After reports surfaced that defensive end Aaron Lynch backed out of his oral commitment to Notre Dame on Sunday, coach Brian Kelly was asked about what he tells recruits during a difficult stretch for his football team.
Kelly cannot commend on specific recruits until signing day on Feb. 2.
But the coach did talk about what he tells high school players as Notre Dame deals with the death of videographer, being 4-5 after back-to-back tough losses and an injury list that includes starting quarterback Dayne Crist, tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Armando Allen, nose guard Ian Williams and others.
“I don’t really beg any of them to come to Notre Dame, if they don’t understand what we are trying to build here,” Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. “They get an opportunity to meet with me personally, and (during) that personal conversation, I talk about what I’m looking for from them and whether they want to be part of that. This recruiting process, every year you are going to lose guys. We are going to continue to talk about what we are doing here. We are going to give them opportunities to meet with us individually, talk to our players. In that process, if they believe that Notre Dame is the right place then we’ll get them here.
“There are plenty of great players out there. We are not going to lose sight of the fact that we’re going to develop our players, and we want guys here who want to be here. We are not going to beg anybody to come play at Notre Dame.”
Lynch was the third recruit to decommit from Notre Dame’s class of 2011. Offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood and linebacker Clay Burton have also said they are looking at other options.
Kelly said he understands teenagers are not locked into a program all the time after giving a school an oral commitment.
“A verbal commitment really has no binding affect,” Kelly said. “For anybody to be verbally committed, it depends what that word means to you. I know what it means to me, but it is not the same with 17 and 18 year olds. Unless you have a parent that has stepped in or somebody that is close with the young man say, ‘Listen, his word is a bond. It’s like he’s signed with you,’ you better keep recruiting him.
“Unfortunately, the word verbal commitment doesn’t mean the same to a lot of young men out there. That’s why I’m very leery on verbal commitments, unless we feel there are other circumstances that play in and that’s a parent who has made that commitment as well.”
Kelly also gave some insight into what he looks for in recruits.
“First, I don’t think you just accidentally run into a gamer,” Kelly said. “You have to look for that in a person. The first thing is what are you looking for. Are you strictly looking for a talent and a big-strong arm and he can do this, or are you looking for somebody when you talk to the coaches and other coaches who have played against him that use those words you are looking for in the recruiting process – toughness, savvy, great sportsman – whatever those are.
“We look for certain characteristic in players.”