Banquet Weekend Blast

One arrived a day early on Thursday. Some of them got in late Friday night after their respective basketball games. A couple traveled the friendly skies. More than a few drove.

Sounds like everyone had a blast.

This past weekend, 12 of the 21 verbally committed players in Notre Dame's top-ranked recruiting class were on campus for the Irish's football banquet Friday night, and the basketball game on Saturday. Eleven were on official visits while Jonas Gray took an unofficial to catch up with his future teammates.

The close-knit class got to spend a lot of time hanging out together, while also trying to persuade 6-foot-6, 305-pound offensive lineman Trevor Robinson to pull the trigger on Notre Dame like they all did.

Irish Eyes caught up with some of the guys who made it into town.

***John Goodman: The 6-foot-3, 186-pound receiver from Fort Wayne, Ind., got visits from Notre Dame assistant coaches Corwin Brown and Rob Ianello last week.

"It was real fun," Goodman said of the weekend. He missed the banquet because of a basketball game, arriving late with his Dad. "Me and 11 other commits, and Trevor Robinson were there. We kind of worked on him and I think he might commit but I'm not sure.

"Probably just (Saturday) night, going out with the guys and having fun," Goodman said of the highlight of the visit. "I don't know, I just can't wait to get there."

Sophomore receiver Robby Parris was Goodman's host.

"I met him before, but I didn't really get to talk to him."

Goodman said he thinks Brown is coming again to visit him on Friday.

***Steve Filer: The 6-foot-4, 220-pound linebacker from Chicago also had a basketball game, and arrived around midnight Friday night with his parents.

Brian Smith was Filer's host, and said he was pretty tired and went right to bed when he got on campus. A few Irish players woke him up for a minute, but he quickly went back to bed.

"It went good," Filer said. "Just hanging out with the players and meeting all the recruits and the people that committed, and learning their names and getting comfortable with them before we play. We just had fun. Nothing to big happened. Kids being kids."

Filer talked with Robinson for a little bit.

"He's cool," Filer stated. "A big guy. Long hair."

Before leaving, Filer sat down with Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis.

"Nothing too much, just talked about school," Filer said. "We talked about the football season this past year and how he knew they were going to take some losses, but he didn't think it was going to be this bad. He is excited about the season next year and the recruiting class coming in."

Rob Ianello visited Filer two weeks ago at his home, and Corwin Brown came by the school last week.

"I think I might see Rob Ianello, or coach Brown or Weis at the Tom Lemming banquet on Tuesday."

***Darius Fleming was sad to leave Notre Dame's campus on Sunday.

"Not that good, I'm leaving Notre Dame right now," the 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker said when asked how he was doing.

"It was fun. A lot guys were here, we hung out and had a lot of fun. We hit up a couple of parties. Basically just hung out and learned about each other. We had all hung out before but we didn't know that much about each other. It was cool.

"My host was Robert Hughes even though I hardly hung out with him. I basically hung out with all the commits, Brian Smith, Ian Williams, Jimmy C (Clausen), everybody, Gary Gray."

Fleming did make it in with his parents for the banquet, and appreciated former Notre Dame All-American Aaron Taylor's speech.

"It was nice," Fleming said. "I honestly didn't know too much about him. After the speech, I liked the part about what the coaches did for him and how it paid off. Hopefully that happens to me. He seemed like a real cool person and a funny guy.

"This was my mom's first time here. She loved it. Everything. She really liked the people and the coaches and it was a real good time to her. The thing they do is they feed you a lot. She said she was spoiled for the weekend and she now has to come back to reality."

Fleming said he felt good about where Notre Dame stands with Robinson.

"I was talking to him. He said he was a guard. I was like wow, what are the tackles going to look like? It's ridiculous."

Ianello took a trip to see Fleming a couple weeks ago.

***Michael Golic Jr. and his father easily flew into South Bend, but had troubles getting out.

"We got delayed a bunch coming back," the 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive lineman said. "We had to sit on the runway for a couple of hours while they defrosted the plane."

They eventually beat the South Bend ice storm and made it back safely to their West Hartford, Conn., home.

"It was really a great time all weekend. Being able to be around those guys and all the guys on the team, it was fun.

"It was good talking to coach Weis and coach (John) Latina and going through all the parts of the official visit, and getting to talk more xs and os with them. It's exciting to see where we all fit in the scheme of things."

Golic loved Taylor's presentation.

"I thought it was great speech. It really reminded me and all the players how special it is to be a part of Notre Dame and the history, and that guys like Aaron Taylor have gone through Notre Dame and are successful because of what they experienced while at the University."

Golic's host was sophomore offensive lineman Dan Wenger. The two of them spent a lot of time with Robinson and his host, Eric Olsen.

"It seemed like he had a great time," Golic said. "I got to talk to him about where he was at with the whole thing. We'll see what happens but hopefully something good is coming. I know he's been out a lot of time on unofficial visits, like five or six times. It seems like he is enjoying our team here."

Golic took a special pleasure in the men's basketball team's 108-62 victory over Northern Illinois.

"They were blowing Northern Illinois out pretty good," he said. "It was cool to see because a freshman on the team, Tim Abromaitis, went to a high school that is 20 minutes away from my house, so it was cool to see him get in at the end of the game. I think he ended up with a handful of points and four fouls."

The next time Golic and a lot of his future classmates will meet up is the last week of December and first week of January, for the U.S. Army All-American game.

"We talked about that a lot because so many of us are going to be down there. Sounds like it's going to be a challenge but at the same time, we're looking forward to having the whole little Notre Dame group down there and giving everyone a taste of what's going to be coming out of Notre Dame the next four years."

***Brandon Newman, his mother and brother made the drive up from Louisville for the weekend. It was the 6-foot-1, 305-pound defensive tackle's first time on campus since the summer.

"It was great," he said. "It was awesome. All the guys got to hang out and stuff. It was a neat experience."

"Really just the camaraderie we have as a team coming into to 08. It's really something special and I don't think it can be matched by any other program in the nation. We're going to do something special and we all know it. And all of us guys, we don't care who is in front of us, we want to come in and start playing. We're so excited about getting ready to work and playing San Diego State."

Newman won't be surprised if Robinson elects to be a part of this tight group of incoming freshmen.

"We got to know him pretty good and we know he likes it here," Newman said. "We were trying to recruit him. We know he loves it there as much as we do. So if he decides to go somewhere else, than I guess he doesn't like having fun."

Newman had fun at the banquet.

"It was really nice," Newman said about the banquet. "It was good to see all the guys and how they took everything this season. They kind of stuck through the whole thing. It was good to hear Aaron Taylor as well. He was talking about something I already knew, but a guy that has been there and left and went on and did everything he did, he got a Super Bowl ring, played with Green Bay and still thinks the four years he spent at Notre Dame were the best of his life was great."

Freshman linebacker Kerry Neal was Newman's host.

"It was fun because when I had been there before we had already hung out. In the summer Chris Stewart, James Aldridge and Kerry Neal, we all went to Braxton's (Cave) house and he made up some burritos."

Newman also enjoyed the basketball game.

"It was good to see those guys play real good ball, shooting threes at will and that big No. 44 the sophomore down low dominating. It was a good atmosphere too, seeing the sixth man and the band." Top Stories