Monday, April 27, 2009

Coach Weis Working Hard for his Guys

First of all, congratulations to David Bruton! The OC Domer 2007 Player of the Year was drafted by the Denver Broncos on Sunday. He was the Broncos' 4th round pick, and taken number 114 overall. When I heard about Bruton going to the Broncos the first thought that jumped into my head was that maybe he could be the next Steve Atwater for them. Atwater was a hard-hitting, rangy safety that was noted for doing a great job coming up and defending against the run. Given David Bruton's penchant for being among Notre Dame's top tacklers the past few seasons, I think the Atwater comparison is apt. Steve Atwater was listed as 6' 3", 220 lbs with a 4.44 second 40-yard dash time. Bruton is listed at 6' 2" and 219, with 40 times from 4.40 to 4.46 seconds. Go Broncos!

It's disappointing that the Irish had only one player drafted in 2009, but not really surprising. This class was the recruiting class of 2005, which was the hybrid Willingham/Weis class. Weis gets the "credit" (blame) for the recruiting class, but it was Willingham and his staff who had done all the background and recruiting for this group and then handed it over to Charlie with a month left before signing day following the Super Bowl. To me, this weekend's NFL draft finally closes the book on the Ty Willingham era at Notre Dame.

The South Bend Tribune noted today:

Fifth-year seniors Lambert, Brown and Crum represent the final three pieces of the last full recruiting class of the Tyrone Willingham Era (2004), a class that now holds the distinction of not having one player selected in an NFL Draft.

That includes the 10 players from that class who transferred and finished their football careers at other schools, and running back Darius Walker, who jumped into the draft pool after his junior season.

Willingham's first, and as it turns out only, senior class at Washington also went draftless this weekend.

The 2009 Fighting Irish will be stocked with Charlie Weis recruits from top to bottom, from seniors down to freshman. Any personnel or roster deficiencies fall at the feet of CW. To coin a phrase, "No Excuses."

Although we had only one player drafted over the weekend, that does NOT mean that more Notre Dame men won't get a chance to play football on Sundays. Early this morning my cell phone started buzzing with Twitter messages from Coach Weis. Here they are, in order:
  • Good morning. I returned home late Saturday night from the ND Club of El Paso Texas. I spent Sunday watching Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
  • I was happy for David Bruton winding up with Denver & my buddy, Josh McDaniels. Denver loves him as a safety, but even more on special teams
  • After the draft, I worked on placing all our undrafted players. It looks like Mo Crum will go to Tampa, Grimes to Denver…
  • Lambert to the 49ers, Kuntz to Indy, Justin Brown to Washington, and both Schwapp & Turkovich to the Cowboys.
I was very glad to read (1) that Charlie thought he had a chance to get seven more players signed as free agents and into NFL camps, and (2) that Coach is working hard for his guys. Clearly Charlie's Twitter messages are intended, at least in part, to get the attention of potential recruits who want to know that CW will do everything he can to get them their shot at the NFL if they prove themselves NFL-caliber.

There have been more developments since my break-of-dawn messages from CW. The SBT is now reporting that
five Irish free agents agreed to terms Sunday night: Grimes (Denver), Kuntz (Indianapolis), Lambert (San Francisco), Schwapp (Dallas) and Turkovich (Dallas), and that Brown and Crum are expected to finalize agreements soon.

Although the odds of an undrafted free-agent making a roster are generally long, Notre Dame players have a way of sticking around in the NFL. Once these kids get into camp, the coaches see players that are of above-average intelligence, have been well-coached, have played big time football for four years, and who are high character guys. It's hard to let players like that go.

Good luck to all the NFL Irish as they chase their dreams.

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