The Rich Trying To Get Richer

Notre Dame has had its fair share of success in recruiting running backs since Charlie Weis took over the Irish program four seasons ago.

Five-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American James Aldridge, along with Munir Prince, got the ball rolling in the 2006 recruiting class.

The following year, it was U.S. Army All-Americans Robert Hughes and Armando Allen, signing letters-of-intent.

In the 2008 recruiting hall, surprise, surprise, another U.S. Army All-American, Jonas Gray, said he was joining the fold.

Staying with the theme, in 2009, U.S. Army All-American Cierre Wood inked with Weis, and he was joined by the talented four-star New Jersey product, Theo Riddick.

The Irish coaching staff is looking for those same kind of results in the recruiting class-of-2010, as they go looking for one tailback and one fullback.

Weis, along with running backs coach Tony Alford, and the rest of the staff have already identified their top targets in this class. Tailbacks Corey Brown, Gio Bernard and Marcus Lattimore, along with fullback Zach Zwinak, have been offered scholarships.

The five-star Brown was the first of the bunch to be extended a full-ride. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound, Scout.com top-100 player, scooped his Irish offer back on Sept. 1st, the first day college coaches could offer junior prospects.

From Cardinal O'Hara High in Springfield, Pa., Brown told Irish Eyes he didn't know much about Notre Dame at the time of the offer, and a few months later, appears to have eliminated the school from consideration. Brown's current favorites are Georgia, Ohio State and Rutgers, and he hardly spoke to the Irish coaching staff.

While Notre Dame isn't for everybody, one person it might be for is the 5-foot-9, 195-pound Bernard.

From St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Bernard is from the same program that produced current Notre Dame offensive linemen Sam Young and Dan Wenger, as well as class-of-2009 signees Ben Turk and Jordan Cowart. Bernard picked up his Irish offer in mid-February.

"I know education wise, Notre Dame is top of the line," Bernard told Irish Eyes when he was offered. "My teachers talk about it all of the time.

"We kind of have a pipeline there."

Since being offered, Bernard has kept in touch with Alford and assistant coach Bernie Parmalee. He wants to check out the campus sooner rather than later.

Bernard is starting to rack up scholarship offers. Besides Notre Dame, he has full-rides from the likes of Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Ole' Miss, Rutgers, West Virginia and Oregon State, where his older brother Yvenson played running back.

This past season, in helping lead St. Thomas Aquinas to a state championship and the final No. 1 ranking in the country by ESPN Rise, Bernard rushed 160 times for 1,579 yards (9.6 avg.) and 18 scores.

While Bernard's numbers are outstanding, Lattimore's are down right ridiculous.

As a junior, the 6-foot, 211-pound, five-star standout from Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., helped lead his team to a state championship by rushing for 2,314 yards and 30 touchdowns. Lattimore added 33 receptions for 393 yards, staking a claim to be the best overall player in the country.

Notre Dame had its sights on Lattimore since the summer, and finally offered in late-February.

"I had never talked to Charlie Weis before," he said to Irish Eyes when offered. "It was humbling talking to him. He was a great coach with the Patriots. I was surprised.

"You know if you come out of Notre Dame with a degree, you're going to have a good job anywhere. And just, they play on TV every weekend, on NBC, so that's exposure every Saturday. With a pro football coach, you know he has connections to the NFL, and they have a good running game."

Lattimore says he won't decide on a school until National Signing Day, and is also claiming no favorites, although the regular rumor is, he'll be tough to pull away from Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. Lattimore has also been offered by the likes of Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Florida State. He has indicated in several interviews that he'd like to visit Notre Dame.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Zwinak was caught off guard by his Notre Dame scholarship offer, and is now looking forward to visiting the campus for the first time.

"I thought I'd get some interest from some of the local schools like Virginia and Maryland, but I never thought I'd get interest from a school that far away and a school like Notre Dame," Zwinak explained to Irish Eyes when he was offered this week.

"I want to see what Notre Dame is about. My parents thought it was a good offer and one I should consider."

The Linganore High (Frederick, Md.) standout has a lot of offers to consider. After rushing for 1,447 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, Zwinak has been offered a scholarship by the likes of Boston College, California, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Virginia Tech. He doesn't expect to make a decision anytime soon.

Other running backs to keep an eye on, as the Irish staff is to, is Michael Dyer, Malcolm Jones, Austin White, Nick Hill and LaSteven McKinney. Other names will likely pop up as well.


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