With Darius Walker and Travis Thomas having two years of eligibility each and Justin Hoskins having three, recruitniks all agreed that Notre Dame's running back cup overfloweth. And in the blink of an eye it has all changed. Hoskins left the program, Travis Thomas has tentatively moved to linebacker, Schmidt will split time between tailback and fullback and James Aldridge's balky knee has him sidelined at least for a portion of fall training camp. Suddenly, it appears to be Walker with Prince, Schmidt and Jabbie fighting for the back-up slot, though Thomas may still play some running back. A position that appeared to be not much more than an afterthought in the class of 2007 recruiting has suddenly become a key need.
The Irish have targeted several prospects at the running back position and at least one of these visited the Notre Dame campus this past week. And no running back can be successful without a solid offensive line to block for him. Notre Dame issued a new offer last week to an offensive lineman whom they hope will be opening holes for Irish running backs for several years to come. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?
Robert Hughes, RB, 5-11, 227, Hubbard High School, Chicago IL visited South Bend for the second time last week and though the campus was quiet, this visit may have been even more informative for Scout.com's seventeenth rated running back.
"I got a chance to see things I wasn't able to see," said Hughes of his latest visit. "I got a chance to talk to the coaches and other people, because before there were big events happening and a lot of running around. Yesterday was based just on us and they were able to focus on just us. I learned a lot more about the university. I had seen the facilities so I knew what the facilities were like."
Hughes also got to meet several members of the 2006 class, players who could potentially be his teammates.
Hughes plans to visit Notre Dame unofficially for a game and then take his official visit on 1 December.
The heavy recruiting interest in Hughes, undoubtedly resulted from his outstanding junior campaign. During the season, Hughes rushed for 1920 yards.
Even the best running backs need the big guys up front to open holes for them. Notre Dame's coaching staff issued a new scholarship offer last week to Scout.com's twenty-ninth ranked offensive lineman, Matt Summers-Gavin. Summers-Gavin, 6-4, 275, St. Ignatius College Prep High School didn't seem overly concerned by the relatively late offer. He's known all along where he stood on the Irish recruiting board and though he was confident the offer would eventually come, he was nevertheless thrilled.
"It was pretty exciting," said Summers-Gavin of the events leading up to Charlie Weis making the offer. "I've heard stories of kids getting a text from coach Weis and that it's a pretty good sign that you're going to get the offer, so when I got that this morning I was pretty excited. It's cool."
Summers-Gavin continued. "It's such a prestigious school and there are so many opportunities athletically, academically and socially. It seems like such a great place. It was a real honor. I was feeling real happy."
Though Summers-Gavin and Weis apparently had a bad telephone connection, the call lasted long enough for the young Californian to get an impression of Weis and to hear the really important portion of the call.
"When I called him he was cracking some jokes," said Summers-Gavin of Weis. "He knows about my whole process, how I'm going to be narrowing it down soon. We were having fun and then our lines were messing up and our phone call got cut off. For the most part he said I had an official scholarship in the mail and that they'd love to have me come out on an official visit."
A recurring theme of Notre Dame's 2007 recruiting has been the pursuit of versatile players. The Irish staff apparently believes that Summers-Gavin possesses this trait in abundance.
"Coach Latina said he's thinking of me as a guard, but even a tackle or a center," explained Summers-Gavin. "He's thinking of me all along the line. It's good that I have all of these opportunities and it's not just at one position. I appreciate that he thinks I'm versatile enough to move all along the line."
Notre Dame joins a long list of suitors for Summers-Gavin's signature. He currently possesses twenty scholarship offers from, among others, Nebraska, Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia and Boston College. Still, the Notre Dame offer has placed the Irish in a good position.
"They're definitely going to be high on my list," said Summers-Gavin of Notre Dame. "I'm going to take my time and wait things out and see how it goes."
These two summaries are just a sample of the recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes.