Recruiting Week in Review

Most observers believe that the football recruiting class of 2010 could be a very good one for Notre Dame. A plethora of talented recruits already have strong connections to the Irish and head coach Charlie Weis hopes to exploit that in landing another top class, potentially Weis's best since he arrived.

Last week the Irish launched the 2010 recruiting season in grand style by landing their first commitment, a five-star recruit from Illinois. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Christian Lombard, OT, 6-5, 280, Wm Fremd High School, Palatine, IL made public his verbal commitment to Notre Dame at the Army All-American Bowl last Saturday. Though the game usually represents a forum for uncommitted seniors to declare, the junior Lombard stole a bit of their thunder in declaring for the Irish.

"I'm happy with this decision," Lombard said. "I think it's a good fit for me and overall it's a good thing."

Lombard discussed several reasons for his commitment.

"I think just the blend of athletics and academics and the chance of me probably playing early because I know they have a lack of tackles, just the combination of everything," Lombard explained.

Lombard had previously visited Iowa, but felt more comfortable at Notre Dame. He attended a Notre Dame bowl practice on 18 December and received the opportunity to visit extensively with current Irish freshmen Trevor Robinson and Sean Cwynar. That bonding experience unquestionably played a role in his ultimate decision.

"When I went to Notre Dame I had a better feeling than when I was at Iowa," said Lombard. "I could just see myself there and felt more comfortable there."

Lombard isn't sure if he'll play right or left tackle and doesn't really care.

"I'll play whatever the heck they want me to play," he laughed.

He plans now to turn his attention to recruiting other members of the class of 2010.

"I'll tell them to check it out," Lombard said. "I made the decision, I'll let them know why I made the decision and tell them I think it's a good place."

Illinois has been a productive recruiting ground for the Irish and hope that Kyle Prater will follow Lombard's lead. Prater, WR, 6-4, 195, Proviso West High School, Hillside, IL is one of the best wide receiver prospects in the Midwest and he has a strong connection to Notre Dame. Prater's cousin is former Notre Dame quarterback Carlyle Holiday. As a ten year old, Prater got to visit Holiday in the Irish locker room. He also had an opportunity to speak with then Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham.

"I remember being in the locker room, talking to Tyrone Willingham one on one," said Prater. "He was just telling me, I remember what he said, if you want to make it to the top, all you have to do is work hard. And I seen the Play Like A Champion thing, I saw that and I remember thinking I wouldn't be coming back."

Prater proved to be wrong in that childhood prediction. He visited South Bend on 22 November for the Syracuse game.

"It was nice," Prater recalled. "It was crazy actually being in the stands. The student section was throwing snowballs at the cameraman. It was kind of funny, but then again it was very exciting watching the game, the intensity, the rituals, everything, the walk, I really enjoyed the walk."

Prater continued.

"It was real cold, but I was really evaluating everything. Nice facilities, it was real nice and I'm always going to keep Notre Dame in mind."

Prater significantly improved his stock with his performance at the Army All-American Bowl Junior Combine. His impressive one on one performance marked him as a recruit to watch. His outstanding success at the Combine capped off a very strong junior season. Though Proviso West only managed a 2-7 record, Prater still caught 60 passes for 948 yards and nine touchdowns.

Notre Dame wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello is handling Prater's recruitment. The two have developed a strong relationship.

"Me and Ianello are cool, real cool," said Prater. "He said he really likes the way I attack the ball and I'm very aggressive. He said being my size and being tall and being able to run after the catch, that's what I really focus my game on, making plays after the catch and being aggressive."

Prater is attempting to work out the details of a 24 January Junior Day visit. Notre Dame plays Connecticut that day in basketball and ESPN Gameday plans to be there.

Prater has been offered scholarships by many programs and has much thinking to do before he makes any decision. One of the biggest choices he'll face is how far from home he goes.

"I talk to my family about that all the time, about the geographic location," Prater explained. "We basically talk about whatever's right for me. My family wants me to stay in state so they can watch the games, but then again they say it is up to you to find what school you want to go to. I feel like I have to go through the process and narrow down the schools that are best for me."

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