When Notre Dame was at it's height during the Lou Holtz era, the Irish frequently went into Michigan and pulled out some of the best high school players. Chris Colasanti (6-2, 235) is already one of the best players in Michigan as a junior according to Brother Rice's head coach Al Fracassa.
"His name is Chris Colasanti," coach Fracassa said when I asked if Notre Dame had been in contact with him about one of his players. "Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame and the rest of them are recruiting him too. He can run. He's a very fine football player. He made all-state this year as a junior, all-county and all-Catholic. He's one of those guys. He led the team in tackling and he plays fullback for me once in a while. I think he's going to be an inside linebacker."
Brother Rice is a program that has seen some top players work their way through the program and coach Fracassa has coached a lot of them.
"I have sent a few players to Notre Dame. Jimmy Seymour ('66-‘68) was an all-American three years in a row. I was at another school when I coached Jimmy. I had Greg Collins ('71-'74), who was a captain at Notre Dame as a linebacker, Jordan Halter ('89-'93). I've had a few players that have gone to Notre Dame and they've done a great job.
"I've also had Mike Lodish who went to UCLA, I had the Farr boys (Mel Jr. and Michael) that played there. I had Brian Brennan who went to Boston College and played with Doug Flutie. He went on to play nine years with the Cleveland Browns. Pete Mitchell was another standout of ours that went to Boston College and played in the pros for eight or nine years."
With a list of players that Fracassa has coached he knows a good one when he sees one.
"It's kind of nice to have a player of Colasanti's stature," coach Fracassa said of his standout linebacker. "He's also a good student. He's a 3.6 (g.p.a.) student. You won't have any problem getting him in.
"I think they'll (Notre Dame) like him. I've sent film and he's going to bring in three or four more that I'm going to send to Notre Dame so they can take a look at him. I've been in football for a long time and he has a good chance to go to school there. I think Charlie Weis knows about him. They've gotten in touch with me and they've talked with me."
Notre Dame certainly knows about Chris Colasanti. He was one of a select group of players that were invited to Notre Dame's first junior day for the 2007 recruiting class.
"I liked it a lot," Colasanti said of his trip to South Bend. "I really like the campus. I liked that it was small. I really had a good visit. I liked meeting all the coaches. I met with coach Haywood, who is recruiting my area. Then I met with the defensive coordinator, coach Minter.
"I asked coach Minter what he thought of my tape, and he said he liked it a lot. He said that they would know by May if they were going to offer."
The junior day was Colasanti's third visit to South Bend. He'd like to make more, but he doesn't need to travel far from home to rub elbows with some of Notre Dame's all-time favorite players.
"I went to school where one of their former players was, Terry Eurick ('74-77). Mr. Eurick was an All-American running back at Notre Dame in the seventies. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated the year they won the national championship. I'm also good friends with Scott Kowalkowski ('87–'90) and Pete Chryplewicz ('92-'96). Mr. Kowalkowski is like my second dad. We always talk about Notre Dame."
Although Chris has a direct link to the history of Notre Dame, the person trying to bring Notre Dame back to prominence has also made his mark on Colasanti.
"It's tradition and coach Weis," Colasanti replied when asked what impressed him about Notre Dame. "What sucked me in was what he did when they played Washington. What he did for that little boy on the first play was amazing. I see what he does and how he talks and presents himself. I know he's a great leader."
Chris currently holds offers from Michigan State, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. Penn State is also recruiting him heavily, where he attended camp last year.
"I'm planning on going to Notre Dame this summer," he said when asked if he was planning on attending any camps this summer. "I'm going to the Nike camp, and I'll talk to my dad about where else I should go. I think he might want me go down to Ohio State for their camp."
Coach Fracassa described Colasanti as a player that had the talent to compete at the Division I level. How does Chris see himself?
"If you asked the guys on my team I think they'd say I'm a leader," Colasanti said. "I'm not real outspoken. I try my best to lead by my actions instead of my words. They'd probably say that I'm intense. I think I'm a pretty good moving side to side, but I know I have to get my speed up. I'm good at shedding blocks and being a hard hitter.
"I'm trying to do a lot of film work, studying offensive line tendencies, and understanding my keys better. Basically getting the whole knowledge of the game down better. Mr. Kowalkowski got me into that more; going through my keys until they become second nature. He focuses a lot on that. He said once you get to college everybody's talent is the same, but what is going to set you apart from the other players is if you know about the other team."