May Evaluation Period: Running Backs

Spring practice concluded with the annual Blue-Gold game and now the Notre Dame coaching staff turns its attention to the May evaluation period. During this period (actually from April 15 to May 31) the Notre Dame staff will be on the road visiting high school prospects and attempting to narrow it's focus to a small group of elite recruits that it will target for the remainder of the year.

Notre Dame already has 10 commitments for the 2008 recruiting class and it is likely that the Irish will only need to find 12 more prospects from now until signing day on February 6, 2008. Six of the committed players are offensive prospects. Dayne Crist took the lone quarterback slot in the class. Anthony Fauria and Kyle Rudolph will fill the team's needs at tight end. Wide receiver John Goodman and offensive linemen Michael Golic and Braxston Cave round out the committed players on offense.

With the strong start to 2008 recruiting class, the Notre Dame staff only needs to fill a couple slots on offense over the next eight months. Other names will surface as the process moves forward, but in order for Notre Dame to have a top recruiting class, the remainder of the prospects should come from the players the staff has identified as recruiting targets at the end of the May evaluation period.

Running Back Notre Dame has a solid foundation at running back with James Aldridge, Armando Allen and Robert Hughes, but the Irish do need to add an additional ball carrier in this class. It would be nice to add a second top prospect here, but there are more pressing needs at other positions.

Cyrus Gray (Desoto, Texas): One of the top running backs in Texas with well over 20 scholarship offers. As Junior, Gray carried the ball 220 times for 1,510 yards and 31 rushing touchdowns. It's difficult to get a solid feel for this situation because Cyrus hasn't visited Notre Dame. He is expected to be at Notre Dame over the summer and then return to South Bend for an official visit in the fall. If he makes either trip, Notre Dame should be in great shape. The main competition for Gray will come from LSU, Texas A&M and Miami.

Ryan Williams (Manassas, Va.): Tough to get a feel for what Ryan is doing with recruiting, because he hasn't done many interviews, but there have been rumblings that Notre Dame is one of the main players in his recruitment. Williams missed much of his junior year due to an injury, but he should be ready to go next season. He's very versatile and a terrific athlete with 4.4-forty speed. He's probably a little more of a finesse runner at this time, but his frame has plenty of room to add weight. Williams is being pursued by most of the top programs.

Carlton Thomas (Frostproof, Fla.): Thomas is one of the most exciting players in the country when he has the ball in his hands. He could play running back in college, but because he is 5-foot-6, 165 pounds he might need to shift to wide receiver. Thomas ran for 2,283 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. Notre Dame has a real shot with him and he recently listed the Irish in his top five along with Auburn, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Arizona State. None of the Florida schools have offered. If any do, they will also be in the mix.

Darrell Scott (Ventura, Calif.): Probably the best pure running back in the country. Everybody has offered him a scholarship, but like Ryan Williams, Darrell isn't doing many interviews. It would be great to land a player like Scott, but he recently released his top ten and the Irish didn't make the cut. That can change, but I'll place Scott in the long shot category for now. Scott rushed for 3,194 yards on 337 carries and scored 45 touchdowns last season.

Tauren Poole (Toccoa, Ga.): He is committed to Tennessee, but word is that he's been taking a look at other schools. Notre Dame offered him just over a month ago. He has good size and power. He's a strong runner that will do most of his work between the tackles. I really like his potential and I'd love to see the Irish get in the mix for Poole, but I expect him to stay down in the South. As a junior he had 1,350 yards rushing (6.8 per carry), and 24 TDs.

Sam McGuffie (Cypress, Texas): Notre Dame offered Sam several months back, but their chances of landing him appear to be fading as the recruiting year moves forward. There is a very good chance that he'll leave Texas, but he appears to be focused on Michigan, Florida, USC and Texas A&M. He has speed, balance and vision. He won't run many defenders over, but he is a tougher runner. If he hits a seam in the defense, he's gone. As a junior, he rushed for 3,212 yards on 358 carries and he scored 44 touchdowns.


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