At least part of the reason for the optimism is the 2008 recruiting class. Two of those players, Trevor Robinson and Sean Cwynar are already on campus and Irish fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the rest in June. However, it is imperative for the Irish to sign yet another top class in 2009 if they wish to continue the renaissance that began three years ago under Weis.
Notre Dame hosted its second Junior Day this past weekend, inviting a fairly small number of recruits in order to focus more on each one. Irish Eyes Steve Wiltfong spoke with two young men that received considerable attention from the staff. Both currently hold Notre Dame offers and are top targets of the coaching staff. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?
Carlos Calabrese, MLB, 6-2, 225, Verona High School, Verona, NJ snapped a picture of Notre Dame stadium from his seat on the plane. Calabrese described the picture as "great" which also could serve as the theme for his Notre Dame Junior Day visit.
"Yesterday we went for a tour around the school, and we went to the academic department," Calabrese informed. "We asked them a bunch of questions about the academics and how many people graduate and stuff. Then we went to practice after that."
Calabrese got a chance to meet new Irish assistant head coach and linebackers coach Jon Tenuta.
"We asked him questions about if they would red-shirt me, if they wanted me in the middle or the outside," said Calabrese. "He said he thought I'd be a good middle. He said he plays the best players and if I'm one of the best players I'll play."
Calabrese and his family also got a chance to meet and speak with Weis.
"He took us to the conference room with him, and we talked for a long time about recruiting and how it should be handled," explained Calabrese. "He said he'd like me to go there."
Calabrese seemed quite impressed with all the coaches and the atmosphere of Notre Dame itself.
"The coaches are real great," said Calabrese. "Coach Brown, the defensive coordinator, he is real nice. He liked me a lot. He said I fit in perfect with their defense. Around the school is nice. It's not looking at just the football team, you have to look at everything else. It's really nice, there is nothing bad there."
Though he has other trips planned and would like to take a couple of official visits, Calabrese has not ruled out a late summer decision. In addition to Notre Dame, he currently holds offers from Florida, Boston College, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Maryland.
Notre Dame has had only one visitor attend both Junior Days this year, offensive lineman Chris Watt. Watt, OL, 6-3, 280, Glenbard West High School, Glen Ellyn, IL received his Notre Dame offer at the first Irish Junior Day. His second Junior Day visit was designed to help him narrow his list of sixteen scholarship offers to a more manageable number. The Notre Dame coaches pulled out all the stops to be part of Watt's narrowed down list.
"It went really well," Watt said. "I got to meet professor (Carl) Ackerman, he's the head of the finance department at the Mendoza School of Business. He talked football with me and about the business school in general. That is one thing I'm interested in, so that was a good visit."
Watt also got some private time with Weis. He pumped Weis for information about the current situation, his NFL experience and even Weis's experience as a Notre Dame student.
"We had a good talk," Watt said. "I got some questions answered, like what are the hardest things to deal with coming in your freshman year, and basic questions like that. He talked about his experiences with Tom Brady a little bit. He also talked about his experiences as a Notre Dame student."
Watt got a chance to watch a spring practice, especially noting how offensive line coach John Latina worked with the offensive line.
"The offensive line was working real hard," explained Watt. "I got to see drills I haven't seen before. I got to see coach Latina coach. There were a lot of good guys out there. I met the strength and conditioning coordinator and he said they've been working really hard."
Watt also got the chance to briefly speak with current Notre Dame offensive linemen, Sam Young, Dan Wenger, Eric Olsen and Thomas Bemmenderfer.
"We just exchanged that it was a good place," Watt said. "Next time I come up, hopefully I can spend more time with the players."
In addition to Notre Dame, Watt currently holds scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Virginia, Minnesota, Stanford, Arizona, Iowa and Northwestern. He hopes to narrow his list to eight and then to five. Notre Dame appears to be in a good position.
"They're in, they're definitely in," said Watt of the Irish. "I keep in touch with (Notre Dame recruiting coordinator) coach (Rob) Ianello once a week and e-mail more than once a week. He is just seeing how things are going with track and family."
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes.
Recruiting week in review.
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