Sophomore running back Darius Walker of the 2004 Irish recruiting class had won the prestigious award in 2003 as a senior at Buford high school. This year the Irish staff went back to Georgia to get linebacker prospect Morrice Richardson who just recently found out that he also received the award.
"I was named (Georgia) Gatorade player of the year," Richardson said with excitement when asked if he had any big news to share. "I read it in the newspaper and people have been telling me all day, but I haven't heard from Gatorade yet. I'm real honored, although it hasn't sunk in yet. I was just happy to hear it."
Richardson sounded almost as pleaseed with the award as he when he was talking about his future teammates playing in a BCS bowl. The Irish are at the center of the college football BCS discussion. Many say that Notre Dame needs to join a conference in order to earn their BCS bid. The reasoning is that it's much more difficult to survive a conference schedule than it is for Notre Dame to navigate their schedule.
"Notre Dame does what they want to, they play who they want to play," Richardson replied when asked his opinion on Notre Dame being an Independent. "I'd rather be able to play all over the United States, which is what you're going to do with Notre Dame, instead of playing in just one region. Notre Dame just goes for it. I'll put Notre Dame up against any SEC team."
The confidence you hear from Richardson about the Irish is what Charlie Weis has brought to the program in less than a year. No doubt that winning on the field plays a huge role in that, but it is also the little things the entire staff does behind the scenes that build the confidence from underneath.
"I saw coach Lewis today, he came by my school," Richardson said. "It felt good that he came down to visit me after I committed, because I figured they wouldn't worry about me after I committed. He was just telling me how important I was to the program, because they need more speed on defense and he said that I'd fit in perfectly -- we talked about a lot of stuff.
"I still have other coaches trying to get me to change my mind, but it's not going to happen. There isn't anything that they can say about their school that Notre Dame doesn't do as good or better.
"I've been to Notre Dame's facilities and I been to the SEC and ACC facilities and none of them rivals Notre Dame's. Notre Dame has the best stuff bar none. And the great thing about Notre Dame is that they're a great football and a great academic institution also."