Last Friday, Notre Dame announced the school was launching an investigation into academic fraud involving four Fighting Irish football players, per Yahoo Sports reporter Pat Forde. The potential on-field implications here are obvious; however, what may be overlooked is the impact this issue could have on the Irish's recruiting.
This will no doubt be used against Notre Dame in recruiting. Recruits will be told academics are too tough at ND w/o cheating.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) August 15, 2014
According to SB Nation Recruiting Director Bud Elliott, Notre Dame should be extra wary of negative recruiting on the trail this fall:
"You can see a scenario where a coach uses it as ammunition against Notre Dame. Coach to Notre Dame recruit, 'Are you sure you want to go there? You may have to cheat and jeopardize your eligibility just to play.' It's not fair, but that's the world of recruiting and the reality of the situation.
"I think Notre Dame can handle it, though. They did so with the Everett Golson saga a year ago. I'm not sure it's an epidemic either. If you look at it, it's a small sample of five players on an 85-man roster. College football has seen bigger scandals over the last few years. It's Notre Dame, so things get magnified."
One thing that may help the Irish is they already recruit a different type of player because of the high academic demands similar to that of Northwestern, Stanford and Vanderbilt. I don't think those schools will use the situation against Notre Dame when recruits come to campus for official visits, but expect other programs to bring it up if a kid is on the fence.
However, Florida State commit and Notre Dame target Calvin Brewton downplayed the impact of the investigation.
The 3-star safety from Miami (Florida) Central said:
"When I first heard about the Notre Dame news, it was shocking. I'm 100 percent committed to Florida State, but Notre Dame is one of the schools talking to me about coming up to take an official visit. Assistant coach Tony Alford is the one recruiting me. I haven't talked to him since the news came out. However, I don't think the scandal will have an impact on my decision to go up there."
Currently, Notre Dame has the No. 14 class, according to the 247Sports Team Rankings. It will be interesting to see if the class can stay in the top 15 through national signing day.
Does Florida have the lead with a Miami legacy?
When you think of the football surname Irvin and the city of Miami, usually the first thought that comes to mind is Michael "The Playmaker" Irvin scoring touchdowns in the famed Orange Bowl for The U.
However, those memories might not be enough to keep Michael's nephew, Tim Irvin, from Palmetto (Florida) Westminster Christian School (WCS), in South Florida for college. Irvin told me he is giving serious thought to leaving Miami to play at the next level. In fact, he likes what the Gators are selling him after his July visit for the annual Florida Friday Night Lights Camp.
"I spoke to Coach (Will) Muschamp and T-Rob (Travaris Robinson) when I was up there. They are funny guys, comedians. T-Rob is recruiting me as a strong safety. They said I can be the next Matt Elam. That's a good thing. Elam is a great player."
Irvin is planning to make his college announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next January. His top five schools are Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Miami. Even with the Florida overtures, the hometown Hurricanes are still a major player in his recruitment.
"Everything is a factor with Miami. My teammate Jordan Cronkrite is committed there. When I go there it feels like home. I'm from Miami, I like the vibe of Miami. I talk to all the coaches and they tell me to stay home."
The two-way star said his parents and his other famous uncle, Sedrick Irvin, will help him make his decision. Sedrick was a standout at Michigan State and spent three seasons in the NFL. He is the head coach at WCS and began his coaching career at the University of Alabama under head coach Nick Saban.
Calvin Ridley ruled ineligible for most of his senior year
FHSAA confirms to @SunSentinelSports that 2015 HS athletescan compete in gms before 19 yr/9 mo, so Calvin Ridley can play 1st 3 gms— Steve Gorten (@sgorten) August 19, 2014
Five-star wideout Calvin Ridley has been told by the Florida High School Athletic Association that he will be ineligible after the third game of the season due to the 19-year and nine-month rule.
Dave Brousseau of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel was the first to report the news. The Sentinel's Steve Gorten explained the FHSAA 19/9 age rule. The same rule disqualified former FSU split end and current Carolina Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin during his senior year of high school.
It's a tough blow for Ridley, and it will turn off schools looking to flip him from Alabama.
At the Miami Dolphins Media Day at the beginning of August, Ridley told me:
"I'm 95 percent committed to Alabama, but FSU is coming at me a lot. Coach (Lawrence) Dawsey and Coach (Jimbo) Fisher tell me I can come there and make an impact. Coach (James) Coley at Miami wants me to build it in the backyard. Alabama is the only official visit I have scheduled, but I will likely take official visits to FSU and Miami."
Miami in hot pursuit of Alabama commit Shawn Burgess-Becker
Miami is turning up the heat for Alabama commit safety Shawn Burgess-Becker. The Crimson Tide came into UM's backyard to snag the Coconut Creek (Florida) Monarch star behind a strong effort from primary recruiter Mario Cristobal.
Miami's pursuit has helped its case recently with Burgess-Becker. The rangy safety elected to attend "U-Day" in Coral Gables a week ago instead of making the trip to Tuscaloosa for the Tide's scrimmage.
"Miami is coming after me hard and telling me they want and need me. They are doing all the minor things. They hit me up every day, stay in contact. We are building a better relationship. The coaches write me letters all the time. Its tough because I'm a solid commitment to Alabama around 90 percent. But Miami and Alabama are neck and neck."
