Recruiting Week in Review

WE GOT ONE! No, it's not Janine Melnitz's triumphal announcement to the Ghost Busters but rather the room-shaking cheers of Notre Dame fans gathered at the College Football Hall of Fame as mega-blue chip recruit Jimmy Clausen, QB, 6-3, 195, Oaks Christian High School, Westlake Village, CA brought down the house with two simple sentences: "I think you all know why we're here today. I'm very proud and excited to say that next January I'll be attending the University of Notre Dame."

Clausen's announcement may have been the worst kept secret in recruiting but it still sent shock waves through the college football world. His announcement symbolized Notre Dame's return to the elite of college football recruiting. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Certainly, Notre Dame has already made significant recruiting strides under Charlie Weis. Last year, according to, the Irish reeled in the fifth best class in the nation, a ranking that might very well improve once non-qualifiers are taken into account. Still, Clausen's verbal commitment represents a major accomplishment for Weis and his staff. Clausen is precisely the kind of recruit that Notre Dame has had difficulty attracting in the years preceding Weis. And, without a doubt, Weis was the deciding factor in Clausen's recruitment.

"All I remember the most, the first day a coach could come out and look at guys, he was at our school looking at a junior, not even a senior," Clausen said of Weis. "That was really special. That just left an impression mark on my heart."

Clausen admitted that Notre Dame wasn't really even a consideration before Weis arrived. The hiring of an NFL offensive coordinator with three Super Bowl rings, though, caught the talented quarterback's eye.

"Honestly, I wasn't really looking at Notre Dame before Coach Weis came," related Clausen. "I was real honored and blessed to get a scholarship from a guy like Coach Weis that has three Super Bowl rings on his fingers. It all came down to Coach Weis. Through the whole recruiting process, he's been straight with me."

Clausen wants to win. He made that plain when he stated that he hoped to balance Weis's three Super Bowl rings with four National Championship rings of his own. He also stated that he planned to become an addition to Charlie Weis's recruiting staff.

"That's why I'm going to come here and try to get four National Championship rings on my fingers," Clausen enthused. "There's a lot of guys there, there's one right there, Marc Tyler. I'm going to try to make this the number one class is college football this year."

Clausen may have been the biggest name at Notre Dame's Blue-Gold game but among the numerous other recruits in attendance, a New Jersey duo, both Top 100 players, stood out. Justin Trattou, DE, 6-4, 235, Don Bosco Prep School, Ramsey NJ and Mike Ragone, TE, 6-5, 230, Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, NJ both made their second visit to South Bend. Irish Eyes caught up with the duo during the week prior to the Blue-Gold game.

"I'm going this coming weekend," Trattou confirmed. "I'm going with my dad and I'll be in on Friday."

Trattou felt that he understood what Notre Dame offered academically but really wanted to get a better feel for student life and the game day atmosphere.

"I'm just curious to see what the campus is like," explained Trattou. "Last time I was there, everyone was on winter break."

Trattou remains in close contact with the coaching staff and obviously holds them in high regard.

"Every coach I've met I thought was great," said Trattou.

Ironically, Trattou and Ragone have never met (though one can safely assume they did at the game). Like Trattou, Ragone wants to get a feel for Notre Dame with classes in session.

"I thought the first visit was a good experience but I wanted to make sure what it was like," said Ragone. "I want to see how the atmosphere is with the students there. I just want to see everything again. I have a very high interest in Notre Dame."

Both these players compiled very impressive statistics during their junior campaigns. Trattou registered 90 tackles, 4 sacks and 1 blocked punt. Ragone caught 30 passes for 800 yards and 8 touchdowns.

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

Perry is a Name on the Rise—Chris Perry Profile
Austin Confirms Travel Plans—Marvin Austin Profile
Williams Heading to South Bend—Michael Williams Profile
National Outlook—Two Top Quarterbacks Decide
Bailey is a Big Time Player—Allen Bailey Profile
Paskorz Will Take Another Look at ND—Steve Paskorz Profile Top Stories