Targeting Pass Catchers

Notre Dame has already landed a verbal commitment from local product Daniel Smith, and the Irish coaching staff would like to add two more receivers and possibly a tight end in the class-of-2010 recruiting haul.

At Notre Dame's first junior day on Jan. 24th, Charlie Weis extended a scholarship offer to Daniel Smith. The South Bend Clay receiver didn't accept on the spot, but two days later at his school, Smith made his intentions known.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Smith gives the Irish offense a tall possession receiver with good hands and great jumping ability. As a junior, the top-100 player caught 51 passes for 1,071 yards and nine touchdowns. This spring, he will be a title contender in the high jump and long jump at the Indiana track and field state finals.

Both of Smith's older sisters attended Notre Dame, and his brother-in-law is former Irish standout safety Gerome Sapp, so the area program was always a dream for Smith to attend.

While Smith was always a Notre Dame lock, the Irish coaching staff is in good standing with a lot of other receivers they've offered in this class.

Corey Cooper was the first playmaker to catch Weis' eye. The Maywood, Ill., standout camped at Notre Dame this summer, and was officially offered on Sept. 1st, the first day high school juniors could be extended a scholarship.

A soft verbal commit to Illinois since the summer, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Cooper has been exploring all of his options, and holds offers from the likes of Michigan State, Arizona, Stanford and Minnesota.

Cooper nearly flipped his verbal commitment from Illinois to Notre Dame back in January, but he was unable to attend the Irish's junior day. Since then, Cooper has talked it over with his father, who played at Purdue, and the two have decided to hold off on doing anything drastic. A final decision isn't expected for months, but Notre Dame remains one of the leaders. Cooper is expected to return to the South Bend campus sometime this spring.

From the same high school as Irish defensive back Sergio Brown, Cooper had 41 receptions for 814 yards and eight touchdowns last fall. The Proviso East star also returned a kick for a score, had 61 tackles, 14 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and an interception. Some programs are recruiting Cooper as a safety.

Smith wasn't the only receiver offered at Notre Dame's junior day. Tai-ler Jones and Kyle Prater also scooped their scholarships in person.

The 6-foot, 175-pound Jones is the son of former Notre Dame defensive end Andre Jones. He has racked up close to 30 scholarship offers from many of the nation's top programs. The Irish and Ohio State look like the early leaders for Jones, but the Gainesville (Ga.) High standout has a top-15, and remains open to everybody.

"With Notre Dame, I know there is a for sure life after football, and the degree carries a lot of weight in the business world, and there is a lot of alumni out there, so picking up a job wouldn't be as hard as if I went to another school," Jones recently told Irish Eyes. "And how the coaching staff tells me how I'm going to be used in their scheme, and that they keep in regular touch with me, shows they are real serious about me."

Jones will probably attend Notre Dame's spring game on April 18th, making it his third visit to South Bend in seven months. He plans to make his verbal commitment on his birthday, July 19th.

One of the key factors for Jones, will be to camp at his favorite schools to see how the receivers coach will coach him up. He's already established a good early relationship with Notre Dame's Rob Ianello.

One of the most explosive playmakers in the country, Jones caught 81 passes for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall. He is a top-100 recruit.

Prater's stock is definitely on the rise. Arguably the best offensive player at this past January's U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, which is a showcase for many of the nation's top juniors, Prater is approaching 25 offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, Arkansas and Nebraska. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Hillside, Ill., product is open to everybody, but Notre Dame remains one of the early front runners.

Prater is looking to return to Notre Dame this spring, but doesn't plan on making his decision anytime soon. He'd like to take some official visits and see how his senior season plays out.

As a junior at Proviso West, Prater caught 60 passes for 948 yards and nine touchdowns. His cousin is former Irish receiver/quarterback Carlyle Holiday.

Following the junior day offers, Weis and his staff targeted two top-100 players from Texas. In February, Darius White and Mike Davis picked up Irish offers.

Davis has already verbally committed to LSU, and White doesn't appear to be looking too hard at Notre Dame right now.

The latest receiver offer went out to Brandon Coleman of Forestville, Md.

Weis told the 6-foot-6, 205-pound Bishop McNamara standout that he reminds him of former Irish standout Maurice Stovall. Coleman is very interested in Notre Dame, and would like to visit sometime this spring or summer.

"I know a lot about their history," Coleman recently told Irish Eyes. "They're a real prestigious football program, and with their academics. Coming from a catholic high school, I know a little bit about their school, and what they have going on. I know they're in a independent conference, and that's kind of cool."

Maryland looks like Notre Dame's main early competition for Coleman. This past fall, he caught roughly 35 passes for 550 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Irish have done an excellent job of landing top-notch receivers since Weis took over, but they've done an even better job of getting elite tight ends to sign. So far, the staff has only targeted one tight end, after taking two the past two recruiting classes.

C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg (Ill.) High, is a top-100 recruit that also picked up his Irish offer on Sept. 1st. Besides Penn State, every program in the Big Ten has offered, as well as several others.

Early in the process, the 6-foot-7 Fiedorowicz favors the Irish, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois and Miami. He wants to play for a team that uses the tight end a lot, and Notre Dame certainly fit's that bill. Fiedorowicz visited once in the summer and returned for the Michigan game. He's expected to be back again this spring, and wants to decide before his senior season kicks off. Top Stories