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Swarbrick, Costabile and recruiting: Notre Dame sports news roundup

| Monday, May 18, 2020

With finals week for Notre Dame students — followed by our work on the Observer Sports department’s annual commencement coverage of every Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross sport — some Irish sports news may have slipped through the cracks.

Here are a few quick hitters to get up to date on the Notre Dame sports scene.


Jack Swarbrick hosts Zoom conference on state of sports

Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick met with the media on May 5. He answered questions on a variety of topics, from NCAA talks on the issue of players profiting off of their name, image and likeness (NIL) to the situation regarding Notre Dame’s own sports for next season.

As far as Notre Dame was concerned, Swarbrick began by addressing the football schedule and the season opener scheduled to take place against Navy in Ireland.

“At this point, it’s still on the schedule,” Swarbrick said. “Our focus, in part because there’s no reason to have a different focus, is on moving forward toward it. We get more information, every day we get more information from Ireland, we get a better sense of the state of college football generally and whether it can begin on time. But until the blanks are filled in, we’re not at a point yet where we’re prepared to do anything other than plan for it.”

Swarbrick did say, however, that they recognize the risk of playing that game there, and provided a bevy of yet-to-be-answered questions that are on every decision maker’s mind at this time. They first pertained to the proper preparation of athletics in making sure health and safety are of the utmost importance.

“Do we need to do something different with our locker room?” Swarbrick asked. “Do we need to create additional space? … Do we approach practice differently? In terms of the interaction, during the course of practice, what does the weight room look like? How many people do we have in under time? How do we maintain the equipment between reps? All of those things are the sorts of issues we’re working through.”

He then threw out issues regarding game operations.

“We, like a number of schools, have a walk from the football office to the stadium, which is a tradition that people care a lot about,” Swarbrick said. “Can you do that in these circumstances?… What will we want capacity to be? How will we define capacity in the new normal going forward for the coming season? What will the entries into the stadium look like? How will we change the concession experience?”

All this was to say that the answer is still unclear, and decisions will not be made until more information is at hand. The other factor is that many different bodies are trying to cooperate and develop an appropriate course of action, from state governments to conference commissioners.

“I think we all recognize that there is a significant chance that that may not be possible, that either because states or individual colleges and universities take different approaches, you can’t produce a season where all members are participating in Division I football in the same way,” Swarbrick said. “We just have to take the time to figure that out as we go.”

He then proceeded to offer even more questions about college football as a whole, from putting together schedules to how the College Football Playoff would be affected to Heisman Trophy voting. As far as the Irish, an Independent team in football, are concerned, Swarbrick is confident they will be able to participate.

“My hope … is whether a possible model is a conference schedule plus-one,” he said. “… There’s great rivalries in the state of Florida, for example, Clemson [and] South Carolina. So, you protect those, but other than that one game, you’ve built your schedule around conferences.

“You know, we would love Wisconsin to be able to still play Notre Dame in Lambeau [Field] this year, or Arkansas to still visit [Notre Dame Stadium]. And so, we just have to see how that evolves. But I am not concerned about our ability to have a challenging, robust schedule, even if the conferences go to a conference-only model.”

Swarbrick also took on a question regarding whether or not the economic impact of the pandemic may force Notre Dame to dissolve some of its athletics programs that don’t generate enough revenue. While Swarbrick said no decisions will be made in the midst of this pandemic, he also did not have an answer as to whether or not programs may be canceled in the future.

“Whether it is, as I said earlier, a different approach to travel; whether maybe some sports don’t get fully sponsored — in the NCAA parlance — that is to say, you don’t make a full complement of scholarships available; or whether you change your sports program generally and say we’re going to sponsor fewer sports; I’m not sure I can think of any school in the country for which those issues aren’t on the table now,” Swarbrick said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that the reduction in sports will be the leading edge of cost savings. But I do think it would be disingenuous not to say that they have to be part of the consideration.”

Again though, Swarbrick stressed that this process is about adaptability and strategizing as new information comes along.

“We can spend every hour of every day modeling and trying to anticipate some of these but each day brings new information,” he said. “So we’re trying to find the balance, but we are going to face a lot of those questions down the road.”


Bryan Costabile departs for Premier Lacrosse League

Bryan Costabile, a senior lacrosse player in the 2020 season, announced on May 7 that he would forego a fifth year — a possibility as the NCAA announced it would allow spring sport athletes an extra year of eligibility — to enter his name in the Premier Lacrosse League draft.

The star midfielder earned a number of individual accolades in his tenure with the Irish. He made the ACC All-Tournament Team each of his first three years, was an All-ACC Team member his sophomore and junior years, was a nominee for the 2019 Tewaaraton Award — given annually to the best men’s and women’s college lacrosse players — and was named 2019 ACC Offensive player of the Year. He was also a 2020 preseason All-ACC selection and First Team All-American by both “USILA” and “Inside Lacrosse.”

Costabile started every game for the Irish in his career, and in 2019, set the school record for goals in a season by a midfielder with 42. He finishes his career ninth in program history with 99 career goals and 19th in career points with 118.

On May 13 Costabile was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 PLL Draft. He will join Atlas Lacrosse Club, one of six charter members of the PLL when established in 2019. The league is attempting to put on a tournament this summer starting with group play in July to determine a single elimination bracket.


Notre Dame Football continues to recruit

The Irish have been making a splash on the recruiting trail recently. On March 27, they landed a commitment from David Abiara, a three-star strongside defensive end from Mansfield, Texas from the class of 2021. Defensive line coach Mike Elston then added another three-star end in Jason Onye out of Rhode Island.

Soon after Abiara, the Irish locked down three-star offensive tackle Pat Coogan out of Chicago on April 15. However, recruiting on the offensive side of the ball has continued struggling following the de-commitment of four-star Georgia wide receiver Deion Colzie on March 20.

Notre Dame’s No. 1 running back target Will Shipley, the No. 1 all-purpose back in the 2021 class, elected to take his talents to Clemson, South Carolina and play for Dabo Swinney and the defending national runner-up Tigers.

Despite the loss of Shipley, defensive recruiting has maintained a positive trend. Soon after the Irish lost out on the Shipley sweepstakes, newly minted cornerback coach Mike Mickens received a commitment on May 5 from four-star Florida cornerback Philip Riley, the No. 20 cornerback in the 2021 class per Rivals.com.

Mickens then proceeded to add more depth to next season’s Irish roster as Notre Dame landed graduate transfer cornerback Nick McCloud from North Carolina State. McCloud started 11 games last season for the Wolfpack, recording eight pass breakups, two interceptions and coming in fourth on the roster in tackles.

His commitment comes as a much-needed addition for an Irish secondary lacking experience and bodies, especially when Shaun Crawford will be entering his sixth year with the program following two full seasons and most of a third missed with injuries. Barring an injury which would allow McCloud to preserve a four-game redshirt, he will have one year of eligibility remaining with the Irish.

McCloud now makes for the third Irish graduate transfer this offseason along with former Northwestern wide receiver Bennett Skowronek and former Ohio State safety Isaiah Pryor. There are also talks that Notre Dame is courting a possible fourth transfer in Stanford running back Trevor Speights, whom current Irish running backs coach Lance Taylor recruited during his time with the Cardinal.

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

Contact Hayden