Turning Heads

The Notre Dame football program is starting to make waves. The Irish recently hosted several unofficial visitors and summer camp participants. Many of them took notice of what Notre Dame had to offer.

During the course of the past several years Notre Dame was often times viewed as just an OK unofficial or official visit while other schools often times would blow away recruits during those same types of unofficial and official visits. That simply is not good enough.

For whatever the reason(s), recruits previously using this thought process have begun to change their tune.

Three prime recruits that Notre Dame has made up ground with in recent weeks include Sam Young, OT, 6-8, 280-pounds, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., (St. Thomas Aquinas), Bartley Webb, OT, 6-7, 290-pounds, Springdale, Ark. and Steve Brown, SS, 6-1, 200-pounds, Columbus, Ind., (East).

Young took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in mid June. Now the Irish have made his first big cut down to seven schools and are a legitimate threat for his signature. Webb was considered a good bet to play for the home state Razorbacks or head down to Austin and play for the Longhorns. He is reportedly now really high on Notre Dame and the Irish have a good shot to land his services.

Then there is Brown, who yours truly thought that Notre Dame had little to no shot at until I spoke to him this past Wednesday. In recent years that notion probably would have been correct. Notre Dame rarely came from behind in a recruiting race to steal a prized recruit.

After Brown's recent unofficial visit to Notre Dame the Irish are neck and neck with arch-rival Michigan for Brown's signature. While it is hard to say how any of these recruiting battles will turn out it is important to note that prized recruits that can virtually play at any top 10 program are once again giving the Irish serious consideration.

Notre Dame's recruitment of Brown is a good sign for the future. If Notre Dame is to truly return to the top of the college football world it has to be able to land top-notch recruits who have not previously been exposed to Notre Dame football before the recruiting process began and/or be able to steal away impact recruits from other programs in their own backyard.

Nobody picked Notre Dame to win the Tony Brooks sweepstakes back in 1987. Oklahoma was rolling and Notre Dame was trying to rebuild. But even after Ricky Watters had committed to Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz was able to pull tailback out of perennial power Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa even with the Sooners being located right down the road in Norman.

The following year Holtz pulled off an even bigger recruiting coup with the signature of tight end Derek Brown from Merritt Island, Fla. If you would have asked anyone in the recruiting world where Brown was headed the answer would have almost certainly have been Florida or Miami. Brown ended up inking with the Irish and was an integral part of the 1988 Notre Dame National Championship team as a mere true freshman.

Notre Dame is not going to win a lot of these types of recruiting battles, but it needs to win at least a few every single year. Brooks and Brown are just two prime examples to remember.

So what happens next? If you are looking for a handful of recruits that could be placed in the recruiting coup category, keep these names in mind. Notre Dame would love to land recruits such as Taylor Mays, FS, 6-3, 220-pounds, Seattle, Wash., (Bishop O'Dea), Asher Allen, CB, 5-10, 185-pounds, Tucker, Ga., David Ausberry, WR, 6-4, 215-pounds, Lemoore, Calif. or Gerald McCoy, DT, 6-4, 305-pounds, Oklahoma City, Okla., (Southeast).

Along with Brown, this group of recruits would be my personal top five to watch recruits this year. If Notre Dame can land any one of these recruits, let alone two or three, you could rest assured that this is going to be a banner recruiting class.

There are certainly other recruits that could be placed into the recruiting coup category, but these are a few names that Notre Dame currently at least has somewhat of a chance to land an unofficial or official visit. Look for this list to change throughout the year, but it is a good list to start with. If the current trend holds true to form, Notre Dame will be in the thick of the race for any recruit that makes the trek to South Bend.

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