Recruiting Week in Review

The biggest story of the week was National Signing Day for high school football recruits. Beginning early Wednesday, February 1, coaches all around the country undoubtedly hovered about fax machines waiting for the coveted Letters of Intent from verbal commitments. For Notre Dame there were no surprises. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

All 27 verbal commitments to the Irish faxed in their signed LOI's and, with that legality accomplished, the 2006 recruiting class was officially put to bed. Charlie Weis expressed obvious satisfaction with both the players and the composition of the 2006 class. And why wouldn't he? Scout.com rated Notre Dame's class as the fifth best recruiting class in the country.

"As a matter of fact, I was satisfied," said Weis during his Signing Day press conference. "Our biggest areas of concern, numbers-wise this year, we were going to overload on the offensive line and defensive backs. We wanted to make sure we got two quarterbacks."

Scout.com ranked Notre Dame's offensive line class as the best in the nation. The Irish's defensive back recruits were ranked fifth by Scout.com and the quarterback class finished ranked fourth. Clearly, Notre Dame met Weis's goals in those areas. The Irish head coach also addressed the position that has concerned so many Notre Dame fans, defensive tackle.

"One of the biggest questions on the street, ‘what are we going to do with the defensive line?'" We brought in three guys that can get after the passer," Weis said. "A lot of guys had Paddy [Mullen] pegged as just a tight end. They didn't realize what our thought process was all along because we're not allowed to talk about any of these guys until after signing day."

Even the supremely confident Weis seemed a bit surprised at just how strong the 2006 class turned out.

"I'd say this year's class was beyond my expectations, to be able to fulfill so many needs with such quality young men that fit the three things that we talk about: good kids that can read and write, but they can play." opined Weis. "I was really, really happy with this class."

Weis also referenced the fact that recruiting is a twelve-month job and that there's no such thing as a vacation from recruiting. With that thought in mind, several new names in the 2007 recruiting class surfaced this last week for fans of Notre Dame football. And like so many that Notre Dame is targeting in this early period, most of them appear to be gamebreakers and difference makers.

Wide receiver Tony Clemons, 6-3, 180, Valley High School, New Kensington, PA is definitely a playmaker.

"At any point in the game, I can change it," Clemons said. "I like to make big plays. When I get the football I can take it the distance every time."

Notre Dame apparently has a high interest in Clemons and Clemons seems to return the favor.

"Coach Latina visited my school a couple weeks ago," Clemons said. "He couldn't talk to me but he sat down with my coach. "I'm real interested in Notre Dame. To tell you the truth, it's overwhelming because it's Notre Dame and you're used to seeing them on TV. I'm excited about it (the Notre Dame recruitment) to tell you the truth."

It doesn't hurt Notre Dame's chances that Clemons is friends with current Irish commit Darrin Walls.

"I have a friend, Darrin Walls. I'll probably go up there (Notre Dame) with him to watch the spring game. He's just giving me the scoop about Notre Dame. I'm excited for him."

Any player with the first name of Golden seems destined for Notre Dame. Golden Tate, WR, 5-11, 185, John Paul II High School, Hendersonville, TN may or may not end up in an Irish uniform but he clearly is a special player.

"You aren't named Mr. Football in Tennessee if you aren't a player with special talents," said Jeff Brothers, Tate's head football coach. "Now imagine that type of player that receives that award as a junior."

And yes, Tate is a playmaker.

"He's a player that score from anywhere on the field, in any situation," offered Coach Brothers. "He has outstanding hands, tremendous speed and he runs very good routes."

Brothers says that Tate is just as impressive off the field as he is on it.

"He's a 3.0 (g.p.a.) student. He's a great kid. He's the kind of kid you pull for. He's a respectful, well-spoken kid. It's a thrill to be his coach.

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Playmakers may get most of the publicity but it's the warriors in the trenches that give quarterbacks time to find them. One of the biggest recruits that has found his way onto Notre Dame's early interest list is Anthony Davis, OL/DL, 6-6, 325, Piscataway Township High School (NJ). Davis made a name for himself at the Army All-American Junior combine in San Antonio.

"I worked out at tackle and guard," said Davis. "Only one kid got up field, but nobody beat me."

Davis acknowledges an interest in Notre Dame that has only recently developed. Last season's successes and head coach Charlie Weis seemed to have sparked that interest.

"I just started following them this year," responded Davis to his interest in the Irish. "I like their tradition and Coach Weis is a good coach."

In addition to Notre Dame, Davis expresses interest in an eclectic mix of schools.

"Texas, Rutgers, Boston College, PSU and a bunch of other schools," replied Davis when asked which schools in which he was interested.

The difference makers aren't just relegated to the offensive side of the ball. The Irish staff has also targeted some key players on the defensive side as well.

Even in this era of earlier and earlier recruiting, January offers from Notre Dame are still rather rare. Justin Trattou, DE, 6-4, 235, Don Bosco High School, Ramsey, NJ received one of those rare offers.

"During one part of the Junior Day we broke off by position, and the recruiting coordinator came up to me and asked me to come up to his (Weis) office," said Trattou. When I got up there, there was a scholarship offer on the desk for me. I was shocked at first. I was really excited. It definitely felt good to get an offer from Notre Dame."

Even before the offer, the university and the coaching staff impressed the New Jersey junior.

"It was my first trip to South Bend," said Trattou. "I thought the school was really impressive. It was more than I expected. I've never seen facilities like they had in my whole life. The whole coaching staff and Charlie Weis were great."

In addition to the Notre Dame offer, Trattou has received offers from Boston College, Louisville and Rutgers. Trattou also expresses interest in Virginia, Florida and PSU.

Big and fast athletes are a must to combat the speed and complexities of today's offenses. Lorenzo Edwards, S/LB, 6-2, 221, Edgewater High School, Orlando, FL certainly fits the bill.

The Irish staff has obviously targeted Edwards as a top priority. Edwards knew Notre Dame was interested and the coaching staff made that interest official with a scholarship offer.

"Coach Charlie Weis offered me a full scholarship for next year," said Edwards. Edwards went on to offer his assessment of Weis.

"He's very nonchalant, very calm. I loved his sense of humor. He's a really fun guy," said Edwards. "He really surprised me a little, on TV he looks rough and tough, but he's a really nice guy."

Schools are recruiting Edwards both as a safety and a linebacker. Edwards has the speed to play safety but the size to play linebacker. His athleticism led to his being named the Army All-American all combine team.

Edwards clearly has Notre Dame on his early list, and not just because of football.

"My parents stress academics all the time. I'm really into the academic programs at schools. I'm aware that Notre Dame is one of the top schools in what I want to study, which is architectural engineering."


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