Irish Got a Great One

The Notre Dame football team received another shot in the arm with the verbal commitment from running back James Aldridge on Monday. Who better to tell us about the impact Aldridge might have than his high school coach? We spoke with Merrillville high school coach Jeff Yelton on Tuesday about his star player. Yelton is convinced the Irish got a great one in Aldridge.

Merrillville high school coach Jeff Yelton has had the pleasure of coaching running back James Aldridge for the past few seasons.

He's the complete package," said Yelton of Aldridge. "He's got that extra gear, that extra burst the great players have.

"He's got great vision and great balance. If you try to tackle him, you better have perfect form because he'll slip a hip and slide right by you.

He runs with great power, and he's just got uncanny balance that you just don't see. As a running back, he's by far the most complete running back I've ever had."

"He's also got great hands," Yelton continued. "He only caught 11 passes, but he caught all 11 we threw at him. If you have the tape, you can see it. There's a play where he was downfield and he had to reach across his body to make a great catch."

Yelton also said that Aldridge has another talent that many don't know about.

"He's also our backup quarterback," Yelton said. "He's got a cannon for an arm, and he can run our offense as well as our (starting quarterback)."

By now, most of us have seen film on Aldridge to know the talent he has on the football field, but what about Aldridge the person?

"He's a great kid," said Yelton of his star player. "He's a 3.0+ student. He always has a smile on his face.

"He's very goal-oriented. His mom and dad did a tremendous job of raising him. You'll never have to worry about James cutting corners. He works harder than anyone both on and off the field."

But what about his ACL injury?

"He is way ahead of his rehab schedule," Yelton said. "He's been cleared to run track so he's obviously OK. He shows no ill effects from his injury whatsoever. That won't be a problem for us at all this year."

Yelton said he's also excited to see James go to Notre Dame.

"James went to Notre Dame on a number of unofficial visits and you could see how impressed he was with coach Weis and what they have going on there," Yelton said. "It's a great fit for him because the education is second to none, and the quality of the football program speaks for itself."

Yelton also got to know new Irish head coach Charlie Weis through James recruitment and Yelton couldn't be more complimentary towards Weis.

"There's just a warmth that he displays," said Yelton of Weis. "He's very much a people-person. He's a phenomenal guy. I've been very impressed with him."

The Irish certainly got a great player in Aldridge, and it's nice to hear a high school coach's perspective on head coach Charlie Weis. Monday was certainly a great day for all Irish fans, and it appears there will be many more great days in the future under Weis.


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