Weis Breaks Down Recruiting Class

On Tuesday of game weeks during the season, Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis breaks down the opponent for the media, all the way down to the slightest detail, usually ending by mentioning the team's holder and long snapper. A member of the press could walk in not knowing anything about Purdue, and leave as a qualified Boilermakers expert.

On National Signing day last Wednesday, Weis didn't have an opponent to break down, but he gave his thoughts on all 18 players Notre Dame signed that morning.

First, Weis talked about the three early enrollees, who are already on campus.

On running back Armando Allen: "Armando Allen, running back from Hialeah-Miami Lakes. Jerry Hughes coached him down there. Jerry also coached a former player of mine by the name of Rohan Davey. To get Armando up here was very, very important to us because one of the things I felt we really needed to do was bring in some more team speed on the offensive side of the ball. This kid can flat out fly. He's a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. He's coming off a broken fibula, which made him miss this entire season. But with his rehab, it looks like he's on schedule to be ready to go for spring ball. That's one of the reasons why he was trying so hard to be in here at the midyear and be ready to go, because he really missed his senior year playing."

On quarterback Jimmy Clausen: "Jimmy Clausen, we brought in at quarterback. Obviously he comes in with all the high accolades. USA Today Offensive Player of the Year, co-Player of the Year in Parade Magazine. The things that stick out to me are his touchdown/interception ratio and his completion percentage. The kid last year threw 49 touchdowns versus six interceptions in 15 games. He completed just under 68 percent of his passes. To me, as a quarterback, production and accuracy physically are really what everyone's judging you from. That and the fact he's 42-0 as a starter, obviously it doesn't get any better than that."

On cornerback Gary Gray: "Jay Frye, the head coach for Gary Gray, he and I have been buddies since the mid '80s when I was down in South Carolina. Obviously getting Gary to come here was very important. He played both as quarterback for them and defensive back. He's going to be strictly a cover corner for us. He's a versatile athlete. If I were running the option, I think I'd have him over there. That's obviously not what we do. This kid is a very, very, very good athlete who will bring a lot of athleticism to our (team), bring another corner to our competition after the two fine ones we brought in last year. We brought in three really top corners in the last two years."

Weis then moved on to the offensive players.

On running back Robert Hughes: "Robert Hughes was a perfect complement to Armando Allen in recruiting. Armando is the smaller, faster guy. Robert is the outright bruiser. I mean, I love the fact he's a local kid from here in Chicago. This kid, because he's a 230-pounder doesn't mean all he can do is run from tackle to tackle. He can run inside, outside, he can run over you, make you miss. He has very, very soft hands for a guy his size. I'm taking him as one of my projects."

On receiver Duval Kamara: "Duval Kamara from Hoboken High School, Coach (Lou) Taglieri did a great job helping us on this one as well. He's a big physical receiver that adds size to our receiving group. He reminds me a lot of (former Irish receiver Maurice Stovall), to tell you the truth, when you look at him, the way he acts, carries himself, his body type. He reminds me a lot of Mo. We really like this kid. He's athletic, big, fast. We see him coming in here and challenging walking in the door."

On receiver Golden Tate: "A perfect complement to Duval was Golden Tate. Golden Tate, he's 6-feet, 190 (pounds), in comparison to Duval, 6-foot-5, 200 and change. Coach (Jeff) Brothers, Pope John Paul II, we extend a thanks to him, as well. This kid is as good an athlete as I saw this year. Doesn't make any difference what we have him do, he's rushing the ball for 1,400 yards, 23 touchdowns, he's catching the ball for another 510 yards and six touchdowns. The only thing I'm concerned about is that (Notre Dame baseball) coach (Dave) Schrage is going to want him because he might be as good a centerfielder as there is in the country on top of everything else. This kid as good an athlete as I've seen.

"By the way, he did have a long as their team punter this year of 62 yards as well. I might have slid into a backup punter without realizing it when we were doing our research. I cannot tell a lie. I just found that out in my research this morning as we were going over that one. He's also lined up at quarterback in the past. He really brings the type of versatility that I like, complementing together with Duval."

On tight end Mike Ragone: "Similar to Armando, Michael also sat out his senior season recovering from surgery. He'll be full strength by the summertime. We spent a lot of time with him. A guy from South Jersey, played for coach (Rick) Brown at Camden Catholic. We love this kid. As a junior he got hurt. He got to the right guys. He got it repaired right away. Coach Brown did a nice job of working with him, helping him rehab, develop. Kid looks great, put on some weight. He's really, really fast. As a tight end, you don't find very many tight ends that run fast. The m.o. on this guy is how fast he runs. As a junior he caught 35 passes for 720 yards and nine touchdowns. Six of his nine touchdowns were for 60 yards or longer. They're trying to cover a tight end. He's just running right by everybody."

