Irish Stock Report: Linebackers

The Irish are off to a great start with seven commitments for the 2007 recruiting class, and two of the available spots have been taken by linebackers. More than any positions, linebacker may give an indication of what the Notre Dame staff is looking for in its prospects.

Flexibility is in at Notre Dame and looking at linebacker recruiting provides ample evidence of this. All the players that Notre Dame has offered at linebacker appear to be able to play multiple positions whether it is on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Speed and athletic ability is something all the linebacker prospects have.

With linebacker prospects Aaron Nagel and Steve Paskorz already in the 2007 recruiting class, Notre Dame will take one or two more players depending on who decides to accept the scholarship offers that are on the table.

Martez Wilson (6-foot-4, 235 pounds): Notre Dame is recruiting Wilson as an outside linebacker, but he eventually could grow into a defensive end. In fact a number of schools are recruiting him for the defensive line. No player in the country saw their stock rise more than Scout.com's No. 2 defensive end prospect during the May evaluation period. Wilson went into late April with a handful of scholarship offers and ended May with invitations from all the big boys. There was a point where it seemed like those offers were going to be too much for Wilson to ignore and that he'd find his way out of the Midwest. That could still be the case when he takes his official visits, but recently he stated that Illinois, Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin and Tennessee were the schools he was going to concentrate on from here on out. Early on I thought it would be hard for the Irish to hold off the other schools. Now I think it will be very difficult for other schools to catch the Irish. Stock: Buy

John Jones (6-foot-3, 210 pounds): This player is a perfect example of what Notre Dame is looking for in its linebackers. Jones can run and he's very athletic. He could play any number of positions, but most schools are looking at him for linebacker. He has offers from the top programs in the Southeast, but he's still waiting on the in-state schools Florida, Miami and Florida State. From what I've heard, he'll likely stay south and he's has failed to mentioned Notre Dame in several interviews. That probably isn't a very good sign. Stock: Sell

Harrison Smith (6-foot-2, 205 pounds): Scout.com's No.18 ranked linebacker. Much like Jones, Smith is athletic, he can run and he is very physical. Smith would like to play safety at the next level, but it appears that both Notre Dame and Tennessee are telling him that they like him at linebacker. He would be a perfect fit for Rick Minter's apache position. Smith has made several trips to Notre Dame, but growing up in the shadow of Neyland Stadium in Knoxville will make getting Harrison to South Bend even more difficult. There are so many reasons for him to pick Notre Dame, but these decisions often defy logic. Stock: Hold

Chris Donald (6-foot-3, 220 pounds): Donald is the only true middle linebacker prospect that the Irish are pursuing. Like Harrison Smith, Donald's decision will come down to the home-state Volunteers and Notre Dame. Donald will be in South Bend this week to see the Notre Dame campus for the first time. His mother is a teacher so academics will likely be the topic of conversation during his stay. I don't think anyone would argue that Notre Dame holds the edge over Tennessee academically, but when a kid is making a decision that he has to live with for the next four years, the aspect the carries the most weight in his decision is where he feels most comfortable. Stock: Sell


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