June 25, 2009

ND Football Update: Hendrix is Irish, Fauria is out, and Chris Martin is taking visits?

Man, when it rains, it pours in the world of ND football. In the span of 24 hours, we have all kinds of things going on.

A quick rundown of yesterday's events.

1) First, Andrew Hendrix has committed to ND for 2010. I didn't necessarily think a quarterback was a necessity in the 2010 class, but it's always nice to get one. I'm presuming that he'll redshirt in 2010 and then serve as the backup to Crist in 2011. He could conceivably compete for the starting job in 2013 as a redshirt junior (true senior).

I've watched a few of his highlight videos, and you can see why he's a D-I prospect.
He's definitely got the size at 6'3, 220 pounds and the athletic ability to play major college ball. Honestly, for all the fuss about Nick Montana, I'm more intrigued by Hendrix as a prospect. Nick Montana weighs 175 pounds! There's no way he's going to be physically ready to compete in the Pac 10 unless he puts on a bunch of weight. Hendrix already has the size that you want and could easily get bigger and stronger up in South Bend. And if you watch him move around in the pocket, he's not exactly a statue. He could be the type of quarterback that we use more on the run like we did with Brady Quinn. I'm always a fan of having a mobile quarterback in college football.

Hendrix seems to be running a pretty sophisticated offense at Moeller in this video. They basically run that Pistol formation with a lot of shotgun stuff and a lot of precision passing. Isn't that pretty close to what Weis does at the end of the day?? It seems like he'll be a pretty good fit in this offense.

Hendrix reminds me of the type of quarterback that Michigan always used to get in the Lloyd Carr/Gary Moeller days. A big guy with a big frame who can stand back there and make the throws but also can take a hit. Kind of a Chad Henne/John Navarre/Todd Collins type guy. I wonder if Hendrix would have looked at Michigan if they hadn't switched offenses.

Plus, he's a Cincy guy! My god, South Bend is turning into Cincy North all of the sudden. Rudolph, Welch, and now Hendrix. Plus, it sounds like we are the frontrunner for the offensive lineman from Cincinnati St. Xavier, Matt James. All of these guys are 4-5 star type players, so it definitely appears that we're getting some quality players out of Cincinnati lately. Definitely a good sign on the recruiting front.

Anyway, Hendrix is a good get for this program. With Clausen and Crist on board, it was an uphill battle just to land anyone, let alone a 4 star player who had offers from Ohio State and a host of other major D-I schools. At the very least, Hendrix is a quality backup to have in the program from 2010-2014, he adds depth to the position, and he has the potential to compete for the starting job in 2013-14.

2) Unfortunately, the good news on the Hendrix front is tempered a bit by some bad news regarding Joseph Fauria. Kind of a bummer to find out that he's not going to be playing this upcoming season. Rumors are already circulating that it's some sort of dorm-related matter. God forbid someone have a little too much to drink and do something dumb. Is that really a reason to kick a player out of school?? And if this suspension is because he broke parietals, I'm going to lose my mind. Give me a break!

What happened to the idea of handling things internally?? Why couldn't you make Fauria go through some alcohol education classes while also keeping him as a student?? Do they really need to throw him out of school for a year?? Look at what is going on at Ohio State with their freshmen recruit, Jamaal Berry. That guy just got charged with felony drug possession, and he's on campus as we speak!

These guys are 19-20 years old. They're young guys who might not always use their best judgment. It's one thing to punish them, but kicking them out of school is not the answer unless they've done something egregious (major crime, academic scandal, etc).

The Kyle McAlarney thing was an abomination and something that I will never get over. To throw a kid out of school for one marijuana incident was completely absurd, and it completely screwed Mike Brey and the Notre Dame basketball team. For anyone who has seen McAlarney speak in interviews or carry himself on the court, you couldn't ask for a better representative of the school than him.

As for the football team, I honestly don't think Fauria is a very big loss for this year. I like Fauria a lot and have been high on him ever since watching his high school highlights video. Here's what I said about him before the spring game.

