And Then There Were Six...

And then there were six. The Irish are winding down their 2004 recruiting season and seven players remain on the board. The Irish could conceivably give out up to four scholarships to these six players. Which players will likely sign with the Irish?

With Ryan Baker's commitment to Notre Dame yesterday, the Irish are sitting at 16 verbal commitments. The Irish could go as high as 20, but 19 is more likely considering the number of players apply for fifth years at Notre Dame.

Who are the final six? To the best of our knowledge, Allen Smith, Terrail Lambert, Darryl Richard, Nate Lyles, Christopher Vaughn, and Ell Ash look to be the final targets on the Irish recruiting board. Let's take a look at each one.

Allen Smith is very important to this Irish recruiting class. The Irish set out to sign four offensive linemen in this class. As of now, John Kadous and Chauncey Incarnato are the only two offensive linemen signed. Brandon Nicolas might end up along the offensive line, but the Irish have told him he'd start out on the defensive side of the ball.

Landing Smith is very important. He can play offensive tackle—a need position for Notre Dame. Some suggest the Irish have filled their needs at offensive line—hardly the case if Smith doesn't sign. He decides Friday, and Irish fans hope he'll choose Notre Dame. The Irish had the last word in this race. Did Tyrone Willingham convince Smith to play at Notre Dame?

Terrail Lambert is another key recruit for the Irish. Lambert is being recruited as cornerback prospect—another need area for the Irish. Lambert is down to Florida State and Notre Dame. The Lambert family has consistently said their wishes are for him to sign with Notre Dame. The real question is where does Terrail want to play? We're going to guess he'd like to play at Florida State or this would be done already. We don't like how this is shaping up for the Irish.

One important note is Florida State has 17 commitments already with another 25+ they are waiting word on. They have two committed defensive backs and also have seven other defensive backs on their hot prospect list that remain uncommitted.

Darryl Richard has been difficult to pin down on which way he's leaning. He hasn't been taking calls recently, and it appears all four teams (Notre Dame, Miami, Georgia Tech and Colorado) are still in contention. Richard is said to be announcing on signing day. Without more information, we can't really handicap this race. Any of the four could wind up with his signature.

Some interesting notes on Richard. Colorado has 18 commitments so far, four are defensive linemen. Two defensive linemen are left on their board undecided. Georgia Tech has 23 commitments, three are defensive linemen. Miami has 18 commitments, but many players are still left on the board. Five commitments are defensive linemen, with four highly-ranked prospects left to decide.

Nate Lyles is another man of mystery. The Irish were said to be leading early in the race, but Virginia and Oregon came on strong at the end. We did a little research on Lyles and found some interesting information.

Virginia has 16 commitments, five from defensive backs according to the Virgnia Insiders site. Oregon has 22 commitments, six from defensive backs, and Lyles isn't listed as a hot prospect. He's also visited Iowa who has 18 commitments, four from defensive backs, and was not listed on their hot prospect list either.

Boston College was his other team. They have 18 commitments with only two being defensive backs. The only other hot prospect on their list at defensive back is Illinois native Kwame Agyeman.

Chris Vaughn is said to be down to Iowa, UCLA and Notre Dame. The Irish are said to be in his final two according to Vaughn.

Iowa has 18 commitments, but only one from a wide receiver so far. They are waiting word on four top prospects at wide receiver to decide. UCLA has 25 commitments already, two from wide receivers. The Bruins are also awaiting word from two other familiar names at wide receiver--Chancellor Young and Adrian Arrington.

We think Iowa is the other team in this race. We'll have to wait and see how this shakes out.

The final prospect is Ell Ash. Ash will visit Notre Dame this weekend. The Irish have a chance to land Ash in the end.

The other teams involved are Tennessee, North Carolina State and Clemson. Tennessee has 18 commitments so far, with four offensive linemen and three defensive linemen aboard. North Carolina State has only 12 commitments so far, with four defensive linemen and one offensive lineman aboard. They are still waiting word on five defensive linemen and one other offensive lineman--sounds like defensive linemen has been a priority for the Wolfpack.

Clemson is the other team. They have 23 commitments with four defensive linemen committed and five offensive linemen. They are awaiting word on three more linemen. Ash was not listed as a hot prospect on the Clemson Insiders site.

Tennessee and North Carolina State have been rumored to be the two top teams. The Wolfpack appear to have plenty of space, but how many defensive linemen do they need? They must like Ash as an offensive lineman. Tennessee always closes with a flurry. Is Ash a priority on their board?

The Irish are down to their final push. When you look at the numbers at other schools, the Irish could have a good shot at landing most of these top prospects left on the board, if for nothing else than default. The game now becomes watching these other teams and how many prospects they start to land in the next few days.


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