Irish set for big weekend

<P>The banquet weekend has always been a major weekend for Notre Dame recruiting. This year is no different as some of the top prospects the Irish are recruiting are scheduled to be in South Bend for the banquet. I thought we should take a look at some of these top prospects. </P>

Victor Abiamiri is one of the top defensive ends in the country. Victor has over 30 offers from the top programs and has set most of his official visits already. Victor is 6-5, 245 pounds and has run the 40 in 4.56 seconds. Victor finished the season with 17 sacks even though he was double-teamed most of the season. His team finished a perfect 10-0 but his league does not have a playoff system. It's not often Miami ventures out of Florida for players but they have offered Victor.

Victor has visits set to ND (12-6), Miami (12-13), Maryland (12-20), North Carolina (1-10) and he plans to visit Stanford some time in January. Victor has two brothers that attend Maryland on a football scholarship but he states that will have little impact on his final decision.

Chances of signing him

I would say they are very good. Victor is from a very good private school and he said he is looking for something similar in school and in his coach. He has mentioned that Ty Willingham is very similar to his coaches' coaching style. I think the chances are good he commits to Notre Dame but I do think it will take some time before that happens. Victor will likely take a few more visits after the Notre Dame visit to decide.

Another player expected in is Prescott Burgess. Burgess is a special athlete who is listed at 6-4, 225 pounds and runs in 4.55 range in the 40. He comes from famed Warren Harding HS in Warren OH. Burgess has been hurt most of the year but is fine now. Rumors have it that Burgess is going to be an Ohio State/Michigan battle. He has a visit set this week to Notre Dame and one to Ohio State on December 13th. He will visit Ohio State I am sure. After that, nobody has a clue because he rarely answers the phone.

Chances of signing him

I can't begin to guess. I have never spoken to him after countless efforts to reach him. He probably just doesn't enjoy the publicity and I can respect that. I really can't tell you how interested he is in Notre Dame but he is supposed to be coming this weekend.

Mike Jones is a player the Irish would love to land. He is a 6-5, 305 pound offensive guard prospect from Oak Lawn, IL. Mike is the younger brother of former Irish offensive lineman Jim Jones. Mike has scheduled visits to Notre Dame 12-6, Iowa 12-13 and Tennessee 1-17. He also plans to visit Michigan as well. Mike has over 25 offers from the top programs in the country and is considered one of the top offensive linemen in the country.

Chances of signing him

It's very hard to say. Mike doesn't tip his hand and is a pretty good poker player. Mike states that he will take all 5 visits before making his decision and are pretty firm on that. The Irish like Mike a great deal and might wait for his commitment. Some players could commit before he makes his decision however and the Irish might be done at offensive line before Mike makes his decision.

6-2 corner prospects are rare and 6-2 corner prospect that run a legit 4.4 is what you get in Kenny Scott. Scott is one of the nations top corner prospects. He is from Daytona Beach, FL and has all the top schools after him. Last time I spoke with Kenny, his team was still in the playoffs. He had rushed for 1274 yards and 21 touchdowns from his tailback spot averaging 10.2 yards a carry. He also had 21 receptions out of the backfield and 2 interceptions on the year playing corner. Kenny will visit will visit Notre Dame (12-6), Florida State (12-13), Florida (1-10), Tennessee (1-17) and Georgia Tech (1-24). He claims no leader at this point but many speculate that Florida State is the team to beat.

Chances of signing him

I would say the chances are pretty good but I also think Florida State is the team to beat. Kenny does seem to like Coach Willingham a great deal and respects the Notre Dame tradition and program. Notre Dame doesn't have a lot of success taking top talent from Florida but Kenny is a guy who I think will like Notre Dame when he visits. Most suggest he won't leave the state of Florida.

Another top prospect the Irish would love to land is Lewis Baker. Baker is a very fast (4.5) outside linebacker prospect. He is 6-3, 210 pounds and plays his football for Hebron HS is Lewisville, TX. Baker made an early commitment to Mack Brown and Texas. He took a visit to Notre Dame over the summer and backed out of his commitment and started to look at other schools. Lewis was hurt for 5 games this year so he didn't play that much but the Irish have been in love with his speed and physical play since the beginning. Baker also played wide receiver this year as well.

Chances of signing him

I think they are very good. Baker really liked his unofficial visit to Notre Dame and he told me then that he almost committed. He wanted to make sure and Notre Dame has been one of his leaders throughout the process. He visits Notre Dame (12-6), Oklahoma (12-13) and Vanderbilt (1-17). He might not take any other visits. It's possible he could commit this weekend but Lewis has told me many times he will visit Vanderbilt. He would be a great catch at a need position.