If you are looking for a MAJOR sleeper on this ND roster, I'll toss out Joseph Fauria as a possibility. I first watched this guy in the Blue Gold incoming recruits video, and was absolutely blown away by him. He came in with Kyle Rudolph, and I actually came away from that video feeling like Fauria was better than Rudolph and had more potential. Other than Michael Floyd, Fauria was the most impressive player on that tape. Obviously he didn't play a down last year, but I am still intrigued by this guy and have read great things about him all spring.

I'm not even kidding in saying that Fauria is a Tony Gonzalez-type athlete. Ok, maybe that's a stretch, but this kid is going to be a star if he puts on some weight and continues to mature. His combination of athleticism and height and hands are very rare at the college level. Some of the catches that he made in high school in full stride were remarkable for a guy as tall as he is.

But after watching him again at the spring game, here were some of my thoughts:

Fauria is a string bean!! He is the skinniest football player I've ever seen. He's listed at 245, but I don't see how he could possibly weigh that much. When he runs out on the field, it looks like the wind is going to blow him over. I cannot see him getting a ton of playing time this year with that body. He'll get killed.

The ND strength coaches need to get Fauria on some sort of insane high calorie diet or something to put some meat on those bones. Get him some extra helpings of Blazing Sea Nuggets and Yo Creme at the South Dining Hall to pack on an extra 20 pounds.

I don't see any way that Fauria could have played that much. He's a great athlete, but his legs are like twigs. How can you be a good blocker in the running game with that body?? A good d-linemen would just get underneath him and blow him up. Point is, if Fauria was getting a ton of minutes next year, our running game would be in trouble anyway.

The other thing is that we have two really good tight ends already on the roster. How many tight ends do you really need?? Were we really going to play three tight ends all the much next year? Rudolph is an All-American caliber player, and I thought Mike Ragone was one of the most impressive players at the spring game. He has the potential to be a breakout player in this offense, and his body is much more mature than Fauria's body. Ragone reminds me a ton of Anthony Fasano.

Our tight ends will be as good as anyone in America even without Fauria. Both Rudolph and Ragone were elite recruits. Fauria had a lot of potential to add depth to the position, but I didn't really see him getting a ton of minutes anyway this year. Hopefully he will be back in the fall of 2010 and ready to compete for playing time by 2011.

3) The other big news coming out of the ND circles has been this Chris Martin story. Let the hand-wringing begin. It wouldn't be an ND offseason without a bunch of people out on the ledge worried about every little thing. Then again, Chris Martin is a huge recruit for us next year, so I can understand to some degree why people are freaking out a little bit about losing him to a school like USC.

With that said, I think this whole thing is a lot of fretting over nothing. Is he taking visits?? Who knows!?! All we know is that he's CONSIDERING the idea of taking visits. It's not even a definite that he'll actually take any visits to other schools.

Plus, there could be any number of reasons why he would visit another school. His dad and others are saying that he wants to have a chance to participate in other camps to test himself against other players. That' s a good sign to me that he's a competitor. Maybe he just wants to get some free tickets to some other college games this fall. Maybe he just wants to soak up as much football as he can from other college coaches. If anything, I encourage him to visit other schools. I think he's going to find that there's no school like ND.

All I know is that Chris Martin has been about as rock solid as any recruit we've had in recent years. He committed to ND immediately after the 2009 signing day and has been telling anyone who will listen about how excited he is to be Irish. There's plenty of playing time available at defensive end when he arrives on campus. If he's as good as he looks in his videos, he has a chance to be the best defensive end we've had since Justin Tuck.

I'm going on the record here with a GUARANTEE. Someone feel free to rub this in my face if I'm wrong, but I'm guaranteeing that Chris Martin signs with ND in 2010. If you want to look up this post next February when Chris Martin has signed with USC, by all means do so and call me out on it. But I think Chris Martin is lock city for the Irish, and I think his commitment will only be strengthened when the team gets off to a good start in 2009.

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