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Recruits adopt ‘Mob’ mentality

Chris Allen | Thursday, February 7, 2013

The 24 incoming players who make up the Irish class of 2013 hail from as far east as Massachusetts and as far west as California.
But despite being separated by distance, the group has been united for months under one defining moniker.

“The ‘Irish Mob,’” cornerback Devin Butler, who signed Wednesday, said. “It [started] way back when it was only 11 commits. I was just talking to [quarterback] Malik Zaire and [wide receiver] James Onwualu about how we ‘mob,’ slang for like playing well. They both said, ‘We are the Irish Mob,’ and we ran with it.

“It helps to keep us close because it’s just a way to unite us and keep us all together without being together.”

Though it started off as a moniker, the “Irish Mob” became a movement that brought together arguably the best recruiting class in recent Notre Dame history. Through the use of the hashtag #IrishMob13 on Twitter, natural leaders Onwualu, Butler and offensive lineman Steve Elmer were able to bring new and talented recruits to play for the Irish.

Irish recruiting analyst Mike Frank said the group is already showing the ability to lead at a young age.

“The closeness of the group has a huge impact,” he said. “That’s your future leadership at some point. Having those guys so close and having them get along with each other, it’s good because when the game’s on the line they don’t want to let their brother down. That’s where it really comes into play.”

As the 2012 Irish continued to pile up wins on the field, the “Irish Mob” continued to grow off it. The class gained momentum from the commitments of five-star caliber players in running back Greg Bryant and safety Max Redfield in the weeks and days leading up to the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7. Frank said a distinguishing factor of the group was its willingness to compete against players who play the same position. Bryant, running back Tarean Folston and tight end Durham Smythe all joined the “Mob” late despite facing crowded position battles.

“The way this class operates is, we’re all here to compete and we’re all here to play, but whatever is going to make the team better is what we need,” Frank said. “It’s a kind of unselfishness. I’m really excited to see that.”

The unity of the “Mob” was tested on Jan. 10 as highly-regarded linebacker Alex Anzalone, scheduled to enroll early at Notre Dame, de-committed to enroll early at Florida.

The Irish recruits reacted in an uproar at Anzalone, heavily criticizing his decision. Frank said the fire with which the players reacted is a sign of future team unity.

“When Alex Anzalone decommitted, a lot of guys that he knew felt pretty betrayed by that. That was encouraging to see, they took that very personally,” Frank said. “That to me was a good sign that you’ve got the right kind of guys coming in this class, the right kind of mentality that you’re looking for. Guys that take this seriously, personally and want to be part of not just a team but a family-type atmosphere. They took that as a discretion against the family almost, which I thought was a really encouraging sign.”

Through the work of Zaire, Onwualu, Butler and others, it has become clear that fall camp will be more than just an assembly of new faces – it will be the reunion of a family.

A family called  the “Irish Mob.”
Contact Chris Allen at callen10@nd.edu