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Recruiting: Irish lose linebacker Perkins

Allan Joseph | Thursday, November 3, 2011

While Notre Dame continues to pursue talented recruits from all over the country, the Irish lost their 2012 signee closest to home this week when South Bend linebacker David Perkins re-opened his recruitment. Though losing Perkins is a setback to the class Irish coach Brian Kelly continues to craft, Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said the writing has been on the wall for some time.

“I’ve just never been sold that he really wanted to be at Notre Dame,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN affiliate Irish Sports Daily. “He seems like a kid that wants to get out a little bit and see things, and he’s never really been fond of this area. When you speak to him, he doesn’t have too many things that he’s excited about when talking about this area.

“But I think he also understands the value of a Notre Dame education and what that can bring to him. How it ends up, I don’t know.”

Frank said Kelly might not be too concerned with Perkins’ decommitment, as Kelly continues to build a class of players who are fully committed to the Irish.

“[Kelly] only wants kids that want to be at Notre Dame and not kids that he has to talk into coming to Notre Dame,” Frank said. “It’ll be interesting to see where that ends up and see how hard Notre Dame pushes to get him back in the fold — and whether he’s even interested in Notre Dame at this point. I know he says he is, but it may just be a fallback plan for him too.”

Frank said Kelly and recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin were not looking for many linebackers in the 2012 class anyway and that Ohio linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo may take Perkins’ spot in the class.

“Notre Dame is pretty high on Ifeadi Odenigbo’s list right now, and if he were to come in the fold, I don’t think that losing David Perkins would be an issue at all,” Frank said. “I think Ifeadi better fits the profile as far as the type of player they want … But it’s really not a big need.”

After a brief firestorm erupted late last week over Kelly’s comments comparing players he had recruited to players recruited by former coach Charlie Weis, Frank said there was certainly a difference in both coaches’ recruits, but much of that was due to the 3-4 defense defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has installed.

“I think that the differences would be in body type,” Frank said. “Under Weis, they were recruiting more of a 4-3 look. [Kelly and his staff] want to build a big, beefy front three and get some athletic players on the outside that can run and play in space … I can sort of see where one would say that’s a different type of player.”

Frank said the other major difference between the Weis and Kelly recruiting philosophies was the method used for evaluation.

“It seemed like at times through Charlie’s tenure that he liked a lot of guys that were athletic. Their measurables were impressive,” Frank said. “With Kelly, he wants to see productivity on the field and wants to see it with his own two eyes.

“Just watching the highlight films of the two groups, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see a difference in some of the players of the recruited.”

Because Frank only has time to watch highlight films, however, he cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from tapes recruits put together.

“Let me be clear in saying that a highlight film is just four minutes of one player doing something well all four minutes,” Frank said. “I can put together a highlight film and it would make me look a lot better than I actually am.”

As the Irish travel to play their first-ever game at Wake Forest, Frank said the Carolinas are beginning to become more and more recognized as locales with high levels of football talent.

“Notre Dame’s recruited a lot of players from that area as well. They’re really starting to tap into it more and more,” Frank said. “There are a lot of great athletes down there, and sometimes they just get overlooked because it’s not a hot news bed area.”

Frank said the rare trip to North Carolina will help build Notre Dame’s brand recognition.

“It gets Notre Dame’s name out there. All of that exposure is fantastic for Notre Dame,” Frank said. “When you have so much talent down there in that area, it’s a great opportunity to go down there and show that group of people what Notre Dame’s about.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com. Email Mike at mikefrank18@sbcglobal.net and tell him The Observer sent you.