Recruiting Week in Review

While opinions concerning the reasons for Notre Dame's historically poor start have varied, one cause upon which most can agree is the failure of the Irish to control the line of scrimmage. On offense, that failure can be attributed to youth, but on defense, most attribute it to poor recruiting.

If Notre Dame holds on to its 2008 verbal commitments, the defensive line talent should be greatly improved. However, the current shortage of defensive line talent didn't occur as a result of one poor recruiting class and won't be fixed with one good one. If the Irish hope to play strong in the defensive trenches in the future, they will need to put together several strong defensive line classes in a row. Irish Eyes spoke to two players that the Notre Dame staff hopes will be part of the 2009 class. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

September 1 marked the first day that written scholarship offers could be extended to members of the class of 2009. Notre Dame lost little time in sending just such an offer to Johnny Simon. Simon, DL, 6-3, 266, Cardinal Mooney High School, Youngstown, OH is one of the top junior prospects in the nation. He also has more than a nodding acquaintance with the Notre Dame program. In addition to having already visited this year for a game, there is a Cardinal Mooney alum currently on the team, Kyle McCarthy and another one, Dan McCarthy that has made a verbal commitment for the class of 2008.

"It came in the mail a few days ago," said Simon of the written Irish offer. "I was real excited to get it. I'm very interested in them. I just went up to the game (Michigan State) this Saturday. Dan was up there with me. He gave me insight on a lot of stuff; he was real helpful. There are a lot of special people there. There's a lot of tradition. It was a real good experience."

Simon possesses the ability to play nearly any defensive line position and Notre Dame has yet to discuss those specifics with him.

"Right now they said they just want me up there and to be part of the family," Simon said.

Simon will be one of the top defensive recruits in the Midwest and his early offer list reflects that. Besides Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford and Akron have already tendered written scholarship offers.

Randall Dent is another defensive line prospect on Notre Dame's early radar. Dent, DL, 6-5, 280, South Grand Prairie High School, Grand Prairie, TX is one of several outstanding prospects playing for head coach Dave Fischer.

Notre Dame came through in the spring and watched a couple of our practices," responded Fischer. "They came through and made note of Randall. They're already aware of him."

Since most of the early contact with recruits filters through their head coaches, Fischer receives his fair share of recruiting mail.

"Notre Dame is just like every other Division I school when it comes to sending mail," explained Fischer. "I get so much mail it wears me out. They've identified some guys at our school and they put them on their mailing list. I have a stack of mail about three inches high every morning and Notre Dame is in there just like everyone else."

While the South Grand Prairie High School football program produces five or six Division IA recruits every year, most schools, like the Irish, are looking primarily at Dent.

"You can't coach them big," said Fischer. "He started for us as a fifteen year old sophomore. You don't play many sophomores at this level of football in Texas, but he was good enough to do that and he played the entire year.

Like many high school defensive linemen Dent's college position will be determined later. However, he currently plays defensive end in the three man front defense employed by South Grand Prairie.

"In a four man front he's probably a defensive tackle, but we play a three man front so he's a defensive end for us," stated Fischer. Our defense is set up for our linebackers to make the play, so he doesn't have a lot of stats on the defensive line."

Fischer continued.

"The number one thing about him is his size for his age," Fischer explained. "Everyone wants defensive linemen his size. He has good feet. He's a big physical guy and at the same time he moves well. He isn't just a big body that eats up space. He can chase guys down from behind if you don't block him."

Of course, the biggest hurdle for any northern program hoping to pull a player out of Texas is the recruiting juggernaut that is Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns. Still, Fischer believes Dent will keep an open mind.

"I think Randall is wide open right now," said Fischer. "I think he'll weigh his options. He's a good academic student so once he makes his decision on what he'd like to major in, he'll take a look at the most attractive places. He has good parents that are going to make sure he gets a good education along the way. I really think he's wide open and I don't think he's set on any school."

These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes. Top Stories