Irish fans are anxiously awaiting the news of Derrell Hand's decision today. The 6-4, 305-pound Hand will announce his decision today at a 1:15 PM EST press conference. We believe Hand will chose the Irish and become the 13th commitment for the Irish on Wednesday. Hand would fill a big need for coach Charlie Weis at defensive tackle, and would keep the momentum rolling for the Irish.
Another target Irish fans are salivating over is linebacker Brian Cushing. The 6-4, 230-pound Cushing recently returned from his official visit to USC. We spoke with Cushing's father last night and Mr. Cushing told us that Brian will be busy in the next few weeks.
The Scout.com five-star prospect plans to visit Florida and Miami within the next week, and will follow those visits up with visits to Virginia and Boston College the following week. Louisville is also in the hunt for Cushing's signature.
USC was rumored to be his favorite before his visit, but will the distance be too much for Cushing? If so, it's anyone's race to win at this point.
We also spoke with David Nelson last night right after his in-home visit with new Irish wide receivers coach Rob Ianello. We believe this will be a Notre Dame/Florida battle with the Gators sitting out in front. We believe the Irish have their work cut out for them to sign Nelson.
Akron defensive end Lawrence Wilson has been a busy guy lately as well. The Irish sent seven coaches to see him on Sunday. The race will now get interesting.
In our opinion, his decision will come down to this. We believe the Gators will be difficult to choose because it's too far from home, the Buckeyes have some problems they need to iron out, and Wilson doesn't feel comfortable with the Notre Dame coaching staff at this point.
The Irish probably have the easiest hurdle to overcome as you can't move Florida closer to Akron, and Ohio State likely won't have an answer to their problems by signing day. However, if Wilson doesn't feel comfortable with the Notre Dame coaches, I don't believe he'll choose Notre Dame in the end. For whatever reason, Wilson just isn't buying what Notre Dame is selling at this point, and if he doesn't soon, he'll choose another school.
The Irish also went to visit defensive back Reggie Smith Tuesday evening. The Scout.com five-star player has had the Irish hanging around on his list for quite some time. But that's been the extent of it for Smith. He's never really had a strong feeling towards the Irish, and is considered likely to choose between Oklahoma and Nebraska in the end. The Irish might be able to get a visit, but we just can't see the Irish winning this race in the end.
Offensive lineman Brian Roche has two visits left. He'll visit Florida this weekend, and then he'll close out his visit list with a visit to Notre Dame. Roche hasn't listed a leader in quite some time, but the Irish appear to be very much in the race. If Roche makes it past this weekend without committing to Florida, we believe the Irish have a great shot to land him.
Texas running back R.J. Jackson is a new name in the mix. Notre Dame doesn't have a running back commitment in this class, and Jackson is known as a great talent who can do a lot of things. Jackson rushed for over 700 yards (nine yards per carry) and also had over 800 yards receiving on the season while totaling 34 touchdowns.
Jackson developed a nice relationship with new Irish offensive coordinator Mike Haywood while Haywood was at Texas, and Haywood visited Jackson last night. We were not able to speak with Jackson after Haywood's visit, but if the Irish can land a visit, they might have a shot because of the relationship Haywood has developed with Jackson already. Keep an eye on this guy.
Scout.com five-star defensive end Doug Worthington is said to be mulling over his final official visit. Irish defensive line coach Jappy Oliver and defensive backs coach Brian Polian visited Worthington on Monday to try to secure his final visit. We spoke with Worthington late on Monday and he said he'd be deciding on his final visit today.
Worthington says he's committed to Ohio State, but he's looking around due to their situation. We also think it's a long shot at best to land Worthington, but anything can happen on an official visit. The Irish must win the race to get him to visit first, however.
North Carolina offensive lineman Julian Williams will visit Notre Dame this weekend. The 6-4, 290-pound offensive guard prospect was rumored to have committed to North Carolina State this past weekend. Williams denied he committed when we spoke with him last.
Where there's smoke, there's usually fire, but the good news is that he feels compelled to look at the Irish. Notre Dame would have to have a knockout visit to secure his commitment, but we've seen that happen many times before. We do believe Williams has a legitimate interest in Notre Dame or he'd just commit to the Wolfpack.
Defensive back Kyle McCarthy is also visiting this weekend. McCarthy has an offer from Ohio State and Northwestern already. Will the Irish offer?
If Notre Dame does offer look for McCarthy to accept. McCarthy grew up an Irish fan and has family ties to Notre Dame. We don't know if the Irish will offer McCarthy this weekend, but we do believe he'll accept if they do.
Another new name on Notre Dame's radar recently is wide receiver/defensive back Earl Bennett. Bennett is currently committed to Kentucky, but the 6-1, 200-pound athlete is looking at other schools at this point.
The Irish are just getting started with Bennett so it's too early to say much about him other than he's being looked at by the Irish staff. We should know more about Bennett very soon.
With just two weeks left in recruiting, we think this could be a wild race in the end. The Irish still have a number of slots to fill and appear to be very aggressive on the recruiting trail. We have a sneaking suspicion that some new names could surface as well before this is all said and done.