2005 Class Comes to a Close

Head coach Charlie Weis proudly announced the first 15 commitments in his tenure as Notre Dame's head football coach on Wednesday's signing day press conference. The Irish likely fell short in both numbers and hype of prospects according to the experts, but the sub-par result according to the gurus was definitely not from a lack of trying. The question remains, can Weis win with these guys?

The 2005 recruiting season looked so promising at the beginning. The Irish landed six commitments in four days to kick off their recruiting season. The 6-5 season and coaching change obviously had an impact, but there was still plenty for Irish fans to be happy about on February 2, even though this class won't be a top-ranked class.

You won't find a class full of five and four-star players in the class of 2005, but you will find some talented kids that wanted to be at Notre Dame.

The Irish had a number of needs, and they addressed their needs with the signings in this class, for the most part, but also fell short in a number of areas as well.

Weis and his staff closed with two four-star offensive tackle prospects—a huge need for the Irish—but he could've used at least another offensive lineman in this class. Both Paul Duncan and Michael Turkovich were very important signees for Weis in his first class. But the loss of A. J. Trump, Brian Roche and Rafael Eubanks were tough blows for the Irish.

Notre Dame landed two defensive line candidates—another big need for Notre Dame. Both Patrick Kuntz and Derrell Hand are quality players, but losing Wilson in the end also hurt. The Irish certainly could've used his athleticism at defensive end.

The Irish also landed three defensive backs in this class—another big need—but they lack the true corner in this class. Kyle McCarthy will get a look at corner, but some wonder if he'll have the hips for such a critical position. In reality, the Irish could've used two corners. We're not sure they landed even one at this point.

Safeties Ray Herring and David Bruton certainly have the athletic ability, and both are players that love to hit so both should help in the secondary.

Notre Dame did land three solid linebacker prospects in Scott Smith, Kevin Washington and Steve Quinn. Smith is the thumper they've been lacking inside, and both Washington (4.59) and Quinn (4.60) have the speed any coach covets.

Nobody can argue with the signing of Asaph Schwapp as a fullback. The 6-0, 240-pound Schwapp will fit in nicely in another need area.

The Irish landed a top quarterback in Evan Sharpley, and two quality wide receivers in D.J. Hord and David Grimes. They also added four-star tight end Joey Hiben as another receiving target.

In the end, the Irish landed some very solid players, but they missed in a few important areas, and they missed on some marquee names as well. Combine the holes in this class with the poorly ranked 2004 class and Weis will have his work cut out for him.

The real truth is Weis was behind the eight ball from the beginning. Without being able to make in-home visits with prospects due to his commitment to the Patriots, and the fact that he had a bare cupboard of prospects to begin with, it's understandable, if not probable, that the Irish would sign a class low in numbers.

The simple truth is this class was not going to be a top class because of the coaching change. How far it would fall was up to Weis and his staff. We think they did a great job salvaging this class considering the limited number of prospects, and they also made sure they landed important prospects at all their need positions.

What should be encouraging to Irish fans, however, is the confidence and the aggressiveness that Weis attacked the recruiting trail. Weis strapped on his helmet, picked up his rifle and went to war, all while leading the charge, albeit with limited success.

That kind of dedication, and the importance Weis put on recruiting in such a short period of time will likely produce many elite prospects in the future. Look for a top five class next season. I'd be very surprised if Weis doesn't have the Irish sitting atop the recruiting world very soon.

Plenty will be said about the 2005 recruiting class before these 15 young men exhaust their eligibility at Notre Dame. What likely won't be said enough is the commitment many of these 15 players had towards Notre Dame during the uncertainty. To listen to Georgia offensive lineman Paul Duncan still declare Notre Dame as his leader while the Irish were still looking for a coach was refreshing. Many of these kids remained strong in their commitment to Notre Dame and that should be applauded.

I hope Irish fans rejoice in what they do have, and forget about what might've been. It's time to look towards the future and forget about the past. Weis seems to be leading that charge.

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