Notre Dame has had some success drawing a few Georgia prep stars to South Bend. Jabari Holloway ('97), Sean Milligan ('99), Darius Walker ('04) and recently Paul Duncan('05) were all heavily recruited and highly regarded prospects. Ashley McConnell and Mike Richardson are also from the Peach State as well.
The last time the Irish had their sights set on a middle linebacker prospect from Georgia it was Hartwell, Georgia product Jae Thaxton in 2004. Thaxton played around with the idea of visiting Notre Dame before he decided to play his football at Florida State.
Like every year, Georgia has some talented prep linebackers. The Irish and just about every top program in the country have their sights fixed on Toryan Smith. Although he's been getting flooded with calls, the recruiting process hasn't overwhelmed him yet.
"Right now I'm just taking it (recruiting) in with our season just starting," Smith explained. "We've played one game and our second is this Friday. I've really been more focused on my team, but I have been in constant contact with most of the teams that I'm looking at.
Smith and his Rome teammates are Georgia's class 4A's No. 3 ranked team. Last week they beat Murray County 24-12.
"We played pretty well as a team. I'm still not playing at my full potential, but I think I did pretty good considering it was our first game" he said.
"I don't come off the field. I play tight end, and we run a wing-T so I'm pretty much an offensive tackle out there. On defense I had 10 or 11 tackles.
"This Friday we go against Cedartown," Smith continued. "We have one of the top defenses around, and I'm looking for the shutout. I feel like if we score a field goal it's over.
Toryan has already scheduled official visit to Oklahoma (9/3 vs. TCU), Notre Dame (10/15 vs. USC), Michigan (11/19 vs. Ohio State) and Florida (11/25 vs. FSU). That means four visits are taken. Does he plan to schedule a fifth?
"(It's either) UCLA or Nebraska. I haven't made that final yet," he said. "I had it scheduled for Nebraska, but the way the flights are scheduled and the way TV scheduled the game, I'm not going to be able to make it. That was the best weekend for me to go up there and the way my schedule is, I don't think I'll be able to make that trip. I've been there so I've probably seen what I needed to see, but I haven't been out there for a game, and I'd like to see that."
Toryan has a game on the Friday night of his trip, so I ask him if he will have enough time to experience everything that he is interested in seeing given the limited amount of time that he will be on campus.
"We'll probably fly up there that morning (Saturday)," he said. "I've been to South Bend three times. I went to camp last year; a game last year and then we went back there this summer. This trip will make it my fourth.
"All the schools I'm looking at have big-time game atmospheres. It's the social part of it and what I'm going to do academically. A lot of stuff like that I'll be looking for outside of the football program."
Smith visited all the schools he is considering unofficially at least once, which means he has done his homework. I asked him if he had an opportunity to look at the depth charts at each school and if any school provides him an opportunity to play early.
"Notre Dame gives me the chance to do that," Smith responded. "They have a couple of fifth-year seniors, Mays and Hoyte at the linebacker positions they are looking for me to play so that speaks for itself."
"I'm going to go where I fit," he continued. "I'm not saying that I have to be starting my freshman year, but I want to compete early. I know you have to beat people out no matter where you are, but I want to go in and compete right away."
Knowing that Irish secondary coach Bill Lewis has a relationship with Toryan's father, I asked him if coach Lewis was in charge of recruiting him for Notre Dame.
"I get a lot of letters from coach Ianello and coach Oliver writes me a lot," he said "Coach Weis stays in touch with me once or twice a week, but I'd say coach Lewis is in charge of recruiting me.
"I think he's (coach Lewis) a real good man. He coached in the league for nine years. I think he's a real good defensive coach. I know he's not my position coach, but I wouldn't mind playing for a guy like that."
A lot of top prospects like the drama and excitement of announcing on signing day, but not Toryan.
"I'm not going to wait until signing day. I'll probably know before then and I don't' want to hold somebody up from getting a scholarship-- I don't think that's fair. My last official visit is November 25, so I'll have a decision sometime between that visit and the middle of January," Smith said.
Comments: Smith is one of the best linebackers that I've seen this year and he is certainly one of the top defensive prospects left on Notre Dame's recruiting board. The importance of the October 15 weekend continues to expand. Notre Dame is competing against the best programs in the country for this playmaker and I believe it is a battle the Irish can win.