New Jersey Junior Has Offers

The Notre Dame coaching staff has a number of ties to the New Jersey area, so you'd expect that the Irish would recruit the state very well. A prospect for the 2007 recruiting class that the Irish will likely target is junior linebacker Manny Abreu of Union Hill high school (Union City, N.J.)

Union Hill high school head coach Joe Rotondi is preparing himself for the onslaught of college recruiters that are destined to stop in to recruit Manny Abreu.

"He's just a very, very athletic football player," coach Rotondi said of Abreu. "He plays wide-out for us. He goes up and makes some tremendous one-handed catches, he goes over people's backs. He has that type of athleticism.

"At the next level he could be a tight end, a wide receiver or he could be a defensive end or a linebacker. That's what makes him such a hot recruit, that he can fit into almost anyone's recruiting need, because of his size and his speed and his frame. It seems that almost everyone is recruiting him into what they need.

"He's the type of athlete the coaches that have come through and have seen tape think that he's a hunter on the field at linebacker. He's in the neighborhood of 6-3.5, 220-pounds. He probably runs about a 4.5 He led the team in tackles, he was first-team all-county and second team all-state."

While Abrea excels on the field at many positions, Rotondi thinks his best side of the ball is defense.

"As far as what his best position is, he's a tremendous linebacker," Rotondi said. "He hits with velocity; he has tremendous closing speed. You see on tape that he's back in a short zone, there's secondary contain and he sees an opening where he'll blow through and make a sack. He led the team with six sacks from the linebacker position.

"On defense he had 85 tackles, six sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception and blocked three kicks," coach Rotondi said. "There's a marked difference with our defense when he's not on the field. He calls our signals and has done that for two years now."

With Abreu already having the size as a junior to play linebacker at the college level, one would expect that he would grow into a college defensive end.

"Sure, I could see that," coach Rotondi said. "I don't know if they wouldn't want him to get up to 240 pounds and still play linebacker because he's that athletic. To be honest with you, if he gets much above that you're talking about moving him over to tight end and having a 260-pound tight end, because he's so athletic."

Not only is Abreu a fantastic athlete, but he might actually be a better person off the field.

"The kid, as a person, is one of the nicest kids that I have coached," Rontondi said of Abreu's off the field demeanor. "He's a super kid to coach. He's personable, nice, and modest. He's well liked in the school by everybody – everybody."

"He definitely plays with a mean streak, but he knows when to turn it on and turn it off," Rotondi added. "He's very polite and handles himself as a gentleman when he's in the building, so the teachers assume that he's a gentle giant, when he gets on the field he's anything but a gentleman."

Rotondi beams about his standout athlete now, but all the mail from college recruiters is starting to put a strain the coach's back.

"Florida, Michigan State, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, you name it, he gets a ton of mail every day," coach Rotondi commented. "He's got boxes and boxes of boxes of mail.

"There have been some schools that have been in already; Maryland, West Virginia and Rutgers, who have already offered. Boston College and Michigan State have also been in. We expect that he'll be a blue-chip 30 or 40 offer guy."

Rotondi said that Notre had not been through to talk to him about Abreu, but he said that the Irish staff does know about him.

"They have been in touch and we sent out a film," coach Rotondi said of Notre Dame's interest in Abreu. "Generally the top-flight schools will get back with you in January when they get their recruiting classes set, so I expect them back in January. "

Rotondi is also aware of the New Jersey roots some of the Irish coaches have.

"Of course coach Weis," he said of the New Jersey connections on Notre Dame's staff. "Rob Ianello, the recruiting coordinator is from our area, He recruited Rashard Casey when I was at Hoboken. That's where I know him from.

"Bernie Parmalee, he's from my county. I remember him playing here. He's a legendary name in Hudson County. He played at Lincoln high school and we played them every year." Top Stories