Home Stretch

Following the holidays, the Notre Dame coaching staff will finally hit the home stretch of recruiting for the 2008 class. Signing day is in sight, but nothing is a guarantee in the wacky world of this corrupted process. The Irish coaches hope to hold on to all 22 current verbal commits, and add a few more to what is presently Scout.com's top-ranked recruiting class.

Here is a look at who the Irish coaches are still going after, and how Irish Eyes feels Notre Dame's chances are of landing these talented players.

**Best Bets

*Deion Walker: Of the few players Notre Dame is still recruiting, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound five-star receiver from Christchurch, Va., is the guy I expect the most to sign with the Irish. It looks like a two-school race with the Irish and Penn State.

Walker said in the past that he keeps in regular touch with Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. He also keeps in contact with Irish verbal commit Dayne Crist. Several members of the Notre Dame coaching staff made regular trips to Walker's town following the season, working harder than anybody to land him.

When Notre Dame first offered back in early August, it seemed like Walker was destined to Florida State. A lot has changed after just a few months of time and two visits to South Bend. Look for Walker to choose Notre Dame over Happy Valley at the ESPN All-American game, Jan. 5.

*Gerell Robinson: The last month, Robinson couldn't go a few days without personally seeing a Notre Dame coach, as the Irish showered the 6-foot-3, 210-pound four-star future wide receiver with the same amount of love as they did with Walker. The same day Walker announces his decision in Orlando, the Chandler, Ariz., product will make public his college decision at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio.

Robinson has narrowed his list of favorites down to Notre Dame, Oregon and Arizona State.

Robinson's parents didn't make the trip to Notre Dame with their son for the Duke game this past fall, but have had several opportunities to get acquainted with the Irish coaches since.

Robinson has slowly weeded out schools over this long process, and look for the Irish to be standing last at the end. Jan. 5 could certainly be a great day.

**Taking a wait-and-see approach, but don't rule out these guys just yet.

*Datone Jones: The 6-foot-4, 233-pound defensive end is verbally committed to UCLA, but is taking plenty of visits to make sure. He recently went to Colorado, and has January visits set up with Oregon, Arizona State and Notre Dame.

Jones, who said he has always liked the Irish, will take his final official visit the weekend of Jan. 25 to South Bend. The Notre Dame coaching staff gets the final opportunity to make an impression on the Compton, Calif., product, and a great trip could result in a signature.

*Kapron Lewis-Moore: With the dismissal of Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione, a few college programs have made a strong push for the current Aggie commit. Notre Dame is right in the thick of things, and will get a visit from the 6-foot-4, 225-pound four star defensive end from Weatherford, Texas, the weekend of Jan. 18. Other suitors are Colorado, Louisville, and Georgia Tech.

Notre Dame was high on Lewis-Moore's list the first time around. We'll see if things go differently the second time.

*Kenneth Page: Distance is the issue with the 6-foot-4, 290-pound four-star offensive lineman. There is no doubt the Columbia, S.C., product likes Notre Dame and loves the academic advantages the University provides, but Page just doesn't seem 100 percent comfortable moving away from home. Local programs Clemson and South Carolina would love to have him.

Page has said he is going to take all his visits before verbally committing. He was in South Bend of the USC game this season. He was at Tennessee for their win over Vanderbilt, and went to hometown South Carolina for the rivalry game against Clemson. He still has January dates with Clemson (Jan. 11) and North Carolina (Jan. 18).

**Not Likely

*Chris Harper: The 6-foot-2, 220-pound four-star prospect has opened up the recruiting process again, just a week after committing to Kansas State. His five favorites were the Wildcats, Oregon, Illinois, Missouri and the Irish. Notre Dame is the only school recruiting the Wichita, Kan., product as a receiver. The other programs like him at quarterback, the position Harper prefers on the next level.

*Cyrus Gray: The 5-foot-11, 190-pound four-star running back realizes there is going to be competition for playing time at every program, but Notre Dame appears to be young and loaded at the position. That looks like a turnoff for the Desoto, Texas prospect, who is also considering Louisville, Florida, Kansas and California.

**Waiting For More Information, but keep an eye on.

*Milton Knox: Notre Dame wants to land a second running back in this class, and has been in touch with the four-star prospect from Van Nuys, Calif. The Irish are waiting for a qualifying ACT score. If Knox scores well enough, he could get an offer, especially if Gray opts elsewhere. Crist and teammate Anthony McDonald go back to the Pop Warner days with Knox, and both Irish commits are constantly chirping in Knox's ear about coming to Notre Dame.

Like Datone Jones, Knox is committed to UCLA, but is looking around. He also favors Arizona State, Florida and Colorado. If Notre Dame offers, Knox will likely visit.

*Mike Martin and Kenny Demens: Notre Dame has been in contact with both Michigan commits. The 6-foot-1, 300-pound Martin is one of the best defensive tackles in the 2008 class. Demens is a prep teammate of Irish commit Jonas Gray, and the 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker could be intrigued with Notre Dame if an offer came.

*Keith Wells: Wells wanted to commit to a school before his senior season started, and the 6-foot-5, 226-pound four-star defensive end did just that, pledging Florida State. Now that his final prep season is over, Wells wants to make sure he made the correct decision.

Notre Dame recently inquired about Wells, and he has the availability to visit Notre Dame in late January. He is definitely interested.


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