q&A with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly:

Last week, you told reporters that you decided to move spring practice indoors that day because it was -8 degrees in your car. In your opinion, how much of an impact does cold weather have on recruiting, especially when you’re pursuing kids from warmer climates, like Georgia? You always hear some people in the South mention that when a local recruit visits Ohio State, Michigan or Notre Dame. I guess there’s a perception that it’s a really big negative factor and I’m not so sure. “I think if a kid is deciding on the weather as if to whether or not he’s going to Notre Dame, then he’s not the right kid for us anyways. He should be making his decision based on what his future is going to look like. If he’s that short-sighted about the weather conditions, he’s probably not going to fit in here at Notre Dame anyways.”

Notre Dame’s director of football operations recently tweeted out a picture of eight new recliners you bought for the locker room. What’s the story behind that? “I think anytime you can do little things to enhance the player environment for your guys, especially when we’re in, as you mentioned, the long cold days of March, we want to do little things for our players that aren’t expected for them. Little things like that go a long way when the guys are getting up early and putting in long days.”

I guess it had to be kind of ironic that Atlanta had two ice storms this winter, and registered colder temperatures than Notre Dame or really cold places like Alaska? “You guys in Atlanta have lived through the cold as well. What we’re telling our guys right now is that there were a couple of times when we were going to send the weather reports down to recruits in Atlanta and remind them what the weather was like, too.”

For recruiting purposes, how big of a deal do you think it was for the rest of college football for a non-SEC team (which would be Florida State) to win it all last year? It appeared to show some high-profile recruits in Georgia that they don’t have to sign with an SEC school to win a national title. “I think it certainly helped balance it off. I think the SEC still has had a stranglehold on this for a number of years. I think now it’s starting to show that there are a number of programs that can compete for that championship, whether they’re in the Pac-12, Big 12 or the ACC. I think college football is going to show that there are elite teams from every conference. It’s not just in the SEC. The ACC has played great football and has dominated to a large degree. And I think now you’re going to get a chance to have an option in every one of the conferences, and that option is that you’ll have the chance to play for a national championship.”

2012 BCS Championship game (AP)

2012 BCS Championship game (AP)

Now that you’ve had time to reflect on it, what effect did Notre Dame’s appearance in the 2012 national championship game have on your overall recruiting efforts? “I think there’s a couple of things. One, our story is pretty well known because of the brand power of Notre Dame. But we needed to connect to the younger players out there that really didn’t know about some of the legends of Notre Dame. So it was important to let them see Notre Dame football as being a team that can play for a national championship. It really helped us with the younger kids and the younger generation that didn’t know about Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown and some of the all-time greats like Rocket Ismail and others. So it was very important to bridge the gap with some of the younger kids.”

Even though you lost that game to Alabama, is that a fond memory and something you talk about to recruits? Or do you shy away from talking about it? “No, we certainly let them know, from our standpoint, that’s that is the destination — getting to the national championship. And now, of course, getting to the playoffs. I think anytime you accomplish that goal, you now can put it in front of a recruit and say ‘Hey, we can get there.’ There’s no question we can answer all the critics and say ‘You can have the No. 1 graduation rates in the country and you can play for a national championship here at Notre Dame, too.’ I think that broke down a lot of barriers for us in terms of recruiting. It allowed us to go out and really sell our academics, and sell the fact that you can do both, and you can play for a national championship as well.”

What’s it like having star quarterback Everett Golson back on the team and participating in spring practice? “There’s a lot of energy. You know, when you have a playmaker back there that has an ability to make big plays every time he touches the ball, it’s pretty exciting. It’s like having that point guard who can really distribute the ball and do great things. It’s pretty exciting. I think he brings a lot of energy to what we’re doing on every single play.”

How has Golson looked so far? A little rusty or hasn’t missed a beat? “You know, I think it’s like everything else: There’s obviously the need to clean up some things here and there. He definitely has a lot he brings to the table in terms of knowledge that he has carried with him. But clearly, the timing and attention to details are things we are going to continue to work on. So far, so good. It has really been a good first week with him. I know there’s lot to work on, but I think everybody is feeling pretty good where we are right now.”

Ex-UGA defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder (AP)

Ex-UGA defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder (AP)

Your name seems to be thrown out there a lot when there’s job openings in college or the NFL. I’m sure other colleges use this against you in recruiting. How much “negative recruiting” is out there? “Oh, I think happens. But most of the kids now understand that it comes when you’re successful, more than when you are not. You know, I’ve made it pretty clear that I want to win a national championship here at Notre Dame. That’s my focus, and that’s my commitment. When your name is being thrown around there, that means you’re doing well and you’re successful. I think all the kids that come through here with their parents, I let them know that I want to be here at Notre Dame to win a national championship. They understand that your name is going to come up when you’re winning, and you want to be part of a winning program.”

How many coaches have you assigned to recruit Georgia?  “We’ve got two coaches in Georgia. Brian has got a great familiarity with Georgia having been the defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia. He has some great roots down there. His son played at Buford High School and is just finishing up there. He has a lot of ties to the area. And Scott Booker has recruited the state of Georgia for me at Notre Dame for the last four years. So we’ll have two in the state of Georgia.”

What’s your sales pitch to Georgia’s elite 2015 prospects that may be considering Notre Dame? “First and foremost, it’s going to allow the opportunity to play for a national championship and get a degree that’s going to open up doors for you for the rest of your life. I think that’s what everything centers around – an education that will take care of you. It’s the best 401k in America.”

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50 comments
AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@MikeBanning "Sorry to disappoint, but I have never had another screen name, but I did used to "lurk in silence" and did find the things written by Ciraldo's Ghost to be quite entertaining and accurate."

___________________________________________________________________________________


If you haven't been banned, and you are honestly a new user, then you are nothing more than a plagiarist who is recycling WnE's arguments VERBATIM.  You have painted yourself into a corner here.  Either you are lying about your having no previous usernames, or you are merely ripping off other peoples arguments.


Either way makes you a lying troll.


#keeptrolling

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

one thing we could learn from notre dame is that we should think about going independent im sick and tired of playing by the rules while half the rest of the confrence is a bunch of crooked programs.  one thing i think they could learn from us is how to keep a program elite for a extended period of time 

HighTechJacket99
HighTechJacket99

I wonder if Notre Dame has easy classes for athletes like Stanford does?

HighTechJacket99
HighTechJacket99

Careful, or WnE will mark your post as spam and have it deleted.

Dynasty
Dynasty

"HAHAHA well the dogs will never know what it is like to even make the National Championship game."


You do have a point there. At least Notre Dame got there. 

Dynasty
Dynasty

I woulda asked him "Do your butt still hurt from the beatdown Bama gave you?"

Dawg350
Dawg350

He should of said the opportunity to get your tail kicked in the national title game! Lol

Dawg350
Dawg350

I got a question? Bob why are you afraid of the ACC? The sight of Bama and Notre dame make me sick!

StingerSplash
StingerSplash

VanGorder recruiting in Georgia again? Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Dude is toast in this state. His one-year debacle and subsequent exit at Georgia Southern didn't endear him to folks in this state and he's been gone from UGa since most of the current high school prospects were in elementary school. VanGorder is his own negative recruiting.

And the truth of the 2013 BCS title game is Saban coached circles around Kelly, not only that night but in the weeks leading up to that game. You can talk talent all you want. But look at the players from Notre Dame that night that are either in the pros now or headed to the pros - Tuitt, Nix, Te'o, Eifert, TJ Jones, the O linemen, et al. The biggest difference wasn't talent. It was coaching.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

Great in-depth interview MC,   I can tell that CBK is really good with the Media and really "gets it" when it comes to publicly representing his university.

I wish a certain local HC was good with the Media and represented his school better in interviews with the Media.

I do find it interesting that CBK says that he wants to recruit more players from Metro Atlanta and that Ga. and Metro Atlanta is a "must" for ND to recruit in order to be successful, yet we have a certain LOCAL HC that told his fanbase that his FB Program located in Midtown needed to Recruit more players from Va./Md./DC and New Jersey.

CBK's ND program has similar entrance requirements for FB Recruits as does the school located in Midtown Atl. and ND is targeting Metro Atl. and Ga. Recruits while the HC of the FB program located in Midtown is targeting Recruits from Va./Md/DC and New Jersey.

My question to the fanbase of the school located in Midtown is, is your HC looking for "Academic Qualifiers" , or is he looking for a Recruiting Territory that is EASIER to Recruit in with "less competition" from nearby Big-Time  BCS FB Programs.

CBK's comments lead me to believe that the Academic Qualifiers are here in the Metro Atl. Area. but the competition for those recruits is FIERCE, and that our HC located in Midtown would rather lie to his fanbase and claim that the Academic Qualifiers are not here in Metro Atlanta in order to mask his poor talents as a BCS level Recruiter.

Once again OUTSTANDING INTERVIEW, MC, keep up the good work!

coldbeatle89
coldbeatle89

@HighTechJacket99  They do not, actually- there are no perks at Notre Dame like athlete dorms or easy-A classes- Notre Dame athletes are held to the same standard as regular academia.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@HighTechJacket99  

Every college has Free Electives, no reason to make a big deal out of someone putting together a list of those type courses.

You cannot graduate from any college by taking 100% free electives, so you still have to take core courses plus the classes for your major.

Have any Stanford or ND grads lost prestige or job opportunities in Corp. America because someone made a list of Free Electives?

Trying to attack ND  or Stanford on this issue makes GT fans/CPJ apologists look small, jealous, and petty.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@HighTechJacket99  

Exactly who is this WnE character, and what did he do to spook you guys so much that you cannot seem to stop talking about him?


ToolBox
ToolBox

@Dynasty  - I am sure that the reporter has more class than you do.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@Dawg350  HAHAHA well the dogs will never know what it is like to even make the National Championship game.

ToolBox
ToolBox

@StingerSplash  There are certain advantages to having been to the dance before.  Even BK admitted that.  Now he has been there, his recruiting has been great all for years.  I am not predicting and titles in the near future, but ND is competitive under BK. 

HighTechJacket99
HighTechJacket99

MikeBanning is the definition of a boot licking toady. While it is a nice article, MikeBanning overdoes the praise in the hopes that MC will not ban him again for his inappropriate behavior.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeBanning  Did I miss the part where Johnson said to forego all the players in Atlanta in lieu of players from elsewhere, or did he simply say we need to supplement the local players with players from other regions?   Inquiring minds want to know.

gt-40
gt-40

@MikeBanning


Mike Ga State is really just getting started in big time football cut them some slack,

give them a  little grace period please..........

POAD2013
POAD2013

@coldbeatle89 HAHAh and there are no easy majors and classes? OK. Athletic dorms have been gone fo a long time at every school.

HighTechJacket99
HighTechJacket99

But do ND or Stanford have majors easier than Tech's management major that the majority of their athletes seem to gravitate to?

Dawg350
Dawg350

POAJ

Well neither will tech...so their ya go budro!

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@GeorgeStein

If CPJ recruited better locally then he wouldn't have to supplement with lesser players from those other regions.

We have Top-3/4 talent locally, simply do better locally, the talent is there and the qualifiers are there, we need to do better at closing.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@gt-40

Little sensitive are we?

Like I wrote earlier MIDTOWN starts at N. Ave and goes North to Colony Sq., what part of Ga. State is located in that area?

Ga. State is located in DOWNTOWN, not MIDTOWN.

ToolBox
ToolBox

@POAD2013 - ND is a top 20 school academically. The students there are the reason for that status.  Of course some majors are always going to be easier than others, but the expectation is that the players be on par with the rest of the student body .  Nobody that gets into ND is a dummy.  ND also graduates 99% of their football players.  


Stephon Tuitt skipped one class his freshman season and he was suspended for the next game.  It's different at ND.  Not better, but definitely different.  


FYI - Alabama has a players dorm called Bryant Hall and UGA has the East Campus Village project.   A lot of schools still do.  

ToolBox
ToolBox

@HighTechJacket99  - Let's be fair.  Tech is an polytechnic school. Most people can't cut it in an engineering program, even if they are model students.  A tech management degree is a business degree, nothing to slouch at.  

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@POAD2013

No one lied I simply said you had contacted them.

Why do you always default to crude/vulgar language or those types of references?

POAD2013
POAD2013

@MikeBanning Lying POS.

Yes I talk to some players on Facebook and Twitter but they have never banned me from talking to them and i never harrassas them either.

HighTechJacket99
HighTechJacket99

You've been known to "lurk" on teenagers' Twitter pages.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@MikeBanning do you think if you keep lying somehow the lies you tell will become true?

You are such a lying Idiot.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@POAD2013

Sorry to disappoint, but I have never had another screen name, but I did used to "lurk in silence" and did find the things written by Ciraldo's Ghost to be quite entertaining and accurate.

Dawg350
Dawg350

3 stars? Y'all are only loaded with 1 stars! Lol!

Dawg350
Dawg350

3stars....you might want check again? 1 stars bud!

POAD2013
POAD2013

@Dawg350  so now your beloved dogs are as bad as a team with 3 stars but are loaded with 5 stars. My how the dogs have fallen.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@MikeBanning @AugustaJacket  You can't do that because you know very little about BCS level CFB and the only thing you have to offer is your selfish agenda where you think it is your JOB to defend GT FB on these blogs.

_________________________________________________


That's what you tell everyone.  The reality is that you keep being refuted by Jacketman, who PLAYED college level BCS football, and knows tons more about it, and the program, than you do.  You are nothing more than a troll who hates that GeorgeStein, Jacketman and myself keep revealing your agenda driven lies.


That's why you've been banned, no matter what lies you tell.  


If you haven't been banned, and you are honestly a new user, then you are nothing more than a plagiarist who is recycling WnE's arguments VERBATIM.  You have painted yourself into a corner here.  Either you are lying about your previous usernames, or you are merely ripping other peoples argument off.


#keeptrolling

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@AugustaJacket

Can't help it can you?

Always name-calling and always muddying up the blogs with your agenda, rather than giving good insight about the original topic.

Instead of commenting about my comments, why not post INTELLIGENT, ACCURATE comments about the original topic from MC?

You can't do that because you know very little about BCS level CFB and the only thing you have to offer is your selfish agenda where you think it is your JOB to defend GT FB on these blogs.

Simply post the TRUTH like I do and everything will take care of itself on these blogs.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@GeorgeStein

If Ga. is saddled with some of the lowest SAT scores ,please  explain WHY ND is targeting Ga. HS Recruits?

For years ND has been known for recruiting players that have some of the stronger academic profiles of all the BCS schools, that has not just disappeared.

FB players that are planning to go after college schollys are not as bad academically that you make them out to be.

If it were that bad Academically, then Vandy, ND, Stanford and colleges like that would not be targeting Ga. HS talent.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@GeorgeStein @MikeBanning  Because it doesn't fit his agenda.  Because he's a liar who hates constantly being caught in his prevarications.  Because he's a troll.  Or, all of the above.  


Pick one.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeBanning So, you're deflecting.   Again.   Unfortunately, the state is also saddled with some of the lowest SAT scores in the union.


Why did you misstate what Johnson said?

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@GeorgeStein

Either way, there' s no way that anyone could confuse Ga. State for being located in MIDTOWN.

That was the main point.

MrMoe09
MrMoe09

@Ringleader, no they don't. Tech took those dorms over a few years ago.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@MikeBanning  Midtown starts at Deering and Peachtree.   Next time you drive by, pull over at the AMTRAK station.   There's a big marker that clearly states as much.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@gt-40

Really?

When has ND and Ga. State ever been comparable in Recruiting and Academic Reqs. for FB Recruits?

gt-40
gt-40

@MikeBanning @gt-40


Oh, I see what you did right there, I thought you were just off on your terminology of school locations, but you were actually taking a veiled shot at Tech, gotta tell you I didn't see that one coming, my bad.........