Five things I learned this weekend

Keeping commitment tougher than securing it

By now, everybody knows about Gunner Kiel’s “re-evaluation” of his Indiana commitment. It was a surprise to most people when Kiel committed to Indiana during the summer, considering he is ranked No. 20 in the ESPNU 150 and had college football bluebloods Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan at his beckoning.

The real coup for Indiana wasn’t the initial commitment; it was going to be when Kiel actually signed on the dotted line. Kiel’s case is a microcosm of the issues a lot of teams on the rise have when trying to keep the top in-state talent in state.

Indiana had a lot to sell during the offseason with a strong list of recruits and a renewed sense of pride in the football program under first-time head coach Kevin Wilson, a renowned assistant at Oklahoma. Once the games actually started, though, Indiana’s struggles and program direction became the top story and had Kiel re-thinking his commitment.

It’s clear Kiel’s decision isn’t based solely on record, but winning usually solves everything. We’re likely not having any conversations regarding Kiel if Indiana was 6-1 instead of 1-6.

Notre Dame let a golden opportunity slip through its hands

We won’t know what this weekend did for Notre Dame until everything becomes official on Feb. 1, but it is clear Notre Dame didn’t make the kind of impression it wanted, at least during the actual game.

The stadium was rocking leading up to the game, but it didn’t take long for USC to silence the crowd. Notre Dame and the crowd did not sustain that pregame energy for very long. USC ran the ball all over Notre Dame early in the first quarter and took the crowd out of the game.

A win against USC wouldn’t guarantee a slew of commitments just as a loss doesn’t guarantee all will cut Notre Dame from the list. But the atmosphere was supposed to be a big part of the experience for recruits, and that electric atmosphere didn’t make it out of the first quarter.

Michigan State earns another big win in front of recruits

Last week, it was a win over rival Michigan that helped the Spartans’ cause when it comes to in-state recruiting.

On Saturday, Michigan State arguably topped that with its win over Wisconsin. Many of the nation’s top recruits were at Notre Dame, but a handful made the trip to East Lansing, including ESPNU Watch List S Cam Burrows, one of the top juniors in the Midwest.

The environment at Michigan State was great all day, beginning with a trip from ESPN College GameDay. And it seemed like Michigan State made every single play that causes an immediate fan eruption: double reverse for a score, a blocked punt for a score and, of course, a game-ending Hail Mary touchdown for the win as time expired.

The Spartans have a lot to sell with their wins the last two weeks.

Dawson is a BIG running back

Online message boards are comparing Western Hills (Cincinnati) running back Dion Dawson to former Heisman winner Ron Dayne, but Dawson is bigger.

Listed at 290 pounds, Dawson not only plays running back, but also plays extensively along the defensive line. I’m not sure how many running backs in the country play defensive tackle, but I am sure you can probably count them on one hand.

Dawson carries that weight well, though, and he looks pretty good running the ball. He has offers from some MAC schools and could be an ideal goal-line back even as a freshman in college.

Illinois’ Class 6A bracket is loaded with talent

Illinois released its brackets for the state playoffs on Sunday, and the talent in the Class 6A bracket immediately stands out.

Tevin Coleman (Oak Forest), Ethan Pocic (Lemont), David Smith (Bremen), Anthony Standifer (Crete-Monee), Laquon Treadwell (Crete-Monee) and Faith Ekakitie (Lake Forest) are just a handful of future FBS players in the 6A bracket.