At the 2006 banquet, held Friday night inside the Joyce Center, a few of the nation's best prep players attended the formal dinner. Potential running backs Golden Tate (6-foot, 180 pounds) and Robert Hughes (5-11, 228 pounds), along with defensive end Martez Wilson (6-4, 228 pounds) and Irish commit linebacker Aaron Nagel (6-1, 215 pounds), all sat at the same table right in front of the team. Offensive lineman Taylor Dever (6-6, 295 pounds) was supposed to be there, but I didn't see him.
Unfortunately, my table was on the other side of the room so I didn't get to see much of the recruits during dinner, the awards presentations and Gerry Faust's and Charlie Weis's speeches. I made it over there at the end.
University President, Rev. John Jenkins excused the team early because they have an early practice tomorrow, so the players got up from their seats up on stage in front of everybody and vacated.
One guy that stuck around was freshman quarterback Demetrius Jones, who chatted with the prep stars for about 10 minutes after the banquet. He mainly spoke with the Illinois guys, Wilson, Hughes and Nagel. Wilson and Hughes are also from Chicago, where Jones is from. Nagel is from Lemont, Ill. They appeared to know each other well, laughing it up.
Weis mentioned during his Friday afternoon press conference that his players responsibilities were to do whatever in making the recruits feel comfortable.
All the assistants, Rob Ianello, Jappy Oliver, and Brian Polian especially, were seen laughing and talking with the recruits. It seemed like the prospects had a nice time.
Based off appearance, Hughes looks like he could play for the Irish in the bowl game. In his suit, he just oozed running back. Tate and Nagel appeared to be about a year away physically, which is good, because they are a year away.
Wilson, on the other hand, looked smaller than freshman defensive end Kallen Wade, who is listed at 220 pounds in the media guide. There is no denying Wilson's athleticism on film. If he can find away to get to the 240 range, which makes him about the same size as freshman defensive end John Ryan, it would be extremely beneficial. Wilson looked all of 6-4, he was taller than Jones, but he was thin. Jones was bigger than him as they stood there and chatted.
Faust, the former Irish coach who loves the University as much as anybody, had a spot in his speech he was going to direct towards the recruits. He then found out that was against NCAA rules."I was thinking about doing something and I went over the speech with (senior associates athletic director) John (Heisler)," Faust said. "I haven't been to a Notre Dame football banquet since 1985, my last one, so I don't know what the speakers speak about. I wanted to make sure that maybe the speech was somewhat on target of what the others have done. I brought (recruiting) up a little bit there to him and he said we're not allowed to do that."
Weis on the other hand directed a comment towards the recruits and the returning players on the team. The Irish head coach had all the seniors stand up to show the guests the "magnitude" of what's going to be leaving the program. Weis went on to say that won't be used as an excuse, even though it seemed darn near the whole team stood up.
The prospects in attendance were shown a good time, and if they come to Notre Dame, judging by how many players stood up, have a chance to see early playing time.