Notre Dame will likely need at least one defensive end and tight end in the 2006 recruiting class. It's possible that the Irish could take two at each position. Patrick Rigan would be an ideal candidate for a scholarship offer because he could be a swing player that could play either position.
With a 4.6 electronically timed 40, Rigan has outstanding speed for a big man. Last year he averaged 16.5 yards per catch at tight end. On defense he had 96 total tackles, four passes broken up, one interception and five sacks.
We asked the Traverse City, Mich. native which schools are showing the most interest at this point, and what position are schools recruiting him to play.
"I'm hearing from a lot of schools, but the schools recruiting me the hardest are, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Ohio State, Missouri and Central Michigan," Rigan responded.
"Most schools are recruiting me at tight end, but Missouri and Iowa are talking defensive end. I prefer defensive end. I think I'm more defensive minded. I have that headhunting mentality. I like play with reckless abandon and just get after it."
Listening to Rigan, the image of Travis Leitko kept coming to mind. Leitko had very similar numbers coming out of high school. The last couple years the Irish have used Leitko as the wedge-buster on the kick-off team—something Rigan says he loves to do.
"Yeah, my coaches do the same." Rigan said, "I love flying down the field and barreling into players. What I don't like is when someone takes a cheap shot at me. Every now and then, someone will chop-block me at the knees."
Once you get a guy with Rigan's size and speed moving, there probably aren't a bunch of kids that want to attempt to slow his progress.
"Well, there definitely have been a few that haven't gotten up right away." Rigan said when asked if anyone attempts to get in his way on kickoffs.
We asked Rigan if he had any interest in Notre Dame at this point.
"I like Notre Dame a lot. I was down there last season for the Pittsburgh game." Rigan said. "I've actually been to Notre Dame several times. Obviously St. Francis is a Catholic high school, and our basketball and football coaches like to take their teams to Notre Dame to watch a practice.
"The old Notre Dame staff was recruiting me last year, and I had talked to them quite a bit, but I haven't had a chance to speak with the new staff.
He did mention that he realized the new staff hadn't been together long, so he wasn't concerned about any lag in communication. I was actually interested in his perception of the coaching change.
"I did like coach Willingham and the other coaches," Rigan added. "I thought they did a good job of recruiting me. I'm not sure coach Willingham was given enough time, but if Notre Dame was going to make a change, I'm not sure they could have done better than Charlie Weis. He looks like a really good coordinator. He certainly knows his stuff and I'm confident that he'll to a great job as Notre Dame's head coach."
Parents are always a factor in determining where a player will go to school. In Patrick's case, there seems to be a split decision.
"My mom would pick Notre Dame." Rigan explained, "She's Catholic so she likes that the church has a presence on campus. She loves the campus and the atmosphere. When we visit, everyone on campus is just incredibly nice. In the end, she wants me to go where I'll feel comfortable.
"My dad graduated from Michigan so he'd like me to go to Michigan. But like my mom, he really just wants me to pick a school where I'll be happy."
Does Patrick have an idea which schools he'll focus on?
"I'd say that Notre Dame probably leads. I love it every time I visit" admitted Rigan. "Michigan, Missouri, Michigan State and Iowa would round out my top five.
"I'll probably camp at Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa" Rigan added.
Comments: I'm very interested in seeing Rigan's film. He doesn't have any offers at this point, but all the major players in the Midwest are a recruiting him heavily. Patrick is a Notre Dame-type of kid all the way. The Irish should have a very good chance at landing him if they offer, but Michigan could muscle their way into the competition if the Irish wait too long to offer. Also watch Missouri -- he seemed intrigued by the Tigers.