Two days after Notre Dame announced running backs coach Tim Hinton and offensive line coach Ed Warinner were leaving the program, offensive line recruit Taylor Decker's status has slipped into limbo.
Decker, from Vandalia, Ohio, has been verbally committed to the Irish since March but was affected by the coaches' departures two-fold: Warinner would have been his position coach and Hinton recruited him to Notre Dame.
The announcement took 6-foot-8, 285-pound Decker by surprise.
"I mean, at first I thought the world was ending, because they were gone," Decker said in a text message on Wednesday night.
"They were important, but I picked Notre Dame for Notre Dame. Don't get me wrong, the coaches are great, but after thinking it through I also chose ND for ND."
Still, Decker said he would rather not comment yet on whether his commitment to the Irish was still solid. He planned speak with recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin late Wednesday night.
The first day prospects can sign binding national letters-of-intent is Feb. 1. ND coach Brian Kelly is prohibited by NCAA rules from commenting on unsigned recruits.
Decker's status may become even more complicated when Warinner and Hinton officially join new head coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State.
Both Warinner and Hinton are Ohio natives who started their coaching
careers in the state.
Decker said he hasn't spoken with either of the coaches, but that he
received a voice mail from Hinton that he was leaving ND, per Martin's
Meyer reached out to Decker shortly after being named the new head
coach at Ohio State, but Decker remained a solid Notre Dame commit at
The other commits in the 2012 recruiting class who lost their position
coach -- offensive linemen Mark Harrell and Ronnie Stanley, and running
backs William Mahone and KeiVarae Russell -- have confirmed their solid
"I picked Notre Dame for Notre Dame," Harrell said. "I didn't pick it
for the coach, I picked it for myself. It felt like it was the best
fit for me."
Verbally committed offensive lineman Steve Elmer, of the 2013 class,
expressed similar sentiments.
"I was a little bit surprised that coach Warinner and coach Hinton
left," he said, "but I'm still extremely solid with Notre Dame, and
that doesn't really change anything at all."
Most players seemed surprised by the news, but the annual comings and
goings of coaches has become routine in the college football
"It's unfortunate, but you've got to realize stuff like that happens --
it's college football," Harrell said. "Stuff like that's going to
happen. There's really nothing you can do about it."
The coaching staff will have to regroup for the next recruiting cycle
after various shifts and hirings, but CBS Sports Network recruiting
analyst Tom Lemming thinks the Irish will recover.
"I don't think it's going to hurt them in recruiting," Lemming said.
"They've both got great reputations as coaches, so I think it'll hurt
them more along the coaching lines (than in recruiting)."
The lone new hiring to date has come in house, as Scott Booker was
promoted to a full-time assistant coach after two years as an
offensive intern for the program. He took the spot of offensive
coordinator-quarterbacks coach Charley Molnar, who left last month to
become the head coach at Massachusetts.
Booker will likely end up coaching on the defensive side of the ball,
though. Kelly flipped safeties coach Chuck Martin to offense, where
he'll be the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Lemming said the openings left by Warinner and Hinton provide Kelly
with an opportunity to bring in talented recruiters.
"It could give Notre Dame the advantage of going after guys with great
recruiting reputations, something they sorely need to get back to
being consistent BCS winners," Lemming said. "They've got a couple of
good recruiters, but overall I would say the staff is below average
when it comes to recruiting nationally."
Safety commit Nicky Baratti said he thinks the coaching changes will
allow for improvement on the offensive side of the ball. Baratti would
have been coached by Martin, but said he has no hard feelings seeing
Martin move over to offensive coordinator.
He said Kerry Cooks, who has been handling his recruitment, will coach
"I thought it was good news actually," Baratti said. "Offense needs
more help than defense. I've got a great relationship with coach Cooks
and coach Martin, so it really didn't affect me at all. I was more
happy for them than anything."
Tribune reporter Bob Wieneke contributed to this story.