Konrad Reuland is going to make one college coaching staff very happy when he selects his school sometime in early 2006. He was always a very good athlete, but it wasn't until his sophomore year that he got the chance to put on the helmet and pads.
"He (Konrad) always had an interest in playing while he was growing up, but I wouldn't let him play," recalled Konrad's father Ralf. "I was never really that keen on him playing. He played a lot of basketball growing up. During his freshman year, after basketball season, he voiced his desire to play. I looked at what type of kid he had grown into, and how much desire he had to do it, so you couldn't deny that. At that point it was okay – it was an easy decision.
"We saw his talent pretty early on. He was quite physical and big and strong." Mr. Reuland continued. "You could see how athletic he was and how he moved around, but you never know until you get the pads on and start playing. The basketball training and all the skills it takes to be good in that has just translated over to the football field. It's made it a little easier, and I think it definitely helped him out. You just had a feeling that he was going to do just fine.
The transition was not that bad," Ralf Reuland said of Konrad's adjustment to playing tight end. "The hardest thing for him was to learn how to block. The running and catching was simple compared to the blocking. Now he has that down and his blocking is very strong.
"He's real happy about being a complete tight end compared to a year ago. They say there are a lot of different tight ends out there. They usually come in different types, a receiving tight end or a blocking tight end, but to have a good combo tight end is a tough one to find. He's put a lot of effort into it. He had a desire to become very good at it."
And good he is. The best football programs from around the country began sending offers in piles to the Reuland residence. In order to pare down Konrad's options, the family decided to visit several schools--Nebraska, Ohio State, Miami and Notre Dame--in August.
"It was a very comfortable place," Mr. Reuland said when asked about the family's visit to Notre Dame. "It was very beautiful aesthetically, and the academic part was very impressive. It seemed like a real neat place to go to school. The setting seemed like a real college experience that one would get there. The athletic facilities were also impressive. Just the whole thing seemed really impressive from every angle."
While at Notre Dame the Reuland's had a chance to meet and speak with the new Irish coaching staff.
"They seemed to be real down to earth people….very straightforward with everything," he said of the Notre Dame coaching staff. "They seemed to have a lot of confidence even before the season started about where they were going to go with the program. You just had a sense that something good was going to happen, even back in August. They felt very comfortable -- you could see that. They seemed very professional. They were very impressive and pretty nice people."
Making a solid impression with a recruit's parents is an important first step, but with the Irish competing with the best programs in the country for Konrad's signature, they would also need to make a lasting impression with him. Part of the challenge for the new Notre Dame coaching staff was to convince Konrad that they were going to turn the dormant Irish program in the right direction.
"I kind of had a feeling that was going to happen," Konrad said of the early success Notre Dame is having in Charlie Weis' first season. "When I was up there, I talked to him for a couple hours. Just meeting with coach Weis, I really felt that he'd get it going over there. I really liked him. Regardless of how they did this season, they probably would have been right in the mix either way. The fact that they've done as well as they have is a huge plus as well, but I kind of saw it coming."
Being in the mix is a very good thing, but the Irish still face the challenge of overcoming several strong programs that offer Konrad something special.
"USC is such a good program," he said describing his list of favorite schools.
"UCLA is really on the rise and they use their tight ends well.
"Stanford's been my dream school from an academic standpoint ever since I was little, so I want to see what their football program is all about.
"Notre Dame, when I went out on my unofficial visit, I went to four schools, and Notre Dame was my favorite," he said of his August trip. "It really intrigued me. Coach Weis and his offense just seems like a really good fit.
"I'd say I have four (schools) set in stone that I'm going to take visits to," he continued. "Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA and USC. I'm thinking that I'll take a visit to either Miami or Nebraska as well," he said of the schools he is intending on visiting. "The only other visit I've scheduled is to Stanford, the weekend after Notre Dame."
"It's the one that fit my schedule the best," Konrad said of his official visit to Notre Dame. "I would have liked to have come out for the USC game, but we had homecoming that week and I didn't want to miss that. I decided to come out for the Navy game. We have a three-day weekend. We have school off Friday, and we play on Thursday, so it works out really well.
"I know a lot of guys say it, but location really isn't a huge factor with me," he said of distance playing into his college decision. "I've lived in Europe, pretty much on the other side of the world, so going to the East Coast or the Midwest really doesn't seem far away. I'm just going to go to the school where I fit best."
Anthony Fasano has emerged as one of the top tight ends in the country this season in Charlie Weis' offense, as Fasano has piled up 468 yards on 36 receptions through eight games. Those numbers haven't gone unnoticed.
"I've watched almost all of their games on TV," Reuland explained. "I TIVO them so I'm able to rewind stuff. If there are certain things that I want to see, I'll rewind a play to see how the tight end did on a play; what did they do with this guy. Just little things like that. I definitely, watch the type of formations they're in. I watch how their offense runs. It's pretty cool watching coach Weis' offense. He seems like he'd be a good guy to play for too.
"He (Weis) does a really good job of getting Fasano and the tight ends in single coverage, motioning them out of the backfield and having them run routes out of the backfield," he described. "Splitting them out as a wide out, putting them in the slot and moving them all over the field. Not just keeping them on the line to block or release from the line only. He does a good job of getting the tight end into single coverage and getting good matches."
Comments: Konrad is not only one of the top tight end prospects in the country, but he's also one of the top players overall. The fact that he's only in his third season of football is truly amazing. Charlie Weis knows how to use the tight end, but the other schools on Reuland's list are also known for developing quality tight ends, so this is going to be an interesting recruiting battle to watch.