Down to the numbers game

<P>I have heard that Coach Willingham was a pretty good baseball player. I have no idea what his batting average was as a player but he is going to have to hit for a high average with the remaining prospects on the board. Notre Dame appears to be set up for a fantastic recruiting class but a few commitments gone wrong and the Irish might not have a plan B. </P>

Much speculation has been made as to the number of commitments the Irish will take. There has been so many articles written about this subject that I won't bore you with the math. The end result is that Notre Dame will likely be accepting somewhere around 23 commitments this year. That number could go as high as 24 or less than 23 depending of how many 5th-year players are invited back. Julius Jones will also factor into that number.

Let's take a look at those players the Irish have committed already in a position by position situation.

Quarterback (1) Brady Quinn

Quinn will be the only quarterback taken this year. He was one of two offered so the Irish did outstanding here. Quinn ran a similar system in high school so he is the perfect fit for this offense.

Tailback (2) David Marrero and Travis Thomas

Marrero was Notre Dame's first commitment. People forget about him but he brings some much-needed speed to the Irish backfield. Once Notre Dame fans see the film, they will be very happy with Marrero. Travis Thomas is Notre Dame's latest commitment. Thomas is rumored to have a very quick first step and runs with power inside the tackles. People are comparing him to a Tony Fisher type of back.

Fullback (1) Ashley McConnell

With every fullback on the roster out of eligibility, Notre Dame needed to sign at least one. Some players on the roster might move here but Ashley brings size and physical play to the position. Ashley is rumored to be light on his feet and a devastating blocker.

Tight End (1) John Carlson

The Irish already have a bunch of tight ends but I am told Carlson can do things the others have struggled to do, get down field. Carlson is a guy this staff wanted badly so he was a nice pick up for the Irish.

Wide Receiver (2) Jeff Samardzija and Chinedum Ndukwe

The Irish landed two quality wide receivers last year is Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight. Both played a large role on the team this year. Samardzija is said to be a player in the Ed McCaffrey mold and Ndukwe looks a lot like Chris Carter to me. Ndukwe is a very physical player and should make most of his plays across the middle. Both were at Notre Dame camp so the Irish staff knows exactly what they are getting in both players.

Offensive Line (1) Ryan Harris

Offensive line has been a problem area for Notre Dame for a while. Harris is a great start because he has the quickness to play left tackle. Notre Dame edged out Miami for his commitment and any time Miami heads north for a player, he has to be a good one.

Defensive Line (1) Trevor Laws

Trevor was the #1 interior defensive lineman on the board. Notre Dame did very well here. With so many defensive line prospects from last year, this wasn't a big need this year so quality was important. Any time you can land your #1 guy, that is a good thing.

Linebacker (2) Nick Borseti and Joe Brockington

Linebacker is a need position this year. The Irish didn't land a single player at the position last year so it is important the Irish land at least three. Borseti will play MLB. He brings good size, instincts and nastiness to the position. Brockington is slated for WLB. He brings speed and play making ability and is rumored to be a similar player to Brandon Hoyte.

Cornerback (1) Isaiah Gardner

Freddie Parish will likely start out at corner as well but his body will probably grow into a safety. Gardner is also a top tailback prospect listed with great speed. He played corner this year and the Irish coaches were rumored to be very impressed by his play this year.

Safety (1) Freddie Parish

One has to watch about 5 plays of Freddie to know that you want this guy on your team. Freddie can run, Freddie can hit, Freddie has attitude and Freddie is going to be a great player at Notre Dame. His commitment was very important for Notre Dame. Freddie is the type of player that can change the game. Wait until you see his film.

The Irish have 13 total verbal commitments at this stage. We will take the round number of 23, subtract 13 and arrive at the number 10 for the number of remaining scholarships available. When you look at the list of players the Irish are recruiting, Notre Dame is going to have to hit around .500 to fill out all 23 scholarships.

Now let's take a look at the players we know have been offered a scholarship to Notre Dame.

Quarterback (0)

Notre Dame is set at QB and won't be taking another this year.

Tailback (1) Reggie Bush

Reggie is probably one of the crown jewels of this class. Reggie brings major speed and lateral movement to the table. He is a very similar player to David Marrero and the Irish will be fine without him but if you can land another player like Marrero, you have to take him. Having both would bring a lot of speed and quickness to the position. Reggie is scheduled to visit Notre Dame on January 17th. There have been rumors that Tashard Choice has been offered by Notre Dame as well. I have yet to confirm that. Tashard is also said to be visiting Notre Dame but has yet to schedule a date.

