Recruiting Week in Review

Many recruiting analysts will agree that offensive linemen represent the hardest position for which to forecast success on the collegiate level. As a result most college programs invest considerable effort to recruit as many highly rated high school linemen as possible in order to protect themselves from the inevitable disappointments.

The Notre Dame coaching staff has enjoyed great success during the Weis era in recruiting and signing top offensive line prospects. With scout.com five-star prospect Christian Lombard already in the fold for 2010, the Irish staff is off to an excellent start in continuing to stock the cupboard for the future. Last week Irish Eyes' Steve Wiltfong spoke to two more highly rated linemen that are showing a strong interest in Notre Dame. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Matt James, OT, 6-7, 285, St. Xavier High School, Cincinnati, OH received a Notre Dame scholarship offer back in November and has been heavily recruited by the Irish staff since then. Notre Dame hopes to lean on the services of a current Irish player, tight end Kyle Rudolph, in landing James. Rudolph attended the same high school as James and only lives a couple of blocks from the Irish recruit.

"Kyle was in town with a few other players and he was trying to meet up and he text me a couple of times, but I wasn't around," explained James.

Though the two didn't make connections then, they will again very soon. James plans on attending some Notre Dame spring practices and hopefully the Blue-Gold game on Saturday 18 April.

"A spring practice, that's pretty much a definite thing," James stated. "The problem with the Blue-Gold game is we are on spring break and we'll be on vacation. My parents are flying me back three days early, but I don't know how I'll get there. I might have to find a ride with someone or something."

James has received scholarship offers from some of the most prestigious programs in the United States, including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Stanford and Cincinnati. He has begun to narrow his list and has stated a top three.

"I think I'd say my top three is Ohio State, Notre Dame and Cincinnati," said James. "I'm still keeping my options open but things are getting hectic."

James is currently being recruited by Jon Tenuta and is also hearing frequently from new offensive line coach Frank Verducci. He explained to Irish Eyes' Steve Wiltfong what was attracting him to Notre Dame.

"I just like the prestige of the school both academically and athletically," he said. "I've only been up there once so far, but everything I hear about it is great. I'm hoping to get more visits up there to look around."

James wants to use his spring visit to see how he fits in with the coaches and the players. Though he doesn't have a firm timetable on making a decision, he says he would ideally like to make one before his senior season.

"If I make up my mind, I'll decide, but I'm not going to rush a decision for something this important," he explained. "It'd be nice but I don't want to rush this decision."

Notre Dame would love to pair James with James Stone, OG, 6-5, 295, Maplewood High School, Nashville, TN. For the Irish to do that they will need to beat out power programs like Alabama and Tennessee. If Notre Dame doesn't succeed, it won't be because of a lack of effort.

"They're recruiting me hard," said Stone of Notre Dame. "I talk to coach (Rob) Ianello and coach (Frank) Verducci once a week or so. They just ask me how I'm doing and stuff like that."

Stone's recruiting remains wide open though he obviously thinks highly of Notre Dame.

"I feel like it's a great place and a really good school," Stone said. "Some good coaches."

Stone plans to rely heavily upon his aunt and Maplewood head football coach Ralph Thompson in making his decision. He plans to make a verbal commitment before the beginning of his senior season.

"I tell you what, the only thing he's ever said negative is the distance from here," said Thompson of his conversations with Stone about Notre Dame. "As far as everything else, he really likes the prestige and he really likes how coach Weis and Rob (Ianello) and the new o-line coach Verducci have talked to him and what direction the program is headed in. And of course he likes the exposure of being on television every week and of course the top notch education that goes with it."

Stone doesn't just pay lip service to being interested in education. He sports a 3.7 grade point average and boasts a 24 on the ACT.

When Stone received his scholarship offer in January, he planned to take a visit to South Bend, but something came up and he had to cancel. He and Thompson are still trying to work out a visit to Notre Dame for the 18 April Blue-Gold game.

"Even if we don't get up there for the Spring game, we have to at least go up there during the summer, maybe during one of the camp times," Thompson said. "That will give him a chance to get in front of the coaches and see how they coach. That's definitely one trip we have to make."

Though Stone has started at left tackle for the last two years at Maplewood, Scout.com projects him as a guard and college coaches tell him he is athletic enough to play all three line positions. Regardless of where he plays, James is certain about what he wants in the program he chooses.

"It's going to have to have a good coaching staff that is going in a positive direction and a great academic program as well."

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


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