A look at Notre Dame's 2006 roster shows no fewer than twenty-eight players from these two regions. The early commitments of Jimmy Clausen (California), Kerry Neal (North Carolina) and Andrew Nuss (Virginia) shows that head coach Charlie Weis, recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello and the rest of the staff have made recruiting these areas a priority. Two recruits have fairly recently shown up on Notre Dame's radar, one from Florida and the other from California. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?
Emeka Nwankwo, OL, 6-5, 270, Chaminade Madonna College Prep High School, Hollywood, FL has shown very high interest in the Irish. Notre Dame reciprocated with a scholarship offer and subsequently found themselves in Nwankwo's final two. He has yet to make a visit to South Bend and now it appears that his first time on campus will be during his official visit.
"I wanted to take an official visit in August but they told me that I couldn't and that I had to wait until September to take an official visit," explained Nwankwo. "So I'm going to take an official visit to Notre Dame and that will be my first official visit."
As is so often the case with top recruits, the Irish find themselves battling an in-state school. After a visit to Gainesville, Nwankwo put the Gators at the top of his list. Still, he insists that Notre Dame is still in the hunt and, with a South Bend visit in the offing; it's far too early to count out the Irish.
"I went up there [Florida] this past weekend and I loved it," said Nwankwo. "It was really fun. [Notre Dame] is still there, they are dead tied with Florida. It could go either way. I just have to take a visit [to South Bend] before I make my decision. It will come down to those two if anything."
The Irish staff turned from the talent-laden Sunshine State to California for one of their latest offers. Malcolm Smith, LB, 6-2, 210, Taft High School, Woodland Hills, CA recently received a scholarship offer from Charlie Weis. Smith, like many 2007 recruits offered by the Irish is a very versatile player who could project to many different positions.
"I got a text message from coach Weis that said to call him," explained Smith. "I called him and he told me that he was interested in recruiting me, and if I gave them a fair opportunity he'd like to offer me a scholarship. He was real cool, down to earth. He seemed like he was passionate about his team and what he was doing there."
"They asked me what I'd like to play, but I don't know right now…probably defense. I'd probably play more of a rover, a hybrid safety/linebacker. I've never played a true linebacker spot."
Since Notre Dame has only recently offered Smith, his initial top five did not include them. However, the Irish offer has forced him to rethink his favorites. Right now, he is looking at scheduling a trip to South Bend.
"I'm going to try and schedule a visit and take a look and see everything," said Smith. "I'll look for how I fit in, how the team plays, how they work together, the camaraderie, how the players get along with the coaches."
Smith seems eager to get to South Bend but isn't sure when that trip will take place because his father, who handles all of his scheduling, has yet to set up a visit schedule.
"I was going to try to get them set up this week, but my dad is handling that so I really don't know where that's at," said Smith. "I probably won't schedule all five now, because they might change."
Smith's junior statistics demonstrate his versatility. He rushed the ball 73 times for 639 yards, caught 26 passes for 399 yards and recorded 41 tackles on defense.
These two summaries are just a sample of the recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes.