Missouri Junior on Irish Radar

Notre Dame will sign two players from the state of Missouri in their 2006 recruiting class on February 1. The talent doesn't stop there, as the Irish will likely be back to recruit linebacker Michael Keck of Harrisonville High School.

The 2005 Irish recruiting class had D.J. Hord from Kansas City's Rockhurst high school and Paddy Mullen and Munir Prince Munir Prince will come from De Smet Jesuit in St. Louis this year. The cupboard isn't bare in the Show-Me State, as Harrisonville head coach Fred Bouchard has a player the Notre Dame staff already has on their radar screen.

"He's already been to their campus," coach Bouchard said of Michael Keck. "He went to the BYU game this year. Another coach in our program has a couple boys that are friends with Michael took him up. It was a good visit."

In 18 years as a football coach, Bouchard has coached and coached against some very good football players, but he believes he has something special in Keck.

"Michael is the best high school player that I've ever coached," Bouchard said of his star athlete. "As a freshman he started and was probably the hardest hitter on a 14-0 team that won the state championship, and he's only gotten better since then.

"We have two or three Division I type kids so they only start on one side of the ball. It gives kids more opportunity to play and pull kids off the field and coach them up. That's my decision and since we went that direction we're 40-3. If I were to play my best 11 one each side of the ball Michael would definitely be playing both sides.

"They do learn two sides of the ball, and on offense he's a tight end. He's mainly an outside linebacker on defense," Bouchard said. "He's 6-5 215. He plays basketball and runs track.

"He was fourth in the 100 meters as a sophomore at our conference track meet. He's a 10.9-11.0 100-meter track kid at his size. He's a really fast kid for a big kid. Electronically we've timed him at a 4.62-forty."

With Keck's athletic ability he could play a number of positions, but no matter where Bouchard plays him, Michael is a playmaker.

"I believe his stats are in the range of 140 tackles, 16 sacks, he had around 32 tackles for loss," Bouchard said of Keck. "He was first team all-metro as a junior, and I believe he led the Kansas City metro in tackles.

"First off he's very talented and smart kid," Bouchard said of Keck. "He naturally and instinctively knows to go after the ball. He understands the essence of defense is to make the play and then get after the football. You see him on him on film where he's has the guy wrapped up with one arm and then he's punching at the ball with the other. He does those things he does very well.

"You're not talking to me if he doesn't have a certain level of talent, size and speed, agility, and all those things that go together that make him a premier recruit. But what he does instinctively and naturally is that he gets after the football. We stress that as a program, but he's one that has really made that part of his approach on defense.

"He leads our team in forced fumbles and fumble recoveries," Bouchard also added.

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