Weekend Nets Two for Irish

How is Notre Dame's recruiting class shaping up? According to TheInsiders.com, which has released a list of the top 101 prospects in the nation, the Irish are struggling. It looks like Tyrone Willingham is going to land only one or two from that list. There's still hope with Lorenzo Booker, but he was "wowed" by USC this weekend. IrishEyes has the report.

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January 28, 2002

Weekend Nets Two,
But Booker A Long Shot

By The IrishEyes.Com News Service

NOTRE DAME, IN (IE) – First the good news.

Tyrone Willingham and the Notre Dame football program received a verbal commitment from 6-5, 245-pound defensive end Travis Leitko. He appears to be the whole package with 3.93 GPA, 1510 SAT scores and a 465-pound squat. He's also from the same hometown as graduating Irish captain Grant Irons.

"He's one of the top prospects in the Southwest and had over 30 scholarship offers," said Chris Pool of PoolRecruiting.com and IrishEyes.

Now the bad news. The Irish have not had contact with Piqua, Ohio defensive line prospect Quinn Pitcock since his official visit last weekend and that has sent Pitcock into a fit of pique. Sources tell IrishEyes Pitcock – described as the best defensive line prospect from Ohio in more than 10 years – will commit to Ohio State.

Good news. Willingham's West Coast offense wooed a verbal from receiving prospect Michael Richardson of Warner Robins, GA. Richardson has been below the radar screen this recruiting season – his bio does not even appear in most major recruiting databases. But he has a 40-inch vertical leap and is "worth taking a risk on," according to Tom Lemming.

Bad news. Notre Dame appears to be striking out with most of the top prospects. TheInsiders.Com has announced its list of the 101 top prospects this recruiting season and it looks like the Irish are only going to land one, possibly two.

Derek Landri, a 6-3, 290-pound defensive linemen, is No. 5 on the list and is already Irish. No. 28 is Buena Park, California receiving prospect Rhema McKnight. He has been greatly impressed by Willingham but is leaning toward UCLA. "All things being equal, saying home is important to me," McKnight told Chris Fetters of TheInsiders.com. (TheInsiders.com is a partner site with IrishEyes within TheInsiders Network.)

The Irish are now an extreme long shot to get the No. 1 player on TheInsiders.com list, tailback Lorenzo Booker. He was enthusiastic after visiting South Bend on January 18-19, but he was over the top with enthusiasm after visiting his hometown USC this past weekend.

"It's close to home and my family and my girlfriend are very important to me," Booker told Greg Biggins of PacWestFootball.com, another IrishEyes partner site.

Notre Dame running back coach Buzz Preston will be in Booker's home on Tuesday. He will be followed, according to Biggins, by Bobby Bowden of Florida State and Pete Carroll of USC.

Booker's intention is to announce his selection on Signing Day, February 6, on ESPN.

Notre Dame's chances of landing Banning, California defensive lineman Fred Matua also appear to be slipping. Sources within TheInsiders.com told IrishEyes that Matua was very engaged during his visit to South Bend this weekend, but left without making a commitment. "The longer it goes on with him, the less chance (Notre Dame has)," said the source.

The South Bend Tribune is also reporting that Willingham is close to a verbal from tailback candidate T.J. Rushing of Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Rushing is a late addition to ND's wish list. Willingham had courted him while at Stanford and the only other school to show serious interest was West Virginia.

(For feedback on IrishEyes' editorial coverage contact Managing Editor Alan Tieuli at aatandsonspr@aol.com)

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