Although the Notre Dame coaching staff is still trying to fill the final spots for this year's recruiting class, they have been busy identifying the top juniors. Melvin Fellows (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) is a prospect that they are high on, and Melvin made a visit to South Bend (Ind.) last weekend for the Navy game.
"Notre Dame came to my school about half way through my season," Fellows responded when asked about Notre Dame's interest in him. "I don't know how they knew about me, but I think they saw some film on me, they saw my frame and my ability. Coach Lewis sent me a hand-written letter and he said that he was impressed with how I looked and said that he wanted me to send them my film and that he wanted to see my transcript. He saw my transcript, so he knows that I keep up on my grades.
"We called them up last week and told them that we wanted to come over for the game. I got there about 10:30 a.m. We ate and I talked to the entire defensive staff at lunch. They seemed like they were very interested in me and they said that after they get a chance to see my highlight tape and they see more film that they'll see where they are with me. They didn't tell me what position they'd recruit me to play. They told me that they could see me playing a lot of different positions.
"They showed me around campus, showed me the weight room and the locker room. I saw when the players walked to the stadium. It seemed like it was a very strong tradition. It seemed like the campus just fit. Everything was perfect. Everyone was friendly. I felt that I could get along with everyone down there. It was small. When I first got there I thought it would be bigger, but it was small and compact.
"Then we went in and watched the game," he said. "The atmosphere was exciting. Even though their record is bad, I was surprised by how many people were there. It was packed. The atmosphere was great. I was right in front of the student body and they were tossing someone up in the air right next to me."
Despite watching the Irish stumble against Navy, Fellows still came away impressed with what the Notre Dame program has to offer.
"I'm definitely interested in Notre Dame," Fellows said. "They're really high on academics, and academics is really important to me. I can relate to the coaches. They seemed really friendly and I could relate to them all. I think they have tremendous talent, but I think I'd have a chance to come in and compete right away. They have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation coming in and I think they'll be much better next year."
Melvin has scholarship offers from Marshall and Illinois and gauging from the amount of mail he's receiving, more offers will be on their way.
"A lot of people have been sending me mail, but sometimes that really doesn't mean anything," Fellows explained. "I'm getting things from N.C. State, Pitt, Ohio State, Iowa, Purdue, Maryland, Illinois, and Stanford. There are a bunch more, I just can't think of them all right now.
"I'm going to Ohio State this weekend. I don't have any plans to check out any other games right now. I haven't been to any camps yet. I got a letter that invited me to the U.S. Army combine in San Antonio (Texas), but I'm not going to go to that. I'm going to go to the Brown's skill camp and then I'll probably go to the Ohio State camp next summer."
When he does get a chance to compete against the top players in the area, Melvin's stock is likely to skyrocket. Like most top players in high school, opponents scheme around him.
"I used to play weak-side defensive end, but they switched me over to the strong-side this year," Melvin described. "I think since my sophomore year, people have known about me. It's been tough being double-teamed a lot, but I'm one of the key players on the defense. I've noticed teams started running away from me. If they run a sweep they don't ever run it to my side. I really didn't get a chance to let loose and pass rush this year. Teams we played didn't throw much, so I was basically a run stopper.
"I work hard. I don't give up on plays. I leave it all out on the field...I go hard every play. I think I can beat the lineman off the ball. I had over 60 tackles, I had nine sacks and an interception this year. On offense I played tight end, tackle and fullback.
"I think schools will recruit me to play defensive end, but it might change when I get to college," Fellows said. "Whatever the coaches think I should play is what I'll play. I'm going to pick whatever campus is best for me and what education will be right for me and where I think I'll have an opportunity to compete."