Second Season Starts on Sunday

The Irish will wrap up their season on Saturday and a new season will begin. Notre Dame coaches will hit the road on Sunday in search of the best recruiting class they can sign. This first week of recruiting will be vital to the success of the class in 2004.

We can't stress enough how important this recruiting class is for Tyrone Willingham and his staff. The Irish signed an outstanding class last year, and a similar class would put Willingham on the fast track to "return to glory."

This coming week is vital for the Irish. Willingham is clearly the big gun in recruiting. Willingham has proven he's very effective in selling his program and his future plan for Notre Dame. The problem is the Irish must be able to pull the big gun out of the holster.

The Irish coaching staff will have to set up these prospects so Willingham can mow them down. The staff will have to keep all the Irish prospects interested long enough so Willingham can make his in-home visits. If Willingham can get into these homes, we think Notre Dame will have a successful recruiting season.

The Irish coaches will log some air miles this week, and it's very important that they set up official visits with all their top prospects. Just setting the visit doesn't assure each prospect will make the visit. They must stay on top of each prospect throughout the process until they make that official visit.

It's also important that the Irish do some fishing this week. They should revisit some old flames and see if they can get the fire started again. There are a number of players who were interested in Notre Dame previously that have cooled on the Irish over the season. Hopefully the Irish can get back in the race with some of them.

Willingham already has a busy schedule. He's visiting David Brown on Sunday, and is said to be visiting Brian Brohm and Devon Lyons this week as well. Expect Willingham to make a few more in-home visits in the next few weeks.

The Irish will be gambling by bringing out the big gun this early. Willingham is only allowed one in-home visit with each prospect. The Irish are rolling the dice that this visit will keep the Irish in the race, and hold off any other suitors out there trying to steal the big prize. Most won't likely make a decision soon so the assistant coaches will have to close the deal when decision time approaches.

The Irish coaches will be out on the road from Sunday until Friday when they return for their first recruiting weekend. This will be the only recruiting weekend in December. Notre Dame will likely only have two recruiting weekends in January (January 16-18, and 23-25).

These next two weeks in recruiting will be important. Hopefully the Irish staff can secure official visits from all their top prospects, and get a few surprise visits scheduled. Once again, there isn't a lot of margin for error with this recruiting class. The Irish can have a very successful recruiting class if they close on a high percentage of their top prospects. Willingham was able to do that last year. Hopefully he can do the same thing again this year. Top Stories