Two-way star Chase Anastasio could play a number of positions. Chase could play running back, wide receiver or safety for the Irish as he has played all positions in high school. Chase is from Fairfax, VA and is listed as 6-2, 205 pounds and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. Chase is known as a heavy hitter on defense with great speed. He has recently said he might be more interested in playing wide receiver than safety.

Chances of signing him

I think Notre Dame has a great shot at Chase. Virginia is likely his other school. He visits Notre Dame (12-6), Stanford (1-10) and likely will visit Virginia (1-17). He could take more visits but I expect Chase to decide fairly early and the Irish have a good chance to land him.

Another very big recruit for Notre Dame is Ambrose Wooden. Ambrose is listed as 6-1, 185 pounds and runs a 4.3 40 (was clocked electronically at 4.26, 4.28 and 4.29 at Ohio State camp, 2nd fastest time ever behind Joey Galloway). Ambrose plays quarterback in high school as well as some defensive back. He is being recruited as a corner prospect for Notre Dame but could play some wide receiver as well. Ambrose rushed for 1500 yards and threw for 1300 yards this year while scoring 35 touchdowns for his Gilman team. He is a teammate of Victor Abiamiri's and they are good friends as well. Both state it would be nice to go to school together but they will make their own decision. Ambrose visits Notre Dame (12-6), Penn State (12-13), UCLA (12-20) and Stanford (1-10). He has already visited Boston College and he said UCLA might be changed to a different school because of the distance from home.

Chances of signing him

The chances are very good and for the same reasons as I think they will sign Victor Abiamiri. Rarely do you see two quality players like this at the same school. Ambrose is Ty Willingham Jr. They will both fit in very well at Notre Dame if they decide to come.

Want more speed? Look no further than Tommy Zbikowski. Zbikowski is from Buffalo Grove, IL. He is listed at 6-1 190 pounds with 4.4 speed. Tom played QB from Buffalo Grove but Notre Dame is looking at him as a safety prospect. Zbikowski has run the 100 meters is 10.5 seconds and is a golden glove boxer to boot. Tom plans to visit Notre Dame (12-6), Iowa (12-13), Nebraska (12-20), ASU (1-18) and BC (1-25).

Chances of signing him

It's hard to say. Tom grew up a Notre Dame fan and has been rumored to be leaning to the Irish the whole way. He has said he will wait until he takes all visits to decide but recently told me that the January visits might be getting late in the process. Notre Dame really likes this player but they might be filled at safety by the time he decides.

Notre Dame has some current commitments that will be attending the banquet as well. One player the Irish offered very early was Chinedum Ndukwe. The Duke is teammates with current QB commit Brady Quinn. Nedu finished the year with 51 catches for 698 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Duke went to Notre Dame camp and the Irish coaching staff got an up close and personal look at Chinedum and offered him a scholarship. Chinedum was a great pickup for the Irish.

Another player attending the banquet is Ashley McConnell. McConnell was Notre Dame's #1 fullback prospect. He was the only big back offered by Notre Dame. He is listed at 6-0 240 and comparisons have been made to Jerome Bettis. I think that is a little unfair to Ashley but he is known as a devastating blocker who can catch the ball out of the backfield. Ashley committed to Notre Dame while never seeing the campus. He is a very key recruit for Notre Dame with zero fullbacks returning next year.

Isaiah Gardner also committed to Notre Dame without seeing the campus. Isaiah is listed as 5-11, 190 pounds and runs a 4.4 40. Gardner plays both running back and corner in for Salem HS in Virginia Beach, VA. Isaiah was not able to play quite a few games this year but was offered very early in the process and someone the Irish staff liked a great deal. He will play corner for Notre Dame but could be switched to running back in a pinch.

Jeff Samardzija also went to Notre Dame camp and came away with an offer. Jeff committed to Notre Dame in August of this year. Samardzija is 6-4, 200 pounds and listed with 4.5 speed. He had a great year catching 50 passes for 1070 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was another great pickup for the Irish and I like kids that attend camp because the coaching staff knows exactly what they are getting when they offer a player like Jeff.

The last visitor this week is Joe Brockington. Brockington is a 6-2, 215 pound linebacker prospect from Palmyra PA. Joe was also hurt his senior year and sat out all season with a shoulder injury. Joe is known as a very quick linebacker in the mold of Brandon Hoyte. He also was offered very early and committed after he took and unofficial visit to Notre Dame. He is another fine addition to this class.

As you can see, the Irish have some very key players coming to visit Notre Dame this weekend. Notre Dame usually lands a lot of the players they bring in for the banquet and let's hope that this year is no different.

If you want to know more about each player, click on their name and the link will take to you many other stories written about each player. Top Stories