Irish Stock Report: Defense

Notre Dame fans had high expectations for the 2006 football season and hope that the success on the field would enable the Irish to sign one of the top recruiting classes in the country. The team is sitting at 6-1 heading into a weekend match-up with the Naval Academy. So, where does Notre Dame stand with its top recruiting targets?

Notre Dame has five commitments that are tabbed for the defensive side of the ball heading into November; defensive end Justin Trattou, defensive end Kerry Neal, linebacker Steve Paskorz, linebacker Aaron Nagel and cornerback Gary Gray. The question everyone wants to know is, who will join these players?

Defensive Line

Ben Martin (6-foot-6, 220 pounds):'s No. 7 ranked defensive end. Martin has already already taken his official visit to Notre Dame. He will certainly take one to Ohio State as well as Florida and Tennessee. In the end I believe his decision will come down to Ohio State and Notre Dame; another ND vs. in-state power. There have been rumblings from the Ohio State folks that Martin is leaning heavily to the Buckeyes. I don't know if that is the case, but I don't like that Ben still needs to take his official visit to OSU. Hold

Joseph Barksdale (6-foot-4, 315 pounds):'s No. 11 ranked defensive tackle. Joseph has also taken his official visit to Notre Dame, and like Martin Barksdale will visit Ohio State (November 18). He is still looking at LSU, USC and FSU, but I believe his decision will come down to the Irish and Buckeyes. OSU was his early leader, but Notre Dame has done a great job of recruiting Barksdale in order to be among his favorites. Buy

Will Blackwell (6-foot-4, 290 pounds):'s No. 17 ranked defensive tackle. Will just visited Notre Dame and the visit went very well. His remaining visits will be to Florida, Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama. I believe his decision will come down to… you guessed it, ND vs. in-state power LSU. Notre Dame needs to overcome the distance factor, but I fell that the opportunity to play early at Notre Dame will be too difficult to turn down. Buy


Martez Wilson (6-foot-4, 235 pounds):'s No. 2 ranked defensive end. Martez will visit USC, Miami, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Illinois. His USC visit is scheduled for the Notre Dame game on November 25. An Irish win could make a big impression on Wilson and a loss could do a lot of damage. I don't expect much to be known until Martez has a chance to take his official visits. I do believe Notre Dame has work to do. Hold

Chris Donald (6-foot-3, 220 pounds):'s No. 1 ranked strong-side linebacker. Donald will take another trip to Tennessee in November, and he'll eventually announce at the U.S. Army All-American game. Before Chris visited Notre Dame over the summer he was all but headed to Tennessee. He ended up taking a courtesy trip to South Bend and the Notre Dame staff made a big impression on him. It's hard to imagine ND stealing a top defensive product from the Volunteers, but I think Notre Dame has a great shot.Buy

Malcolm Smith (6-foot-2, 215 pounds):'s No. 9 ranked weak-side linebacker. USC, UCLA and Notre Dame are his top schools at this time. He likes the Irish, but he'll doesn't like the distance. I'm not saying the Irish will land Malcolm, but I like how they have hung around. This is more of a trend pick.Buy

Defensive Backs

Michael Williams (5-foot-10, 174 pounds):'s No. 13 ranked cornerback. Michigan and Notre Dame are his final schools and they have been in front for some time. Michigan fans have been very confident about landing Williams for some time. He has built a solid relationship with Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English and with the win over ND, I can see why they feel good about their chances. Nonetheless, the gut tells me it will be Notre Dame.Buy

Lorenzo Edwards (6-foot-2, 221 pounds):'s No. 1 ranked weak-side linebacker. Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida, Georgia Tech and Clemson are his finalists. He hasn't given any indication of where he is leaning, and he's been keeping an open mind throughout the recruiting process. I think this will come down to the Irish and Gators. In the end Lorenzo is a Notre Dame type kid. Buy

Major Wright (6-foot-1, 204 pounds):'s No. 13 ranked safety. What to believe… In nearly every article written on Wright Notre Dame is not listed as a school that he is considering. Every time I speak with him, he includes Notre Dame. I'll stick with what I'm hearing. Hold

Harrison Smith (6-foot-2, 205 pounds):'s No. 25 ranked safety Smith is down to Notre Dame and Tennessee, although he recently visited Auburn and he will make an official visit to Alabama. He also has his Tennessee official visit remaining. I don't think he'll learn anything new about Tennessee on his visit, and I think the Irish hold a slight advantage. Buy Top Stories