The only way things could be better in South Bend is if you could change a few plays and erase the Irish losses to Michigan State and USC – but you can't. What you can do is look to the future and build from there. The future, is of course, built on recruiting.
At this time in past seasons, recruiting always appeared to be going in reverse as top national prospects would eliminate Notre Dame from their list of prospective schools. The opposite is happening this season as the Irish remain in the top two for most of their top targets. Oddly enough, some players like Micah Johnson have actually added Notre Dame back into the mix after eliminating them over the summer.
"When I was double-checking the things that I wanted from a school, I just looked at what Notre Dame had to offer and Notre Dame has what I want in a school," Johnson said when asked how Notre Dame got back into the mix. "Talking to coach Weis also swayed me into looking at them harder.
"I think they've done a great job," Johnson said of Weis and his staffs 5-2 start to the 2006 season. "That's a really big thing that they've been winning. Coach Weis is doing a good job recruiting, they're getting some top-notch players in there. It's not just what they have going on the field, but it's everything they have going on with the program."
Being in the game is only half the battle. A player like Johnson obviously has all the top schools recruiting him. The next step is to get him on campus. He has visited Georgia on one of his allotted official visits and he's in the process of scheduling the remaining four visits.
"Va. Tech, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Michigan I think will be the schools," Johnson said when asked which schools he would visit officially. "I'm up at Kentucky almost every home game and I stay the night, so I don't think I'll visit them. I could take an official visit to Louisville, but I'll probably take my visits to out of state schools."
Micah's teammate and current Notre Dame commitment Leonard Gordon would like to take Johnson with him on a trip to South Bend in the near future. They had discussed visiting for the upcoming game against Tennessee, but their playoff game is going to prevent them from making the trip.
"I think the Navy game will be more of a possibility," he said about rescheduling his official visit to Notre Dame. "I think we'll have a better chance."
Irish fans hoping for a "package deal" can put those ideas to rest. Gordon and Johnson are great friends, but each player will make their decision based on what is best for them. Johnson did talk about what made Gordon a special player."He's a hard worker. It starts off the field with him," Micah said of his teammate. "I spent all off-season with him, and I think all his hard work will carry him to the top. He's smart on the field, and he's a real physical player. He's the type of guy that you're really happy to have him on your team."
If the Irish were lucky enough to get both players from Fort Campbell, what does Johnson bring to the gridiron?
"You get someone who brings a lot of intensity," Johnson said of his play. "You'll get someone who plays hard and that you can count on to make plays when you need one. I think I bring leadership to the field – all the guys can count on me.
"I'd probably go with athleticism," he replied when asked to name his best attribute as a player. "That's what allows me to get to the ball. With my athleticism, you get my strength, my power and my speed; then my size thrown in there with all my intangibles -- that makes me a real complete player."
Now back to that question most Irish fans are asking themselves. If there was one thing that stood out about Notre Dame that made Johnson reconsider playing for the Irish, what was it?
"I'd probably have to say, the coaching staff," he answered.
Comment: I'm not sure the Irish can really compete with the teams that have been in on him since last spring. He is an incredibly impressive player and he has some very good options. His brother is a freshman at Kentucky so they are a big player in this and they should be there until the end. Nonetheless, the recruiting momentum Weis has built is impressive.
Note: Johnson is scheduled as a guest for tonight's Irish Eyes Power Hour so listen in for his thoughts on his season, recruiting, and the Irish.