Recruiting week in review.

The official visit, or perhaps more appropriately, The Official Visit, serves as the most powerful recruiting tool possessed in college football. It is often a make or break proposition. This seems even truer of Notre Dame than other places, though perhaps I'm just seeing things through Blue and Gold colored glasses.

However, the South Bend game day atmosphere almost universally resonates with recruits. With the exception of the extraordinary job performed by the staff, The Official Visit might also be the best explanation for the Irish keeping last year's number one recruiting class together despite the 3-9 record.

One of Notre Dame's most prized recruits recently took The Official Visit for the Stanford game and came away even more committed. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Cierre Wood, RB, 6-0, 196, Santa Clara High School, Oxnard, CA visited Notre Dame the weekend of 4 October for the Stanford game. Not only did the Scout.com five-star prospect enjoy the game, but it was all he could do to stay in the stands.

"When I was watching it, I actually wanted to get on the field, but I realized I couldn't," laughed Wood. "It's something I want to be a part of and I'm excited to be there."

Wood's high school team enjoyed a bye week the weekend of his official visit, so he was able to experience the entire atmosphere of Notre Dame on a football weekend.

"It was a good time," Wood said. "Basically went out there and had fun and I learned some things. It was a good experience and something I wanted to experience."

One of the most beneficial parts of the trip for Wood was being able to sit in on the running backs meeting.

"I was trying to pick up some of their play calling," Wood said. "It's really complicated. I was trying my best to understand it."

Thus far this season, Wood has more than justified his five-star ranking. He has led his team to a 5-0 record and fifteen straight victories dating back to last season. They've done this even though Santa Clara has moved up a division in competition. For the year Wood has carried the ball 62 times for 969 yards and 18 touchdowns. That averages out to a whopping 15.9 yards per carry. Apparently the tougher competition has done nothing to slow him down.

"Everyone is bigger and faster, but I've been able to adapt and we're doing pretty good so far," explained Wood. "We expected to do well."

Wood also expects to do well at Notre Dame. Right now, the coaches have not defined his role for next year, preferring to get him on campus and then let his performance in fall camp determine his role.

For some recruits, setting up The Official Visit will prove harder than for others. For V.J. Fehoko, it will prove difficult indeed. Fehoko, LB, 6-0, 225, Farrington High School, Honolulu, HI hails from Hawaii and the sheer logistics of getting a player from the islands to South Bend are formidable. Still, Notre Dame plans on getting it done this year with fellow Hawaiian Manti Te'o so that could serve as a blueprint for 2010 recruit Fehoko.

Fehoko is no new name to the Irish staff. Head coach Charlie Weis first noticed him two years ago at a combine on Oahu.

"As a freshman, I was beating seniors out," said Fehoko. "He was real impressed."

Even then Weis knew he wanted the talented Hawaiian.

"I'm coming back for him," Linda Fehoko recalled Weis telling her. "We thought that was just talk. Talk is cheap."

Weis proved to be a man of his word. The first day that juniors could be contacted, Notre Dame began contacting the Fehoko family. V.J. regularly hears from Weis and recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach Rob Ianello. Just last week he and Weis spoke about a Notre Dame scholarship. The Irish not only have Fehoko's attention, but also his interest.

"It has a lot of history in the school," Fehoko said of Notre Dame. "It's a great program known across the country as one of the top NCAA programs, besides the fact a lot of great players have come out of Notre Dame. It goes both ways for being a great program and being a program with great standards."

Fehoko also had praise for Weis.

"Coach Weis talks to me like a great recruiter and that's why I have great respect for Notre Dame," explained Fehoko. "Not only does he talk to me about being a great football player, but hitting the books hard."

Fehoko already has a plan in place for choosing his college. He's planning to take all five official visits before making a decision. Notre Dame is being helped by the fact that two other recruits on the island have spoken well of the Irish. Te'o and Dalton Hilliard, another 2009 prospect, have both had good things to say about Notre Dame.

"Me and Manti are good friends," informed Fehoko. "I can tell he likes Notre Dame because they're in his top five no secret. I think what makes Notre Dame one of Manti's tops is not only they're a good program but they have great academics."

Fehoko has two older brothers, Whitley and Sam that are currently Division I football players, Whitley at San Diego State and Sam at Texas Tech. Both Whitley and Sam were required to keep up with their academics in high school and V.J. has found that the same rules apply to him.

"V.J. isn't allowed to bring home "C's" and just one "B" a semester," informed his mother Linda. "People laugh but it's developed my two older boys into great students not only in the classroom, but as students of the game because they have to study playbooks and tapes."

Fehoko currently holds fifteen scholarship offers from programs like UCLA, Stanford, Colorado, BYU, Tennessee and Texas Tech. Other top programs like the Irish and USC are taking considerable interest.

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


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