Ragone Is Anxious To Play Football Again.

The first thing out of Mike Ragone's mouth was, "I'm not going to Notre Dame." While a stunned reporter searched for words, Scout.com's No. 2 ranked tight end busted up laughing a second later, and the joke was over. Ragone will fax in his letter-of-intent to Irish coaches at 7 a.m. this morning, and will have a press conference at his school with a couple teammates at 9:30 a.m. with local media.

What wasn't funny was when during rehabilitation following a knee injury, Mike Ragone was advised by his doctor to sit out his entire senior season, and concentrate on being healthy when he does indeed arrive in South Bend. The Cherry Hill, N.J. product, and Camden Catholic standout said he could've come back, but decided not to take the chance and put his future in jeopardy.

"I could've played, but my doctor said its not worth it," the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Ragone said. "He said just keep on working hard with the trainer and sort of forget about my senior year. Just worry about Notre Dame, and that's what I did.

"It was a ridiculously hard decision to make. It was like somebody stabbing you in the heart. I've never been hurt before, so this was my first injury. I never missed a football game in my life. It was different."

Despite not playing a game as senior, Ragone and his 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-America game. Another football game he had to miss.

"My dad was like it's not worth it for me to play in the Army game," Ragone said. "What did I have to prove, nothing."

When he does arrive at Notre Dame in the summer, Ragone will try to prove he was the nation's best tight end. He has been working with a trainer in getting ready for the next level. Following surgery, he lost a lot of weight but has since gained it back.

"Working with my trainer, I've been running to get faster sprint wise, getting my speed back, I've been lifting, and I have a pool workout.

"I think I'm a 100 percent. I feel great."

Ragone is definitely happy the recruiting process is over. Up until last week, USC was still trying to woo him. Now he just wants to strap it up and take some hits.

"I cant wait, I haven't played football in a year," Ragone stated. "I'm pretty anxious."

Ragone has been keeping in touch with some of his future teammates, but the guy he'd had the most contact with is fellow Jersey player Justin Trattou. When Trattou called Ragone, he obviously wasn't joking when he told him about his plans of changing his commitment from Notre Dame to Florida.

"He had to do what he had to do, and I have to do what I have to do," Ragone said. "We are still going to be friends. I'm not mad, it's all good."

It's all good. That's what Notre Dame thinks about its 2007 tight end commitment.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories