Charlie Weis is the name you hear most often when the talking heads discuss Notre Dame football, but the Irish assistants can't be overlooked when one discusses the success that the Irish are enjoying this season. That can't be any more evident when talk to a recruit about the Irish coaching staff. Whether it's wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello or offensive line coach John Latina, they all do a tremendous job representing the university. Dan Wegner is the latest Notre Dame recruiting target to come away from his visit to Notre Dame impressed with where the program is headed.
"I don't know if there are words to express the way it was -- it was that great and that amazing," Wenger said of his official visit for the Tennessee game. "I really loved it, and I really enjoyed myself. It was a great visit and a great place to be.
"I'm originally from Pittsburgh so I like that northern setting, and I think that Notre Dame portrayed that feeling with how the people were, how the school is run. Everything about the school was great – I just really enjoyed myself."
While on an official visit the recruited is hosted by a current player. Something new coach Ianello has done this season is split the hosting duties between two Notre Dame players.
"The first night it was Kyle McCarthy, and the second night it was Dan Santucci," he said
"He's (Santucci) a great guy and he showed me a great time," Wenger said when asked about his impression of the Notre Dame offensive lineman. "He's a straight-up guy. He told me all the things I needed to know about Notre Dame and how Notre Dame could be really good for me."
"I really enjoyed myself," Wenger continued. "It was my first game at Notre Dame and it was an experience in itself. The whole atmosphere, the way the team played together. The fact that every single player isn't in it for the stats, but they're in it for the team – that's what I really enjoyed about it."
I've mentioned the effort the assistant coaches have done representing Notre Dame, coach Latina is one of the coaches that has been responsible for recruiting Wenger.
"Definitely a great coach," Wenger said of Latina. "I loved how he didn't b.s. me. He said that they were losing guys and they're going to be thin at O-line, but he's not guaranteeing me a spot to come right in and start. He's just guaranteeing me competition and the opportunity to play early. That's what I like. I don't like to be told that I'm going to come in and be the man. I want to compete for a position. I want to work hard at it. He shot straight with me."
While at Notre Dame Wenger also got a chance to meet with coach Weis for the first time.
"I first thought of him being a real serious guy and a guy to not to kid around, but he likes to fun and he likes to be a goofball sometimes, "Dan said of the Notre Dame head coach. "Like I said about coach Latina, he (Weis) shot straight with me. He told me the situation they have at offensive line, his style and his coaching staff's style of discipline and the way that they coach, and they way they go about running their program is one of things I'm looking for.
"I'm not sure what the numbers are, but they are losing a good amount of guys," Wenger explained when asked what the Irish staff had said about the offensive line depth. "It doesn't matter (where he's plays). I‘m definitely an inside guy. I'm not a tackle. I don't think I'm physically built to play there. If they recruit me to play center and they find out that I'm a better fit at guard, so be it. I'll take whatever. I've played both (guard and center) and I'm currently playing both, so either or, it doesn't matter."
Although Wenger came away form his visit impressed, this was only his second official visit. His first official visit was to Purdue when they played the Irish and Dan intends on scheduling his remaining visits to Florida, Penn State and Duke.
"Notre Dame definitely stood out," he when asked if any schools had started to separate themselves from the pack. "All these schools have truly stood out to me, but Notre Dame really caught my eye. I can't tell you it will stay like that, but they'll definitely be there when I decide. I have three visits left. I don't have them set up yet, so I'm just going to take my time and worry about them after the season.
Comments: The first several times I spoke with Dan I had a tough time reading his interest in Notre Dame. I think it's safe to say that Notre Dame was on the outside looking in at one time. Over time the Irish staff has done a great job recruiting him and the Irish have slowly climbed up on his list of schools. He has a couple visits remaining, and Notre Dame will have a very tough battle on their hands.