Star-studded weekend

This weekend is important for Notre Dame because a win would put them at 3-0, and get them past the most difficult stretch of the 2006 schedule, but it is also very important for the future of the program. Notre Dame will be hosting some of their tops recruiting targets for the 2007 recruiting class and a win on Saturday could go a long way toward getting them to South Bend.

The Irish are expecting some of their top recruiting targets for the 2007 recruiting class, four of their committed players and a handful of top junior prospect to be in attendance this weekend. For Mike Frank's take on this weekends visitors see this week's version of "From the Bushes"

2007 targets:

Defensive tackle Joseph Barksdale of Cass Technical high school (Detroit, Mich.): Barksdale (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) will be making his fourth visit to Notre Dame, with this being his official visit. Notre Dame has come a long way with Barksdale over the months, and an Irish victory over his home-state Wolverines could give the Irish a big lead before he takes the rest of his visits.

Cornerback Gary Gray of Richland Northeast high school (Columbia, S.C.): Gray (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) is a very important recruit for the Irish. Notre Dame needs to sign a top cornerback in this class and Gray is one of the best in the country. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gray end his recruitment this weekend and then cancel his scheduled visit to South Carolina.

Wide receiver Greg Little of Hillside high school (Durham, N.C.): Little (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) is one of the best athletes in this recruiting class. Greg has liked the Irish for some time, and he's anxious to get his first look at the Notre Dame campus. With a strong visit the Irish will be tough to beat.

Safety Lorenzo Edwards of Edgewater high school (Orlando, Fla.): Edwards (6-foot-1, 213 pounds) is a big-time player that could play either linebacker or safety. Í love the kid's energy on the field. He loved the unofficial visit he took in April, and I expect Notre Dame to solidify their position with him this weekend.

Linebacker Malcolm Smith of Woodland Hills-Taft high school (Woodland Hills, Calif.): Smith (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) will be difficult for the Irish to land, but the first step is getting the recruit on campus.

Offensive guard Trinton Sturdivant of Anson Sr. high school (Wadesboro, N.C.): Sturdivant (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) is committed to Georgia, but he seems willing to take a look at the Irish. Trinton had planned to visit Notre Dame last weekend, but those plans were scrapped when he suffered and injury during his game last Friday night. He is scheduled to be in this weekend. Committed players don't visit other schools unless they are serious about taking a look around. I doubt he jumps ship right away, but hopefully the Irish make a strong impression and he considers opening his recruitment.

Current Notre Dame commitments that will be taking their official visits this weekend are Quarterback Jimmy Clausen of Oaks Christian high school ( Calif.), offensive lineman Andrew Nuss of Stone Bridge high school ( Va.) and tight end Mike Ragone of Camden Catholic high school (N.J.). Aaron Nagel, the standout prospect from Lemont high school (Ill.) will be in attendance as well, but he will be taking an unofficial visit for the second weekend in a row.

Unofficial visitors

Linebacker Chris Walker of Christian Brothers high school (Memphis, Tenn.): Walker (6-foot-2, 215) is a surprise visitor. He doesn't have an offer, but Notre Dame has stayed in touch with him. Walker is an example of how hard this Irish staff works on recruiting.

Defensive back Ronald Johnson Muskegon high school (Mich.): Johnson is a great kid and he's one of the top athletes in the country. Notre Dame was recruiting him heavily early, but Johnson still has work to do to be admitted into Notre Dame.

Running back Robert Hughes Hubbard high school (Chicago, Ill.): Hughes (5-foot-11, 225 pounds) is another recruit that is visiting South Bend for the second consecutive weekend. Notre Dame is in good shape with Hughes, but he probably won't commit this weekend. Hughes si going to take his time and take additional visits. Robert's official visit will be December 1, for the football banquet.

Linebacker Martez Wilson Simeon high school (Chicago, Ill.) (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) has scheduled his official visit to Notre Dame on December 1. Martez has already been to campus in the past, and he'll be paying close attention to the Irish defense as well as the atmosphere on gameday. Illinois, Miami, USC and Ohio State are the schools Notre Dame is battling, and right now I think it is an uphill fight.

2008 Prospects:

Last weekend the Irish had a strong list of junior in town for the the Penn State game, and this weekend will be no different. Notre Dame is doing a tremendous job of developing relationships with the top junior prospects. Much of the success can be attribute to the hard work put in by Dave Peloquin, Ron Powlus and recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello.

Linebacker Steven Filer of Mount Carmel high school (Chicago, Ill.): Filer (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) is making his second appearance in two weeks at Notre Dame stadium. He is a rangy linebacker that chases plays from sideline to sideline. He could be the top junior prospect in Illinois. Notre Dame should be considered an early favorite for Filer, but he will have all the top programs in the country pursuing him. Filer is related to former Notre Dame great Jerome Heavens.

Running back Jonas Gray of Detroit Country Day high school (Beverly Hills, Mich.): Gray (5-foot-11, 210 pounds) is not only one of the top juniors in Michigan, but he will be one of the top players in the Midwest. Gray has the size Charlie Weis likes in his running backs. Despite being in the shadow of the University of Michigan, Notre Dame has an outstanding shot at landing Gray.

Running back Jason Ford of Althoff Catholic high school (Belleville, Ill.): Ford (5-foot-11, 210 pounds), like Jonas Gray has the size Weis desires in a running back. Ford will be one of the most heavily recruited running backs in the Midwest.

Wide receiver Warren Reuland of Mission Viejo high school (Calif.): If the last name looks familiar to Irish fans, it should. Warren (6-foot-5, 190 pounds) is the younger brother of Notre Dame freshman tight end Konrad Reuland. Warren is a silky smooth athlete with soft hands. During the last year's recruiting process, Konrad said that Warren was a better prospect than he was.

Offensive lineman Trevor Robinson of Elkhorn high school (Neb.): Robinson (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) gets off the ball quickly and he has very good mobility. He's very advanced for his age. Stealing an offensive lineman out of Nebraska is almost unheard of, but the Irish have a very good shot at luring Robinson to South Bend. Trevor participated in Notre Dame's summer football camp.

Offensive lineman Mike Adams of Dublin Coffman high school (Ohio): Adams (6-foot-6, 300 pounds) is a mountain of a man already, but he moves very well for his size and he has tremendous power. Adams plays at the same high school that sent quarterback Brady Quinn and starting safety Chinedum Ndukwe to Notre Dame. Despite that connection to South Bend, Adams will be very difficult to pull from Ohio State. It is a good sign that he's taking an early visit to Notre Dame.

Offensive lineman Braxston Cave of Penn high school (Mishawaka, In): Cave (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) is the next Division I prospect to come out of the Penn program. Braxston is a powerful interior lineman that the Irish are going to take a good look at this fall.

Offensive/defensive lineman Rocko Khoury of Traverse City Central high school (Mich.): Khoury (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) could play either side of the ball. He definitely appears to be interested in the Irish, he made the Penn State game and he'll be back this weekend.

Athlete Darius Willis of Franklin Central high school (Indianapolis, Ind.): Willis is a name to keep an eye on. He could be used at a number of positions, but he's a fantastic athlete. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds many believe he's the top running back in the Midwest.

Defensive lineman Daniel Farr of Evanston Township high school (Evanston, Ill.) and athlete Russell Ellington of Homewood Flossmoor high school (Ill.) are two additional prospects from the Chicago are that will be in the stands this weekend, as Charlie Weis continues to show that he has made the Chicago area a recruiting priority.

Defensive lineman A.J. Francis (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) of Gonzaga College high school (Washington, D.C) will also be in attendance.


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