Recruiting week in review.

Notre Dame has been sitting on nine verbal commitments since Gary Gray's September 18th decision. Understandably, recruitniks are uneasy about this situation though the lack of new offers would seem to indicate that coach Charlie Weis and staff are not.

Actually, one new offer has recently surfaced and at a very critical position of need. In addition, the staff is still actively pursuing several top recruits nationwide. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Jason Peters, DE, 6-4, 260, Catholic High School, Baton Rouge, LA has been on the Irish radar for about a month now and just recently picked up a Notre Dame scholarship offer. Scout.com ranks Peters as a three star defensive end, the thirty-seventh best in the nation.

"It's picked up recently within the last few weeks," said Peters of Notre Dame's interest in him. "I've been getting mail from them for the last month or so. The heavy recruiting has just picked up. I've talked to coach Haywood. I've also talked to coach Weis. He just let me know that they offered me a scholarship and that they think that I'm a good fit for the school."

Peters knows Notre Dame by reputation but needs to learn more about the program from South Bend. And while he appreciates all he does know, he's approaching the Irish offer the same way that he has with every other school that is recruiting him.

"I know it's a very prestigious school," said Peters. "I know that they have great academics and great football. That's what makes it such a great honor to be offered by Notre Dame. I also have to take it in stride. They become part of the process with the other schools that have taken an interest in me. They're part of the process of building a relationship between myself, the coaches and the school. I need to gather more information about [Notre Dame]."

Though he's being heavily recruited, Peters doesn't seem too caught up in the recruiting process. He has yet to schedule any official visits, preferring instead to concentrate on his academics and winning a state championship. He has narrowed his choices down to seven and presumably will trim those before taking his visits.

"As far as schools that I'm interested in, the ones that I'm kind of leaning towards would be LSU, Georgia Tech, Florida, Stanford, Nebraska, Tennessee and Notre Dame," said Peters. "They're recruiting me at defensive end."

Notre Dame's ability to offer early playing time appeals to many recruits but not Peters.

"Playing early isn't one of the biggest issues that I'm considering," explained Peters. "It's just not a big deal to me. I don't think that's something that I should base my decision off of. I'm looking at the school and the overall program itself."

Unlike Peters, Malcolm Smith, LB, 6-2, 210, Taft High School, Woodland Hills, CA, has been on the Irish radar for quite some time now. And as so often the case with top recruits, Notre Dame finds itself battling the best in-state programs for his signature. That the Irish are in Smith's top three is a testament to the strength of both the program and the recruiting effort by the coaching staff.

"As the season goes along schools are starting to separate themselves," Smith said. "UCLA, USC and Notre Dame are in front and then I'd say Penn State and Cal are right there."

It's no mystery why those three have forged ahead in the race for Smith signature.

"Those school are just recruiting me the best and I've been in contact with those schools the most," explained Smith. "UCLA and USC are obviously local schools, but Notre Dame does a real good job of keeping up with me. Notre Dame's academics and tradition are great. They have a great football program."

Smith visited South Bend for the Michigan game but has yet to schedule any other visits.

"I want to go to Cal and Penn State for sure," said Smith. "I probably won't take an official to UCLA or USC."

These two summaries represent just a sample of the recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes.

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