Recruiting Keeps On Keeping On

As summer will soon turn to fall, Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis has to be ecstatic with the way the 2009 recruiting class is shaping up.

Coming off a 3-9 season, Weis and his staff were able to hold together Scout.com's second-ranked recruiting class last February. What is even more remarkable, is the job the Irish coaches are doing this recruiting season.

Last week, Scout.com's Director of Scouting Scott Kennedy, ranked Notre Dame's current recruiting class at No. 10, which under the circumstances is quite amazing. Twelve players, including two five-stars, have verbally committed and most recruits don't seem to be turned off by the Irish's rough season a year ago.

What's even better, is that Notre Dame is stockpiling talent at certain positions, while also getting verbal commitments from need players at others. On top of that, as the actual season approaches, a winning campaign could see the Irish class climb into, the do I dare say, top five nationally.

I'll explain.

When Weis took over at Notre Dame, he made the Irish trendy again among high school recruits. The previous two classes before him didn't even rank in the top-25 (Weis had to patch together the latter one just after he was hired). Now, with the amount of U.S. Army All-Americans he's been able to ink, the January all-star game has jokingly been referred to as the Notre Dame bowl.

The young talent on the roster is growing with two top-five recruiting classes in the last three years, and the dividends are about to pay off on the field. Notre Dame is staring a 10-3 or 9-4 campaign with the first bowl win since 1993 in the face this year, which will springboard legit national title hopes the next season.

Another Sports Illustrated cover will be in the works. Recruits see this, and five-star players like Xavier Nixon, will be making their college decision in late January when Notre Dame finally has some momentum, instead of coming off a BCS pasting at the hands of Ohio State or LSU.

Kids want to be part of something special, and something special is definitely brewing in South Bend.

Nixon is the biggest need in this class. The left tackle from North Carolina could push Notre Dame's class into the top five alone. But he's not the only big-named recruit still considering the Irish.

Weis and company are in on a lot of the nation's best. There is five-star linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who will visit Notre Dame this weekend, and who the Irish have a great shot in landing. Then there is Manti Te'o, another five-star linebacker that Weis is personally recruiting. Five-star defensive end Anthony LaLota is high on the program, and five-star receiver Marlon Brown recently put Notre Dame on his list of favorites.

Don't forget about guys like Chris Bonds, Craig Roh, Davon Custis, Frankie Telfort, Gabe Ikard, Darren Myles, Shaquelle Evans and Jamal Patterson, all of whom are still looking at the Irish and have visited or will.

If Notre Dame can land any four of those guys listed in the previous two paragraphs, coupled in with potential verbal commitments from E.J. Banks, Zach Martin, Zeke Motta and Terrance Bullitt, that will make for a heck of a 20-player class.

A top-five class.

It would also fill all the needs the Irish were looking for in this class, which is the true definition of a successful recruiting season.

Cierre Wood's verbal commitment gives Weis five U.S. Army All-Americans at the running back position. Theo Riddick adds a sixth player to push the depth chart.

One of the receivers, Brown, Patterson or Evans needs to jump on board.

Chris Watt and Alex Bullard give the Irish what they need at guard. Martin would be a nice addition at tackle, but again, Nixon is key.

Tyler Eifert could play either receiver or tight end, and Jake Golic is another talented tight end.

Tyler Stockton is a nice pickup at nose tackle with three being signed last year. Somebody out of LaLota, Custis, Roh or Ikard has to join the mix at defensive end.

Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox is a nice start at inside and outside linebacker. Add guys like Jenkins, Te'o or Motta, and that's a nice group.

Marlon Pollard was a great catch at cornerback, and if Banks decides to join the fold, gives the Irish two very talented players at the position. Motta could also play safety, with Bullitt or Myles.

The kicker and punter in Nicholas Tausch and Ben Turk are secured.

Obviously this is a lot of speculation, but very, very possible.


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