ND Takes Advantage of New Recruiting Landscape

With 10 early verbal commitments now in the fold, Bob Davie has shown that he knows how to take advantage of a changing recruiting landscape. The number of early commitments is all the more remarkable because there are several more early offers the Irish would like to make; but can't because of the academic rigors of Notre Dame.

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August 22, 2001


 By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

The verbal commitment of Derek Landri, considered one of the best high school linemen in the country who pundits say could rival All-America Aaron Taylor's tenure at Notre Dame, is a reflective of a sea change in Irish recruiting.

 A few years ago—even last year—few Irish fans would have thought that Notre Dame would have the commitments of 10 new recruits before preseason two-a-day practices were complete. After all, there have been times when the Irish haven't had 10 commitments before Christmas.

There is no question but that things have changed for Bob Davie and Notre Dame, who in the past couldn't help but notice Penn State and others piling up the commitments while Notre Dame waited on pins and needles.

 "The landscape for recruiting has changed," Bob Davie acknowledged recently. "We've been forced to get out. It's very competitive. What we tried to do is be able to be competitive as well."

NCAA rules prohibit Davie and his coaches from talking about specific commitments of recruits, but Davie spoke generally about the recruiting process at Notre Dame. The emphasis on football summer camp, where Davie and his staff try to encourage as many potential recruits as possible to attend, is one of the things that have enabled the Irish to beef up their early recruiting.

The Irish are still somewhat limited, however. They can only offer scholarships to those players who are sure to have the academic credentials and background that would enable the players to gain admission to Notre Dame.

 "There's still a whole pool of guys that do not have the academics that we could offer at the end of their junior year," Davie said. "But on those players that had the academics, we felt we had to get out there with everybody else and offer them, or we weren't going to get them."

Although three of Notre Dame's 10 early commitments come from California, the new Notre Dame emphasis on early recruiting is centered on the Midwest

"We've had kids (commit) from other parts of the country, but it started with the idea that this is our core area," Davie said. "Because of the Penn States, the Michigans and Ohio States, where these (summer) camps are so prevalent, we felt we had to get ahead of the pack a little bit.

"I'm really pleased where we are because the premium is still on academics and the kids we think are a good fit here," Davie continued. "Obviously, the summer camp has played a huge role with these early commitments because I would really have a hard time pulling the string on persons we have not seen in person.

 "It's the combination of the summer camp—seeing them in person, which is the best evaluation you can get—and academics (meeting) with people on campus.

"Everyone of these players had to have been here for a personal interview and gone through the whole process. I feel as comfortable as you can feel about it, even though it is awfully early to be doing it."

Landri is a 6-3, 276-pound two-way lineman, who plays for DeLaSalle in Concord, Calif., a school which enters this season with a 113-game winning streak. It is the same school that Aaron Taylor, one of Notre Dame's best-ever linemen, came from; and also the home of quarterback Matt Gutierrez, a highly regarded high school signal caller who also has eyes on the Irish.

Landri said although he was offered by Nebraska, USC and Miami—among others, "I knew Notre Dame was the place for me."

He was clocked at 4.89 in the forty at the summer Nike camp in Palo Alto, an excellent time for a big lineman.

 Here is the current list of verbal commitments to Notre Dame:

 · Scott Raridon; 6-7, 270, TE; Mason City, Iowa

 · James Bonelli; 6-5, 275, OL; Ventura, Calif. (St. Bonaventure)

· Dan Santucci; 6-4, 245, TE/DE; Chicago, Ill. (St. Patrick)

· Chris Olsen; 6-4, 220, QB; Wayne, N.J.(Wayne Hills)

· Jamie Ryan; 6-5, 280, OL; Hometown, Pa.(Marian Catholic)

· Bob Morton; 6-4, 300, OL; McKinney, Texas

 · Jake Carney; 6-0, 180, DB; Lexington, Ky. (Catholic)

· Josh Hannum; 6-0, 170, WR; Wallingford, Pa. (Strath Haven)

 · Chris Frome; 6-5, 225, DE; Newhall, Calif. (Hart)

· Derek Landri; 6-3, 276, OL; Concord, Calif. (De La Salle)


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