Has Charlie Weis been reading our blog??
Perhaps Brian Polian has been checking us out the last few months.
Ok, maybe not, but ever since we started singing the praises of the Samoan football player on this blog, ND has suddenly become a major player in the LDS/Samoan/Polynesian community. We went from zero Samoans to three commitments in the last year now that Justin Utopo has committed.
Are there are any guarantees with these guys?? No, of course not. Te’o may be the next Junior Seau or the next Carlos Pierre-Antoine. Roby Toma may be the next TJ Houshmandzadeh or he may never see the field. Justin Utopo may turn into the next Haloti Ngata or just another guy wallowing away on the ND bench. Maybe they’ll turn out to be busts. But you can say that about any recruit.
All I know is that it seems like every one of these Polynesian guys ends up being a stud for these random Pac 10 and WAC schools. How many times have you turned on some Oregon-Arizona game on Fox Sports and watched all these long-haired Samoans blowing up plays left and right on the d-line?? I don’t know what it is about these Samoan players, but they seem to be uniquely suited for football. At the risk of sounding like Reggie White (I love treading into racial generalizations!!), the Samoan guys LOVE football and love to play the physical brand of football that you need up front on your offensive and defensive lines. I don’t know if it’s the hair or what, but they love to mix it up and get dirty on the lines.
Check out this list of all the Samoan guys in the NFL. Look at how many offensive and defensive linemen there are on there. And that’s just a list of the Samoan guys. There are also a number of Tongan and Hawaiian and Fijan players as well.
For those who watched the Sugar Bowl this past year, think back to that game for a minute. To me, the most fascinating development in that game was that Utah looked like they had similar talent to Alabama. How is that possible?? The answer was those big Samoan dudes they had on the d-line. Those guys completely shut down the Alabama running game. The Samoan players have become the great equalizer in college football. If you can’t get the big stud black dudes from SEC country, you might be able to make up the talent gap by getting these Samoan guys.
So for those who are worried that Utopo is “only” a 3 star recruit, I encourage you to take a look at his film and do some more research on these Samoan players. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the Samoan guys currently playing in the NFL were underrated coming out of high school as well. A lot of these kids probably didn’t go to all the best high school football camps to get their star ratings up, but they know how to play ball. The height thing is something that always knocks your star rating down as well, but height is overrated on the d-line. Give me a 6’2” guy who is going to snap you in half over a 6’5” guy who is soft.
I’m going on record here and saying that Utopo will turn out to be absolute steal for the Irish. Of all the guys we’ve signed so far, I think Utopo is the player I am second most excited about at this point. Mark that one down alongside last week’s guarantee that Chris Martin ends up in an Irish uniform. I don’t know if Utopo will be a DE or an undersized DT, but I'm confident that he’ll be a physical player who likes to get after it. That’s the type of player that ND needs on the d-line. I kind of like him more as an undersized DT. If he could put on 20-25 pounds, he could be a devastating 4-3 defensive tackle. I’ve watched Domato Peko blossom with the Bengals as an undersized 4-3 DT the last couple years, so I’m envisioning something similar for Utopo.
On a more global level, you have to like what Brian Polian is doing out in California. I have nothing to base this opinion on, but my guess is that Brian Polian is VERY intelligent (probably like his father). He seems to have a great feel for recruiting and trends in the game, and it is encouraging that he has immediately picked up on the growing prevalence of Samoan players in the NFL and major college football.
---As for Tommy Rees, I don’t see what the big fuss is about signing this guy. I don’t necessarily think we needed two quarterbacks in this class, but I don’t have a beef with it. Rees is for depth purposes in case Clausen leaves after this year. After Clausen leaves, the only scholarship QBs are Crist and Hendrix. Rees can come in and compete to be a backup. It’s not like every guy we bring in at LB or OL or DB is going to start either, so I don’t see the problem with the decision to target a backup quarterback. You can't sign all 4 and 5 stars, especially at quarterback.
I also think Weis wants to keep his options open for 2011 to go get a big time 5 star qb. If he had signed another 4 star guy this year, it might scare off the big name guys in 2011 because of all the quality guys already on the depth chart. So this move to bring in Rees is sort of a balancing act to create some needed depth without jeopardizing our chances on an elite quarterback next year.
I know we're on a little run of 3 star guys, but the average star ranking is still pretty high for this class. It's currently the 9th ranked class in the country. If we look good to start the year, we'll probably end up with a top 5 class.
It's too early to hit the panic button. Aren't we planning to sign 20+ guys this year?? We only have 11 spots locked up so far. Everyone gets all worked up every year about recruiting, and then it ends up being fine. As of now, we have plenty of room for the big name guys, and all of the big names that we want are still out there. Now, if Barr and James and Stone and all these guys start going elsewhere, then I will agree that we have problems. I'm not drawing any conclusions on this class until we get some decisions out of the big name guys.
This looks like a pretty typical Weis class - good QB recruit, stud TE recruit, a couple good WR recruits, and some white DBs who will probably be solid. We got our stud DE (which was huge) and one good lineman (Lombard). Gotta get at least 2 more big uglies (James/Stone/Linder) and hopefully 1-2 big time athletes (Barr, Prater, etc), and a linebacker (Moore). If we do that, it will be a good class. Maybe we can turn Nix or a couple other guys to ND if we start off well and then it would be a great class. If we don't get those guys, it's probably a sign that the season didn't go that well. In that case, we have bigger problems anyway.
For comparison’s sake, Michigan badly needed a big time recruiting class, and their class looks like garbage compared to ours. They have 2 and 3 stars all over their commit list. Would you rather be in their position or in our current position?