On offensive lineman Taylor Dever: "Taylor Dever, out of Nevada Union, over there in the Grass Valley, California. Big kid. Originally they had him down at 6-5, 255, then it was 6-5, 275, now it's 6-5, 290. This kid must be eating the right food. When I went into the school, took a look at him, I said, That's the type of body you're looking for. Has that big body. Looked like he developed. Could play guard or tackle. He has played both. I think from what we've been able to view he was easily one of the best linemen coming off the West Coast. We're really happy and fortunate to be able to get this guy. This year alone he was credited with 80 pancake blocks and 50 knockdowns. I'm not the one doing the stats for the team, but I am the one watching tape. I'm really, really excited about having him."

On offensive lineman Matt Romine: "Out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Matt Romine, with coach (Kevin) Wright. He was one of our projects from early on. He came here several times not just on official visits but on unofficial visits with his folks. Here is a guy who it was really tough for him to leave Oklahoma. He's an Oklahoma type of kid. He's an Oklahoma kid, but he's a Notre Dame fit. He's a guy we wanted. He fit great with our players. He's a very, very good player. He got picked as one of the captains for the West team in the (U.S. Army) All-American Bowl. That's how much the players thought of him at that all-star game down there in San Antonio. He was one of the four co-captains for the West team. We really like him. We think here is a guy that can come in and compete early in his career. Neither of these guys are projects. These guys are both guys that are solid guys, ready to play."

The next two guys, Andrew Nuss and Emeka Nwankwo could start their Irish careers on the offensive or defensive line.

On Nuss: "He definitely provides us the versatility as both an offensive and defensive lineman. He played both at Stonebridge this year. He blocked for a running back who rushed for over 1,700 yards. He stuffed the run when he played on defense. He's the type of big body we feel that we need to recruit more of, 6-5, 285-pound guys that are going to be 300 pounders after a couple meals at the South Dining Hall, the type of guys we're really looking for. We're really excited about Andrew."

On Nwankwo: "He reminds me a lot of Andrew. There's a 6-4, 280-pound guy getting bigger every time I see him. He gives us the versatility both as an offensive and defensive lineman. Sixty pancake blocks, 70 knockdowns as a senior, and also played some hoops."

Weis then addressed the defensive players that signed.

On defensive tackle Ian Williams: "This guy is a very disruptive interior defensive lineman, the type of guy that can make us better in a hurry. Ian knows we're counting on him getting involved in the mix walking in the door. He had a great support group down there that helped him with his decision. We're very happy to have him on board."

On linebacker Kerry Neal: "We got on him early. All of a sudden everyone in the free world was interested in him. He never wavered. He's a versatile athlete that can help us along the defensive line and as an outside linebacker. This guy is a dynamic pass rusher, which allows him to get onto the field quicker than most freshmen would be able to do. He knows that we've designed in this system right now, he's in that tweener outside linebacker/defensive end stage, a perfect fit for what (Irish defensive coordinator) Coach (Corwin) Brown is looking to do on defense."

On linebacker Brian Smith: "This is another guy when our system changed, he became a perfect fit. As a junior, he was an inside linebacker. As a senior, now all of a sudden he's playing inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and a rush end. As we change our system, he became from we all know what we're going to do guy to this is a guy that definitely fit. We are very glad to get him late in the process."

On linebacker Steve Paskorz: "Interesting thing about Steve, every time I see him, when we first started, he was about 205 pounds. I said, I don't know. Then he was 210, then 215. Last time I was at his house, he was a little over 220. After the meal we ate, he was probably about 230 when we were done.

"When it's all said in done, an athletic guy that played offense and defense at Hampton High School in Pennsylvania. I think he missed time as a senior with a hammy that just about fully got cured up in about January. I think his best football is well ahead of him. He rushed for over 3,500 yards in his career as a running back, but we see him as an inside-linebacker type that can run to the football and run with some speed."

On Aaron Nagel: "Aaron Nagel, who played more of a strong safety and running back position for coach (Eric) Michaelson over there at Lemont High School. We know he's a first team all-stater in Illinois. Had a bunch of tackles, 69 tackles, forced fumbles. That's not taking into account he missed four games as a senior. Rushed for just under a 1,000 yards, averaging 10 yards a carry. As we configure this defense now, he's another guy that we see as one of those athletic guys that is able to run to the football."

On safety Harrison Smith: "Here is another guy who is 6-2, 205 pounds. One of those camps last year he was the fastest guy in the entire camp, ran a shade over 4.3. He played both offense and defense in high school as well. He gained over 1,300 yards, scored 19 touchdowns as a runner, caught another 23 passes and scored another six touchdowns as a receiver.

"The thing we're bringing him in as is a safety who can cover from sideline to sideline. One of the things we think we need to do is get additional range in the secondary with our safeties. We're really happy to get Harrison in here."

On kicker Brandon Walker: "This is a guy, he's a lefty with a powerful leg that can kick, punt and kickoff. I was only interested in bringing in a guy at this position with another scholarship if it was a guy that had a chance of unseating somebody and being able to get on the field for us as a freshman. We think looking at this kid, he has the potential to do that walking in the door. We are glad he was another one of those guys that late in the process decided to head in our direction."

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