Notre Dame Recruiting Class - #2

Student Sports.com takes a look at the top recruiting classes so far in 2001. The Fighting Irish are ranked #2.

Here is our pick of the top 15 football recruiting classes so far, based upon the consensus of the Student Sports staff.

Ratings are based upon player evaluations made at Nike Football Camps and from game film study, plus verbals, offers, trips and calls.

The STUDENT SPORTS RECRUITING RACE will be updated every Thursday until signing day. (Last week's ranking in parentheses).

1. OHIO STATE (1)
The Bucks are locked in a tight battle with Nebraska for All-American linebacker Buster Davis. Davis, 5-10, 230 pounds from Daytona Beach-Mainland (Fla.) has set official visits to both colleges and he would be a great pickup for whoever lands him. The Bucks are battling another Big 12 power for defensive end Bryan Andrews. Andrews, 6-5, 220 pounds from Lima (Ohio) has Ohio State and Oklahoma running neck and neck at this time.

-Buckeye Commitments-
Maurice Clarett (Harding, Warren OH) RB
R.J. Coleman (Robert Byrd, Clarksburg WV) TE/OL
Doug Datish (Howland, Warren OH) OL
T.J. Downing (Glenoak, Canton OH) OL
Tyler Everett (McKinley, Canton OH) DB
Roy Hall (Charles Brush, Lyndhurst OH) WR
A.J. Hawk (Centerville OH) LB
Mike Kudla (Highland, Medina OH) LB
Nick Mangold (Alter, Kettering OH) OL
Joel Penton (Van Wert OH) DL
Jay Richardson (Scioto, Dublin OH) DE
Michael Roberts (Central Tech, Ontario, Canada) DB
Tim Schaefer (Upper Arlington, Columbus OH) DL
Rob Sims (Nordonia, Macedonia OH) OL
#99 - E.J. Underwood (Hamilton OH) DB
Justin Zwick (Washington, Massillon OH) QB

2. NOTRE DAME (2)
The Irish have secured a visit from top five national linebacker A.J Nicholson, 6-2, 230 pounds from Winston-Salem-Mt. Tabor (N.C.). Nicholson said he's still looking at a host of colleges, but the Domers have to feel good about landing a trip. Also tripping to South Bend is outstanding corner back prospect Bryan McClendon, 6-0, 180 pounds from Atlanta-Mays (Ga.). McClendon has recovered nicely from a broken leg suffered his junior year and is having a solid senior season.

-Fighting Irish Commitments-
James Bonelli (St. Bonaventure, Ventura CA) OL
Jake Carney (Lexington Catholic, Lexington KY) DB
Anthony Fasano (Verona NJ) TE/LB
Chris Frome (Hart, Newhall CA) DE
Josh Hannum (Strath Haven, Wallingford PA) WR
#34 - Derek Landri (De La Salle, Concord CA) DT/OL
Bob Morton (McKinney TX) OL
Chris Olsen (Wayne Hills, Wayne NJ) QB
Scott Raridon (Mason City IA) OL
#95 - Jamie Ryan (Marian Catholic, Tamaqua PA) DT
Dan Santucci (St. Patrick, Chicago IL) DL
Jeremy Van Alstyne (Center Grove, Greenwood IN) LB

3. UCLA (3)
Although the Bruins suffered a big loss on the field, things couldn't be any better off of it. With DeShaun Foster leaving, bringing in a top-notch running back recruit was key and UCLA now leads for both Lorenzo Booker, 5-11, 175 pounds from Ventura-St. Bonaventure (Calif.) and Hershel Dennis, 5-11, 185 pounds from Long Beach Poly (Calif.). Getting both is unrealistic, but if they landed one of the two, Bruin coaches would do cartwheels.

-Bruin Commitments-
Xavier Burgess (Grant, Sacramento CA) LB
Robert Chai (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach CA) OL
Joe Garcia (Los Alamitos CA) DB
J.D. Groves (McNary, Keizer OR) LB
J.J Hair (Capistrano Valley, Mission Viejo CA) TE
Kevin Harbour (Loyola, Los Angeles CA) DT
Kirby Joseph (Washington-Marion, Lake Charles LA) LB
#46 - Marcedes Lewis (Poly, Long Beach CA) TE
#76 - Eric McNeal (Serra, Gardena CA) DB
Matt Moore (Hart, Newhall CA) QB
Idris Moss (Eisenhower, Rialto CA) DB/Ath
C.J. Niusulu (Barstow CA) DT
Drew Olson (Piedmont CA) QB
Thomas Patton (Oakland Tech, Oakland CA) DL

4. COLORADO (4)
Despite having a nation-leading 20 commitments, there's still a ton of players the Buffs are in on. They'll get a November visit from top 100 national player Donny Mateaki, a 6-5, 265 pound defensive tackle from Honolulu-Iolani (Hawaii.). Another player the Buffs are looking solid with is Dominique Byrd, 6-3, 230 pound linebacker from Minneapolis-Breck (Minn.).

-Buffalo Commitments-
J.J. Billingsley (Eagle Crest, Aurora CO) DB
Donald Burgs (Madison, Houston TX) DB
Gerett Burl (Libertyville IL) DB
Lance Carson (Garden City CC KS) DL
James Cox (Royal, Simi Valley CA) QB
Akarika Dawn (Kempner, Sugarland TX) LB
Will Down (San Pasqual, Escondido CA) DL
Tyrone Henderson (McClymonds, Oakland CA) DB
Chris Hollis (Hinkley, Aurora CO) LB
Sammy Joseph (Archbishop Shaw, Marrero LA) DB
Joseph Klopfenstein (Grandview, Aurora CO) TE
Alex Ligon (North, Torrance CA) LB/DE
Tyler Littlehales (Boulder CO) WR/DB
Gabe Nyenhius (Garden City CC KS) DL
Del Scales (Flower Mound TX) DT
Fred Staugh (Flower Mound TX) DL
Jack Tipton (Pomona, Arvada) CO) OL
Lawrence Vickers (Forest Brook, Houston TX) RB
Andrew Ward (Evangel Christian, Shreveport LA) LB
Vance Washington (Clear Brook, Friendswood TX) DB
Clint Werth (Garden City JC KS) OL

5. LSU (6)
The Tigers may have struck out on All-American running back Gerald Riggs but they have an excellent shot at one of the top backs in the South. Reshard Dudley, 5-11, 210 pounds from Marianna (Fla.) has set all five trips and the Tigers get the first shot to impress on November 30th. They lead pretty strong at this time. A player closer to home LSU would love to land is Deljuan Robinson, 6-4, 270 pounds from Hernando (Miss.) and the Tigers are on the short list right now.

-Tiger Commitments-
Jeff Cook (Notre Dame, Crowley LA) QB/Ath
#68 - Skyler Green (L. W. Higgins, Marrero LA) RB/WR
Brian Henderson (Berwick LA) LB
Blair Irvin (Patterson LA) DB/WR
Archie McDaniel (Bay City TX) LB
Doug Planchard (Catholic, Baton Rouge LA) DT
Lester Ricard (Amite LA) QB
Vernon Russell (John Curtis, River Ridge LA) DB
Jason Spadoni (John Curtis, River Ridge LA) RB
#81 - Justin Vincent (Barbe, Lake Charles LA) RB
Garrett Wibel (Archbishop Rummel, Metairie LA) OL

6. TEXAS (5)
There may not be a more bizarre recruit this year than Texas linebacker Garnet Smith. Smith committed to Oklahoma, backed off that and announced for Texas and has now backed out of that and is leaning to Tennessee. The 6-3, 215 pound athlete from Arlington-Lamar (Tex.) will still take a visit to Alabama and there is a lot of time between now and February so it's safe to assume this one is far from over.

-Longhorn Commitments-
Earl Anderson (San Marcos TX) DL
Sonny Davis (Mississippi Gulf Coast JC/Lanier, Austin TX) DT
Clint Haney (Smithson Valley, Spring Branch TX) RB
Tully Janszen (Keller TX) DE/TE
#80 - Marquis Johnson (Centennial, Champaign IL) WR
Billy Don Malone (North Lamar, Paris TX) QB
Dustin Miksch (Westwood, Austin TX) WR
Matthew Melton (John Tyler, Tyler TX) DB
Marcus Meyers (Connally, Waco TX) LB
Chase Pittman (Evangel Christian, Shreveport LA) DL
Brian Robison (Splendora TX) LB
Lyle Sendlein (Chaparral, Scottsdale AZ) DL/LB
David Thomas (Frenship, Wolfforth TX) TE/WR
Neal Tweedie (Allen TX) OL
Bret Valdez (Brownwood TX) OL

7. TENNESSEE (nr)
The Volunteers leap into the top 10 earlier than expected although everyone knew it was just a matter of time before Coach Fullmer and staff started to roll. The commitment by Chattanooga-Red Bank (Tenn.) running back Gerald Riggs is a huge pickup. Not only is Riggs one of the top five backs in the country, but he's likely to draw other players to Tennessee with him.

- Volunteer Commitments -
Mondre Dickerson (Coffeyville JC KS) DE
Omar Gaither (Myers Park, Charlotte NC) LB
Chris Hannon (Riverview, Sarasota FL) WR
Justin Harrell (Westview, Martin TN) TE/DL
John Henry (Hillsboro, Nashville TN) OL
#11 - Gerald Riggs Jr. (Red Bank, Chattanooga TN) RB
#65 - Rob Smith (Highlands, Fort Thomas KY) OL
Jonathan Wade (Evangel Christian, Shreveport LA) DB
James Wilhoit (Hendersonville TN) K

8. MICHIGAN (7)
The Wolverines have taken the lead for talented offensive lineman Mike Kolodziej, 6-8, 290 pounds from Joliet Catholic (Ill.). Kolodziej will visit Ann Arbor December 7th and although Miami will be in the mix, Michigan is looking strong right now. Michigan still leads for talented wide out Jason Avant, 6-2, 205 pounds from Carver, Chicago (Ill.) who will officially visit Ann Arbor November 30th.

-Wolverine Commitments-
Tom Berishaj (Stevenson, Sterling Heights MI) OL
Mark Bihl (Washington, Washington Court House OH) OL/DL
William Cooper (Northern, Flint MI) DB
David Harris (Ottawa Hills, Grand Rapids MI) LB
Larry Harrison (Martin Luther King, Detroit MI) DL/OL
#100 - Darnell Hood (Bishop Gallagher, Harper Woods MI) DB/RB
Kevin Murphy (Forest Hills Central, Grand Rapids MI) TE/DE
Pierre Rembert (Cudahy WI) RB
James Taylor (Fort Scott JC KS) WR
#35 - Gabe Watson (Southfield MI) OL/DL

9. TEXAS A&M (8)
The Aggies have opened up the offense over the past few years, hoping to lure top offensive prospects with a more exciting product on the field. It seems to be working as A&M already has a commit from QB Reggie McNeal and seem to be getting close with two other talented offensive prospects; running back Frederick Collins of La Quinta (Calif.) and tight end/fullback prospect J.D. Runnels of Midwest City-Carl Albert (Okla.).

-Aggie Commitments-
Cody Douglass (La Marque TX) OL
Brandon Flanagan (Haughton LA) OL/DL
Patrick Fleming (Heritage, Colleyville TX) TE
Quinlan Germany (All Saints, Ft. Worth TX) TE
Alex Kotzur (St. Thomas, Houston TX) OL
Brandon Leone (Oak Ridge, Conroe TX) WR
Andy Matakis (Flour Bluff, Corpus Christi TX) LB
#33 - Reggie McNeal (Lufkin TX) QB
Brian Patrick (Sam Rayburn, Pasadena) TX
Todd Pegram (Plano East, Plano TX) K
Nick Rhodes (Brownwood TX) WR/DB
#75 - L'Tydrick Riley (Crockett TX) WR

10. MICHIGAN STATE (9)
With 10 commitments already, the Spartans' Class of 2002 is off to a solid start, but this weekend will determine a lot about how they finish. Visiting East Lansing this weekend for the Michigan game are four of Florida's best in wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, defensive back Nate Salley, defensive tackle Ramon McCullough and offensive lineman Davin Joseph. Also tripping in is perhaps the top running back out of New York State, Fayetteville-Manlius' Damien Rhodes. If the Spartans could land three of the five they'd thrilled.

-Spartan Commitments-
Carlos Alexander (Buchtel, Akron OH) DB
Brian Bury (Harding, Marion OH) OL/LS
Kyle Cook (Dakota, Macomb MI) OL
Jaren Hayes (Cedar Crest, Lebanon PA) RB
Cliff Ryan (Arthur Hill, Saginaw MI) LB
Agim Shabaj (Harrison, Farmington Hills MI) WR
Drew Stanton (Harrison, Farmington Hills MI) QB
Derron Ware (Dorsey, Los Angeles CA) DB
Ashton Watson (Wayne, Huber Heights OH) DB
Nathaniel Weber (Dorsey, Los Angeles CA) OL

11. MISSISSIPPI STATE (10)
One of the nation's top defensive ends, Deljuan Robinson, hails from Hernando, Mississippi, and the Bulldogs have been focusing a lot of attention on Robinson as of late. The 6-4, 270 pound defensive end has been impressed by the MSU coaching staff, particularly by how each of the coaches speak to him when one calls. Robinson called it "cool" and the Bulldog fans would probably think the same of Deljuan should he eventually choose State on signing day.

