For those counting, Notre Dame has six known verbal commitments at this point—the most we can ever remember this early in a recruiting season.
But what is most exciting to Irish fans is the quality of players the Irish have landed this early in the recruiting season.
Most recruiting rankings are not out yet, but many expect the six Irish commitments to be ranked among the elite in the class of 2005. "Snowball effect" has been a term heard around Irish message boards since the commitment of highly-touted quarterback Zach Frazer last month. However, is it likely for the Irish to experience the snowball effect?
Take a gander at schools like Texas, who currently has 17 verbal commitments for the 2006 recruiting season, and many wonder how that could possibly happen? Could it happen for Notre Dame?
Not likely, at least not early, and we'll tell you why.
Texas does have 17 verbal commitments, and many anticipate they'll be ranked among the elite in the state of Texas, but they also have one thing in common—they're all from Texas.
The snowball effect can happen, and recruiting momentum is a very real thing, but it's much harder for that to happen at a school like Notre Dame, at least not this early into the recruiting season.
Because Notre Dame recruits nationally, most of these kids aren't familiar with each other and the other "big names" at this point. But they'll learn, just as ND fans have and will, who the top players are.
In the state of Texas, these players most likely know each other. They play against each other; they've met at combines, they've met at camps, they've read about each other. When they see "X" top player has committed, they can identify that "X" is a top player and the momentum kicks in.
It's harder for Notre Dame to capitalize on their momentum at this point because a player from Florida, who might be sitting on the fence about if he should commit to the Irish early, won't likely know that a player like James Aldridge will likely be one of the top three running backs in the country this year, or that Zach Frazer was Notre Dame's top target at quarterback. They won't know that Munir Prince, Paddy Mullen, Kallen Wade and Barry Gallup were the first players offered at their projected positions by Weis—proof that they were top targets for the Irish.
There is a real recruiting buzz about Notre Dame right now, that is obvious, but until rankings come out, it might be hard to capitalize on the fine work already put in by Irish coach Charlie Weis and his staff.
However, landing these top players early will certainly pay dividends. The commitment of James Aldridge certainly made an impact on Chicago native Demetrius Jones—another highly-touted quarterback.
Jones, who met Aldridge at a Notre Dame junior day, called Aldridge to congratulate him on his commitment. I believe that is a good sign for the Irish in the race for Jones' verbal commitment and signature.
Soon, and more likely it's happening right now, these top players will actively seek to find out who the other top targets are across the country.
They'll compete against each other at camps and combines, and they'll know who the top guys are.
A good example is the conversation I had with Zach Frazer last night. Frazer attended the Elite combine in New Jersey on Wednesday and I asked him his thoughts on some of the players that stood out.
The name Kenny Britt was the first name out of his Frazer's mouth. Britt isn't a household name at this point, but he might be soon after his impressive showing at the Elite combine.
Frazer spoke about a number of other names, many of them already known as top players, but plenty of new names will surface after these combines and camps are held.
Most of the prospects who attended the Elite camp will now know the names of the top players in their region, and I'm sure they compared notes and schools. They'll know Frazer is a top quarterback, and Frazer informed me he made it known to most of them where he was attending school.
The Irish are clearly on a roll right now with recruiting and we don't expect that to slow down any time soon. Hopefully they'll be able to capitalize on this early momentum once it becomes obvious to other top targets that Notre Dame is starting to put together a top class.
Former Irish coach Tyrone Willingham had his best recruiting season in his first full season to recruit for the Irish. Willingham capitalized on momentum down the stretch and landed future stars like Ryan Harris, Tom Zbikowski, John Sullivan, Ambrose Wooden and Victor Abiamiri.
As with Willingham's second recruiting class, momentum will certainly kick in for Weis and we fully expect Notre Dame's own snowball effect to take off soon—and like everything that Weis has shown recently, we're going to guess it won't take as long as it did for Willingham.