Athletes Catch ND's Eyes

The top college football programs in the nation are never short on athletes. As Notre Dame tries to climb its way back to the top, head coach Charlie Weis has done a good job of closing the talent gap between his Irish and the country's top teams.

Most prospects have a set position as they go through the recruiting process. However, there are some kids that project at a number of different positions, and the Notre Dame coaching staff has offered three kids so far that fit that bill in the class-of-2010.

Any one of these talented players would definitely bolster Notre Dame's recruiting haul come National Signing Day next February.

The first athlete that Weis and his staff targeted was Anthony Barr, who wowed the Irish coaches at their summer camp. The four-star, Scout.com, top-100 player from Los Angeles worked out at both running back and linebacker during the July audition, and left South Bend with a verbal offer.

It was a special trip for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Barr, who's father Tony and uncle Reggie also played running back for the Irish.

"They're all about family," Barr told Irish Eyes in a past interview. His mother Lori Barr attended St. Mary's. "Growing up, family has always been a big importance in the household, and I think Notre Dame has a lot of values I grew up with."

As Barr targets a summer verbal commitment, five favorites have emerged for the Loyola High star. Notre Dame, California and UCLA are the three schools Barr chose to announce publicly.

This past season, Barr rushed for 1,890 yards and 20 touchdowns. Teams are recruiting him to play running back, linebacker, defensive end, safety and even receiver. Weis and Barr have come to the agreement that defense probably best suits him on the next level. Whether that's in the secondary, at linebacker or on the defensive line, depends on how much Barr grows in the next year.

Barr would like to make one more visit to Notre Dame before deciding. Besides last summer's camp, he attended the Stanford game during the fall.

The Irish should be tough to beat in landing Barr, who doesn't appear to have USC among his list of finalists.

The next athlete Weis and the staff identified is arguably the top player in the country, Justin McCay.

McCay, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound playmaker from Bishop Miege High in Shawnee Mission, Kan., is one of the most electric playmakers in the nation, and he earned his Notre Dame offer back in January.

"One out of every five times he touched the ball, he scored a touchdown this year," former Notre Dame offensive lineman and McCay's current head coach Tim Grunhard told Irish Eyes in a past interview. "Whether it's returning punts or returning kicks, or running or receiving, he scored, so that's the kind of the explosive guy he is.

"I hate to compare him to Plaxico Burress after all the problems he's had, but that's the guy he is most compared to. He is the kind of guy, when the ball gets in his hands, he makes things happen. His YAC, his yards after catch, is unbelievable. He's a big guy. He doesn't look as fast, but he's a legit 4.5 guy. You can see it in the film. Every time a college person comes in, I just have to put on the first four or five plays."

While McCay will likely end up at receiver on the next level, with that being the position he wants to play, some think that linebacker is where he could really make his money.

Offers have come in from most of the nation's top programs, and Florida looks like the early favorite for McCay. However, McCay camped in South Bend a couple summers ago, and the Notre Dame offer means something to him.

"Tradition, you can't beat tradition," McCay told Irish Eyes in the past.

"I like them. I just like them. I don't really have a reason. I just like Notre Dame. Since I was a kid I've been liking them."

With that being said, McCay hasn't remained in much contact with the Irish staff since his offer.

Notre Dame has been liking Cape Coral (Fla.) High's Spencer Boyd for awhile, and offered the 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster a scholarship in February. Since then, Weis has personally handled Boyd's recruitment.

Boyd also holds scholarship offers from Michigan, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Duke, Mississippi, Marshall and Central Florida, and is hearing from other programs like West Virginia, Florida and Miami.

"Right now I'm just taking it all in stride," Boyd said. "I'm open to any school that offers me, but they're are some schools I'm more interested in right now with Notre Dame being one of them, because I talk to coach Weis so much and have such a good relationship with him."

This past season, Boyd played in just eight games because of an injury. He rushed for 620 yards on 102 carries, with eight total touchdowns. In only five games on defense, Boyd had 30 tackles, and used his 4.41 second speed in the 40-yard dash to return an interception 104 yards for a score.

Boyd will visit Notre Dame for the first time the weekend of April 18th for the spring game. He'd also like to make a decision before the start of his senior season, but isn't sticking to an exact timetable.

Like with Barr, the Irish are in great shape with Boyd.


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