Monday, January 29, 2007

Powlus to Prepare Pocket Passers | by Pat

Perhaps overlooked in the news of the hiring of Corwin Brown is the return of Ron Powlus to the Notre Dame sideline. Powlus served as the Director of Personnel Development the past two years, but this promotion gets him out from behind a desk and back on to the field.

Powlus joins offensive coordinator Michael Haywood as a former ND-player turned-coach, a situation that hasn't been all that common at ND lately, but has been pretty successful in the past. (I originally had a paragraph here wondering who the last player-turned-coach was, completely overlooking the obvious and easy answer in Haywood. Sorry about that Mike.) For the complete list of former ND assistants, check this out. How many former ND players can you find?

If you watched the press conference (the video is no longer available, but you can read the transcript here) you saw that Ron really seems eager to sell Notre Dame to future recruits. And what better person to do it than a guy who probably went through the ND hype and publicity ringer more than any other player in school history? If anyone can identify with recruits and give them a straight answer on the highs and lows of playing for ND, it's Powlus. He's already saying the right things about playing under the media spotlight.

People call it pressure. I call it attention. That's part of the game. That's part of what you buy into, and all the guys that come here expect to play and expect to be the starting quarterback of Notre Dame. If you don't, we don't want you on the team.

So every guy that walks in this door that plays the position of quarterback, I hope he expects to play. And that's the mentality that they should have coming in and that's the mentality of every one of the guys competing for that job, and we'll help breed a competitive environment and let the best guy get on the field.
Powlus reportedly did a bang-up job with the administrative aspects of recruiting last year and now will be in a position to hit the road and really test his abilities as a recruiter. However, despite having the background as a former ND student-athlete, once he's making in-home visits alongside head coaches from the SEC and Big Ten, it will take more than just stories about hanging out in Flanner Hall. Recruiting quarterbacks to Notre Dame likely won't be that difficult in the near future, so how Powlus fares with other recruits will be a sign of just how effective he can be.

As for the coaching aspect, it appears that at least initially, Powlus will take a backseat and serve more as an assistant QB coach to Charlie's lead.
Of course there's plenty to learn. I fortunately played the position for many years. Had a lot of experience. But bottom line I'll learn what it's like to teach the quarterbacks from one of the best quarterbacks coaches ever in Coach Weis. He's proven himself to be an outstanding head coach and outstanding quarterback coach. I'm going to be learning with the rest of these guys.
The change from Vaas to Powlus makes the Irish offensive staff a lot younger -- and a lot less experienced. With a wide-open quarterback derby looming large this spring, Powlus will certainly have his hands full. He got a taste of on-field coaching two Springs ago when QB coach Dave Cutcliffe left the program for health reasons. Weis petitioned the NCAA to allow Powlus to step in and serve as a temporary QB coach in Cutcliffe's stead. It will be very interesting to see how he adapts to the coaching and full-time recruiting and how the players respond to him. Ron became somewhat of a punching bag while under center at ND due to all the unfulfilled expectations; who knows, maybe he'll help bring those two Heismans to Notre Dame after all.