Recruiting Week in Review

Early, earlier, earliest! This describes the environment of college football recruiting today. Much of this new philosophy results from the technological improvements that continue to occur at a breakneck pace. The Internet, e-mail, text messaging and vast improvements in video have permitted coaching staffs to evaluate players much earlier and recruit them much harder than previously.

The defending national champion Texas Longhorns already have 18 verbal commitments, and while this is obviously the exception, most major programs have already received some. And all this before the traditional May evaluation period has even arrived. There is even discussion of inaugurating an early signing period, similar to that of basketball. Because recruiting occurs so much earlier, teams' spring games, concluding the spring practice season, serve as a recruiting tool much like regular season games do. Players also use these games to gauge fans and game day atmosphere.

Notre Dame hopes that their annual Blue-Gold Game, to be held on 22 April serves as a successful recruiting tool because with the roster of blue chip prospects expected to be in attendance, the Irish could really win big in the recruiting sweepstakes. Two players coming to this game that tops the Notre Dame list of "must have" recruits are Aurelious Benn and Marvin Austin. Top 100 prospect Aurelious Benn, WR, 6-2, 190, Dunbar High School, Washington, D.C. will be returning to Notre Dame for his second unofficial visit. Benn will not be coming alone. Coming with him will be Top 100 prospect Marvin Austin, DT, 6-3, 300, Coolidge High School, Washington, D.C. This will be Austin's initial visit to Notre Dame.

"I'm still going down," said Benn of his plans to attend the Blue-Gold Game. "Marvin (Austin) is coming down too. I didn't even have to talk him into it." Since this will be Austin's first time on campus, the Irish, desperate to sign at least two quality defensive tackles, will undoubtedly do their best to impress the big man. For Benn, this visit will be less about being impressed and more about getting a feel for the university.

"Not too much," Benn replied to a question concerning what the coaches would need to do to impress him. "I guess I want to see the environment up there with the students when I go there. The last time I was there, there weren't any students. I like Notre Dame," Benn finished. "They're different."

That Notre Dame has impressed Benn enough to earn a second visit from the talented receiver speaks volumes for where the Irish currently reside on his list. Still, with over fifty scholarship offers, including Notre Dame's, there's plenty of competition for his five star signature. Some of that competition comes from a non-traditional source—Illinois.

"They're building up their program and I like their style of offense," said Benn of Illinois. "I've been to Champagne before. I went there this summer for camp."

In addition to Notre Dame and Illinois, the other three schools rounding out Benn's top five are South Carolina, LSU and USC.

Benn plans to graduate early and so will make an early decision. The school he chooses will get a very talented, playmaking wide receiver. As a junior Benn caught 49 passes for over 1100 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Marvin Austin won't be the only defensive tackle attending the Blue-Gold Game. Josh Brent, DT, 6-3, 295, Central Catholic High School, Bloomington, IL will be making his second trip to South Bend. He attended the 14 January Junior Day and, after visiting several other universities for comparison, will be returning to South Bend. Brent, who does not currently have an offer, hopes to get more one on one time with the coaching staff.

"I really didn't get to talk to the coaches too much," said Brent of his Junior Day experience. "It really wasn't a personal experience, which is why I'm going back up there for the spring game. They told me that they're definitely interested. They want to make sure that I get the right feel for it, and I want to make sure I get the right feel."

"I'll get to talk to the coaches a little bit more, one on one," Brent continued. "I should get a chance to talk to the recruiting coordinator and the defensive line coach, and hopefully even coach Weis."

Brent had good things to say about the three universities that he's visited since Notre Dame's last Junior Day but apparently those visits did nothing to dim his view of the Irish.

"Of all the universities that I visited, they (Notre Dame) had some of the best facilities that I've ever seen—definitely top-notch," said Brent of Notre Dame. "They want their players to have the best."

As a junior, Brent recorded 109 tackles, 29 of them for losses and registered 6 sacks. He currently holds offers from Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

These two summaries are just a sample of the recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes. If you were a subscriber, you could also have read the following:

Webb Getting Ready—Bartley Webb Profile

Martin Visits Irish—Ben Martin Profile

Matha Taking A Look Around—Dan Matha Profile

Romine Will Visit Irish for a Second Time—Matt Romine Profile

Reuland is Anxious to Get to Work—Konrad Reuland Profile

Plans Change for Oglesby—Josh Oglesby Profile Top Stories