-Bulldog Commitments-
Richard Burch (Brandon MS) OL
Monte Collins (Provine, Jackson MS) OL
J.J. Grant (Hinds JC MS) DE
Ryan Huffman (Butler County JC KS) DL
Kenneth Kern (Clarksdale MS) LB
Markell McKinley (Weir MS) DL
Brett Morgan (Warren Central, Vicksburg MS) QB/P
Jerious Norwood (Brandon MS) RB
Otis Riddley (Provine, Jackson MS) DL
Scott Shurden (Neshoba Central, Philadelphia MS) K/P
#44 - Darren Williams (Clarksdale MS) DB

12. OKLAHOMA (12)
The Sooners got pledge number eight this week from Lawton-Eisenhower (Okla.) defensive end Larry Birdine. Burdine is a solid prospect with good size at 6-4, 230 pounds and 4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash coming off the edge. He's the younger brother of former Oklahoma State star and current Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Jason Gildon. Birdine chose the Sooners over offers from Texas A&M, Colorado, Missouri and the OSU Cowboys.

-Sooner Commitments-
Noah Allen (Pearland TX) QB
Larry Birdine (Eisenhower, Lawton OK) DE
Wayne Chambers (Grandview MO) LB
#45 - Michael Hawkins (Turner, Carrollton TX) DB
Jeff Lebby (Andrews TX) OL
Steve Taylor (Purcell OK) OL
Paul Thompson (Leander TX) QB/Ath
Travis Wilson (Creekview, Carrollton TX) WR

13. MIAMI (11)
Miami has a pretty solid linebacker tradition over the years, ranging from George Mira Jr. to Jessie Armstead to Ray Lewis to Dan Morgan, and the Canes are on solid ground with some standout linebackers in this year's class. Tyrone Cox (6-2, 205 of College Park, Ga.), Zach Latimer (6-2, 220 of Aurora, Col.) and Reggie Dent (6-2, 215 of Riviera Beach, Fla.) all have been offered by Miami and list the Canes as their current leader.

-Hurricane Commitments-
Marc Guillon (Miramonte, Orinda CA) QB
Talib Humphrey (NE Oklahoma A&M JC OK) RB
Darnell Jenkins (Miami Central, Miami FL) WR
#32 - Akieem Jolla (St. Augustine, New Orleans LA) WR
Sinorice Moss (Carol City, Miami FL) WR
Antonio Reynolds (Buchtel, Akron OH) DE/LB
Emmit Tatum (Jupiter FL) OL

14. RUTGERS (13)
The Knights got their 11th commitment earlier this week from Riviera Beach-Suncoast (Fla.) sleeper Darren Haliburton, who had also been offered by Central Florida. Haliburton has great size at 6-3, 185 pounds and while he lines up mostly at quarterback in high school, his 4.5 speed in the 40 will be put to use at the wide receiver position when he arrives in New Jersey next year for fall practice.

-Scarlet Knights Commitments -
Anthony Cali (Northern Burlington, Columbus NJ) QB
Will Gilkinson (Red Bank Regional, Little Silver NJ) LB
Darren Haliburton (Suncoast, Riviera Beach FL) WR
Clark Harris (Southern Regional, Manahawkin NJ) TE/DE
Ryan Hart (Cardinal Gibbons, Ft. Lauderdale FL) QB
Joe Henley (Red Bank Regional, Little Silver NJ) DL
Haines Holloway (Wilson, Camden NJ) OL/DL
#27 - Berkeley Hutchinson (Long Branch NJ) LB
Brian Leonard (Gouverneur Central, Gouverneur NY) LB/RB
Justin Musiek (Hanover NH) K
Jason Nugent (Brampton, Ontario, Canada) RB

15. VIRGINIA (15)
The Cavaliers snagged a solid player this week out of Culpeper (Va.) in defensive back/running back Stefan Orange. The 6-1, 180 pound Orange is a do-it-all performer who can do many different things to help his team win games. Coach Al Groh and his staff beat out other schools like Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Maryland and West Virginia, all of whom had offered, for Orange's commitment.

-Cavalier Commitments-
Brad Butler (Glass, Lynchburg VA) OL
Braden Campbell (Slippery Rock PA) DL
Keenan Carter (Potomac, Dumfries VA) DT
Willie Davis (Laney, Wilmington NC) DB/RB
Tony Franklin (Chanel, Bedford OH) RB/WR
Tom Hagan (Cave Spring, Roanoke VA) P/Ath
#93 - Anthony Martinez (Patrick Henry, Ashland VA) QB
Stefan Orange (Culpeper VA) DB
Jason Snelling (L.C. Bird, Chesterfield VA) RB
Damian Spradlin (Liberty, Bedford VA) OL
Kenneth Tynes (Centreville, Clifton VA) DB

On the Bubble: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Maryland, South Carolina, Syracuse.

(The numbers 1-100 seen in front of some players' names indicate their ranking in the Student Sports Hot 100 Prospect List).


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