The Final Stretch

With 16 verbal commitments in the fold, Notre Dame is currently ranked 25th nationally in's recruiting rankings. With a couple more commitments before Wednesday's signing day, expect the Irish to move into the top-20.

The next few days will be very exciting.

The Notre Dame coaching staff is actively recruiting six prospects in hopes of adding to its 2009 recruiting haul. After conversations with the recruits, their families, their coaches and other recruiting analysts, I'll tell you where I think the Irish stand, and who I think is going to sign on the Golden dotted line.

Signing With The Irish

*Byron Moore: First a UCLA commit, then a USC commit, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety from the Los Angeles area, will end the process a Notre Dame signee.

The deciding factors for the four-star Moore and his family are the opportunity for early playing time in South Bend, and Notre Dame's graduation rate.

Moore is really good friends with Irish receiver commit Shaquelle Evans, and visited the campus officially for the Syracuse game. Notre Dame assistant coach Brian Polian has impressed Moore by visiting once a week during contact periods, and head coach Charlie Weis did a great job on his in-home visit. Irish defensive coordinator Corwin Brown visited Moore this past week.

Moore played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and also considered Colorado.

*Manti Te'o: Though I'm sure Moore is signing with the Irish, this is a gut pick with Te'o. I've been getting a great vibe from the five-star linebacker's parents, and I think the Honolulu product will be inking with Notre Dame, over his other two finalists, USC and UCLA.

The deciding factors for Te'o and his family are the great relationship and trust they've built with Weis and Polian, the education at Notre Dame, and the opportunity to be thee great linebacker in South Bend and not just one of the bunch elsewhere. Polian has been a regular to the island, and Weis has been there a few times himself, and it seems like he has sort of a cult following down there.

I actually think UCLA is the runner-up here, and not the Trojans. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Te'o was an UnderArmour All-American.

Close But No Cigar

*Jawanza Starling: The four-star safety from Tallahassee, Fla., was extremely impressed with Notre Dame's academic reputation, but it won't be enough to land the Lincoln High standout.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Starling will sign with USC, choosing the Trojans over Florida, Georgia, Stanford, Florida State and of course the Irish.

*Damien Thigpen: The four-star athlete from Manassas, Va., is certainly intrigued by his late offer from the Irish, and if he doesn't commit to UCLA on his official visit this past weekend, perhaps Notre Dame lands Thigpen in the end.

Thigpen was one of Tennessee's earliest verbal commits in this class, but just this past week, he decided to look around, and is now considering the Bruins, the Irish and Mississippi State. The latter two schools are hoping that Thigpen doesn't decide until after signing day. If that's the case, both programs would likely get a visit.

I don't think that's going to happen. Even though Thigpen's father is very impressed with Notre Dame and Weis, he feels the same way about the Bruins and Rick Neuheisel, and Thigpen eventually signs with UCLA.

*Marlon Pollard: First it was UCLA, then it was Notre Dame, and then it was UCLA again for the four-star cornerback.

That's how it will end.

Though the Notre Dame coaching staff is trying to flip Pollard back to being Irish, staying in California is where the family wants to be.

No Chance

*Jelani Jenkins: When Jenkins father told me they weren't coming back to South Bend for an official visit, whatever glimmer of hope Notre Dame had of landing the five-star linebacker was gone.

An UnderArmour All-American, Jenkins will pick Florida over Penn State. He also included the Irish, USC, Boston College and Illinois among his finalists. Top Stories