Recruiting Week in Review

Twenty-five years ago the high school Big Man on Campus could rightly be considered a big fish in a small pond. Today, though, in this age of the Internet and twenty-four hour sports programming, high school football stars are rapidly becoming national celebrities.

In addition to numerous state and regional all-star games, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio pits high school stars from the East and the West against one another and provides a televised showcase for these young men's considerable talents. The Under Armour/ESPN All-Star game held in Orlando has now joined the U.S. Army game as a national all-star game in bringing together some of the top players in the nation.

It's clearly a win-win situation for teams whose recruits play in these games. First of all, the program gets plenty of national recognition through their recruits. Secondly, their recruits get one week of top flight coaching from some of the best high school coaches in the nation. Finally, a university with numerous recruits playing in these games can take advantage of the opportunity to attempt to sway uncommitted players. Notre Dame currently has seventeen of its twenty-two verbally committed players involved in one of the two national games. Irish Eyes spoke with three of these young men last week and got their feelings on being chosen for these games. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Dayne Crist remembers watching the U.S. Army All-American Game as a middle schooler, hoping someday that he would be good enough to play in it. That dream has now come true as Crist and thirteen of his future Notre Dame teammates prepare of the U.S. Army game in San Antonio.

"I've been watching this game since the eighth grade," said Crist. "I remember when they did a big special on Mark Sanchez. I thought it would be really cool if I would be able to be in the same position. It kind of seemed unreachable, but I've always kept it as one of my goals."

Crist earned his way to the game by completing 59% of his passes for 2178 yards and sixteen touchdowns with only one interception. He also ran for 454 yards and four more scores in his ten game season. For Crist, the greatest honor lies in the opportunity to compete against the nation's best. The game has also featured some friendly trash talking between Crist and his future teammate Jonas Gray.

"He keeps talking about what they're going to do to us," said Crist. "It will be fun to hang out with all of those guys during the week. Once we get on the field, though, that should be fun. I'm sure there will be all kinds of talking during the game."

Gray's first memories of the game date back to 2003 and seeing Reggie Bush play. "I got really excited about it then," Gray explained. "I definitely said that I wanted to play in that game when I could."

When he was asked to reflect upon his high school career, Gray expressed much satisfaction over his accomplishing many of his goals.

"So far I've been able to accomplish a lot of what I set out to do with my career," said Gray. "At the very beginning of the recruiting process I wanted to go to Notre Dame and now I am. I wanted to play for the state championship and I did, but we fell short of winning it. And I wanted to play in this game."

Scout.com ranks Dayne Crist as a five-star prospect and the number three quarterback in the nation. Jonas Gray is a four-star prospect and the number seventeen running back. Though being less well represented than in the U.S. Army game, Notre Dame nonetheless has three of its verbal commitments at the Under Armour/ESPN All-Star game in Orlando. One of them, Penn High School's (Mishawaka, IN) Braxston Cave is eager to show the rest of the nation that the Hoosier state plays some pretty good football too.

"A lot of people say that the football in Indiana isn't up to the same standard as other places," Cave said. "I just want to show everyone on national TV that I'm not a joke and that I deserve to be here."

Cave will play for Team Silver. The other two Notre Dame commitments, Jamoris Slaughter and Omar Hunter will represent Team Red.

"I can't wait to play against some of these guys," said Cave who will be rooming with Hunter. "I'll be excited to play against Omar and some of the other top guys across the country."

Cave understands and appreciates the honor of being chosen for the game. "It means a lot to me to be in this game," he said. "I went down to the (U.S. Army national) combine (2007) and there were 800 guys there. Between our game and the Army game there are only 160 guys going. It's nice to know that I'm thought of as one of those guys. It's an honor to be in the game."

Scout.com ranks Cave as a three-star recruit and the number six center in the nation. Scout.com ranks the other two Irish recruits, Omar Hunter and Jamoris Slaughter as a five and a four-star prospect respectively. Hunter is the number two defensive tackle in the nation and Slaughter is the number eleven safety.

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


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