Last year's recruiting class hauled in three recruits from Florida, Richard Jackson from East Ridge High School in Clermont and Sam Young and Daniel Wenger from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. Young has already earned a starting berth at right tackle and only an injury has prevented Wenger from seeing more action. Jackson has appeared on special teams.
The Irish coaching staff is recruiting several Floridians in the class of 2007 and hope that thirteen is a lucky number for them as they have targeted two players ranked thirteenth nationally at their respective positions. Irish Eyes spoke to these two young men last week. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?
Every college program knows that getting recruits to visit is absolutely crucial to earning a commitment. While this may be even truer of Notre Dame, there's always some trepidation about bringing in an athlete from Florida. There's a reason that Florida's called the Sunshine State and Indiana isn't. Recruitniks breathe a collective sigh of relief when a Florida recruit not only doesn't comment on the weather but also has only positive things to say about the team, the staff and the program. Such was the case following Armando Allen's first trip to South Bend. Allen, RB, 5-10, 195, Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, Hialeah, FL has earned a Scout.com four-star rating and is the thirteenth ranked running back in the nation. Irish Eyes caught up with him following the Stanford game.
"Everything was really nice," said Allen of his trip to Notre Dame. "I really enjoyed everything. I really didn't expect it to be like it was. I really liked the atmosphere. I liked the coaches. I talked to everybody on the team and overall it was a pretty good experience."
The atmosphere pleasantly surprised Allen, even took him a bit off-guard.
"I guess I wasn't sure what to expect, but I didn't think it would be like it was," offered Allen. "The whole school, not just the football, was really nice; the people around there, everything."
Allen also came away impressed with the coaching staff. He particularly noticed the roles played by the running backs.
"To me, it looks like they utilized their players to the best of their potential," said Allen. "Whatever they're capable of doing, Coach Weis is going to let them do it. Whatever he feels his back can handle, he's going to let them do."
Though Allen has a long list of schools in which he's interested, he currently only has one other visit scheduled. As is so often the case, Notre Dame finds itself battling the in-state school, in this case, the Florida Gators.
"Now that I have my experience at Notre Dame, I'm going to Florida the weekend they play South Carolina (November 11)," said Allen. "I'm looking to see what I can do for my other trips and then hopefully I'll be able to make a decision. It's going to be a tough decision. I'm just going to sit back and relax and look forward to my other trips. I'm going to take my time. I'm going to talk to my coaches, my mom and come up with a decision that I'm happy with."
While Notre Dame has gotten a visit out of Allen, they are still working to secure one from another Florida standout. And he comes from a program with which the Notre Dame coaches and fans are quite familiar.
St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale produced 2006 Notre Dame signees, Sam Young and Dan Wenger. Though two recruits hardly qualifies St. Thomas Aquinas as an Irish pipeline, the coaching staff hopes to further build that relationship by signing another yet another Raider. Major Wright, S, 6-2, 200, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Fort Lauderdale, FL is a Scout.com four-star prospect and the thirteen rated safety in the nation. Notre Dame fans have been somewhat surprised and dismayed that several recent recruiting stories on Wright failed to mention the Irish among his favorites. Apparently, Wright is just as baffled by the omissions.
"Yes sir," Wright replied when asked if he still held interest in Notre Dame. "I don't know what people are saying. I think they just put what they want. It's Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, Miami and Georgia."
Though the Irish haven't shown up in recent recruiting stories, the staff continues to show up where it really counts in recruiting.
"Coach Parmalee came to my school today," Wright answered when asked if Notre Dame's coaches had been in contact with him. "Coach Weis called me a week ago. We had a good conversation. He told me that they're doing very well. I watched [Young] play Georgia Tech. He did very good. For a freshman, I felt like he played very well."
Wright has yet to set any visits. Instead he's focusing on his own season. He plans to take his recruiting visits after St. Thomas Aquinas ends their season.
"I haven't set any [official] visits," explained Wright. "I'm just concentrating on our season. I'll probably start to schedule my visits when playoffs start."
St. Thomas Aquinas's season suffered a setback when they lost 18-15 to Deerfield. Wright hopes the team can bounce back, though.
"We're doing pretty good," Wright said of his team's success. "We're five and one. We lost last week to Deerfield so we're trying to bounce back and get everything right. We had a chance to tie the game but we missed a 56 yard field goal."
Despite the setback, Wright feels that his own season is going well.
I'm doing pretty good," said Wright. "I'm trying to maintain and stay healthy. I'm just trying to stay on top of things and go out and have fun. Right now I have about twenty-five tackles, two interceptions and two blocked punts for touchdowns."
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes.