Recruiting week in review.

Following the recruiting game is a lesson in patience. Early in the process many names appear, but eventually those many become fewer and fewer. Though it's still six months from signing day, the football recruiting class of 2009 has already begun to pare itself down from the many to the few.

Almost certainly, the upcoming season will spawn a few new players, but for the most part recruitniks know their boards pretty well. And in that process there emerges the players that become more coveted than others.

Last week Irish Eyes reported on a member of the many and a member of the few. What did you miss by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Anthony LaLota, DE, 6-5, 260, The Hun School, Princeton, NJ has narrowed his list to seven schools. Those schools are Notre Dame, Rutgers, Michigan, Florida, Penn State, Boston College and Virginia. LaLota is not in any hurry to narrow it any further.

"I've pretty much visited all these schools unofficially, so I may not take any official trips," informed LaLota. "I'm not sure yet. Either way I'll probably wait until after the season to decide. If by the end of the season I still don't feel ready to commit, then I'll take a few visits."

LaLota came away impressed from a recent visit to Michigan, though he admits he's probably closest to Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. He also has some very good things to say about Charlie Weis.

"I know they had a bad season, but coach Weis can turn it around," opined LaLota. "I fully expect them to be a lot better this year than last year."

Most would view LaLota's top seven as a wildly disparate group of schools, but he sees similarities among them.

"They really have some great campuses," he offered. "Michigan, Notre Dame, Boston College, Penn State—those are some of the best campuses I've seen."

He does, however, admit that there are differences.

"But there's definitely a difference between the Midwest and the South," he explained. "I think it's more about their style of football though. People say the SEC is faster than the Big Ten, but that the Big Ten has more power. I don't know. I think they have great athletes everywhere."

Like many recruits, LaLota is looking for that one place where he really feels at ease. But he also wants to play in a place where he can be a difference-maker.

"It's all about where you're comfortable," he said. "It doesn't matter about the location as long as I'm still able to easily get home every now and then. I also want to go where I can make an impact on the team. I want to play for a quality program that has good tradition."

Playing for good programs is something that LaLota and Malcolm Jones, RB, 6-0, 210, Oaks Christian High School, Westlake Village, CA have in common. LaLota's school, the Hun School in Princeton, New Jersey has a long tradition of good football. Oaks Christian's tradition may not be as long, but it has certainly been productive. Notre Dame starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen hailed from Oaks Christian and his class produced eight players that signed Division I letters of intent, including Jones' older brother Marshall who signed with USC.

Malcolm was thrust into the spotlight as only a freshman in Clausen's senior season when teammate and USC-bound starting running back Marc Tyler went down in the first game of the state playoffs with a knee injury.

"I couldn't believe it was happening as a freshman, me playing on varsity on one of the best teams in the nation," said Jones. "A lot of things were going through my mind, like not messing up."

An almost constant voice in his ear, helping him not to mess up was Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

"He was always telling me to calm down, and making sure I knew what I was doing," remembered Jones. "He always gave me a lot of support, saying you can do this."

As a sophomore last season, Jones didn't mess up much at all. He rushed for 2000 yards and 30 touchdowns. He has interest in Notre Dame, so Weis might be well advised to get Clausen back in Jones' ear.

"I'd be interested in Notre Dame," said Jones. "I heard Notre Dame is a pretty good academic school also. A lot of people do good things out of Notre Dame and their football team is on the rise I have a feeling."

Obviously academics are important to Jones. He carries a 3.8 grade point average.

"The place I'm going to go to has got to have a good coaching staff and good academics. Academics are real important to me."

Jones has been getting good advice from older brother Marshall.

"Marshall told me to make sure I take all five of my official visits before I make my decision," Jones said. "I'm going to take this slow until I find the right fit for me. Right now I'm just taking everything in. I'm not favoring any school or nothing, it's open to every school."

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


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories