Notre Dame's top-rated recruiting class pushed by two factors

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Notre Dame's top-rated recruiting class pushed by two factors

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame has seen a recruiting bump over the last few months thanks to a perfect 1-2 punch: A 10-0 team contending for a national title, and linebacker Manti Te'o.
Rivals' recruiting class rankings has Notre Dame's 2013 crop as the third-best in the country, led by five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith. Four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone recently reaffirmed his commitment to Notre Dame after plenty of chatter he would flip to Florida. The Irish feature 13 four or five-star players, easily the highest total of the Brian Kelly era.
"It's been a great year, there's no question," Kelly said Tuesday. "I will tell you that winning helps in recruiting. It also solidifies those commitments. We have a number of midyear enrollees that obviously are very excited about the direction of the football program.
"So there is no mistaking that that kind of success helps you in recruiting. Having said that, I think we had made great progress coming into the season where we had a number commitments already in place. I think the winning has obviously enhanced that and strengthened those commitments. But I don't think there is any question that winning definitely gives you a bump in recruiting."
On national signing day in February, Kelly described his 2012 class as one that filled needs, specifically at wide receiver and cornerback.
The Irish added much-needed depth at receiver, with Chris Brown and Davonte Neal playing roles in Notre Dame's offense and special teams as true freshmen. And KeiVarae Russell -- who wasn't recruited as a cornerback -- has been solid after getting the nod when Lo Wood went down with a season-ending injury.
But what Kelly noted in February, too, was that he and his coaching staff were ready to start recruiting "big skill" guys for 2013.
"We needed to take care of the needs within the program in this second recruiting class, and I think we all heard last year me talking about the "back end" and the skill players, and we think we have done that," Kelly explained. "Next year's class will have that versatility element and it will be centered around that big skill."
So far, so good. Being 10-0 has certainly helped Notre Dame's chances with high schoolers, but having an ambassador like Te'o has been important, too.
"I always tell them, hey, when you're a champion at other schools, you're a champion. But when you're a champion at Notre Dame, you become a legend," Te'o said of his pitch to recruits. "It wasn't hard for me to decide. We weren't doing so well, and yet still, there were talks about a legendary status, and just imagine if you experienced a successful season, what that would look like."

After 20 years, Dan Sharp steps down as Joliet Catholic head coach

After 20 years, Dan Sharp steps down as Joliet Catholic head coach

Joliet Catholic Academy head football coach Dan Sharp has resigned his coaching position at the school and will retain his athletic director position.

"It was time," Sharp said. "It's been a long, great and wonderful coaching career for me coaching the Hilltoppers, and now it's the right time to step aside. It's been an emotional drain handling both jobs. I'm going to miss the kids and the coaches, but also it was just time."

Sharp hired assistant coach Jake Jaworski as the school's next varsity football coach. Jaworski, a teacher at Joliet Catholic Academy, was also a multi-sport athlete and starting defensive back on Joliet Catholic's state-championship teams in 2000 and 2001.

"It's not very often that you are allowed to hand-pick your successor," Sharp said. "Jaws is more than ready to take over the program and bring in some excitement, and I know that I'm leaving the football program into great hands."

Sharp, who posted a 199-51 record in 20 seasons at Joliet Catholic (223-69 record overall in 24 years), is also excited to help his new head coach take over the reins of one of the state's traditional power programs.

"I'm looking forward to getting Jake off to a good start."

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knows 'it will be very hard to trade' Chris Sale

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knows 'it will be very hard to trade' Chris Sale

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The baseball world has come to suburban DC for the winter meetings. In a hotel just steps away from the Potomac River, the White Sox are holding onto the biggest fish available.

But trading their ace Chris Sale might be tougher than it seems because of the White Sox steep asking price. Will any team meet their demands? That’s the question.

"You have to have four prospects who can’t possibly miss to get one," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told CSN. "I’ve seen so many players over the years who were going to be phenoms, they were going to be future Hall of Famers, and we don’t even remember what their names are anymore. That’s why when you’re trading a player of stature you’ve got to get multiple can’t-miss prospects back. That’s why it makes it tough to trade a player of great stature."

With the meetings in their hometown this year, the Washington Nationals could make quite the splash by acquiring Sale, which would give them a dominating 1-2 punch with Sale and Max Scherzer, not to mention Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals have the pieces to pull off such a deal, but they’ve reportedly been unwilling to trade their top prospect, Trea Turner, a 23-year-old who slashed .342/.370/.567 in 307 at-bats after getting called up last season. He can play second base, shortstop and center field. Oh, and he also stole 33 bases.

But Sale is no slouch himself. He’s finished in the top six in AL Cy Young voting in each of the last five seasons. And then there's his salary. He’s owed $12 million for 2017, with club options for each of the following two seasons at $12.5 million and $13.5 million. That’s three years for $38 million. Compare that with top free-agent pitcher Rich Hill, who is 10 years older than Sale and reportedly got a three-year, $48 million contract when he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. This is one of the weakest free-agent classes for starting pitchers we’ve ever seen.

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On the surface, the White Sox hold all the cards. But so far teams are holding onto their top prospects like gold and have been unwilling to deal them even for one of the best pitchers in the game.

Knowing what Sale has meant to the franchise, Reinsdorf admitted "it will be very hard to trade him."

For it to happen, the White Sox don’t sound like they are willing to put Sale in the clearance section.

"We’d have to really feel we were coming back with a lot of goods, a lot of merchandise," Reinsdorf said.

But for the first time, the White Sox are open to trading Sale, an idea few could fathom a year ago.

"I’ve said it many, many times, I’ve only had one player that couldn’t be traded (Michael Jordan), and the only reason he couldn’t be traded was that I would have been shot dead the day after,” Reinsdorf said. “We love our players, and we want our players when their careers are over to say that 'the best place I played was with the White Sox.' But again our obligation is to the fans to make our teams as good as we can make them, and we have to look at the players basically as assets and if we can make a team better by trading somebody no matter how much we love the guy, we have to go ahead and do it.

"Having said that, I don’t know what’s going to happen here."