Fullback (0)

Notre Dame is set at fullback and won't be taking another player for this position.

Tight End (1) Greg Olsen

As we know, Greg is the brother of current freshman QB Chris Olsen. Greg is another crown jewel type of player. Greg is another guy that can get down field and is considered the top tight end in the country. Greg visits Notre Dame this weekend (12-13). He has quite a few more visits lined up but I expect Greg to only take three or so and decide fairly early in January if not sooner.

Wide Receiver (2) Mark Bradford, Chase Anastasio

The Irish already have two wide receivers and Bradford would be another great one to add to the mix. Bradford is widely considered one of the top wide receiver prospects in the country. He has visited LSU, Washington State and will be at Washington this weekend. He will visit Notre Dame on January 17th. Mark would bring legit 4.4 speed to the position.

Chase Anastasio visited Notre Dame last weekend. Chase is a versatile athlete who can play a number of positions. Just recently, Chase has indicated he would like to play wide receiver so we will place him in this category. He was previously being recruited as a defensive back. He has been offered and I have heard he really liked his visit to Notre Dame. The Virginia schools will likely be the main competition for Notre Dame.

Offensive Line (4) Mike Jones, Jeff Zuttah, Joe Thomas and John Sullivan

Mike Jones visited South Bend last weekend. We all know he is the brother of former ND OL Jim Jones. Mike really seemed to enjoy his visit to Notre Dame last weekend. Mike visits Iowa this weekend, then Miami on the 20th and will visit Michigan sometime in the future as well. Mike has said he will take all of his visits and then decide. Mike has remained open since the very beginning and claims no leader but I think he really liked his Notre Dame visit. The Irish should be one of his final 2-3 schools.

Jeff Zuttah also visited South Bend last week. Zuttah has already visited Boston College, Penn State, Florida State and Notre Dame. He visits Michigan this weekend. Zuttah has said a lot good things about his visit to Notre Dame recently and also has openly praised Coach Willingham. The problem is he can enroll is January if he likes at the other schools. Zuttah seemed to really like Notre Dame. Will that be enough to make him wait and enroll in August?

It appears that Joe Thomas is not going to visit Notre Dame officially. Joe stated that he has been to Notre Dame a number of times and that he wanted to take his visits to schools he hasn't visited. I would feel better if he took an official to Notre Dame and I am sure the staff feels the same way. This has long been rumored at Wisconsin/Notre Dame battle but don't count out Nebraska here. Joe hasn't given any indication lately as to where he is leaning. Joe plans to take his final two remaining visits and decide sometime in early January.

John Sullivan was scheduled to visit Notre Dame this weekend but that might have to be changed. I have heard he is ill and might not be able to make the visit. John has been on the verge of committing to Notre Dame for a while. Boston College is another school he remains interested in. John has not set any of his official visits that I am aware of. It would not surprise me if John committed to Notre Dame very soon but he might take a few visits just to be sure.

I think Notre Dame would love to land all 4 of these offensive linemen. I have heard all 4, with Harris are all very good prospects and should add some much-needed depth along the offensive line. How many will they get out of these 4?

Defensive Line (1) Victor Abiamiri

That number could increase but as of right now, Victor appears to be the only defensive lineman that has been offered. Victor is VITAL to this class. He brings speed, quickness and athleticism to the position. He could be the other bookend to Justin Tuck. He really enjoyed his visit but that was his first visit. He has scheduled a visit to Miami this weekend, Maryland next weekend and will visit North Carolina and Stanford in January. It would not surprise me if Victor only took 3 visits and then decided. The Irish must land this player. There aren't many other options and they really need a pass rusher in this class.

Linebacker (3) Lewis Baker, Mitchell Thomas and Wesley Jefferson

Lewis Baker visited South Bend last week. He came away with glowing praise of Notre Dame and Coach Willingham. He could not find one bad thing about Notre Dame. So why didn't he commit? Lewis wants to make sure that Notre Dame is the right place for him. He visits Oklahoma this weekend. He will visit Vanderbilt on January 17th and plans to slip in Georgia Tech and maybe Texas A&M. While I was excited to hear Baker's comments, each visit brings opportunity. I hope the ND staff can close this fairly soon.

Mitchell Thomas will visit Notre Dame this weekend. Thomas has long been rumored to be leaning to Alabama. With the coaching change at Alabama, I think Mitchell opens the door to more schools. He hasn't scheduled any other visits other than Notre Dame at this point but I bet he takes 3-4 visits before he decides. He will surely give the new Alabama staff their shot as well. Notre Dame needs to make a big impression on Mitchell this weekend.

Wesley Jefferson is another crown jewel type of player. He is widely considered one of the best linebackers in the country and has the offers to prove it. Wesley will visit Miami this weekend and Maryland the following weekend. If the Irish can remain in the race after these visits, they should have a great shot at Wesley. Wesley is scheduled to visit Notre Dame on January 17th. He will likely take all of his visits and decide sometime in late January.

Safety (2) Tommy Zbikowski and Ira Guilford

Tom Zbikowski visited Notre Dame last weekend. He really enjoyed the visit and said "it's going to be very hard to turn down Notre Dame." Zbikowski will visit Iowa this weekend and Nebraska the following weekend. He has visits schedule with Arizona State and Boston College in January. It would not surprise me if Tom committed sometime before the holidays. Tom might wait and announce at the Army All-Star game as well but I don't expect he will take many visits in January. I do think he will sign with Notre Dame when all is said and done.

Ira Guilford is scheduled to visit Notre Dame on January 17th. Ohio State has been his clear leader for quite some time. He has already visited Penn State and will visit Ohio State the weekend before his Ohio State visit. It's possible that Ira commits to Ohio State on that visit. If he doesn't commit, the Irish could have a shot at him. I am going to guess he commits to Ohio State.

Cornerback (4) Ambrose Wooden, Donte Whitner, LaBrose Hedgemon, Kenny Scott.

Wooden visited South Bend last weekend. He came away listing Notre Dame as his leader. He even considered deciding between Notre Dame and Boston College. It appears Ambrose will take a few more visits before he decides. Wooden could end up playing wide receiver for the Irish as well. I think Ambrose will take a few more visits and then decide. I think he likes Notre Dame quite a bit. Hopefully they will land him because I don't see Notre Dame leading for any of the other prospects at corner

Donte Whitner is visiting Notre Dame this week. He has long been rumored to be leaning to Ohio State. Michigan appears to be his other school at this point. He will visit Notre Dame this week and then follow that up with a visit to Miami next weekend. Donte should announce sometime shortly afterwards. Notre Dame is going to need to make a big impression on this fine corner. He is considered one of the very best in the country.

Notre Dame offered LaBrose Hedgemon very early. He is scheduled to visit Notre Dame on January 24th. Auburn and Notre Dame are considered his leaders but I think Auburn is the true leader here. He will also visit North Carolina. He visits Auburn on January 17th. If he makes it past that visit, the Irish will have a shot with LaBrose.

Kenny Scott visited Notre Dame last week and also had glowing remarks about his visit, Notre Dame and Coach Willingham. The key for Scott will be his reaction to his Florida State visit. If Notre Dame starts to slide, I think they will be out of it shortly. Kenny also visits Georgia Tech this weekend, FSU 1-10, Tennessee 1-17 and Florida 1-24. Kenny is one of the top corner prospects in the country and he will likely take all of his visits. If Notre Dame remains high on his list after Florida State, they could have a shot.

There are quite a few other prospects on the radar that Notre Dame is actively recruiting. These players could come into the mix and I also expect some surprise visits because it happens every year. Other players the Irish are recruiting are.

TB Tashard Choice

WR Charles Smith

WR Steve Smith (been offered but ND appears out at this point0

WR Dorien Bryant (might visit)

OL Dan Pribula (schedule for January 17th)

DL Carl Pendleton (already visited but not offered)

DE Bruce Davis (ND visited him at his home the other night)

LB Mark Washington (watch this player)

S Ryan Mundy (been offered but I bet he doesn't visit)

CB Deante Battle (has been rumored visiting but no date yet confirmed)

As you can see, Notre Dame has 18 scholarship offers out there with players they have a chance to sign and 10 spots to fill. Some new names will surface and some other players will likely get offers. Ty and his staff are going to have to hit over .500 to get the players they want and fill out this class. I do expect other players to receive offers but as of right now, that is where they stand.

It won't be the end of the world if Notre Dame fails to sign 23 players this year. I would much rather save a scholarship for next year for a player that can help them than give a scholarship to a player that might help them. Notre Dame will not have many scholarships to give next year (15-20) and we will all be complaining that they don't have enough scholarships to give all the top prospects that want to come to Notre Dame. Top Stories