With a host of prospects visiting Notre Dame this weekend, opportunity abounds and Irish fans are still waiting for the first Charlie Weis commitment. Who will step up to be the first?
The most likely candidate for a commitment this weekend would have to be Dallas, Ga. offensive tackle prospect Paul Duncan. Duncan has already taken his five official visits, and recently told Irish Eyes he was down to Notre Dame and Duke for his final decision.
Duncan has never wavered in stating the Irish were his top schools so it's likely he'll end up choosing Notre Dame when he does make his final decision. Duncan attended Notre Dame camp this past summer, and also attended a game at Notre Dame this fall. We'd be surprised if he left Notre Dame without committing, frankly.
Kansas City wide receiver D.J. Hord will also be visiting Notre Dame this weekend. We're told Hord is actually on Notre Dame's campus now, and he will be leaving on Saturday so he can participate in the Army All-American bowl held on January 15th.
Hord also attended a Notre Dame game this past fall, and is said to be leaning towards Notre Dame heading into this weekend. We've also heard the Notre Dame visit will likely be his last visit, and he could announce his decision at the Army All-American bowl next Saturday.
Another player we feel will likely choose Notre Dame in the end is Indianapolis defensive lineman Patrick Kuntz. The 6-4, 255-pound defensive tackle prospect has offers from Michigan State and Louisville, and he was trying to decide between the two before the Irish offered.
Kuntz seems to really buy into the Charlie Weis football philosophy of "nasty" and seems anxious to meet Weis on Saturday. We're told Kuntz might wait a bit to announce his decision, likely at a press conference at school, but we feel he'll end up choosing Notre Dame in the end.
Michael Turkovich would also fill a big need for the Irish. The 6-7, 285-pound offensive tackle prospect is also taking his final visit this weekend.
Turkovich is also looking and Boston College and Wisconsin, but we feel the Eagles will be the main competition for his signature. We also feel the Irish will land Turkovich in the end, and it could happen as soon as this weekend. However, Turkovich told us earlier this week he'd likely take some time before making his final decision. It still wouldn't surprise us if Turkovich chose the Irish this weekend.
Montario Hardesty is probably the No. 1 running back on the Irish radar at this point. The 6-0, 195-pound Hardesty has the Irish and Tennessee as his final two visits. Many think Tennessee is the team to beat, including Irish Eyes, but Notre Dame will have their shot this weekend.
Hardesty has seemed to have the Volunteers out in front for quite some time, and we feel the Irish have their work cut out for them this weekend. I'll say this, if the Irish aren't at least tied with Tennessee after this visit, chances are you can cross Hardesty off the list.
Florida safety prospect Ray Herring is also in for his official visit. The 5-11, 190-pound Melbourne, Fla. native has had the Irish as one of his favorites since the beginning.
The bad news we believe is Herring's comments to us after his Georgia Tech visit. Herring glowed about Atlanta and the having plenty to do in the city and South Bend is nothing like Atlanta.
As with any southern kid, they either love Notre Dame or they hate it. Herring is a smart kid and we think he'll enjoy his visit to Notre Dame, but will it be enough to pull him from SEC country?
The last "uncommitted" player is Rafael Eubanks. Unfortunately for Irish fans, Eubanks is committed, but he's committed to Iowa.
Eubanks has long had the Irish as one of his favorite schools. Eubanks admitted to Irish Eyes this week that he committed to Iowa without knowing what was happening at Notre Dame and their coaching situation, but still seemed solid with Iowa.
The Irish will have a shot to flip Eubanks this weekend. Can they overcome a good job of recruiting by the Iowa staff? I could happen, we'll see.
The Irish have to land a number of these players if they want to get some momentum for the rest of the recruiting season. We do expect a number of these official visitors to end up at Notre Dame, eventually. How many and how soon could greatly impact the success or failure of Charlie Weis' first recruiting class at Notre Dame.