After having lost several players last year after they allegedly made verbal commitments to the Irish staff, Notre Dame's coaches appear to have redoubled their efforts to keep their committed players in the fold. Irish Eyes caught up with a couple of Notre Dame's verbally committed recruits last week. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?
If Notre Dame tight end John Carlson performs up to expectations this year, South Bend might well become known as "Tight End U." Carlson is regarded as one of the top collegiate tight ends in the nation, an honor that could very possibly be shared someday by younger tight ends Konrad Reuland, Will Yeatman and Mike Ragone. And the talent at that position appears to have gotten even better with the March commitment of Scout.com five-star prospect and the number one ranked tight end in the nation, Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph, 6-7, 235, Elder High School, Cincinnati, Ohio has made it clear that his word is his bond and that his commitment to Notre Dame is solid.
"The only coaches that I saw were the coaches from Notre Dame," said Rudolph in response to who had visited him during the May evaluation period. "My coach made it clear that I was done with the recruiting process and that there was no reason to come visit, because I wasn't going to change my mind."
Despite his firm pledge, the Irish coaching staff has hardly neglected him. They continue to remain in close contact with Rudolph.
"I talk to the Notre Dame coaches a lot," said Rudolph. "Since I started getting recruited by Notre Dame, coach Weis kind of took over my recruiting, so I talk to him. Once I committed, I started talking to coach Brown a lot. When I get up to Notre Dame, I'm with coach Parmalee most and I still talk to him."
Rudolph made the trip to the spring game where he not only got a look at South Bend's game day atmosphere, but also got a chance to begin getting to know his future teammates.
"I was up for the spring game," Rudolph said. "When I first got there on Friday, I was walking into the athletic complex and a couple people walked up to me and asked me for my autograph. I told them that I wasn't on the team yet, but they asked me if I was Kyle Rudolph. I thought that was pretty cool that they knew who I was. The atmosphere of the game was great. I hung out with all the guys that are going to be in my class. We're definitely starting to develop a strong relationship."
Though Rudolph is the highest rated Irish verbal commitment to date, he is still very impressed with the developing class of 2008.
"I was talking to coach Brown and he told me about the defensive back [Robert Blanton] that had just committed," said Rudolph. "I think the coaches are doing a great job of putting the class together. Every time you get online there seems like there's someone new jumping on board."
Rudolph's summer has been filled with preparing for football. He's lifting and running nearly every day and even seeing a nutritionist in order to maximize his training.
"She [the nutritionist] basically designs our diet, and breaks down the proportions that we need to eat," explained Rudolph. "Since I started I noticed that I have a lot more energy throughout the day and during my workouts. We have to work out at 9:00 a.m. and it doesn't seem like I'm as tired when my body has the right nutrition. I really can tell the difference."
Even with top recruits like Rudolph and Dayne Crist on offense, recruiting on the defensive side of the ball may be even better. Notre Dame is assembling a very talented group of defenders and one of the most talented—and coveted is linebacker Darius Fleming. Fleming, 6-2, 235, St. Rita High School, Chicago, Ill. is a Scout.com four-star prospect, the number five strong side linebacker and the eighty-ninth best prospect overall. Like Rudolph, since his commitment to Notre Dame, his recruitment by other schools has significantly diminished.
"Other than Notre Dame and Michigan, I really don't know of anybody else that came to see me," Fleming responded to a question about coaches' visits during the May evaluation period. "For the most part, schools have backed off now."
The Irish staff is also keeping very close contact with Fleming.
"I still talk to coach Brown and coach Ianello about every other day," said Fleming. "Really, we're just checking up on one another and seeing how things are going. Lately, we really haven't been talking about football, but we do talk about working out and stuff like that."
Among the very talented defensive players that have given their verbal commitment to Notre Dame, it's not hard for Fleming to select those that he's most excited about.
"I think all those guys up front are going to be pretty good," Fleming said. "I'm excited about that. Those guys are going to make my job a lot easier."
Fleming is also trying to improve, not only the talent in front of him, but also beside him. Like many committed players, he's turned recruiter as well.
"I've been trying to get [Steven] Filer to join us," explained Fleming. "I haven't talked to him for a while, but one of my goals is to play with him. I think we'd play really well together. I hope he decides to go to Notre Dame but I wish him the best in whatever he decides."
Fleming is not wasting his summer in the house soaking up the air conditioning. Like most top-level athletes, he's busy working out, getting better.
"I'm trying to get focused and get prepared for the upcoming season," said Fleming. "I'm working out with my high school, but I'm also working out with a personal trainer. My trainer actually works with a couple of Notre Dame players, so he knows what they do. He has me doing a lot of the same things, so I'll know what to expect when I get there."
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes.