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Brian Kelly & Notre Dame's Signing Day Transcript

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Brian Kelly and his coaching staff evaluate prospects beyond just the ability to play championship football.
Bill Panzica

Once upon a time it would have been unfathomable that a college football head coach would not meet with the media on National Signing Day in February.

However, the recent early signing period that began in December 2017, and was in its second year this past recruiting cycle, has rendered the traditional first Wednesday of February signing day far less relevant.

California four-star defensive end Isaiah Foskey was the lone addition to December’s 21-man Fighting Irish class that ranked No. 14 on Rivals.com.

However, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly did share a seven-minute interview with the school's in-house Fighting Irish Media that was released on Wednesday afternoon. Here were his thoughts on various topics:


On Closing The Class With Fosky:

“We were looking for a pass rusher. Certainly any time that you finish up your recruiting, you want to finish with somebody we think can make an impact. Isaiah comes from a great program, De La Salle. It’s a great fit, strong student, but more importantly, I think we needed that guy that can make a presence in our defense.

“If you’re looking at it from an NFL perspective, those guys that get paid a lot of money are those cornerbacks and guys that can rush the quarterback. He certainly can do that.”


On Evaluating The Class:

“You have to look at it from its totality. There will be some developmental guys, guys that are going to take some time. I think there are going to be some guys that are going to push for some time, and then there are some guys that I think could start for us. Every class has those guys in it. You recruit that way. Not all these guys are ready to play.

"I think there’s balance. You’re always looking to fill in the needs that you have in a class. This has a very strong presence as mid-years (a school record 10 of the 22 enrolled for the spring semester that began Jan. 15), and I think that’s a trend that will continue. We like getting them in here in January. The transition academically here at Notre Dame, it helps them quite a bit. We get them in the weight room, we get them in spring ball, and it helps them in terms of maturing and being able to play.

“So there’s a lot of things going on here: Early signing day, mid-year enrollment, player development, and I think it’s really impacted the way we’ve been able to move forward in recruiting.”


On The First Three Weeks For The 10 Early Enrollees:

“First and foremost, they’re all able to handle the transition. And I don’t think you graduate early from high school if you’re not organized, detailed, have put in the time and effort. All of these guys have had to do things that were more than the average student. They had to take an extra class, they had to do some summer work, so they’re all highly motivated young men, and that works well here, obviously.

“They’ve got off to a good start, they’ve been indoctrinated to a way of life here at Notre Dame which requires a great attention to detail, and they get an opportunity to be part of our weight training program ... that development is crucial as well.”


On Lessons Learned From Year Two Of Early Signing Compared To Year One

“First and foremost, is this [February] really the signing date? I think that first year you kind of said, ‘Are they going to sign on this early signing date, or are they going to default back to February, which was ‘the original signing day?’ We signed all of them [in December] except Isaiah.

“I think what we found is that early signing date is de facto ‘the signing date,’ and I think we’ve learned that in year two. All it means is that everything has kind of sped up by a few months. The month of December makes it a little bit interesting because you’re balancing recruiting with preparing your team for the playoffs, players being evaluated for the NFL — there’s a lot going on there.

“But it makes January and February — January in particular — a great month to get ahead, to start looking at 20s and 21s. I know we’re so much further along in the recruiting process than we’ve ever been. Having said that, it makes for a pretty crazy and intense December.”


On What The Staff Is Focused On To Have ‘Good Fits’ With The School

“Any good operation, you have to have the skills. Certainly they’ve got to have the skills to play national championship quality football. They have to have the skill set to compete in one of the premier academic institutions. That’s easier to define, right? But they also have to fit culturally here. So what does that mean? They have to understand this is the preeminent Catholic institution in the world, and so you’re coming into a holistic education where you’re going to develop in all manners.

“You’re going to develop spiritually, you’re going to develop intellectually, socially. You’re going to be part of this campus, you’re not going to be isolated in a football dorm, you’re going to be part of this community. Understanding what that means, being engaged, being part of what’s going on, being in the dorms, being active, being other-centered, being part of community service.

“We have to find young men that understand what our community is about, and when you do that and couple it with the skills, you find the right fit.”


On The Effect Of The New Redshirt Rule

“I don’t know if it’s affected the early enrollees. They have to have a unique skills sense in that they’ve got to be prepared and organized, and sometimes their school will not advocate leaving early. I think the new redshirt rule has helped in some instances where you can get some game-day action for some guys. I don’t think it’s changed the landscape of college football.

"I think it’s a good rule. I think it helps guys stay engaged a little bit — but you know who can play and can’t play, and who’s going to get redshirted and who’s not going to get redshirted. I just think it’s a nice carrot for the guys that they know they can get a couple of games in, and then you can kind of figure out there are maybe one or two guys that can help you later in the season. I think it’s a good rule, but I don’t think it’s one of those headline grabbers from 2018.”

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