The 4-star defensive back grew up a Miami fan. Yet, it was Alabama that offered him first, which meant a lot to him and was a big reason he committed. Will it be enough?
The Gamecocks are making a move on an out-of-state prospect
When running back Jordan Cronkrite became Miami's second running back pledge in April, the Canes told him they would only be taking two backs in the 2015 class. In July, Fort Lauderdale (Florida) St. Thomas Aquinas standout Jordan Scarlett switched his pledge from FAU to Miami. Scarlett's declaration along with the addition of Mark Walton gives The U four 4-star running backs in the 2015 class.
Cronkrite says he is still firm to Miami, but he is planning to take all of his official visits to see which situation is the best for him.
"I'm not running away from competition, but who knows what will happen in the near future. I'm going to take all visits and see what happens. The coaches told me there is a good chance that Duke Johnson could be leaving early, so I could play right away."
The 5'11", 196-pounder said he plans to take official visits to Florida, South Carolina, West Virginia and maybe Ohio State. South Carolina could have the best chance to pull Cronkrite from Miami.
"If I had a No. 2 school, it would be South Carolina. They reach out to me everyday. They call to see how I'm doing and let me know how the team is doing. I like that a lot about them."
As a junior, Cronkrite ran for over 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding three scores receiving.
Will the third time be the charm for 4-star DB Ben Edwards?
I am decommitting from Auburn. I have to do what's best for me. Auburn I thank y'all for everything but I have to move on.— Ben Edwards (@Ben_Edwards_) August 3, 2014
The recruitment of Jacksonville (Florida) Trinity Christian defensive back Ben Edwards has been a wild ride. Edwards committed to Ohio State in February but later backed off his pledge. After opening things back up, he pulled the trigger on Auburn in April. On Aug. 3, the 4-star defender had another change of heart and decommitted from the Tigers.
Where do things stand with the hard-hitting safety from Jacksonville?
"I'm looking into other schools right now," he said. "Auburn is a great school, but I want to weigh all of my options and take my official visits. In regard to Auburn, I feel some schools are offering more for me on and off the field."
Stanford and UCLA are two schools in the mix. According to a source with knowledge of Edwards' recruitment, the Cardinal could be a major factor. The academics stand out to Edwards, and he said Stanford is one of the schools where he feels most comfortable with the staff.
The latest on FSU pledge Tyrek Cole
Florida State target Tyrek Cole has been quiet about his status with the Noles. Cole committed to FSU after the BCS title game thanks in large part to ace recruiter Tim Brewster, who has done an excellent job in Broward and Miami-Dade County for the Noles.
I caught up with Cole and asked him about the rumors circulating that he was cooling on the Noles.
"I'm still solid with FSU. My recruiting is going well, but the process is getting harder and harder. Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Miami and South Carolina are on me the hardest. There's some pressure to stay home with Miami, but I try not to let it get to me."
The Canes feel like they have a shot to land the local star. His teammate, Leeward Brown, is committed, and Cole said Miami is the clear-cut No. 2.
S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C
In case you missed it, ESPN launched the much-hyped SEC Network. Is there a coincidence the network made its debut during the inaugural College Football Playoff format? I think not.
Now coaches can sell the network to recruits and their families. Although it's not like the conference needs another recruiting tool. 247Sports has six SEC schools in its top 10 recruiting rankings.
However, there are two schools struggling with recruiting heading into the fall. Ole Miss and Vanderbilt currently sit behind Arkansas State and FAU in the Rivals Team Rankings.
I caught up with Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst Woody Wommack to get his take on the situation at each school.
"We've seen Ole Miss land some big name guys recently with the 2013 consensus No. 1 player in Robert Nkemdiche, along with stud wideout Laquon Treadwell. However, people shouldn't hit the panic button just yet. They are still in the mix with some big-name guys.
"New 5-star offensive lineman Drew Richmond was just down there on campus. Richmond is high on Ole Miss. The Rebels are in good shape with 4-star guard Javon Patterson. Although they missed on defensive end Natrez Patrick out of Atlanta, they still have some quality guys committed like running back Eric Swinney and defensive back Ugo Amadi."
In Vanderbilt's case, it enters the season with a new staff that salvaged the 2014 class after James Franklin left Nashville to take over at Penn State. Some recruits may wait to see the results on the field before considering the Commodores.
"They have a staff without a lot of ties in the Southeast. It appears they trying to recruit like the Stanford of the South, going nationwide. That makes it harder to go against SEC schools if they miss on those guys and have to make a late push. Plus, they aren't offering underclassmen early, and that puts them behind the eight ball. By the time they offer a kid, he may have five SEC offers by then.
"Head coach Derek Mason is taking a different approach, and it remains to be seen if it will work in the SEC. One thing I've noticed is they don't seem to have that Atlanta connection like they used to under Franklin. If you look up and down SEC rosters, you see a number of players being plucked from the Atlanta area. This year they don't have that."
The 'Dores still have a pair of 4-stars committed in defensive back Donovan Sheffield and linebacker Josh Smith, but it's clear they need to add more depth in this cycle if they want to continue the success of the previous regime.
Kynon Codrington is a national recruiting analyst formerly of ESPN and Rivals.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting ratings courtesy of 247Sports.