Notre Dame missed out on a couple defensive line prospects from Louisiana during the last recruiting season, but they are going right back to well. The Irish haven't offered Joel Ross (6-foot-1, 288 pounds), but he is a player to keep an eye on this spring.
"I think I got my first letter from Notre Dame sometime during my football season last fall," Ross responded when asked about his recruitment. "I'm getting a few letters here and there from them.
"I know that they have a really good program and good head coach with Charlie Weis. I know the education is one of the top in the nation. It' a pretty good school all around -- even outside of the football field."
Ross would like to see the Irish increase their recruiting efforts. Despite his close proximity to the LSU campus, Joel is keeping an open mind during recruiting and he'd like to talk to as many schools as possible.
"I have interest in everybody. I'm just trying to find some pace to play," Joel said. "The whole SEC is recruiting me and a couple PAC-10 schools like UCLA. I'd probably have to say that Ole Miss is recruiting me the hardest. They're my only offer at this time.
"I guess I did really well at one of their camps over last summer, so they offered me. I haven't been back up to campus, but I've been in contact with them."
What has caught the attention of most coaches is Ross' ability to get in the backfield and disrupt. As a junior he recorded 62 tackles, eight sacks, six additional tackles behind the line and he recovered three fumbles.
"I think the speed and how I get to the ball [are my assets]," Ross explained. "All the things that make a defensive tackle good, I think I can do. I just beat the guy across from me. I use a good move, inside or an outside move. A move here or there, power, get off the block and get to the ball."
At Joel's size you'd expect him to play on the offensive line as well, but he's actually used to open holes for his tailback...and score.
"I wasn't a starter [on offense], but I play fullback," Ross said. "Last year I only had one touchdown, but when I was a sophomore I had eight touchdowns."
As a senior Ross will likely get more opportunities to get into the end zone, but one thing he won't do is concern himself with his college decision."
"I'm going to wait until after me season," Ross replied when asked about the timing of his college decision. "I want to give myself more time. I don't want to be under pressure during the season. I don't want to think about where I'm going to go when we have a whole football season in high school to play."
Although distance can be a determining factor in a young man's decision, Ross believes there are advantages to every opportunity.
"I'll have to talk to my family about it [distance], although I know they'll support me no matter what I decide," Ross explained. "I think they'd trust my decision based on where I think I could play or get some experience as well as the educational side of a school. They'd be concerned about the education side the most though.
"Staying close to home or going far away has its advantages and disadvantages. I'd say the disadvantage of going far away is being away from your family. The advantage would be to move away from the people you've known and establish new relationships with people and learning a lot of new things."