ND Is Looking For More DEs

Defensive end recruiting in the class-of-2009 didn't go the way the Notre Dame coaching staff drew it up. The Irish finished as a top finalist for most of their offered prospects, but not one player pulled the trigger and signed to play his college ball in South Bend.

Five-star standout Chris Martin quickly softened the blow.

On National Signing Day for the class-of-2009, the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Oakland product verbally committed to the Irish, becoming the third player in the class-of-2010 to give Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis his pledge.

"As far as choosing Notre Dame, it was the right place for me from the academics to the playing time," Martin told Irish Eyes. With 110 tackles, and 20 of those coming for loss including four sacks, the Bishop O'Dowd star is Scout.com's top-ranked defensive end in the country. "Those are my two big things. The scheme they run, there is a lot of opportunity there, and academic wise, there aren't too many places that can beat Notre Dame.

"It feels like it's the right place to be for four or five years.

Now, Weis is looking for two to three more defensive ends to feel the same way. Notre Dame appears to be in good position for quite a few of its other prospects.

Chance Carter was the first defensive end to catch the staff's attention. Camping in South Bend during the summer, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Loyola Academy High standout from Wilmette, Ill., earned a verbal offer that became official on Sept. 1st.

The four-star Carter has been back to Notre Dame's campus several times since the summer, and currently has the Irish as his top school. He's also considering Nebraska, Stanford and Wisconsin.

With one trip remaining to Lincoln, Carter has visited all of his other favorites and is looking to make his decision in May.

Martin was the next to receive a verbal offer, followed by five-star player Jackson Jeffcoat.

The 6-foot-4, 233-pound standout from Plano (Texas) West High, also earned his Irish offer on Sept. 1st, and quickly listed Texas, Oklahoma and USC as his favorites. Since then, Jackson now appears to be open to a lot more programs including Notre Dame.

Jeffcoat is the son of former Dallas Cowboys star Jim Jeffcoat. As a junior, he had 94 tackles, with 11 of those coming for loss including seven sacks.

In early February, Weis offered Reggie Wilson. The next month, the four-star prospect from Haltom (Texas) High decided to stay in-state, giving the Longhorns his verbal commitment.

Corey Lemonier is getting a lot of personal attention from Weis. The two trade emails regularly, but Weis isn't the only head coach personally courting the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hialeah (Fla.) Senior High standout. Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer are also in on the act.

The four-star Lemonier also keeps in touch with Irish assistant coaches Bernie Parmalee and Randy Hart, and says a summer visit packaged with Illinois is a definite possibility. He doesn't plan on making his college decision until after his senior season, and claims no favorites.

Lemonier plays at the rival high school of current Notre Dame running back Armando Allen. That's another one of the many reasons why he is intrigued with the Irish.

Also intrigued by Notre Dame is Owamagbe Odighizuwa. The Portland, Ore., product says the Irish program was one of the first to start sending him mail, and if February, the four-star prospect earned his offer.

"I think they were the first school to send me a big envelope to come to their football camp," Odighizuwa told Irish Eyes. "I was excited about that because it was the first big thing I got in the mail, and they had a little bit about their history on their registration thing. Everyone says it's a big-time school. I wasn't someone that knew a lot about college football. I didn't know the details about schools, and everyone was saying Notre Dame is a big-time school, and that really got me excited too."

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Odighizuwa keeps in regular touch with the Irish staff. He is also being courted by the likes of USC and Florida, and claims no favorites. Notre Dame is in good position to receive an official visit this fall.

As a junior, Odighizuwa had 96 tackles, with 22 coming for loss including 18 sacks.

Six schools look to have the inside track on four-star prospect Blake Lueders. The Zionsville (Ind.) High standout is favoring Notre Dame, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Boston College, Stanford and Northwestern, with a decision going to come before his senior season.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Lueders has been visiting the Irish campus since he was a kid, with two trips already in the book this calendar year.

"It's a great academic school," Lueders told Irish Eyes. "They have a great football tradition. I've always kind of grown up rooting for them."

As a junior, Lueders had 128 tackles from his middle linebacker spot, including nine tackles for loss and three sacks.

Three-star defensive end Corey Miller was offered by Weis in March. It will be an uphill battle for the Irish to land the Byrnes High (Duncan, S.C.) star, with him already listing California, Clemson, Florida State, Oregon and Tennessee as his top schools. A decision likely won't come until National Signing Day.

While Miller looks to be a long shot, Prince Shembo could very well end up in the Blue and Gold.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Shembo says Notre Dame will remain in his top five, and the Charlotte, N.C. product could visit the campus for the first time in the late spring or summer.

"Growing up, that was really the only college I knew about because I went to a catholic school," Shembo said. He attends Ardrey Kell High. "It's a very historical school with a great education, so they'll be in my top five for sure."

Shembo keeps in touch with Notre Dame's Corwin Brown. As a junior, he had 90 tackles, 10 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two more fumble recoveries. Shembo plans on being an early enrollee.

Notre Dame's latest offer at defensive end is Ronald Powell. The four-star prospect from Moreno Valley, Calif., doesn't know anything about the Irish, and has yet to talk with a staff member. He appears to be favoring USC, UCLA, California, Florida and Tennessee.

Weis and the staff have several other defensive line offers out, but guys like Darryl Baldwin, T.J. Clemmings, Brandon Willis and J.R. Ferguson project more as tackles.

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