Thursday, February 7, 2008

Irish Recruiting Recap: Quarterback

Dayne Crist is one of my favorite recruits in this class. Let me get that bias out in the open right off the bat. To commit to Notre Dame early in the process knowing that the Irish signed the most heralded QB recruit in the last decade just 1 year prior, and then stay true to that commitment despite an awful season and an onslaught of attention from other schools speaks volumes not only about Dayne the player, but also Dayne the person. This is a kid who was undeterred by the presence of Jimmy Clausen and was actually attracted by the opportunity to compete with Jimmy. He was also one of our biggest recruiters, singled out by Charlie in his signing day press conference.

Lost in the multitude of recruiting stories this year is the fact that Jimmy Clausen actually played a huge role in Dayne committing to the Irish. These two have known each other since childhood and have remained friends. Jimmy hosted Dayne on his visit and recruited him as hard as the staff did. It would have been very easy for Jimmy to feel threatened by the Irish recruiting another top QB but he really wanted Dayne at ND. And Dayne wanted to compete with Jimmy as teammates. I think that is a key dynamic in this signing. QBs are different animals. In the college game, the importance of having a top QB is absolutely essential. Some QBs can be fragile guys though -- guys with huge egos and guys who have to be "the man." Make no mistake about it, if Jimmy was one of those guys, this signing would be a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, he is not. There is a big difference between "competing with" and "competing against" a guy. Jimmy and Dayne want to "compete with" each other. They want to push each other, drive each other, and make each other better. They both have that goal.

So what are the Irish getting in Dayne Crist? They are getting a tremendous leader first and foremost. By all accounts, this is a kid that others just gravitate to. We all know people like that. We can't quantify exactly what it is about these people, but we know they just have something in their makeup and personality that just makes others want to follow them and want to be around them. This is an invaluable characteristic for a QB to have. Most of the great ones do. Think about it -- Montana, Brady, Marino, Elway, Simms -- not a whole lot of shrinking violets or guys others have trouble getting along with in that group. There is a reason a guy like Jeff George never realized his potential and bounced to seemingly every team in the league.

In addition to his mental makeup, The Irish are also getting a guy with all the physical tools to become a top QB. There is not a throw on the field that Dayne does not have the ability to make. His arm strength is plus rating level and he has tremendous size. He is also more mobile than I think a lot of people realize. On film, he makes a number of plays rolling out on the run or sliding left or right.

From a technique standpoint, Dayne is raw right now, which to me is a positive. He is just scratching the surface of his potential. Everyone wants to compare Dayne to Jimmy. Right now, there isn't a comparison. Jimmy came to ND as much more of a polished QB than Dayne is right now. He was much farther along in his footwork and ability to read defenses in particular. Having 2 full springs and a season on Dayne pushes him that much farther ahead in his development. This is a GOOD thing!!!!! I hear way too many Irish fans saying Dayne could beat out Jimmy this year. Folks, we all want the Irish to get to the top of the mountain and win a championship. You don't do that with freshmen QBs. What is best for the Irish is for Dayne to have the opportunity to sit, learn, and develop that Jimmy didn't have. Jimmy Clausen is going to be the Irish QB and is going to explode. Dayne is going to learn and develop and when he gets his chance, hopefully when Jimmy graduates, he will step in and excel.

To me, the big challenge for Charlie is going to be learning to develop 2 QBs at once. When Brady Quinn was at ND, Charlie admitted that Brady took just about every practice rep. You can do that in the pros because if you have a top QB like Tom Brady, you know he will be with the franchise for your entire tenure. And you can get a veteran backup that doesn't need much technical development. In college, kids graduate and you better have another guy ready to go. I think one of the mistakes Charlie made in years 1 and 2 was not developing a guy like Evan Sharpley to the point where he could maximize his ability and be a serviceable starter until a guy like Jimmy was ready to take over. Charlie cannot make that mistake again, especially with Dayne. Dayne needs reps and he needs coaching. Plus, with Jimmy having had arm problems in his past, there is no reason for him to monopolize the snaps in practice.

I am extremely excited about this signing. With Charlie at ND, the Irish will always be attractive to top QBs. This signing goes a long way towards stabilizing and stocking this position for the present and future. I could not draw up a QB that has the skills and mental makeup that are better for the Irish offense and team than what Dayne Crist possesses. As Charlie would say, the arrow is pointing straight up!!!!

Next Up: Irish Recruiting Recap: Running Back


sir john said...

Outstanding Glory. I get jealous of your analysis

Anonymous said...

Dayne Crist isn't the only recruit ND got at QB. Nate Montana was accepted as a prefered walk-on. While he may not be as developed as Crist or Clausen, he provides depth. He has the size, he has the genes, and wants to be at ND.

An injured QB can destroy a season. The more back-ups you have that can step-up, the better.

IrishGlory said...

I hear you ananymous. I love having Joe's son on the team. I have never seen him play, but I unstand he is talented, but raw. I would love to see him work himself into a position where he could at least provide solid depth.